Fokka Kortmann-Deelen is a theatermaker, social designer, and tutor of Transformation Design and study coach at Willem de Kooning Academy. She studied drama and has a background in theater. She works in interaction and performance education, where she mostly teaches people to have the courage to engage in interaction and what the impact of that interaction can be. In this Q&A style interview, Fokka shares her career journey and her love for dialogue and education.
Rotterdam, 26-09-2015. Powerboat organiseert een middag in R'dam Alexanderpolder voor buurtbewoners. © Foto: Erno Wientjens.
How would you best describe yourself and your work activities?
“I am a theatermaker, social designer, and tutor. During my theater education, I was always more interested in acting dialogues and less in monologues. After completing my studies in drama, I met a designer who worked on interaction, and that sparked my interest. I began exploring ways to create interaction through performances, installations, games, and more. I work in various settings, such as neighborhoods, companies, and public spaces.”
What is your subject of knowledge?
“My subject of knowledge is intervention and performance education. I teach people to have the courage to engage in interaction and what the impact of that interaction can be. As a Transformation Design tutor, I also use my own model, PULSE (provoke, understand, lead, support, expand), to guide my students in creating an interaction. I also use my theater background to warm up the class and create a safe environment for students to try things.”
Why did you start working at Willem de Kooning Academy?
“My partner has been working here for a long time. I helped him design an education day that focused on giving compliments. Someone noticed that I spoke well in front of a group and suggested that I would be a good fit for the academy. I spoke with Transformation Design course leader, and there was a position available in the major. It was a natural fit because it aligned with my passion for interaction. I started in 2015, and over the past seven years, I have also become a student career coach (SLC) and have been teaching more at the transformation design major.”
What do you love about teaching?
“I love teaching because I believe in dialogue and sharing knowledge. Teaching goes both ways, and I often learn from my students. It is a process of mutual learning and growth. I share my experience, and in doing so, I gain a deeper understanding of my own practice. Teaching is a dialogue that helps me find new insights and perspectives.”
What defines you as a tutor?
“As a tutor, I want my students to feel that I am there to support them and offer them tools to learn. I want to provide knowledge and guidance, but I also want to encourage students to explore and learn by doing. I believe in a dialogue between the student and the teacher, and I want to create a safe and comfortable environment for that to happen.”
What makes Transformation Design so special for you?
“I think I was already doing a lot of Transformation Design work in my own practice without realizing it. My practice is focused on starting dialogues; everyone who visits my performances also brings something of their own, and I always invite them to share their experiences and create new perspectives together. Transformation Design is also about that; encouraging people to explore those different paths. The Transformation Design major allows me to explore that further and share my knowledge and experience with students. It is a unique field that combines design and social issues, and I find it very inspiring.”
How would you describe your relationship with art?
"I am dyslexic, so for me, art is very comforting because it is a different form of expression and communication. Art can facilitate interaction and imagination, which can be beneficial for everyone. It can provide openings, guidance, and meaning."
What is your goal as a tutor?
"The main reason why I am here is for the students. The interaction that I have with them is very special to me, and I feel like I can make a difference. My goal is to help students transition from consumers to producers. I hope that through my classes, students feel a sense of independence and autonomy, become the designers of their own lives and careers, and gain confidence in their unique strengths and skills. I also aim to stay in touch with people from here, including alumni, and sometimes also collaborate with them through Powerboat projects."
What is something most students don't know about you that you would like to share?
"I actually don't share much about my personal life. Recently, I was asked to give a presentation about what I do with Powerboat, and I realized that I rarely do that. Maybe I should do it more often, since it was very positively received. Also, there is a big difference between me as an expressive actress that wears all sorts of costumes and me as a low-key dressed tutor."