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Podcast. Theatre Festival Boulevard prepares for grand edition: 'We have to keep looking for each other'

'We are used to thinking in extremes. It is still the only way to be heard. Loud action is the only thing that matters anymore, it seems. So we have to remain mindful of staying curious about where that action comes from, what desire there is. That personal attention is needed, to crawl under that action and find out where it comes from. We need to keep looking for each other. That's what this festival is about.'

Speaking is Tessa Smeulers, director of the Bossche Theatre Festival Boulevard since this spring together with Dana Kibbelaar. She can be heard, together with festival dramaturge and programmer Nina Aalders, in the first new podcast of the season, in which we look ahead to the festival that kicks off in Den Bosch on 4 August.

Not quite 2.0 yet

The new management is having a tough time, we hear: 'A lot has become visible. We were able to work naturally on a kind of automatic regularity for years, and during corona, everything we did automatically before that had changed. As a result, we saw that we were short of manpower. You see that everywhere, and also here: the fatigue is still there. we are not quite at 2.0 of ourselves yet.'

Nina Aalders also recognises the unaccustomedness: 'We come from a corona time when private life and work were much more intertwined than before. You always looked into each other's living rooms when you consulted each other. That was interesting for colleagues among themselves, but you also discovered again how nice the regularity was of being at home with your loved one, in your own environment. I think now we are all trying to guard against the pressure of festival work. Last year's edition, at one and a half metres, with a new box office system, with all people in interim positions, succeeded, but also cost us a lot. With all colleagues, we felt very much that we have to share the care for each other.'

Cautious return to the Parade

In 2021, the festival was driven away from its decades-long home, Bossche square De Parade, in the shadow of St John's Basilica. The one-and-a-half-metre version found a new spot in the park south of the city centre, and it worked out well, says Tessa Smeulers: 'The edition in the park, with all that space, that air, the trees, was very healing. We are also happy to be able to return there again, because we certainly haven't come out of our cocoon yet. The park section is more compact now, but still gives space.' Aalders echoes her: 'We were forced to move away from the Parade, from that little close quarters, and we went to the space of the park, Now we're cautiously returning to the city centre, we're sticking a toe in, so to speak, but we're still getting our bearings. Do we still want to push hut together on the parade?'

Still, they look confidently ahead to a festival that will be visible all over the city as ever: 'The identity of the festival is not the small of 2020. We spread ourselves across the city, are visible everywhere and we would like to get that back.'

Listen to the whole conversation here!

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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