Gijs Scholten van Aschat is one of the most famous actors in the Netherlands.
Though he has played in films, he is basically a stage actor.
Yesterday, 24 June 2012, he played a solo act in the LAK theatre in Leiden.
Why was such a “big” actor in that relatively small theatre?
Already in 2009, when there was a threat that the LAK theatre would close down, and there was a big, then successful, campaign to save it, Scholten van Aschat in a video (see below) expressed his support for the theatre and its good qualities.
In 1947, when the Netherlands and the whole world were much poorer than now, at Leiden University, the Leiden University Arts Centre and its theatre, the LAK theatre, started.
During the Great Economic Depression in the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president of the USA, did not cut arts funding. Quite the contrary. The arts budget became much bigger, by giving unemployed artists work, etc.
In the present economic crisis, however, governments, including in the Netherlands, believe in the economic fairy tales of Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher.
Though Dutch voters oppose austerity, the collapsed caretaker Rightist minority government keeps cutting in education and arts.
Conforming to government policies, Leiden university bosses have decided to close down the theatre.
After an earlier farewell night at the theatre, Sunday 24 June afternoon was the last time the LAK theatre was open.
And the last actor on its stage, before its ultimate final curtain, was Gijs Scholten van Aschat.
Scholten van Aschat played an old clumsy theatre employee. Everyone had left him, behind a closed door. His only “company” was a coat, forgotten by a theatre patron.
Among the few words which Scholten van Aschat said was: “I am going to sit down”. However, there was no chair.
Then, he said “I am going to lie down”. He did. And died.