Few people will have the same friends during their whole
lifetime. Loes Vos, Peter Goedhart and Simon Versnel started their
lifes being neighbours in Rotterdam-Blijdorp. The families Vos and Versnel lived in the same house at the first and second
floor. The family Goedhart lived two numbers next-door. Simon Versnel grew up with Loes as
his older sister, Peter moved away with his parents and when Loes met him again years later, the circle was round
again. Now the three live again in the same street in the Northern part of Rotterdam.
Through the years they have made several productions together [Loes is an actress and a
singer, Peter is a singer, composer and
poet], they go on holidays and share many other activities
together. It is a great and wonderful thing to have such good
friends, especially when one travels a lot. They also take care of the house while on
travel, and tajke care of the mail and the plants. When you come back home there is always a place to go to with your
stories, a place where it is warm and nice, where there is always something to eat or drink and where you feel
welcome. We share our past and our present, our ups and downs and hope to get old
In the early Seventies Simon Versnel started to take singing-lessons In Rotterdam. He was advised to go to Dini Erkens by the famous Dutch singing-teacher Bep Ogterop, where he did a test to see if singing was really something for him to start with.
From the moment that the lessons by Dini Erkens started, a new world opened for Simon and Dini became, as he calls her,
his musical mother. An inspiring, enthusiastic, very energetic and lovely person, who took him by the hand and showed him the world of Opera, Operettas, Classical Songs and more.
Soon he was performing already and Dini was always there to coach and to give him advice. For about 17 years Simon kept on taking lessons and after that period, of course, they stayed friends forever. In April 2003 Dini Erkens died at the age of 96, leaving behind hundreds of students and good friends, who owed an important part of their career to her.
In 1981 Simon met Jan Tinholt and this was the beginning of a long relationship, during which they shared especially the good things
in life. They also formed a family when the sons of Jan came to live with them at the age of 12 and 14 years
old. Both Jan and Simon were employed in the Social Sector, but Jan discovered another passion, painting, and Simon was acting and singing more
and more. They stimulated and inspired each other in this new
career and as a result of that Jan was the first to decide to make painting his job instead of a hobby. After about two years Simon followed him, gave up his job and became a professional actor and singer. Although the relation did not last, they both are looking back at a good time together, in which they learned to fight for what they really wanted to do in life. Jan succeeded in becoming a well-known painter of naive oil-paintings and until now he has a lot of
Pauline Roelants, Maarten van der Put, Grace Ellen Barkey and Jan Lauwers
There are 2 couples who immediately believed in Simon
Versnel as an actor. First, in 1992, when he auditioned in Eindhoven
[The Netherlands] for a part in Untitled [Cowboys], there was Maarten van der Put, who directed the play and Pauline Roelants, choreographer and dancer in this group, in those days named 'United-C'. This performance was a success and some others followed, as you can read in
the Curriculum Vitae. Most important for Simon was that these people gave him the opportunity to act and dance in a professional group and that they encouraged him to go on.
It was on that occasion that Simon was also for the first time introduced to Jan Lauwers, artistic director of
Needcompany in Brussels and to his wife Grace Ellen Barkey, choreographer and dancer. In 1993 Grace asked Simon to perform in her second dance-performance
Don Quijote. After that Tres followed and in 1996 Jan Lauwers gave Simon a part in
Macbeth. This was the start of a long co÷peration with Needcompany. It was there that Simon developed himself in many new ways, especially in acting and moving on the stage and in working together with a lot of talented colleagues. For the start of his professional
acting-life, he could not have been in better company than with the people of these two
During his work with
Needcompany, Simon had the great opportunity to work with the Belgium actress Viviane de
She was already well-known in Holland and Belgium, because of her work on stage and in
movies. Watching her work - it started with
Macbeth - as a colleague was, and still is, very
inspiring. Besides she is able to explain very clearly how and why she does the things on stage the way she does
them. This is the best way to learn and for that Simon is extremely
gratefull. No wonder that Viviane through the years developed the ability to teach in a lot of Workshops. She still is performing with
Needcompany and has a lot of work abroad [f.e. Germany]. In
general, working with a group as
Needcompany is a great chance. Making wonderful
productions, with a talented group of people and travelling all over the
world, who would not like to do that?
Several year ago Simon visited for the first time a small Greek island in the Egeic See.
It became a place which he visits at least one time a year. There is no traffic, there are no roads, there are a few tavernas and one hotel and there are three places to swim and enjoy the sun. But one thing that really struck him was the meeting with, an old man in his eighties, living up a hill outside of the village. This man,
Michalys, used to be a sponge-diver and in consequence of an accident during this work he is disabled in several ways:
for instance he is completely deaf and he can hardly walk. He lives in a little,
very simple house, with several rooms, made of corrugated iron, water from a well
and improvised electricity. Around the house one can find beautiful sculptures, made of all kind of things to be found at the beach after a storm. This man is his own Miro and visiting him every year gives you the impression to be with a completely happy person. He is a real example of how to be happy without all the things in life which
we think are necessary for us to feel happy. He is the real inspiration for getting happiness out of the small things that come to you
by accident and not because you were chasing them.