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Mourning

'Taking part in an invasion is a thousand times harder than writing a book about it'

Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games... Would young people still be interested in history? Writer Anke Manschot believes so. On the eve of Children's Book Week, which starts today, her exciting and gripping historical book The Leap of Normandy, the world's first children's novel about D-Day, was published. Five questions for the author. Historical juvenile novel During a holiday in Normandy,... 

Writer Jonas Gardell: 'I slept with death'.

With the completion of the trilogy A Story of Love, Illness and Death, about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, a heavy burden fell from his heart for Swedish writer Jonas Gardell. As one of the few in his circle of friends, he escaped the dance of death. Pure luck, he says. 'I slept with death.' Also, the last... 

Casual encounters in a sanatorium: @TFBoulevard has a real theme

Theatre festival Boulevard has a theme. This is new, and actually unusual for a large-scale festival like the one in Den Bosch. After all, how do you find so many performances for those claimed 120,000 spectators that are all about that same theme? The solution is simple: you don't have to. You can also attach a theme to a few appealing performances and a single part... 

The five shows you must see in May

Nederlandse Reisopera, Gluck: Orphée et Eurydice (opera), 1 May to 6 June Dazzling debut by director Floris Visser at the Nederlandse Reisopera. Rather than showing a centuries-old opera about an even much older myth, he exposes the core of Gluck's opera. It results in a heartbreaking performance about mourning and the inability to accept that your loved one is no longer there.... 

Seven things that make Ghosts so special

1. Intimacy That the atmosphere in a packed hall becomes intimate enough for a girl in the audience to ask legendary American rapper-poet Black Ice the question: If poetry equals love, as he had just proclaimed, did it ever break your heart? Black Ice, the man who strings his associations together faster than Halbe Zijlstra strings his stupidities,... 

Do you still love me? Sanja Mitrovic

Football fans on stage? Sanja Mitrovic is a theatre-maker with a secret

Sanja Mitrović is a theatre maker with a theme and a secret. She builds on the theme with each performance. And the secret is right on the heels of her work. Her theme is the collective: how it grows, what it is based on, how deep the mutual love can be, how the euphoria can turn into rage, how it comes from within... 

Björk - Vulnicura album cover

Björk's Vulnicura: journey through the emotions of a wounded animal

Actually, it is far too early for a review of Vulnicura. Björk's new album cannot be fathomed in a few days or listening sessions. But because you can immediately hear that something special is happening here, I will try to interpret this new development in Björk's artistry. Björk is an artist whose every album I listen to with above-average... 

Why couldn't shocking art also be endearing?

Vlindertje Smit and the service of what is dead It is an orderly, clean space, not unsociable, despite the pieces of horse bone that dominate the studio in their showcases. Visual artist Butterfly Smit prepares animals and parts of animals. Thinking back to the publicity storm that British artist Damien Hirst stirred up with his preserved-animal artworks, you might expect Butterfly Smit to... 

Hearing stories of loss. And cry about it. But then? Separate from the Southern Theatre on @tfboulevard.

Two actors who, together with their director, want to create a performance about loss. Or rather: our fear of losing things, or people. The makers are not quite there yet, it turns out at Theatre Festival Boulevard. From numerous conversations with thinkers and (experiential) experts, they have distilled characters while improvising, which they - separated by a thick... 

Meanwhile, the Manifesta continues as usual in Petersburg. Is that choice?

About the same time as the train from Donietsk to Kharkov arrived in my mailbox yesterday, a press release from the Manifesta. Our cultural pride in St Petersburg. These weeks, the Dutch festival is organising an audio tour of Rimini Protokoll, the renowned highly political company from Germany. Oh. And, as a third item: there is a conversation tonight about what the Biennale is capable of in times of political turmoil.

To hear Andrès Neuman speak is to want to buy his book #WU14

During Writers Unlimited, writers often mingle clandestinely among the common folk. And especially younger, international authors, unlike the Adriaan van Dissen of this world who cannot take a step without being buried in a scrum of literary groupies. So it can happen that you find yourself drinking beer several times with someone who suddenly, completely unexpectedly, turns out to be a genius author. Like Andrès Neuman.

Shirokuro © Anja Beutler

Unmercifully gracious, 'Shirokuro' builds on hammered Ustvolskaya @HollandFestival

Holland Festival

The collaboration between pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama and choreographer Nicole Beutler in the performance 'Shirokuro', seen last week at the Holland Festival, provides a beautiful perspective on two piano sonatas by Galina Ustvolskaya. 'Shirokuro' means black and white in Japanese. Despite strong visuals and impressive co-protagonists on stage, the Russian composer's absolute music is never explained and therefore retains its sheer power.

first reading of lost O'Neill piece

Connoisseurs know: often actors spend two months rehearsing a play with only one goal in mind: to recover the freshness and surprise of the 'first reading'. After all, at that first reading, actors hear the text for the first time from their colleagues, read the words aloud for the first time, and everything sounds new and unexpected.... 

Tamer who! Haifa what! Some mega concerts are totally ignored by the media, like that of Tamer Hosny and Haifa Wehbe

Of course, we sometimes miss one. And of course Caro Emerald is cool and Graffity 6 is new. But there is more culture in the Netherlands than many users of mainstream media realise. Deep into the 1980s, sports halls were already full for Rai musicians, and that was years before Cheb Khaled penetrated the charts with Aïsha. The Cape Verdean community in Rotterdam... 

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