“When I said I wanted to create a theatre performance as a graduation project, everyone thought that that was a good idea, instead of saying: you are following a writing course, why would you want to do that?” Stan Frijsinger studied Creative Writing at ArtEZ. In the video below he talks about his graduation project, Mag ik even jullie aandacht (Can I have your attention please) — a ‘failed’ performance about internet addiction, attention capitalism and anger.
The finals for the Creative Writing programme consist of a book, which is often self-published afterwards, an exhibition and a graduation night. Stans graduation project is a theatre performance. “It actually started with this fascination I had for the term ‘theatre essay’. I was wondering: what could a theatre essay be if you don’t approach it as an essay on theatre, but as a theatre performance on the discipline of the essay?” He devoted his artistic research to this question, which ran parallel to the creation of the performance.
Who’s on stage anyway?
“The whole idea is that the performance is ultimately failed,” Stan says. In the opening scene, an actress admits quite quickly that there is no more material left to actually perform the piece. “Because the writer-director of the performance has an internet addiction and was therefore unable to finish it. But then the actress is handed a large stack of research papers and is kind of forced to make a lecture in the process of it being produced.” The main question is ultimately: who’s on stage anyway?
Giving purpose to undefined energy
During the first year of the Creative Writing course students are expected to produce a lot of writing material. “During the course, I mainly learned to focus on the kind of work I wanted to make. There has always been this undefined energy inside of me that I expressed through writing. I managed to make that energy more and more specific for myself during the programme — mainly because I was given a lot of freedom to just try things out.”
Stan says it helped him a lot. He views his graduation project as “trying something new”, instead of showcasing what he is already capable of. “I’m very glad I approached it that way.”
Stan would advise new students to not be afraid of making the assignments their own. “Ask yourself: what do you want to do?”
And what does the future hold? “I’m focusing on prose again. I’m really looking forward to writing another short story.”
“There has always been this undefined energy inside of me that I expressed through writing.”
Creative Writing is the only full-time Higher Vocational Education bachelor course in the Netherlands which focuses solely on writing and presenting prose, drama, poetry, documentary and literary non-fiction. There’s an emphasis on written text, but there’s also a lot of room to discover other forms of presentation such as zines, audio or performance. The second half of the course creates a lot of freedom for students to develop their own style. After graduating, many careers are possible: as an autonomous writer, working for a publishing company or as a teacher.