Unlike the man who stampeded down four escalators, swearing at the top of his voice and damning the Early Music Festival organisation to hell and back (see part 24), I had not reached boiling point – yet. This was to change within less than 30 minutes.
Once it was time to head for my first fringe concert of Friday the 5th of September, I went to the information stand between escalators on the top floor of Tivoli-Vredenburg. I needed directions to the Mirliton Theatre. By that time, nobody came up the escalator for fringe tickets anymore. The information stand was now manned though.
Earlier that week, I had talked to several Utrecht citizens who were also queuing for tickets. Like me, they had no clue where this concert venue was to be found.
The little map in the festival brochure could not be trusted. After all, the organisation had not bothered to check if each concert venue had been printed at the right spot with the right address. It had taken a Utrecht citizen to point this out to the people manning the ticket boot. How many people had missed Corde Sonore’s impressive concert due to this mistake (see part 5) will for ever remain a mystery. Nobody of the organisation had also bothered to point out, that this was one of the concert venues, less suitable for people depending on wheelchairs, scoot mobiles, sticks, crutches, or other necessary props to get anywhere.
When I asked for directions, the top floor information desk volunteer was clueless. Like me, she hadn’t a clue. I was told to try the information stand at ground floor level.
Taking four escalators down, I went to the ground floor information stand. However, that stand had suddenly changed into some other information stand. Whoever sat behind the stand only spoke English. When I asked for directions in English, the person manning this desk was clueless. She pointed towards another information stand.
So I headed to my third information stand in the building. You guessed it: the volunteer there, told me and other people wanting the head to that concert venue she hadn’t walked that route so was unable to help us.
All I knew was, it ought to be somewhere in Hoog Catharijne. This is a multi-level shopping mall, with multi entrances and exits, parking garages, as well as the town’s major bus station, tram station, and central station – where national and international trains call. Any idea, how easy it is to find a small theatre there? Not only for people from outside the country, outside Utrecht, even from Utrecht itself?
I had some vague idea which entrance might be the right one, so walked there – passing at least two other entrances into the vast mall. Was I lucky! Outside the entrance I recognized a face of one of the regular volunteers. I told him nobody at Tivoli-Vredenburg had been able to direct people to this mystery spot.
Did he care? “Yeah, that’s why I am standing here”.
Well, I thought, nice for you to stand here being decorative – but how do people know which entrance is the right one – with nobody in Tivoli-Vredenburg directing them to the right entrance?
I was told to get up the escalator, where I would find another volunteer.
Wow: off the escalator I spotted another familiar face. I was told to go through a side-passage, then up two flights of stairs.
Of course it was only ONE flight of stairs, then spot a miserly sign and take a passage on the left. But before I figured that one out, I and a group of people ended up at one of the floors of a concrete parking lot: lost in space, so to say.
When I left that floor and went one flight of stairs down again, I spotted the small plaque and got into the right corridor. A volunteer hurried past me. I told the man, someone should wait for people in the staircase as well to give directions. I was told to tell one of the volunteers in the theatre, as he was in a hurry. While he scuttled away to God knows where, I thought: “Why does the audience have to sort things out? Are we volunteering here? Does a festival’s public have to organise its organisation – or iron out its bloopers?”