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Boudica survived 2,000 years of male historiography. She has now become fascinating theatre. 

The overhead projector. What a beautiful tool in the hands of an artist. There will probably also be someone who does something unexpected with a digital whiteboard, but it cannot be as inventive as what Jilles Flinterman does in ´Boudica'. The play, created under the wings of Utrecht-based theatre group Aluin, tells of a woman who has a statue in England, and was even made an example of by the late Queen Elisabeth.

Boudica led a Celtic force in the first century of our era that gave the Roman occupiers some frightful moments and cost everyone a lot of blood. We know her story thanks to two Roman historians who seem to have used the bloody history mainly to show how barbaric the Celts were. After all, a normal woman was not supposed to lead troops. Thus, after an initial surprise attack on present-day Colchester and a siege of London, she was easily mauled by the superior intelligence of the Roman general on duty. Thus the male lore.

Live animations

Jilles Flinterman and writer Nasja Covers have now turned it into a narrative performance, in which the actor brings history to life from behind a table with an overhead projector. He creates animations on the spot, sometimes jumps into his projected images himself and brings it all with the cheerful eagerness of the type of teacher everyone would like to have had at school. It also comes with a soundtrack of music ranging to the sounds of Radiohead and consorts.

This is DIY theatre that could only come about thanks to Corona. Jilles could not leave his house because of closed venues and schools, so, thanks to the corona grant from the government that his company Alum neatly disbursed to him, he had to make something fun in his own attic room. Hence the intimate setting, hence the personal, hence the vulnerability with which all that fantasy is now shown to the public.

Game of Thrones

This play is in Alum's tradition of making performances for VWO students and grammar school students, but it is suitable for any audience in the mood for a tasty story. After all, those Celts and Romans, they come walking straight out of Game of Thrones and Marvel comics.

That this engaging actor with a surname that seems to come from a Bordewijk novel is a man, narrating a woman's history passed down by men, is a secondary theme. What would the reality have been like in England at the time? What role did women play among the Celts, how big was Boudica's force really?

Isn't it miraculous enough that this one woman survived a male-dominated and described history of millennia? Was Roman patriarchy import in a Celtic world where women had ruled for centuries?

There is still so much we don't know. That's why it's so nice to have overhead projectors.

Boudica, seen on 29 September in the Kleine Zaal of Theater Kikker in Utrecht. More information on the website.

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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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