TEDxDelft 2013 | A Behind The Scenes Peek

Wonder what it was like at the dress rehearsals for TEDxDelft 2013? Reporter Heather Beasley Doyle gives you the scoop.

The TEDxDelft 2013 rehearsal took a slightly frantic turn as event production volunteer Erika Teeuwisse raced down a hall and up the stairs leading to the auditorium entrance inside the Aula building on the TU Delft campus.  Full steam ahead, she opened the door to the darkened space with a slap of her hand.  Surveying the area, Teeuwisse spotted a woman dancing onstage and looked around, murmuring that during her TEDx talk, the woman would be doing something with the audience. She excused herself and made a beeline for the auditorium control room. It was October 3rd, and the doors to “TEDxDelft 2013: Do try this at home”, would open in less than 24 hours.  Teeuwisse had a lot to do.

“One day before the event is always a really strange day”, explained TEDxDelft founder Rob Speekenbrink, who initiated a TEDx event in Delft in 2010 after attending several other European TEDx events.  TEDxDelft made its debut in November 2011.  Speekenbrink loves the event because, “The energy that people get is enormous.  I like people smiling, being entertained and at ease.”

During rehearsal, though, a different energy—somewhat hectic and focused on immediate problem solving–buzzed about.  Although the director, lighting and camera crews are professionals, more than 60 volunteers manage everything beyond the TEDx stage, from registration to food to marketing.  Volunteer recruitment began in early summer, according to volunteer co-coordinator Brenda Hooiveld.  “I was surprised it was so easy to get people [to volunteer]”, she said.  “Everyone’s really enthusiastic and motivated.”

TU Delft students Enne Hekma, Vijay Purushothaman and Anand Prakasha expressed excitement about being part of the event.  All three were ready to do “anything and everything” to help out.  That morning, they had put up a tent, brought in the TEDxDelft letters, and were arranging flowers in dozens of small vases.  TU Delft associate professor Scott Cunningham, on hand to rehearse his TEDx talk about technology forecasting, said that he wanted to give a talk to practice translating his academic knowledge for non-academics.  “I wanted to learn by doing this”, Cunningham said.  “This is really learning by doing.”

Back in the auditorium, production staff and performance coaches looked on while the next day’s speakers practiced. As Cunningham dove into his topic, a man behind him climbed around moving wires, while a worker in front of the stage rose straight up in a machine to adjust stage lights, which turned on and off randomly—at one point Cunningham spoke in the dark as someone lifted floorboards out of the stage. Director Antoinette Wijffels expressed concerns and gave feedback as another speaker stepped onstage, where a woman began throwing juggling balls at him.  Wijffels watched through the camera to see how this gentle assault looked on screen.

By the morning’s end, the red TEDxDelft letters stood in their place, ready for the next day.  More than 1,100 attendees would fill the space, hoping to watch 20 performers as they gave what Speekenbrink called “the talk of their lives”.

Love the chaos? Consider volunteering for the next TEDxDelft event.