How does Parktheater smell without an audience?

(And what an employee misses most)

It is my first day at work in the Parktheater.
I’m asked if I can go get the mail.

Of course.
But halfway there, I smell tigers.

I stop in front of a steel cage sitting in the hallway. Six tigers run onto the circus stage. Immediately, the stagehands open the hallway again. I walk on.

Twenty years later, I still smell those tigers.

Scents throughout the Parktheater, they’re everywhere

The Parktheater is temporarily closed due to the Corona crisis. There are no performances up until June 1. On Friday March 13th, the doors were locked. I decide to just go and pick up my notebook.

A thousand square meters of Keruing wood
I already have my coat on, but I don't yet feel like leaving. I walk onto the stage in the large auditorium. It is quiet there.

I sniff the air.
I smell 930 red chairs, a thousand square meters of Keruing wood and countless performances.

Special latch
Did you know that, out of all the senses, smell stimulates memory the quickest? This is because the smell center in our brain is positioned closest to the emotion center. Scent travels a shorter path to the brain than sensory information that enters through our eyes, ears and skin.

Scents release a special latch in our memory.

I walk quietly on. 
The coffee machine in the office garden has the smell of café crème. Black coffee with a creamy layer. That's how I start every workday.

In my mind, I hear my colleagues.
• "Is there any cream cake with marzipan again?"
• "An extra 56 tickets were sold for Evita last night."
• "Did you know that Jan's new girlfriend is se-ven-teen years younger than he is?"

The smell of artists
I walk through the swinging door to the dressing rooms. Here it smells like sweat, face paint and clean laundry.

I think of Guido Weijers ironing his shirt. I hear an orchestra member playing his bassoon. Usually there are portable clothing racks and boxes full of stickers here.

Sewage smell and frikadelles
There is a sewage smell near the stairwell. It’s been there for years. Every day, artists walk up the stairs here on their way to the Hertog Jan Zaal.

In the artist's foyer, I usually smell oil from the deep-fryer. I have lunch there daily with my colleagues and with the technicians from the groups that perform that day. They eat greasy food and drink coffee. They never see the light of day during their working hours. They don't go to bed until two or three in the morning.
I have a great deal of respect for them.

Wet raincoats
The cloakroom is also empty. I smell wet raincoats and Jil Sander eau de toilette. I hoist my bag onto my back.
Nic, from reception, guards the artist's exit.

It doesn't smell like anything.

He raises his hand. 'Take care of yourself.'
"You too," I say.

All blogs by Loes

One of the 36 empty dressing rooms