Articles: Comvalius, Poitier and Washington
“What she also longs for: more ownership. More studying. More stories in which our pain doesn’t sound like an invitation to stand on the edge of our traumas, look deep into our wounds and there, with faces hanging over the Lake of Black Tears, fall in love with reflections of whiteness. More decolonial thinking Black playwrights, dramaturges, drama school teachers and critics.
In one of the letters published in her informal autobiography To Be Young, Gifted And Black, playwright Lorraine Hansberry writes: ‘I believe that we can impose beauty on our future.’ This imposing of beauty always reminds me of that which Chrisje Comvalius is the personification of and that what she urges those of us lucky enough to enjoy her view to always keep in mind: ‘Create and demand work that reflects our dignity.’”
Excerpt from my article about Afro-Dutch actress Chrisje Comvalius for Theaterkrant (Theatre newspaper). Published: June 27, 2022. This article is in Dutch.
“Two birds in one night…” It’s March 24 2002, the evening that the institution we know as the Oscars stretched their credibility to such a maximum that they hád to grant Denzel Washington an Oscar. Denzel, titan. The absolute best who shines in every film. So absolutely, he was great in his role as detective Alonzo Harris. Nevertheless, it is only in the context of white comfort and the imagination it hijacks, that we can explain why he didn’t win the Oscar for Best Male Actor for his roles as al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, or Rubin ‘The Hurricane’ Carter, but specifically for Training Day.
What remains is the cliché question: “Who, here in the Netherlands, is our Denzel Washington?” With the answers I’ve heard so far, I think we mean: “These are great actors who we’d love to see have careers similar to Denzel’s.” With our answers, we refer to those who would be capable. From Emmanuel Ohene Boafo, José Montoya, Werner Kolf and Adison dos Reis to Kenneth Herdigein, from Akwasi and Yannick Jozefzoon to Felix Burleson… we’ve got some excellent actors who, of this I’m 100% certain, could be the answer to the question. But, to be honest… with the current range of Dutch films and plays, how would we know?”
Excerpt from my article about Black, intergenerational mentorship among Afro-Dutch actors plus the love between Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington. I wrote this piece as part of the Poitier and Washington-festival organized by Eye cinema (Amsterdam). I wrote the Dutch one and Eye provided English translations. Published: August 12, 2022.