For the Holidays: drawings for Vondel’s Gysbrecht van Aemstel

It’s an old Amsterdam tradition that has fallen somewhat in disuse: staging a performance of Joost van den Vondel’s drama, Gysbrecht van Æmstel on New Years Day.

In 2008 Todd van Hulzen created a series of scene sketches and story-boards for a film version of the play, part of a threefold attempt at getting  the cameraman on his way,of creating a visual effects proposal and of coming up with a design look.

The action itself takes place largely on Christmas Eve sometime around the year 1300, so you could say it’s a real Holiday Classic.  On the contrary, this piece, written in 1638 and described as something of a cross between Hamlet and the Aeneid, is all murder and mayhem.  In it’s time however, it gave a young Dutch Republic a new epic identity and something of a pedigree; a birthright being a requisite for any nation-state.  For centuries it was standard winter fare in the city theatres, but perhaps because of its hybrid nature between propaganda and melodrama (Vondel called it a tragedy, which is itself arguable) and it’s somewhat arcane alexandrine verse,  Gysbrecht van Aemstel is rarely staged today.

What you see in the storyboards are green and orange area’s representing the areas of digital (or matte) infill.  The scenes represented are of the siege of Amsterdam, outside of the old Haarlem Gate.  Officially the project is still in pre-production.

 

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