Vincent van der Valk
UWC Li Po Chun Hong Kong '02-'04
Being brought up by a dancer and a musician, it wasn’t a great surprise that I would end up working in the theatre. Looking back I realize that the theatre has been my ‘home’ since an early age. However, as I grew up and learned about the problems and injustice in the world an important question arose; how does the theatre that I love contribute to a better world? Theatre doesn’t give water to people in need, doesn’t solve international conflicts and it certainly doesn’t save lives. Can I justify my desire to be on stage when I know all this? It was at LPC UWC I realized that contributing to a better world doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing your talents and desires. As a Dutch teenager I was quite outspoken during my UWC-period. I was chosen to be a member of the Student Council Committee and frequently spoke up during college meetings. Whether it was about protesting against the war in Iraq or criticizing the school’s emphasis on academics, I didn’t hesitate to organize gatherings to discuss issues that I thought were important. And even though my intentions were good, my actions were often without result and even misunderstood. My speeches were unclear, I spoke too emotionally and my preoccupation with complex themes such as ‘fighting injustice’, ‘making the most of this UWC-experience’ and ‘academics vs. real life’ prohibited me from actually taking action and come with solutions. It wasn’t until I decided to create a theatre-play along with my Icelandic co-year that I realized that no matter how hard I would try, I would never be able to express myself fully in a political or diplomatic context. I remember performing in front of the audience in school and feeling that I finally had found a way to talk to people. Through portraying a character that they can relate to and hoping that, however small, it adds something to their awareness of the complexity of life. There is so much that theatre cannot do, but one thing it can is influence people’s perception.
When I became fully aware of the fact that I contribute most by doing what I do best, I embraced the theatre as my ‘home’ and started moving towards a life as a professional actor.