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Because there are also just little creatives with a story: 'Zuheir, born glassblower'.

The absurdity of the pandemic is slowly sinking in, but still remains unfathomable. We will keep you updated on developments. But the bow cannot always be tight. Sometimes a moment of attention is needed, for the beauty people are capable of. Therefore, a short film about glassblower Zuheir Alkazzaz who fled Syria because... 

Morgan Knibbe does not shy away from heavy subjects: 'film is an empathy machine.'

In 2014, Morgan Knibbe (1989) made the short film Shipwreck, about the aftermath of a horrific shipwreck on the coast of Lampedusa in which 350 refugees drowned. Shortly afterwards, he made his first feature-length documentary, also about refugee issues: 'Those Who Feel the Burning'. This very impressive, original and visually strong film was one of the best Dutch films of the last... 

Hewar and Gurdjieff Ensemble @Hollandfestival: music unites two troubled peoples

After the smashing finale of Ishtar by Dima Orsho, the audience stands up as one and erupts in an ovational applause. I am almost stunned by the loud cheers and shouts that overwhelm the members of Hewar and the Gurdjief Ensemble. Bewildered, I look around me: surely there would be another song? But no, there... 

Jouman Fattal, on TV next year, already seen in Frog's 'Winter Collection'

Called The Winter Collection, it is a five-day mini-festival full of surprises. Utrecht-based Theatre Kikker has now made it a tradition to provide some real surprises every year around Sinterklaas. 10 performances by young creators, from video art, to rowdy dance performance, from a silent monologue to post-dramatic cyberpunk, enough to give any theatre lover a wake-up call.... 

No man can escape Nottrots Thundering Time. (Theatre with built-in escaperoom)

'Can I ask you: do you know what time is?' Greg Nottrot's question cannot be straightforward, as I am the only spectator. MIjn spot is uncomfortable: a chair sinking into fresh gravel on the curious Utrecht plain christened 'Berlinplein' by city developers. I witness an early rehearsal of De Denderende Tijd. In that... 

The Tempest Society: Too bad Jesse Klaver wasn't in the audience #HF17

Struggle is by far the word that falls the most in the video triptych 'The Tempest Society'. The struggle for a dignified existence, the struggle for papers, the struggle with a system that does not want to give you rights. Refugees struggle with these issues day in and day out, year in and year out. In this video triptych, Moroccan-French director Bouchra Khalili (Casablanca,... 

Gardens Speak ©-Tania-El-Khoury-1-

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

There I am. Next to Holland Festival director Ruth Mackenzie, on a grave, as part of the installation Gardens Speak on the stage of the main hall of Theater Bellevue in Amsterdam. There is nothing to see, little to hear. Tone lights suggest a rising sun after a few minutes. I get up together with the ten other visitors. Quite a shame, because I was actually quite comfortable lying there.

The programme booklet sounded promising:

'Buried beneath the earth are the stories of ten gew...

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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

Welcome to the Jungle: a catastrophic clusterfuck at the Channel Tunnel

Maaike Engels (video artist and filmmaker) and Teun Voeten (war photographer and cultural anthropologist) made Welcome to the Jungle. A documentary about the utter chaos in the makeshift migrant camp near the canal tunnel in Calais, where some 6,000 people are now waiting in harsh misery for their chance to travel clandestinely to England. Welcome to the Jungle is a painful and bij... 

In the theatre, all fear disappears

I hesitated for a while whether to report on the theatre workshop offered to Syrian refugees by Koon Theatre on Monday 9 November, as part of Dancing on the Edge. During the workshop, the refugees prepared a short presentation to be shown in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht on Friday 13 November, prior to the theatre performance Above Zero. The reason... 

'Oh my sweet land', a calm tale with blood-curdling content

Theatre maker Corinne Jaber got nothing from her father about his roots, except his passion for cooking and good food -she says in an interview. The outbreak of the Syrian civil war made her curious about her father's background. Together with Palestinian author Amir Nizar Zuabi, Jaber interviewed Syrian refugees in refugee camps. The result is this monologue, in which a fictional, half-Syrian-half... 

The Impact of Art, fierce conclusion to three-day conference

How can you write about a three-day conference, part of which took place behind closed doors, the closing night of which looks very neat on vimeo, but where the tension in the room was palpable? With a completely open mind and not much more background than an average newspaper reader, but with a firm belief in the power of the arts,... 

The great stories of Genesis: Johan Doesburg's farewell at the National Theatre

Adam and Eve. Noah. Babel. Joseph. An entire book of the Bible Johan Doesburg casts in his farewell performance with the Nationale Toneel. 'Genesis' lasts 6 hours including intermissions, has 65 speaking characters and plays with the space of Scheveningen's Zuiderstrandtheater. But above all, the outgoing director wants it to tell two stories. In conversation with Johan Doesburg and actor Dries Vanhegen, whose character Jacob plays a special role in the play.

How it feels to single-handedly make a decision that turns the world upside down

That Serbian Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian crown prince in 1914, thus triggering World War I, was until recently in the Netherlands no more than a dry historical fact. But now that it has been a century since this attack, this young freedom fighter is still getting a face in our country. But what De Warme Winkel is doing in the performance 'Gavrilo Princip' is much more than 'giving a face'.

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