Sand Between Your Toes

missing description

Theatre Fusentast with puppet theatre in and around a Curiosity cabinet. For everyone from 10 years.

Award winning show about survival, loyalty, betrayal, love and death, based on Jaap den Hertog's grandmother's life and demise. Hetty was born just before "the gunshot in Sarajevo," and died shortly after September 11 2001.

Through her marriage to Jaap's grandfather’s brother, she had been his grandaunt. Later in her life she married Jaap's grandfather (her third husband,) which is how she became his grandmother, too. Hetty was a kind of anti-hero. She was not above average courageous. She was not very self-confident. She was full of questions. She viewed the world with a large portion of wonder, combined with a great sense of humour.
And she had an excellent talent for making friends. Her statement, "A stranger is a friend you do not know yet". Naive? Maybe. However, this character trait helped her to help fate. It helped her to survive war and loss. Hetty's surviving friends still talk about how Hetty's view of the world affected them. They tell of much laughter, and enjoy the anecdotes she generated.

For us in Theatre Fusentast, Hetty was an idol. We were sure that when we grew old, we would want be like her. Equally interested in the world, people, politics, travel and the arts. Just as funny and cheerful, with lots of love. We had fantastic times visiting her, and we travelled with her. She lived close to the beach, and loved to go there. But she did not like her feet, and always took care to cover them in sand. Once a sweetheart from a long time ago wanted to meet her. She agreed to meet him in a hotel room. But in the dark. She did not want them to see each other. They met and talked. They left. It had been good, she said. We went to the theatre, concerts or the cinema. We still have lots of her funny letters. Most of them sent from Australia, where she lived half of the year with her beloved Jonas who, by the way, had started to show up after her third husband, Jaap's grandfather, had died. (We always joked about her being a "femme fatale", surviving that many husbands.) They had quite some years, travelled widely to test hotels for travel agencies, an interesting life, even if she found Jonas’ Australian friends quite conservative. But at a certain point her letters became strangely repetitive. Hetty was slowly turning senile.

When Jonas died, the process seemed to be going faster. She complained about holes in her brain. She kept waking her neighbours in the middle of the night because she was confused. A solution had to be found. Relatives found a good old people’s home close to where she lived. But alas, it was not to be.
Demented as she was, and for their own ease, her adopted son and daughter-in-law took her away and "parked" her in a sad, neglected old people’s home in Brussels. She had to wear the kind of hag-like dresses she never would have chosen herself; in her room with dirt stained walls and ceilings, everything was worn out or repaired with tape; a barking man in a booth at the entrance creepily resembled a camp guard, scolding her for returning too late after we had taken her out for dinner; far away from her circle of friends, relatives and her beloved garden. Lonely. No longer able to make her own decisions. Dependent. We lived in Norway, far away. And that felt very bad. Her last years were not good.

Hetty died. Her Jewish funeral was a pure insult to the generous person she had been. It has become part of the horror stories of the family. The day after returning, an angry Jaap set out to create a show to honour her, and to share her unique nature and adventures with the rest of the world.
He invented the Curiosity Cabinet where he would convey her life before, during and after the Second World War. The performance is presented with lots of humour as a visual candy box of surprises.
The cabinet is an epitome - of drawers, doors, windows, small subtle pantries and puppets. Jaap made the puppets, InkaLill drew paper puppets. Just as we think Hetty herself would have liked it.

"Sand between your toes" got the first Birgit Strøm Memorial Prize at the Fri Figur puppetry festival in Oslo in 2007, for best puppetry performance with social relevance.
Jury: Birgit Strøm did not avoid addressing serious issues, told with warmth and humour. This is also found in the performance the jury has chosen. The show has great technical qualities and it utilizes all the possibilities of theatre – it gives room for the actors, the characters and the audience. The performance tells a powerful story, a personal story. It also raises questions about what makes life worth living - and responds amongst other things with the performance's title: Sand between your toes.

"Sand between your toes" was also awarded one of three awards for best performance under the puppetry festival Karakumu Asilelis in Klaipeda, Lithuania in 2007.

Created by

Direction and script: Lasse Åkerlund
Concept, script, puppets, inventions, techniques, and translations into Dutch and English: Jaap den Hertog
Actors/puppeteers: Jaap den Hertog and Bjørn Myrholdt (2002-04) /
Coby Omvlee (2004-)
Illustrations for the paper puppets and poster/programme: InkaLill
Set design: Gunnar Fretheim
Lighting design: Jan Erik Skarby
Costumes: Solveig Fugelsøy
Carpentry for curiosity cabinet: Martin Waagø
Lay-out for poster/programme: Lillian Uran Todnem
Co-production with Figurteateret i Nordland (Puppetry Theatre in Nordland), Stamsund.

Thanks to

family and friends who have contributed with their stories and information about Hetty.