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ruth mackenzie

*With sound!* Why the Holland Festival show doesn't have to stop for now

'Please stop the show!", shouted an 83-year-old former reviewer from the back row. Theatre Frascati fell silent for a moment. There had never really been such an interruption at the Holland Festival's traditionally festive press conference. And that while Faustin Linyekula had just got into his stride, telling about the projects he is carrying out with his Studio Kanako in Kisangani. They provided... 

Geeks and mouse arms at the Muziekgebouw. The bar is high for @hollandfestival's new bosses

Then suddenly there is a very different audience in Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw aan het IJ. Gamers. Or rather developers. And hardcore new-music aficionados. 'I only come for Maze,' said my neighbour petulantly. He came for the music ensemble. Not for the games, that is, not for the computer graphics. And maybe not even for Claron McFadden. That famous, hyper-pliable opera singer who appeared in... 

Our only unique @hollandfestivalspecial #2: inspiration and constriction in the first week #hf18

Our Thea Derks sat watching a traffic light for a few hours on Thursday 7 June and observed that the music was better. It happened during the opening of the 2018 Holland Festival. In the tradition of Ruth Mackenzie, the opening was of mixed reception, and that is actually a good thing. Even at a time when the Amsterdam Arts Council is in a... 

Ruth Mackenzie's latest Holland Festival promises to be just one of the most exciting

Here it is. The one and only interactive Culture Press Holland Festival Special. A special that has already been deployed over the past few months, and will be added to in the coming month. During the festival, we have regular reviews and reports, and podcasts. A new edition of this Special will appear every week. On Mondays. And then you can also subscribe via... 

Peter Brook: everything in the universe can be extraordinary.

In the early 1990s, I am sitting in a small auditorium at The National Theatre in London. Before the performance starts, someone on stage asks if you want to greet the visitors next to you. This immediately creates a different, more intimate dynamic in the auditorium. On a tight stage with only a few props are four actors and an Arab musician. Yoshi Oida... 

Publicity image Gesualdo. Photo: Sofie Knijff

At the Holland Festival, Mackenzie is opening the doors to a new avant-garde among the audience.

The neat couple next to me, in the front row at the Holland Festival press conference, hadn't counted on it for a moment. Four members of the Nederlands Kamerkoor starting to undress one by one down to their pecker-sized nakie. A giggle, a small cough, but hey, this is the Holland Festival, they said to each other. So too... 

Why it's good that the Holland Festival is putting the focus on Africa, rather than opting for a single artistic director.

William Kentridge and Faustin Linyekula. Remember those names, if you didn't already know them, because they are going to help shape the face of Holland in the coming year. They have been appointed by the Holland Festival as 'associate artist'. In doing so, the festival puts the phenomenon of 'artistic director' out of business. A necessary choice at a time when the price for that kind of figure is faster... 

Why it's good that the Holland Festival gets this general manager #HF17

Annet Lekkerkerker is one of the few women in the cultural sector for whom the glass ceiling is no longer an obstacle. That she is now, after several years as 'business director', formally becoming top woman of the country's most important performing arts festival is wonderful for more reasons. She is not only the first woman at that high position. Her appointment also makes clear why... 

Cate Blanchett in Manifesto: 13 films and raunchy humour #hf17

In the dark Middle Ages, an artist was still sometimes quartered for being out of line. In the 19th century, those lines were no longer important. In the early 20th century, artists started deciding for themselves where the lines were and punished those who did not stick to them. It was the time of artists' manifestos. Cate Blanchett, the... 

7 reasons why you should invest in Holland Festival 2017 #hf17

Ruth Mackenzie has achieved an enormous amount in the short time she has been boss of Holland Festival. I've experienced the festival now since the late 1990s and watched it evolve from something very personal and sometimes obscure (under Ivo van Hove), to an ethereal feast of sizzling aesthetics (with Pierre Audi), to what it... 

Holland Festival must look for new director: Mackenzie to Paris in 2019

It's quite unfortunate. Ruth Mackenzie is moving into even higher realms. She has made the past two editions of the Holland Festival considerably more refreshed and modern, and so it stands out. Paris beckons. Ruth Mackenzie has been nominated by Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, as Directrice Artistique (artistic director) of Théâtre du Châtelet, effective 2019. This means Ruth Mackenzie will direct the festival's... 

Ça ira (1) Fin de Louis, Joël Pommerat, photo: Elisabeth Carecchio.

On the edge of Europe, Holland Festival attracts 86,000 visitors #HF16

Ruth Mackenzie has brought new impetus to the Holland Festival. Not that her predecessor Pierre Audi did badly, but the British organisational talent has brought topicality and urgency to the programme. When she devised her programme theme, she too will not have suspected that the concept of 'Edges of Europe' would take on such a charge. After all, simultaneously with the last weekend of the festival, the English people decided, against the wishes of everyone but the Welsh, to leave the European Union behind. The Netherlands suddenly found itself on the far edge of Europe, with only a view of distant Ireland.

Gardens Speak ©-Tania-El-Khoury-1-

Digging in the earth stays on the surface in Gardens Speak #HF16

Daar lig ik dan. Naast Holland Festival-directeur Ruth Mackenzie, op een graf, als onderdeel van de installatie Gardens Speak op het podium van de grote zaal van Theater Bellevue in Amsterdam. Er is niets te zien, weinig te horen. Toneellampen suggereren na een paar minuten een opkomende zon. Ik kom samen met de tien andere bezoekers overeind. Best jammer, want ik lag daar eigenlijk wel lekker.

The programme booklet sounded promising:

We are the forest. Christiane Jatahy achieves maximum impact at #HF16

There are countries in the world, where the boundaries between art disciplines are not as sharply drawn as they are here. The Holland Festival, under the new leadership of Ruth MacKenzie, is catching us up. She is bringing events here where the boundaries between visual art, performance, video, film and performing arts can no longer be drawn. Events that generate meaning in ways that are quite new to us, such as The Encounter, last week, and Gardens Speak, later this week.

Holland Festival 2016 Gardens-Speak-©-Jesse-Hunniford-1-

Audio, the new video (II): Syrian dead speak at Gardens Speak (HF16)

'This regime also rules over you after you die. The regime steals your story. They use you to tell their own story. Relatives are forced to sign statements that the dead were killed by the opposition. The regime uses the dead to oppress the living.' Lebanese artist Tania El Khoury made a statement: Gardens Speak (Gardens Speak). An installation, an immersive[hints]definition: immersive, making you forget the real world around you[/hints] performance, in which the spectators themselves are actors. A performance that consists of a mountain of earth from which soft voices sound from beneath tombstones. That performance comes in June to Amsterdam, as one of the examples of the new Holland Festival programming by festival director Ruth MacKenzie.

The pile of earth in and on which the installation takes place represents the many thousands of anonymous backyard graves in Syria. At the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the struggle was still mainly between opponents of President Assad's dictatorship and his (secret) police. The first victims were often still just students taking part in peaceful demonstrations, handing out pamphlets, or attending the funeral of a friend. After all: bombing funerals was and is a proven method of murderous regimes and crime syndicates to eliminate insurgent networks.

Tania El Khoury heard of the Syrian alternative in 2013: the private burial in one's own backyard, or failing that, in an anonymous city park, with no headstone or memorial. Such an action is both an expression of fear and an act of resistance: these are deaths that the government can no longer abuse. 'The play was not originally intended for European audiences either. It was made in Lebanon and the text was also in Arabic. The last thing I thought about was the European audience. The idea was

Holland Festival 2016: urgent, challenging and inviting

Never before has the Holland Festival placed itself at the centre of society as it is today. The 2016 programme is steeped in the turbulent times in which we live. The Netherlands holds the presidency of the European Union this spring. Artistic director Ruth Mackenzie has taken this fact unflinchingly to give 'Europe' a wide place in the programming. In presenting... 

Todo lo que está a mi lado on Dam Square in Amsterdam (photo Wijbrand Schaap)

I shared the bed with an actress, and for a moment the world was quieter

A confession. There is no other way. So: yes. I was lying between immaculate white sheets in a comfortable bed with actress Lina Issa and it was beautiful. She whispered soft words in my ear, put a hand on my hand and it was very quiet around us. Thanks to that whispering, the noise of the big city fell away. Trams... 

Turkish toppers play the roof off Carré: fresh wind through Holland Festival #hf2015

Stars, we don't really do that in the Netherlands. Our ground level does not allow diva behaviour. In our lowlands, you get a plus if you have stayed so nicely ordinary despite your success. Even if you stand in the Arena with your songs, like the Toppers, this weekend. How different it is in Istanbul. There, you are allowed to be shamelessly famous. Like. 

Holland Festival throws open the doors and gets fresher than ever #hf15

Just over a month earlier than usual, the Holland Festival is presenting its new programme this season. There is every reason for this. With the arrival of Ruth Mackenzie as artistic director, a fresh wind is blowing through the festival. Annet Lekkerkerker talks about the changes in the video below. The presentation of the brochure - finally readable thanks to a new design - shows... 

Ruth Mackenzie takes on the future. The Holland Festival gets a more exciting boss than you thought.

The Holland Festival got a completely unknown new director in the person of Britain's Ruth Mackenzie. At least, to us. The flamboyant, artistically exceptional opera director Pierre Audi makes way for a woman who has presented herself mainly as a manager of festivals and cultural institutions, but whose ideas are anyone's guess. When she was presented, none of the... 

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