TOPAZ Issue 8 / 2003
A Musical Tribute
Understanding Competition
The Template of Sacred Architecture
Helping hand for ADHD children
Brief history of humour
More about Humour
How to watch films
Shakespeare’s Private Theatre
A Day in the Theatre of Life

A Report of an International Theatre Festival in Holland

Viewed through the Spectrum Colours

A human is a kaleidoscopic arrangement of processes, constantly changing according to what moves a person, in which the feeling life is an important part. Do we not try through our life - to one degree or another - to become more sensitive to what goes on in us and others, to try to understand what it all means and how to translate or express it? This for me is an important starting point in approaching the theatre of our daily lives. It is the theatre with our partner, our children, our colleagues and everything that surrounds our lives.

There is an enormous and varied theatre around us, going on constantly. Some theatres are fixed or habitual, others are new and surprising. It is clear that this expressive part of life captures and moves us. Just think of how many movies are made each year, and how many theatre performances you can visit, let alone worldwide!

The human is designed to be creative, to be theatrical, versatile and to express all kinds of frequencies, qualities and essences. Much of how we do this is affected by how able we are to escape our habitual patterns and to be in the freshness of discovery. We are all actors in the theatre of life and the International Spectrum Theatre Festival which took place on the 13th of July in Leiden, Holland, carried this notion as a starting-point.

Bart Weber, Holland

Red - It begins

In the early hours of Sunday morning, whilst the city of Leiden still slept, a team of men gathered in the Huig Park equipped with blue garbage bags. Their task was to prepare the park for the festival, to thoroughly clean the grass, the bushes and the paths. The bright morning sun warmed their backs as they bent to remove the dog’s droppings and other rubbish. It was a good start to a special day.
At the Cobetstraat, the home base of the Template Stichting, hundreds of sandwiches were being prepared for the lunch packages. Within a quiet and pleasant atmosphere, the cups of coffee with hot milk were flowing - which were well needed after the party of the evening before, hosted by DJ’s from four countries and live music. Many this morning were feeling the absence of a good night’s sleep.

All materials were brought together to the park - various sized tents, chairs, tables, sound equipment, musical instruments, food, drinks, parasols and of course the important Thai Dancing Sticks! All the ingredients were there and after one hour the park was transformed unrecognisably into a festival ground.

Orange - The great variety

Zulu singing

In the early part of the day, a large group of men and ladies begin to sing and perform an old Zulu song. The choir walks, strong and powerful sounds resonating through the park and a dignified and uplifting passion play of movement occurs between the two genders, with more people spontaneously joining in as it winds its way around the festival site. As the festival gets fully underway, this event transforms the whole park into one large stage.


It is well known these days that colour influences us and that, as an example, we often choose the clothes we wear by the colours that we find most fitting that day. What is less understood is that colours can give or attract energy, each with their own frequency. One of the most natural colour combinations we know is the spectrum, the colours of the rainbow and these colours are intrinsic and governing to human response.

To explore, experiment and promote experience with sensitivity to colour, seven large colour tents were brought from Germany and placed in the park - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. By a specific set of tests, it was possible to check what colour frequency a person might most need and they were invited to sit for some time within one or more tents to absorb that particular colour.

Of course it was possible to try all the tents and to check and compare the effects and thus making a first new acquaintance with the power of colour.

The old and new art of story telling

A Yurt, a tent built according to a Mongolian design, with carpets and cushions on the floor, was specially erected as a storytelling place by the team of the Ring of Turquoise. Once inside you entered a different world. Beginning with those coded words ‘Once upon a time…’ all kinds of extraordinary stories arose. It was a special experience because by telling stories from their life to others, a person could re-enliven them and add value to them. You get yourself back by giving something of yourself away.

Thai Stick Dancing

On another spot in the park you could hear loud clashing of long wooden sticks. What was going on there? To the beat of Donna Summer’s song ‘Hot Stuff’ and accompanied by live drumming, one could learn the first steps of Thai Stick dancing - an old art form still practiced by the monks of various cloisters in Thailand, India, the Philippines and Vietnam. Rhythmically two long sticks were put together, hitting each other and then spread out apart from each other, hitting the ground. The art is to jump between the sticks in a dance pattern avoiding being struck by the heavy wooden bars as they smash against each other.

This art form provides a training to improve concentration, focus, mental discipline, coordination, enthusiasm and teamwork. The anticipation and often hesitation is feelable, as is the satisfaction at successfully crossing the moving bars.

Musica, Musica...

During the day there was much live music to be heard. A diverse and constantly changing group of musicians from many countries improvised music within various styles. From Irish to Moroccan to Greek to Dutch, German, English, to a combination of all sorts of natures and qualities such as Italian arias and Russian melodies, and moments of fierce and exciting drumming for those who love to explore rhythms.

The band of international musicians had never played before and yet the exchange, mix and exploration happened in a natural way and managed to create many lively and interesting pieces of music. At the end of the afternoon, the musicians were treated to the perceptions and detection of a blind man, who volunteered to offer what natures, qualities and colours he had heard within the various pieces of music.

Spectrum dances

At an appointed time within the afternoon, a dance team from Germany demonstrated a spectrum dance based on seven different pieces of music. Each dance had a distinctive and varied character and each one evoked a different response in the audience. From decisive steps and movements (red) to a passionate variation (yellow) to a humouristic and joyful style (green) - we journeyed across the rainbow. This dance demonstration offered a fascinating theatre by showing the specific natures of the colours expressed in a simple and attractive way.

Oriental dances

After a musical intermezzo, a dancer in full oriental dress appeared and with decisiveness and passion demonstrated a belly dance. A rich variation of movement and technique was displayed supported by Egyptian rhythms and melodies. It was interesting to note that this dance had a very settling and calming effect. After a short demonstration, all who wanted were able to have a go and many men and women enjoyed their first attempts at this strange dance. It is likely that many experienced some unusual muscle aches later that evening!

The liberating effect of singing

A large choir of visitors and participants gathered on the central field and, led by an experienced conductor, started a session of intense experimentation with sound and the voice. The major emphasis was upon freedom of trying and experimenting rather than attempting to reach for perfect sounds, and all engaged found the process liberating and interesting.


Some members of the Mosaic Theatre from England created live mini theatres interacting with their audience. One of them walked his invisible dog with his lead and collar. At another time a humorous and enthralling mime play evolved between the theatre players and a group of children with hats and balls. Whilst the children were captivated, the parents were also gripped and amused at the hilarious and comical sketches which unfolded live in front of them.

Special Sparkling Moments

Two people, one from Holland and one from England, invited others to join them in their specially created living room environment to have conversations with the aim of highlighting and promoting the special qualities of those who joined them. This gave rise to many sparkling and intimate moments full of value and respect.


In the tent dedicated to drawing and painting, a wide range of materials were available for all to sit and express themselves through colour on paper.

Yellow - Working Together

The preparation for this festival had been underway for months, and yet all the participants from the Netherlands, Germany, England, Denmark, Norway, America, Cyprus, Greece, France, Belgium, Israel, Russia and Italy - approximately 100 people - came together only two days previously to make music, to dance, to tell stories, to research, to sing and provide technical support as one team.

Looking at the park from a distance during the festival, all the different activities seemed to be connected to each other as part of one thing, which arose out the fact that people were working together out from the same motive. This then got added to by the many visitors coming through who seemed to naturally join in the event.

Green - New and Spontaneity

During the lead up to the festival, it was decided that freedom, improvisation and spontaneity would be central to the way of the event, together with the qualities of humanity and openness. Although the administrative arrangements needed to be very thorough, the actual theatre of the day would be left undecided until people came together from their various countries.

The festival was not intended to be a concert or a demonstration, but more in the way of a ‘living theatre’ in which each participates in the way and to the degree that they best can and wish to. All who came to the event seemed to naturally engage either by joining the band, having one’s colours tested in the spectrum tents, by joining the Thai Stick dancing or by stepping into the magical world of the story telling tent of the Ring of Turquois.

Blue - What was the atmosphere and the way of it

Many participants and visitors attending the festival reflected upon the quiet and pleasant atmosphere that could be felt throughout the whole park. There was a kind of harmony which comes when people work together with one aim, without being mindful of difference.

This was an event where all could for a short while be immersed in something free of their worries, fear, judgements, and simply experience a live happening with others of kind.

Indigo - What it caused in us

For those involved in creating this festival, there was always an attempt to create something of value in which all could find a place, whether young, old, shy or extrovert, and which all could participate in a living theatre to the extent they wished.

The festival was an attempt to put something good into Leiden and into the world. Who knows whether it makes a difference, but surely it matters that some try?

Violet - What does it say (about the future)?

Always there is the question at the end - did we give it our best? How can it be done better next time? These questions we carry forward with us into the next day and the next experience or opportunity as a prompt to encourage tomorrow’s living theatre.

And so we came to the end of this day and it was time to clear up and to make sure that nothing was left behind out from the principle and sentiment of wishing to leave a place in a better state than when we found it. We believe and trust it was a success - for the organisers, the participants, the visitors, the park and for the future.

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