Kijken, Kijken, Kopen!

Culturele Zondag

Yesterday was Cultural Sunday here in Utrecht. This time it was dubbed "Kijken, Kijken, Kopen" or Look, Look, Buy. I'll confess, I hadn't much paid attention to the signs around town for it, only enough to note that stores in the Center would be open. (This doesn't happen every weekend). Since it was such a lovely day the verlo- and I decided to go look around.  

I needed to go because it is a certain Dutchman's birthday today and I needed to get him a present. So, for a little while we separated. Most of the stores were having some awesome sales! On my way back to our meeting point, the largest crowd I have ever seen in Utrecht was in front of Winkel van Sinkel and suddenly there was a glorious sound of Opera. Performers from De Utrechtse Spelen preformed songs from Orfeo ed Euridice from a boat in the canal. It was beautiful, but I had no idea what was going on until I looked it up today. 

After the performance we went to check out a book store I had never been to, De Slegte. After exploring their extensive art collection, we walked downstairs to leave. But were interrupted by a a group of three actors from the Aluin Theatre Co. They performed 3 scenes from some of my favorite Shakespeare plays: Othello, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. The whole thing was done entirely in Nederlands. The actors were superb and I was able to follow along because well, I have read all these plays. I was surprised that they even translated the famous latin line "et tu, Brute?" into Dutch. I noticed also that before each scene there was a tremendous amount of explaining the plot. I asked about this later and apparently Shakespeare is not required school reading for all schools here!?!  I mean, I know he is English but he is also one of the greatest playwrights the world has even known. Once I got over my shock, I managed to ask what is actually required reading here in school because The Verlo- never had to read Anne Frank or Shakespeare! Maybe, I can understand Shakespeare, but Anne Frank? Her diary was written in Dutch and she was in hiding in Amsterdam! Does anyone else find this odd?

Anyway, literary tangent aside it was a lovely day to spend in the Center. If the point of this showcase was to get people interested to go to the theatres, I think it worked. I for one now know that we have great acting here in Utrecht. 

What unexpected thing happened to you this weekend? 




I think that whether Shakespeare is required depends a lot on the school; my Dutch boyfriend read as much, if not more, Shakespeare than I did growing up in the States. However, he also didn't have to read The Diary of Anne Frank.

I should be better about making generalized statements. I'm sure like in The States, it probably greatly depends on what school you go to. Did he have to read Shakespeare in English or in Dutch? My dutchie only read books as a class until about the age 12. After that, they had to read 10 English books a year that they got to pick as long as they met certain criteria. The same thing for German books. Maybe that is better? How many more people would read for pleasure if they weren't subjected to The Scarlet Letter. No offense to my supposed ancestor. 

Nope, not 10 books a year...
In Highschool (age 12-18) I had to read

  • 8 Dutch books (1500 pages at least)
  • 15 English books
  • 15 German books

in total... not each year. We started with this "boekenlijst" in the forth grade, so age 16...
We read a bunch of books in class, like The importance of being Earnest, The old Man and the Sea, Animal Farm, Brave New World, but the majority we could pick ourselves.
I'm sure a lot has changed since I went to school though... Nowadays you can probably read Harry Potter.

Sorry hun, I guess I misunderstood. 

My guy read Shakespeare in English, which had to be rough! He also went through the "pick your own books" thing, which I agree is a good idea (although he managed to annoy his teacher by counting the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy as one book).

Wow - Harry Potter as acceptable reading in school - that's civilized!!

I totally understand the shock. When I was travellig in Uzbekistan, I remember mentioning Bob Marley and they had no idea what i was on about.
Ok, not quite the same stature of cultural icon and in a country with a history much more removed from northern europe, but the feeling was there. 
Also - big fan of De Slegte! In Hilversum they have a lot of second hand books, some even in English, that its random enough to be fun. It's also looks decievingly small so it was rather a find more me when I finally ventured in :P

That's interesting! It's funny how shocking it can be when you think something is common knowledge across cultural bounds, only to find your preconceptions weren't correct. 
I tend to mostly visit the selexyz here in Utrecht. It is next door to the library so it is an easy shop. Although the De Slegte did have some beautiful antique books behind some glass, so it might be my new spot.