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The performance, with the title ‘Forever27’, has been causing ripples with both students and audiences. The initial tour was a great success, with the group performing to sold-out venues on numerous dates! It was beyond anything they had expected, and the first time performing was a nerve-wracking affair.
One major factor in the pre-gig jitters was the fact that Fontys Rockacademie students are used to concert venues, like 013, where the crowd is standing and people dance. A theatre venue is a very different affair. ‘What makes it so different is that the audience is seated. It means people are intent on listening, there is no talking. It creates a lovely kind of anticipation between the people onstage and the spectators,’ says Bo Knippels, the singer of the company.
In the months leading up to the tour the students did extensive research into the artists on the infamous list, which brought up a host of details with which they had not been familiar. ‘When we began working, I wasn’t really into Janis Joplin. I thought it was just mindless screaming and wouldn’t listen to it. But of course, I had to sing some of her songs on the tour and practising them warmed me to her work, so much so that now she is my favourite. I think she is just fantastic, her music really touches a nerve with me,’ says Bo.
It is quite something to have to imitate some of the biggest legends in music onstage. Bo admits to being happy with the decision to add a personal touch to the songs. ‘These artists are so huge, and so original. So I am glad we have created our own versions of the songs. It means you pour something of yourself into the music, which makes it less frightening. It means you don’t measure yourself against these big stars,’ she admits.
The artists’ personal lives have had a similar impact. On the music, but also on the way the students presented themselves onstage – an important aspect of a performance. ‘One thing that has stayed with me after watching a documentary on Janis Joplin is that she was always looking for some form of recognition. She never really believed she was good enough. Knowing this has made me a better performer of her songs. It’s a feeling you can relate to, feeling somehow less than others,’ Bo answers when I ask her how she internalises the artists when she takes to the stage.
All in all, the students feel it has been a great educational experience that has had a great impact. Last October they started their second tour, with just as much fire as they had the first time around. So take my advice: go catch their show!
Author: Eilish Janssen, student Fontys School of Journalism
Translation: Wendy Lubberding
17 december 2018