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Nerd podcast Live: Marijn Lems, Erik Snel and Bran Remie on the value of audience and the need for criticism

Culture Press' new series of geek podcasts is about how to make theatre connect with your audience, and what happens when professional viewers continue to watch in their own way. And it's about the ambitions of 'the region'. So we also talk to Bran Remie, author and creator of the successful Enschede theatre series 'Huize Enschede', reviewed jubilantly elsewhere on our website.

Bran Remi argues that marketing is not a solution to tap into new target groups. You have to adapt the offer: "In Enschede, you do have many cultural institutions, but I hardly see any students there. And then there are 24000 students here in Enschede. Nobody comes here to see, comes to our theatre. They don't know it exists. Then we can push all the performances through marketing, and say: this is really something very nice for you, but then they just let it slip away from them. So I thought: if we bring their stories to the stage now, we can better introduce them to the theatre world."

A direct line

Also joining us is Maxime Vandommele. She plays in the on this site also highly acclaimed performance Metamorphoses II of Theatre Group Alum: "I have been playing for schools for five or six years now. I've already heard a lot of people saying, in response to our performances: if you have an open performance, I'll come again with my parents. That does give a very direct line."

Language is also important, says Bran Remie: "What I found very important was that you speak the language of the students anyway, so that you really make sure it's not too contrived, because I get a kind of government film that wants to be cool."

How does it work?

On the site reviewer Marijn Lems wrote a review of Metamorphoses II in which he mainly criticised director Erik Snel's input. The latter, via e-mail, entered into a conversation with Lems: "I would very much like to know from Marijn how he arrives at this description, and also wonder: does he really know how it works? That may be a somewhat pedantic response, but that was my opinion at the time. By the way, I think the most important thing is that the actors don't get the hang of it, because they have to play it every night or every afternoon. I can lick my wounds in a corner somewhere."

Lems did not shy away from the challenge via email, and also in this podcast: "I think a review is the beginning of a conversation. I am always happy when there is a reaction from theatre-makers, from actors and everyone involved in their production. That happens, sometimes, and I'm always very happy when that conversation can be had. Erik and I had had conversations before, including about previous performances and texts of his. So it was nice that that threshold had already been cleared and Erik felt free to ask me questions about it."

Game direction and camels

The conversation already yielded some news: "What I hadn't included in the review, which I regret, is that the play direction is also his, of course. In the review, it seems like the actors did that completely autonomously, whereas Erik obviously had a hand in that. That was really a very valid criticism that I thought: I can really do better next time."

There is also some discussion about what to do with the criticism that 'nothing is being added'. I too, as host of the podcast, have problems with that. Erik Snel agrees: "I find the question of whether something is added to a play a stumbling word. We always had an expression at drama school: 'there were no camels in it again'. So that meant it was sometimes about what wasn't in it rather than what was. I am basically a fan of looking at what is in it and seeing what that does to you. The moment that is not enough, I understand that you start looking further."


Marijn Lems makes an attempt to explain the idea further: "I don't think every play has to have a current social theme. But the makers should have thought about what it means to tell this story now? What does it mean to me? What does it mean for the audience? And so I felt that was too much absent in Metamorphosis II, because it felt like primarily a piece that very much focuses on how beautiful those old stories are. That has a lot of value, but I write a review from my own perspective and not from to answer the question of whether the play has value. This has been the encounter between me and the piece, For me, as a viewer, then I'm left a little bit hungry with this piece."

The podcast is about much more, with a lot of added value because you really hear the voices and really feel the emotions. So listen up!

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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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