Star Sign: Leo
Currently reading: PAAZ by Myrthe van der Meer
Hopes her last meal will be: My boyfriends vegetarian pasta
Sofie Habets is an actress and singer who founded her own theater company, De Vrouwen van Wanten, with Romy Rockx in 2016. Their goal is to make theater more accessible for the people for whom theater cannot be taken for granted. Along with her business, she has played various shows for children in the concert hall of Amsterdam, plays in performances by Theater Jaski, Mooi Weer & Zo, and Lefkop, and sings on behalf of Diva Dichtbij – for people who need long-term care and cannot go to the theater anymore.
When did you first know that this was your calling?
It was when I was a six-year-old girl and I was given an opportunity to sing on a large stage in a theater for the first time. I had already practiced a lot at home with the wire of a vacuum cleaner as a microphone (so that I would not trip over the cord during the choreo). I remember feeling a little nervous, but as I sang the first few notes, the tension dropped and I wanted it to go on forever. The audience no longer made me nervous but fed me. It was that moment that I knew I had found my calling.
By setting up my own theater collective, I can always do what makes me happiest and what gives me energy.
How did you get your theater company off the ground?
This actually happened very naturally. My partner Romy and I have known each other since we were 6 years old. We met at the youth theater school – this is where the seed was planted. Eventually Romy went to Artez to study theater and I started my studies in music theater at Codarts. We always kept in touch and worked on projects together whenever we could, but we hadn’t solidified anything yet. It was in 2016 when we officially founded our company, De Vrouwen van Wanten. It just felt like we had to do it. Every year, with every project, we learn more about how to run a business, how to attract other interesting artists to collaborate with, or how to apply for fundings. It’s been such a positive experience.
The reactions we received from people made me realize how special it is that I can do this for a living. It also showed me that it is indispensable in our society. It is a necessity.
What makes your company unique?
The friendship I have with my business partner is a strong foundation for our company. Although we know each other really well, we still surprise one another. Because of that, there is plenty of room for other people to join our collective and take space. Space to develop talent and space to create an inspiring collaboration. We make theatre for all ages. From kids to the elderly and everyone in between. Our performances are successful if there is something valuable in it for everyone in the audience. We play at various unique locations: In an old monastery, in a wasteland, on a meadow, in classrooms and sometimes even right in the center of Rotterdam. In addition, we also contribute to the talent development of young people from Roosendaal.
What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
My biggest challenge is carrying different responsibilities. One day I am a production assistant and internship supervisor, the next day I am a director or actress. Because we are a fairly small collective and still dependent on subsidies, we have to do a lot ourselves. It’s also great because you never get bored and keep developing. But at the same time, it demands a lot from you.
What inspires you to continue?
– Playing shows for children who are so imaginative.
– Providing relief for the long-term ill through singing and personal contact.
– Contributing to the talent development of young people.
– Audience reactions
– Combining the social aspect with the power and beauty of art.
What is your life motto / what mantra do you live?
Phew, a tricky one.
I think: Always be honest with yourself and with others.
How do you ensure a good work-life balance?
I plan beautiful trips far ahead and continuously collaborate with friends! 😉
How has the Corona virus affected your work?
In the beginning I was totally paralyzed and I had never experienced a feeling like it before. For the first time in ages, I did not feel useful in society. What is a singer/actress/theater company without an audience? I turned out to be more dependent than I thought. It also made me realize that my work is completely connected to who I am and what I find important. Fortunately, after a while I was able to give a concert for Diva Dichtbij in the open air. The reactions we received from people made me realize how special it is that I can do this for a living. It also showed me that it is indispensable in our society. It is a necessity.
With De Vrouwen van Wanten, we were looking for a solution to how we could translate our performance in a different way. Our Theater after the Dam performance Sfeerh(e)aven was supposed to premiere on May 4, 2020 at 9:00 PM. Due to the measures surrounding the coronavirus, we chose to translate the concept of the performance into a film. Our students played in the film and as a guide we used interviews that we had held last February with people from Roosendaal. They told their stories of how they had experienced World War II. We are proud of the result which you can see in the video below!
What can people do to support you and others in your field?
Pay artists fairly and continue to see the need for art and culture.
What are your plans for the future?
That I can continue to work for various inspiring organizations and continue to develop as a singer, actress, and person. I also hope that De Vrouwen van Wanten will grow and continue with what we are already doing. Finally, I really hope to make my own musical theater show someday with Romy on guitar. (Romy doesn’t know this yet … Are you in?)
Do you have tips for people who want to start a business (in this field)?
Stay patient and honest. It is not always fun and you have to invest a lot. Not only financially but also in time. Stay true to yourself, especially when it comes to what you have to say, the stories you want to tell, and how you want to do this.
There is not one path.