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For the Record
In Memoriam:
Paul Anderssen,
Dutch OISTAT Center

Joel E. Rubin
USITT Fellows and Past-President of USITT and OISTAT

Paul Anderssen was, I believe, the preeminent figure of the Dutch technical theatre world over the past few decades. Paul was 77 years old when he passed away on January 9.

I first met Paul when he served as a member of the Dutch delegation to the First OISTAT Congress in 1969. He remained active in OISTAT for the next three decades. He was a member of the Technical Commission and served several terms on the Executive Committee. Paul Anderssen also was one of the first in the Netherlands to realize the importance of international contacts. He maintained intensive contacts with Eastern European colleagues. He had an innate understanding of this different world and these different cultures.

Paul had an ability to assuage the east-west rivalries that inevitably arose during the early days of OISTAT (the Cold War days) when there was any possible political overtone to a OISTAT action. During my terms as President of OISTAT, I counted on Paul’s diplomatic skills, since he was trusted by both “west” and “east” and was frequently the catalytic presence providing the means for agreement.

I don’t recall Paul ever being angry. His way of getting around a tough obstacle was to tell a little joke, followed by a little laugh, and then to make his point very precisely and always with good humor. He usually got his way.

In the 1960s, he founded the first Dutch technical theatre trade magazine, the Tijdschrift voor Theatertechniek. Through several reincarnations this periodical is currently published by the Dutch Guild of Theatre Technicians as Zichtlijnen (i.e. Sightlines). He founded the NTTK (the Netherlands Theatre Technical Circle) and co-founded the Theater Technische Vakbeurs (Dutch Exposition for Theatre Suppliers).

As a token of great respect, last fall the Dutch technical theatre community presented Paul with a newly minted award, the Prix d’Amix, presented to him by Ide van Heiningen, the director of MAPA. (The particularly Dutch Moving Academy for Performing Arts which offers training programs for theatre management and theatre technology). Over 150 friends, family, and colleagues came to the Agora Theatre in Lelystad for this occasion. At the time of the presentation in September, Mr. Anderssen was already ill so the homage was also a goodbye.

Lighting and lighting techniques were Paul’s greatest passion. “Light is the essence of human existence,” was one of his observations. In 1955, when working for engineering company Projecto, he got acquainted with the lighting products of ADB. The encounter soon turned into a love affair. He decided to stay in the world of theatre, did the odd job as a young man in the De La Mar (the historic theatre which dates back to 1840), and finally founded the company Controllux Lichttechniek in 1968 where he proceeded to furnish many theatres during the following decades. Later he enjoyed teaching at the Theatre School in Amsterdam (the training center for theatre technicians.)

Mr. Anderssen was a man of clear principles. He took his trade and his customers very seriously, always ready to lend his ear. Paul valued the close friendships formed in the theatre as much more important than trading. Those friendships were many, as was proven at the testimonial party in his honor in September. With Paul’s passing, an icon of the Dutch theatre has gone. The influence he had on today’s theatre techniques and the contacts he established between the theatre people of many countries will still be felt for decades to come.

For these notes I have drawn heavily on the obituary written by Ferenc Vajda and Paul’s son Victor which was published in the March issue of the Hungarian theatre magazine Szinpad, and I added some material of my own. For those interested in further information on Paul (in Dutch), a long interview with him appears in the November 2008 issue of the Dutch periodical Zichtlijnen. It was always a joy to receive the Anderssen’s Christmas card. Each year provided an illustration of an historic theatre or an historic lighting device. Paul is survived by his wife Frederika, three sons, and three grandchildren. Paul was a very special individual, much loved by those of us who knew him, a personal friend and a noble spirit.

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Paul Anderssen