Skip to content

Wunderbaum sends you into the night with a smile #HF16

This year, the Holland Festival puts Rotterdam-based theatre collective Wunderbaum in the spotlights with the revival of 'The Coming of Xia', premieres of  'Privacy' and 'The Future of Sex' and the film 'Stop acting now'. Wunderbaum concludes their four-year project with this film 'The New Forest' off, a 'Platform for social change', According to Wunderbaum, "The New Forest depicts transition and casts a glance at tomorrow's society.

The reimagining of 'the arrival of Xia' can be seen at Fab City, at the head of Amsterdam's Java Island, among the temporary eco-homes that have been built there as part of 'Recreating Europe' have risen. An appropriate place for a performance that explores new forms of society and questions old systems.


We, the audience, take our seats in a so-called Panopticon[hints]An intimate wooden arena (source Wikipedia[/hints]. Out of our midst, the six Wunderbaum philosophers step into the arena. They wear long black robes and incorrigibly optimistic grimaces. With 'Robert ten Brink-like' cheerfulness and intonation, they discuss their private lives and philosophical interests.

Find it easy, find it flat. It works. It is extremely entertaining to hear six people bickering about philosophy in a kind of game-show format. After briefly introducing Modernism ("life has a purpose") and Post-Modernism ("life has no purpose"), Wunderbaum introduces his solution: the Meta-Modernist ("you have no chance but take it!").

Thinking about questions like: what does a society need? How can thinking with Plato get whooping out of control? Is democracy actually 'democratic'? Wunderbaum turns it into an extraordinarily playful and stimulating thought exercise.

Defence Line of Amsterdam

Pre-selected guest performers join the discussion or present us with their own ideal society. For example, civil servant Ton van Oosterwaard, who wants to reduce air pollution with a plant-based 'theorem of Amsterdam' tack. He looks a lot more relaxed as a speaker now than when I attended his 2014 TedXamsterdam talk reviewed!

Then Wunderbaum actors Walter Bart, Mathijs Jansen, Maartje Remmers, Sylvia Poorta, Marleen Scholten and Hannah van Lunteren will make the switch from Western to Eastern philosophy. At least, they make an attempt to put themselves in another frame of mind and make it tangible and visible. It is nice that Wunderbaum, besides language and reason, also introduces music, feeling and experience as ways of reflecting on new societies. Reason alone won't get you there.

The ending, there at the head of Java Island, is too beautiful to give away. I went into the night with a smile.

Good to know
On Thursday 23, Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June, the show can still be seen at the Holland Festival. Information


Hannah Roelofs

Dramaturg, speech coach and student English teacher.View Author posts

Private Membership (month)
5€ / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)