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Peter Brook died. He gave theatre the ability to be universal

It was announced today that the great theatre innovator Peter Brook has died. He was 97 years old. In those years, he became one of the world's most influential directors and theatre innovators. He sought world-wide stories and told them through actors who were as diverse as the stories he told. I visited his theatre a few times,... 

Like the best clowns, Elias de Bruyne knows how to connect humour with existential angst. At Festival Boulevard #tfboulevard

One of the very best things about Festival Boulevard is the variety of programming. Theatre, dance, music, youth performances, mime, comedy, it all mixes together. And the festival offers just as much space to young makers as to the old hands. So you get a good overview of what the up-and-coming generation of theatre makers has to offer.... 

For comfort in these dark times, you need John Buijsman. And Kees. #tfboulevard

Bosses start to look like their dogs. Or vice versa. Or owners like dogs who look like them. Or vice versa. Either way. If you want proof of this statement, hurry to Theatre Festival Boulevard where John Buijsman plays the gem 'Cosmic Cowboy', assisted by Kees, a labradoodle. Or something that should pass for that. John Buijsman is one of the... 

The 'weird life' of all-rounder Jef Last is not over

Better to die standing than to live kneeling. The statement is fresh in memory after the murder in the Lange Leidse Dwarsstraat, as a mantra in praise of Peter R de Vries, his fearlessness, non-conformism, straightforwardness and honesty. This same statement jumps out even from the first paragraphs of the introduction to the biography of poet Jef Last, written by Rudi Wester.1.... 

Why laughter is best left to us more often: Joseph Toonga teaches theatre rage #tfboulevard

Think Pussy Riot, think Rammstein, maybe think Nina Hagen before she found Jesus and mix that up nice and fierce. Then you get something that is basically an insane festival act. Raging female punk in a beer- and smoke-soaked nightclub, ferocious moshpits full of people who really have something to dance out of their souls. It's all in there... 

ITA leaves exactly the wrong things to the imagination in Age of Rage. #HF21

In Electra, one of the finest tragedies handed down to us by the ancient Greeks, there is at least one piece of text that made history. It is the account of a horse race. You see nothing, but the language puts your imagination to work. 25 centuries later, they tried to turn the images described into real images for the... 

Presenter Harm Edens wrote a book about his childhood: 'I always felt like an outsider'

He is known as a writer of comedy series, such as SamSam and Het zonnetje in huis, and as presenter of the satirical TV programme Dit was het nieuws. But during Harm Edens' (59) youth, there was little to laugh at. 'Even though the whole country claps for you, if your parents don't, it's still a loss.' The 'intelligent lockdown' was last... 

'Silence has made me sicker.' Kathelijn Hulshof aims to break the taboo on mental illness with her book

An insight into her stormy inner self - that is what Kathelijn Hulshof (32) wants to give with her book Gevalletje borderline. We should dare to talk to each other about mental illness, she thinks. 'Then the burden becomes less heavy and lonely.' Hurricanes inside me 'No, you can't have borderline, people told me. I had completed an education, I had... 

Learning and moving: The Planet, a lament by Garin Nugroho. #HF21

Some art you don't quite understand, but touches you deeply. Paradjanov's films, for instance, or The Planet, a Lament by Garin Nugroho. Nugroho has chosen not to provide his performance with surtitles, so your rational brain has to be sidetracked for a while. What are they singing, what exactly is happening, what is it about? After a few minutes of this same... 

The bands were dead, but Kukangendai breathes life into everything. Be it inimitable. #HF21

Someone cried the other day that bands were dead. That in a world of digital convenience, loop apps and samples, there was no place left for boys and girls with a guitar, a rickety drum kit and possibly a piano. Last night, while real men were watching football, I sat in Amsterdam's BIM house watching a band. It made me overjoyed. Kukangendai, on... 

Unheimlich and intriguing: Kindertotenlieder by Gisèle Vienne #HF21

A boy is a guest at his own funeral where a black metal band is playing a funeral concert. The killer, his best friend, is also there, along with anonymous black metal fans. The light is harsh, there is snow on the ground. To the right at the side of the stage, a wall has been built with crates of beer, to the left is what I am in... 

Antonio Scurati wrote novel about Mussolini: 'Of my readers, 99 per cent consider the book anti-fascist. The other 1 per cent were already fascist and recognise themselves in it.'

Formation of the Fasci di combattimento (the Black Shirts) Milan, Piazza San Sepolcro, 23 March 1919 We look out on Piazza San Sepolcro. Barely a hundred people. All men who don't count. We are few and we are dead. They wait for me to speak, but I have nothing to say. The stage is empty, awash with eleven million corpses,... 

Ine Aya: Wodan's state visit to Kalimantan raises quite a few questions #HF21

After three centuries of colonial oppression and exploitation, it is now pay-back time. However, we, the progeny of the navy that came to get nutmeg there, are not so good at it. Because we come back to Indonesia with mass tourism, cheap clothing dyers and multinationals like Unilever. We do little else but drain the place further. Economically, but also culturally. This can be subject... 

Theatrical installation looking at current events from the Maroons' perspective, this summer at Plein Theatre

Swart Gat/ Golden Age (Dunguu olo - katibo-ten) is a theatrical installation about Amsterdam's slavery past and Maroon culture from Suriname. The concept is by Tolin Erwin Alexander, Berith Danse and designer Bartel Meyburg. The theatrical installation, which has lost none of its urgency, has been further finished and will start again in summer 2021! From 17 June (19 June... 

'Writing has been my salvation.' The troubled life story of Vamba Sherif

Actually, all his female characters are based on his powerful mother and grandmother, says Vamba Sherif (47). In his new, autobiographical book Unprecedented Love, the Liberian-born writer tells his troubled life story to his daughter Bendu. An ode to his homeland and the most important women in his life. I was born into a learned and influential family. The Sherifs... 

'I can finally have real fun again.' How "devil child" Angélique (51) survived 25 years of abuse and mistreatment

A devil child she was called, and that is how her parents treated her. Angélique van Deursen (51) was mistreated and abused for 25 years. It marked her for life, but did not completely destroy her. Even though it would have been close. Angélique van Deursen (r.) and journalist Maria Genova (l.) Two fathers 'As a child I felt I had two fathers.... 

Also in my mind, 'Journey through the night' is due for a 35th printing

The 35th(!) edition of Reis door de nacht, the classic novel written by Anne de Vries, was published recently. As a ten-year-old boy, I sympathised intensely with the war adventures of Jan de Boer and his family members. The book is also a metaphor for my own struggle against darkness. It is a lovely spring day. In the ditch, a duck swims with her... 

Godfried Bomans: respectively loved, vilified, misunderstood and forgotten

Godfried Bomans died half a century ago. Almost immediately afterwards, the Netherlands' best-loved writer sank into oblivion. It is time for a reappraisal of Bomans' literary work and even his political views. I delved into the archives, also looking for the few traces of Bomans in Amersfoort. First some round figures. Seventy years ago, he delivered a lecture... 

You don't forget tap, but tap dancing does. Why it is bad that art is not mentioned

Everyone balks. Let's put that first. And a lot of people are badly affected. Hospitality, retail, schoolchildren and especially students: everything that is not necessary for survival balks. So does the arts. Not all art, of course, especially larger institutions are coming through the corona crisis reasonably well so far. Quiet and closed, but not bankrupt. We can't take that from... 

'If you touch just one person, it can change the world' "Desperate optimist" Adriaan van Dis wrote a book full of joyful anger

It is a fresh and lively book, the new novel by Adriaan van Dis (74). In his characteristic humorous tone, Van Dis broaches the big themes of our time in KliFi: climate change, the refugee crisis, political populism, (im)freedom. When in the republic of the Netherlands a crushingly hot summer turns into a hurricane and a village of refugees is wiped out, silence... 

Why I get nostalgic seeing Variations by Hans van Manen at the Dutch National Ballet

Why I get nostalgic seeing Variations by Hans van Manen at the Dutch National Ballet

If every ballet is about discipline, it is certainly something that applies to Hans van Manen's ballets. Discipline in the music, in the beat, in the simplicity. How ballet creates order in movement, measures space, establishes relationships: you will find it all in the works of Holland's most renowned dance maker. The six parts of the programme Variations... 

'I tried to turn something terrible into something beautiful.' Douglas Stuart wrote a gripping novel about his alcohol-addicted mother

Last year, he became the second Scot ever to win the prestigious Booker Prize, and that too with a debut novel. The unexpected success of Shuggie Bain has a bittersweet edge for Douglas Stuart (44). For the story of maverick Shuggie, who loses his hapless, single mother Agnes to drink, is based on his own childhood. Shuggie grows up... 

The stuffiness from Maeve Brennan's stories is easy to spot at the moment

It is no coincidence that I am rereading The Twelve Year Wedding just now. Because the tightness in the story resembles the tightness of our own time. Like Delia and Martin Bagot, we are trapped in a suffocating existence. Shun contact with fellow human beings. Miss the fresh air of visits to cafés, museums, film houses and theatres. Dublin 1917 is the Netherlands 2021.

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