I don’t even remember when and where for the first time I met Elske. Either it was during Connecting Women monthly meetings, where I was a PR Coordinator, either at many other expat networking events. Elske is a nice and warm person, always smiling 🙂 As Elske is saying networking is one of the most important activities one need to do in order to achieve its goals. I have to shamefully admit, that I have not yet visited STET, however it is on my bucket list.
Name: Elske van Holk
Country: The Netherlands
What is your dream?
When looking around I realise that despite many mishaps in my life I have also been blessed with many wonderful and beautiful happenings. So all in all a lot of my dreams have been accomplished already. I am a lucky person with many dear ones around me. But in general I hope we will be able to hand down the earth to future generations without having done too much damage to it. And I hope that future generations will feel that same responsibility. I firmly believe in the role of art as a uniting tool and experience that can help us going forward on deeper levels and create a better universal understanding for each other in this world. My dream would be that more people can be touched by art and moved positively in protecting their relationships and environment.
I qualified as a lawyer and a social worker and did one year of drama school. My first dream job was actually when I lived close to London and worked for Southwark Playhouse, a wonderful studio theatre south of the Thames in London. Southwark Playhouse provides very high quality theatre productions but is also deeply rooted in the community it is based in. So all my skills and loves were being used. I had for six years a great time there. After our return to the Netherlands I set up STET The English Theatre in 2006 and created my own dream-job. As the money was not so great I found another dream-job in 2008 in the Expatriate Archive Centre. As it turned out I had to make a choice in 2013 between the two as the day only has 24 hours. Having found a fabulous successor to lead the Expatriate Archive Centre, I choose to continue at STET. It is incredibly rewarding and enriching to work in and for the international community in The Hague and provide this community with great theatre. So lucky me I am in a dream job once again.
How did you achieve your dream-job? / how do you plan to achieve your goal=dream job?
I think I was lucky that in a way the jobs found me. I believe very much in living your life as organically as possible. So go with the flow. But once I got the jobs, I followed the tips (with ups and downs of course) which I have outlined hereunder. The hardest part is that as a wife, mother and friend you do not like to say NO, when called upon – I have to admit I am still not very good at it, which comes at a price that every now and then I beg for the 48 hour day – which of course is never going to happen. Getting the balance right is a challenge for me and I realise that it sometimes must be hard for my loved ones to live with me.
What are your tips to others concerning the Dream Job/Life?
I have my own business, a theatre is nothing else then a shop. You sell goods that people like to buy. For those who also like to set up their own business, I think my biggest tip is to make sure that your home-base is OK. If your partner, children or circle of friends are grumbling that they do not see you as often as they would like, it is hard, particularly when the hours are long and odd and it is very difficult to generate real income from it.
This brings me to the second tip which is Perseverance, Perseverance, Perseverance. This means that you cannot always please your base, but you can make them aware how important this work is for you, so they accept that you are not always there for them.
Thirdly you have to be prepared to work odd hours (often when others are already asleep).
And lastly it cannot be said enough … network, network and network. Contacts are of the essence when setting up your own business whether it is as a consultant or as a theatre producer, you have to go out and get to know people who can inspire you and help you to develop. And it is equally rewarding to share your own knowledge and skills with others and often creates new opportunities again.
Who are you?
I am a happy person that leads STET The English Theatre. We work for most of our productions in the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague. In Summer we go outdoors and have great open-air productions. Theatre practitioners from around the world are brought in by STET to provide the international community (including many Dutch internationals) with a high quality theatre programme all year round. And STET was one of the producers of the first ever English language Shakespeare Festival, which will continue in the years to come. We also reach out with an extensive education programme to many schools in all of The Netherlands. So have a look at www.theenglishtheatre.nl and hope to see you at one of our performances!