Yella de Kooning plays Coriolanus: “The typical female role is too restrictive for me”

One of the most beautiful characters in the critically acclaimed Iliad Trojan Wars (2021) In HNTjong Homer never portrayed him like this. In director Noël Fischer’s version, there is a poignant supporting role for Achilles’ horse, who silently helps him in his most difficult moments. Actor Yella de Kooning (1994) turns the silent role into a mini-masterpiece, a beacon of love and comfort in the utter darkness of a bloody war.

This wasn’t the first time de Kooning had excelled. Shortly after her graduation in 2017, she performed with Florian Maigret Regina Rex on the similarities between the role of the artist and that of the king, which was shortlisted for the BNG Bank Nieuwe Theatermakersprijs. And at the National Theater she played alongside Trojan Wars (in which she also played Helena) She also played beautiful supporting roles in the family drama We’re here for Ruby (2018), our street (2019) and My mother’s century (2021). Her first real leading role, in the dark thriller Lower (2021), crippled by the Corona crisis – in the end, the performance was shown live only a few times.

These days, De Koning is preparing her revenge: a first leading role for the main hall, as the title character in an adaptation of Shakespeare. Coriolanusthat they follow Lower Working with director Nina Speckers for the second time. Nina and I share a great fascination with Shakespeare, and I also took lessons at the Elizabethan Jacobean theater in London before starting at the Theater Academy in Maastricht. I didn’t necessarily have anything to do with it myself. Coriolanus. You’re thinking: Father, war, armies, all that man—but when I started reading it, the first scene turned out to be a one-on-one scene in the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. You don’t understand that it hasn’t been played much in recent years, what have you to say about populism.”

De Koning had the benefit of being a member of the Théâtre Het Nationale troupe, but he was not offered a leading role in the first years after graduation. “I actually experienced it as a huge luxury – it felt like an extension of my study period, when I could calmly watch the career of good actors. Stefan de Waale, Tamar van den Doubt and Romana Frid took me under their wing. I am someone who needs to develop within such a company – I’ve told friends I I don’t know if I would have continued acting if I had to work independently with new people in a new environment every three months…for work. I’m introverted outgoing, socially I’m quite judgmental. I quickly think people think it’s stupid what I’m doing. When I’m gone To the theater academy, my mother said: “With your character?”

Interestingly enough, Coriolanus is often accused of being angry or arrogant, which is also the case with women in positions of power.

Yalla King

In the years following her training, she also had the opportunity to work with different directors: she appeared in shows by Eric D. Frodt, Noel Fisher, Daria Bukevich, and Theo Bormans. It helps tremendously as an actor to deal with different directing styles. I tend to get a lot in my head and be very critical of everything I do — like, ‘What the hell is coming out of your mouth'”. But with Theo there wasn’t just a lot of thought and play, he had He builds a board with you and tries something different every day. It just felt like a playground.”

What started to get upset was the lack of diversity in the roles she had to play. Many female characters in Dutch theater lack autonomy and self-determination, and are based on a limited repertoire of archetypes. Then as an actor you can make the character as strong as possible within the role, but that ultimately feels limiting. At some point you want to play something else. This is why I find my collaboration with Nina so valuable: in both Lower like Coriolanus The main characters are much less traditional than female.”

Also read our Trojan Wars review: The Genesis of Achilles in Trojan Wars (●●●●)

Bee Coriolanus This, of course, is also due to the fact that the main role was originally written for a man. “We pretty much stick to the Dutch translation — I keep the English original on hand, which is often a bit cruder and try to put that filth into my game. But during rehearsals we take a critical look at what it means for Coriolanus to be a woman. What’s interesting about this The thing is, Coriolanus is often accused of anger or arrogance in the play, which is also the case all the time with politicians like Sigrid Kaag or Sylvana Simons, or other women in positions of power.We want to show how that works without turning Coriolanus into a pure character: she remains A human being of flesh and blood succumbs to her pride.

“I get the impression that the status of women and their representation in the theater is slowly improving. We seem to be in the middle of a transitional situation. You feel that anger has exploded about the unequal situation, but the generation after me is more vocal about it. For that Coriolanus For me also a step in the process of liberation because the piece is about anger. I have to overcome a lot of self-censorship in this role to really unleash my anger, but when I succeed, it feels so liberating.”

Coriolanus by the National Theatre. Directed by Nina Speakers. Premieres February 18, Koninklijke Schouwburg The Hague. Tour through April 7th. Inl: hnt.nl

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