Sonnabend, 23. Januar 2021

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Theatrical Landscape of the Netherlands

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Theatrical Landscape of the Netherlands
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But others in their generation forgo words altogether. Young theatre makers such as Lotte van den Berg, Jetse Batelaan, Boukje Schweigman and Dries Verhoeven are researching exciting, new forms of theatre. They work mostly outside theatres and developed their style at the popular summer festivals. These festivals have avoided the dichotomy between avant-garde and conservatism by programming high-art, site-specific theatre and more approachable fare, side by side, and with great success.

In many ways this generation of early thirty-somethings elaborates on the work of Hollandia (Johan Simons' group in the eighties and nineties) and the Dogtroep, the founding fathers of Dutch site specific theatre, but they add their own imaginative power and an exceptional intimacy.

Main theme is the act of viewing itself
Schweigman, a mime artist by education, makes deceptively simple movement theatre which turns out unexpectedly profound. Together with her regular designer Theun Mosk, she builds intimate spaces in which the performers and the audience are able to look for genuine encounters. Verhoeven, originally a set designer, makes architectural installation performances in which the spectator is subtly turned into a performer.

Van den Berg, the most radical director of her generation, constructed a closed box with one window for her performance "Gerucht" (2007) in which her audience could observe a busy square in the city. All these young theatre makers take the act of viewing itself as their main theme. The everyday nature of the little language they use is offset by the poetry of their images. In a restless time they are searching for means to achieve attention, concentration and postponing of judgement and interpretation. They subvert the cynicism of society by being consciously naive. They won't put up with a marginal place in the avant-garde, and have a fundamentally international outlook.

So maybe Dutch theatre doesn't really need plays to bridge the gap between different stage cultures. The performances by the current generation can do that all by themselves.

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