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The future of theatre is flexible. In conversation with Huub Huikeshoven and Arjen Berendse on ´What is a good theatre?'  

"There is something strange going on. Municipalities have no money to build or furnish such a theatre, and companies have too little money to make productions. So it is chafing on both sides." Huub Huikeshoven, trained as an interior designer, works for Theateradvies, an organisation that advises on the layout and design of theatres. It turns out that this is where things tend to fall short (forgotten dressing rooms, inaccessible loading docks, a stand like a Japanese letterbox), so we have plenty to say about it. 

Now there is a book by him. In 23 interviews with comedians, musical stars, directors and actors, he tries to find out what performing artists prefer to see in a theatre. The book is full of amusing anecdotes, such as how world-famous opera director Peter Sellars really feels about Ivo van Hove, and full of funny insights that you wouldn't easily realise as an ordinary theatre-goer.

Living room of the city

We talk about this entertaining book in Hout's Theater aan de Slinger, a remarkable new venue, which has just celebrated its 15th anniversary. Partly on the advice of Huikenshoven's office, the building has been designed to be as flexible as possible. It is both a school building and an unofficial music school and a living room for the neighbourhood. So joining us for the podcast is Arjen Berendse, not only director of Aan de Slinger, but also a director of the Association of Theatre and Concert Hall Directors (VSCD).

Berendse: "I have seen examples in the last few years of cities where theatre houses with a big orchestra pit are built and then when I look at the programming, that orchestra pit is only needed eight times a year. Should you then invest millions in an orchestra pit?" 

Catholic high mass

In our conversation of just under 40 minutes, we also talk about the future-proofing of today's theatres. Berendse certainly has ideas about that: "If I look at younger generations now, who are used to everything being interactive: what does that look like? Do we then still have a transmitter on a stage and 300 receivers in the auditorium; who listen obediently and stand up and applaud at the end? I sometimes call it Catholic High Mass."

Listen to the podcast

(Members only) Read the full transcript of the talk below.
Wijbrand Schaap

Welcome to the Culture Award Podcast. This time from Theater aan De Slinger in Houten. Here, I talk to Arjen Berendse, director of Theater aan de Slinger, and Huub Huikeshoven. You are author of the book What is a good auditorium? You are also a consultant, affiliated to TheatreAdvies, which is an agency that advises municipalities and architects on building theatres. If I'm going to sum it up, can you say a bit more about that? What TheatreAdvies is exactly.

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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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