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Better listening, watching, feeling, smelling and tasting thanks to Theatre Festival Boulevard #tfboulevard

We don't look upward enough. Maybe we do a quick glance at the horizon to see if that shower is really going to ruin our terrace afternoon, but that's not looking for the sake of looking. And I was able to do that thanks to the people of BLOOS. In Bossche Zuiderpark, they have built an installation with things made for listening in. Something we also do far too little of course. Because I ended up on my back in half a bathtub, I was able to combine that with looking at the clouds. Layered, looming and moving in different directions, depending on the altitude-defying depth of our atmosphere.

Meanwhile, on my ears sounded the fine voice of an elderly man recounting his history as a gay man in a country where, until not so long ago, you could be arrested for holding hands for free: the Netherlands. A very pleasant experience, such a podcast, and because they also put very heavy blankets on me I experienced the pleasant comfort of restraint. Because such swaddling is thus very soothing, even for adult babies like me.


Listening is also one of the talents with which Oscar Kocken has been winning hearts for years. It once began with Random guests, in which, together with comedian Patrick Nederkoorn, he allowed random people from the audience to be Zomergast for half an hour, while behind the scenes there was busy Googling to find and show relevant footage to go with his story.

Kocken's life fell silent in March last year because of Corona. He told about this in a podcast on this site, which you can still listen to here. Thanks in part to that recording, he thought it would be a good idea to move the idea of Zomaargasten to an online environment. Thus was born a series of online talk shows that, like Zomaargasten, were determined by chance. It sometimes resulted in very nice encounters. In his talk show De Leken, he now shows highlights from that online series, in a live setting.


As it also seems to be the year of the monastery, things had been set in a church-like setting in the Zuiderpark's largest tent. First guest was also a local abbot, who had his talk well ready. That was also a bit the problem with The Laity. All guests pretty much had their story ready, except for musician Iris Penning and writer Daan Windhorst, who added a light - or meditative - touch while improvising.

The too good preparation, the large hall and the setting in lazy chairs did not make De Leken the approachable party that Kocken is usually so good at. We were now rather at the closing session of a conference for personnel officers, which may also have been because there was another contribution by a junior from a large consultancy firm, who showed that he at least mastered all the jargon. It became a bit long-winded and predictable, as always happens at those conferences, when the chairman of the day lets one speaker speak for too long before we can all have the bitterballs.


Fortunately, I had already been able to enjoy Balsam, a new food musical theatre event by Flemish culinary theatre makers Laika, that afternoon. This time it's about alchemy, or the quest to make gold out of lead or other 'worthless' material. Think rotting, think molecular cooking, think fermentation and nitrogen. And smell weird skies while heavenly music sounds. Where else, but at a festival like Boulevard do you experience all that in one day?

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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