NJ DISCOVER FOLLOW-UP: Actress ANNEMARIE HAGENAARS at Yangtze Repertory Theatre by Calvin Schwartz June 24, 2018
No need for a lengthy dissertation, description, history of Annemarie Hagenaars. We did our interview for njdiscover.com back in February ( https://bit.ly/2F4HBwk ) But this is needed to repeat. (which has amazed me since we met a few years ago at a Garden Film Festival event) She got her Bachelor’s degree in the Netherlands in Astronomy, and soon after, a Master’s degree in Foundations of Physics. Then smitten with acting and a trip to New York City to study acting in 2010. Annemarie lives in North Jersey.
Since meeting a few years ago, we’ve stayed in touch as I’ve marveled at her commitment to acting, perseverance, dedication. It is a hard life to pursue. Always there, extant, is her upbeat aura, exuberance. But in all our time communicating, I never had the chance to see her on stage, live, real and quintessential. Two weeks ago, she called and told me about her role in the Yangtze Repertory Theatre production of ‘Romulus the Great.’ I had to Google everything; play, playwright, theater company. Oh, it took me about seven seconds to tell Annemarie, that I was thrilled to come see the play and her. Beginnings of brave new world of material for me.
What do I mean about brave new world? So, I saw the play last night (Thursday June 21st). I studied about the Yangtze Repertory Company. Website: https://www.yzrep.org/
Yangtze means ‘long river.’ It plays a key role in both the spiritual and physical life of people. I liked reading that. I also like the fact that a river is a perfect metaphor for constant change; its never the same one moment to the next. I liked that the Yangtze Repertory Theatre uses the river metaphor in their name because their stage work, productions reflect a changing diverse world.
Before and after the performance, I met with director Chongren Fan and Sally Shen, producer, executive director. My impressions, being a central Jersey denizen, having taken the Jersey transit train which deposited me at Penn Station (a reason why I mention this) two blocks from the theater on 36th Street was how creative, meticulous, imaginative the staging and production was. It was wonderful theater and a preciously talented cast, engaging, captivating. The opening scene, number, grabs and holds; gets you in that certain mood of anticipation. Different in that it’s a play described by playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt, as “an unhistorical historical comedy.”
For me the brave new world, explaining to Chongren and Sally, is that the Yangtze Repertory Company is bridging the cultural divide, so accessible, affordable, two blocks from the train and there is so much to learn and appreciate. The lesson here is that such splendid cultural offerings, in part, embracing Chinese theater and history is in mid-town Manhattan, beckoning for discovery and mind expansion, growth and appreciation. I’m so glad Annemarie called me.
And now to Annemarie Hagenaars; my reason for taking the Jersey transit train. Some food stuff company has the commercial tag line, “It’s worth the trip.” Finally seeing her perform, act, grace a stage was indeed worth it. Her role as Tullius Rotundus, in ‘Romulus the Great,’ was whimsical, intense, comedic and learned. She is an actress with all the ingredients of success. I watched her closely; eye movements, voice intonations, her plunging into the role and staying solidly in character. A few times, I drifted, blinked an eye, and saw her in other roles, close to my sensibilities, like Blanche DuBois, from ‘Streetcar…’ But that’s what I do, when I get into a play, performance; project and absorb.
In the lobby, I asked Annemarie if she was aware of the audience; the theater was small and intimate. Her response, resounding, “No, I couldn’t distinguish people in the audience at all. I didn’t look at the audience.” She was totally into her character.
Best way to end is to bring back my ending from the first interview with Annemarie. It worked then and now. “Annemarie has that quality, depth, cerebral connection, conviction, determination and talent to succeed beyond wildest dreams. My conviction is that it’s only a matter of time such that I asked her when she’s getting a Golden Globe, Academy Award, Emmy, Tony, or whatever, do me a favor, since we’re now friends, get me backstage. It was a deal.”