News - August 24, 2011

If less is more, Lejo has it all

A recurring event during the Annual Introduction Days is the Street theatre festival. Derek visited it for the second time. At first he is disappointed, but then he discovers Lejo...

'The street is a bit quiet compared to last year,' says a German girl who I met on Hoogstraat.  'Lukewarm', is my impression of the street theatre festival 2011. There seem to be fewer shows and ambience is duller than last yeas. As a 2nd year student, however, I don't have to rush from one stage to another. I prefer to pick up the best, for instance, the artist called Lejo.
Lejo is an adorable character created by a Dutch puppeteer, Leo Peterson. 'Lejo is the reason I go to the Street theatre festival every year, even it is repeated year after year,' said a Dutch student who I met in the Opening Party. Why do the Dutch have a crush on this little puppet made by two real hands and two eyes of wood?
At 21.50, ten minutes before the show starts, more and more people gather in front of the small theatre made of three blue screens. A man in black T-shirt behind the screens is busy with preparations. To my surprise the crowd almost doubles in only 10 minutes. The noisy audience becomes silent when the laser casts a light on the screens. In the following 20 minutes, Lejo takes us to a world full of joy and imagination with barely two hands and several pairs of wooden eyes. Applause and laughter burst out continuously.

Afterwards it I decide to have a talk with Mr. Peterson. He is wiping the sweat off his face, but he appeares quite satisfied with his performance. The first time he played 'Lejo' was in 1995 when he was still a student. 16 years have passed, and Lejo has left his handprints all around the world: Japan, Brazil, or even a small theatre on Broadway. This is his 11th year he performs at the AID in a row. 'As you always play alone behind the screen, do you ever feel lonely? ' I asked. 'No, I'm always happy with my job. Also my two kids bring me a lot of inspiration to create new characters,' he answered.
Our talk ended with his signature on my programme booklet of the AID. Now I'm also a fan of Lejo. Do you still think this year's shows were less fun? Why not stop your bustling pace, sit down and just watch one or two quality performances. If less is more, Lejo has it all.