Theater is in its truest form, a reflection of human life and emotions in their most unadulterated format. It has the power to spark debates and doubts, questions and curiosities, largely within oneself.

Answers that probably are buried somewhere in one’s subconscious are suddenly brought to the foreground and perspectives take shape. Something as magical as this happened to me when I attended a performance by a very talent group called ‘7 Fingers’ at the Parktheater. The show was an eclectic mix of juggling and high intensity activity coupled with an unusual representation of emotions and situations we all face in life. It reconnected me with myself and helped me reflect on my priorities in life. I had a feeling that it did the same to everyone with me attending the show that day.

Looking back I can also credit some of those feelings to the venue, The Parktheater in Eindhoven. Every show I have attended there has had a lasting impression on me. Has made me experience amazement, wonder, question, reflect and be humbled by all that is capable by human beings. This October, the Parktheater celebrates its 50th anniversary and as part of the celebrations, the public is invited to experience the premises in different ways. What drew my interest however, was the possibility to look back in time and see the evolution of the Parktheater over the years.

Art and theater is also reflection of society and its current state of affairs. Looking back at glimpses from bygone years through the viewfinders in the Parktheater helped in giving me an idea about Eindhoven. An idea about how Eindhoven was, how it has evolved over the years and how it continues to evolve. A sense of relief dawned on me when I realized that the Parktheater used to be called Stadsschouwburg (city theatre) or Schouwburg Eindhoven from the time the then Princess Beatrix inaugurated it in 1964 till 2007. Now that would have been challenging to pronounce, especially when I just relocated!

Thanking God for small mercies, I moved on to the series of photographs displayed. The 3-in-1 photographs as part of the exposition also have an intriguing effect on the viewer. The pictures have been worked to represent an image from a show in a particular year, a representative photograph of the spectator at the age when he/she viewed the show and a current photograph of the same spectator. There are boards for every year from the beginning till now, some already with these 3-in-1 images and some with an invitation for members of the public to narrate their story. Images that help connect the dots between the then, the now and the future.

Besides adding color and variety in people’s lives through art in various forms of presentation, the Parktheater also has elaborate murals that add color to the walls in the passages. Two interesting pieces of sculpted art that I came across in the premises of the Parktheater are also definitely worth mentioning. The first, by artist Peter Nagelkerke, is a bronze adaptation of a cartoon by famous Eindhoven cartoonist Ton Smit called ‘Huilen van het lachen’ that translates to ‘tears of joy’. As the name depicts, the sculpture is a rendition of two men crying tears of joy and brings back fond memories of situations and instances where I have laughed so hard that I finally cried. The second is a striking work of art that one cannot miss while entering or exiting the premise. Titled ‘Levensvreugde’ that translates to ‘joy of life’, this sculpture by Marcello Mascherini made in 1906 was purchased by Eindhoven-City in 1958 and has found its place at the Parktheater.

What a wonderful way to end my tour of the Parktheater. To see and marvel the sculpture that captures the feeling of joy, freedom, openness, satisfaction and all that can be positive about living life to the fullest!

The exposition and all the special activities as part of the 50th anniversary celebration ‘Plein Publiek’ are on till the 20th of November. It is definitely recommended to look up the agenda and drop in. From yoga classes to music to activities for children, there is something in store for everybody. And don’t miss the exposition when you are there, it will draw you closer to Eindhoven.

Namratha Rao

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