Welcome to Theatre Texts from the Lowlands
Discover the unique landscape of Flemish theatre texts in a nutshell, delve into author profiles and download their text fragments.
In 2018, Flanders Arts Institute, Flanders Literature and Dutch Performing Arts have joined forces to give theatre authors and texts from Flanders and the Netherlands more international visibility. We are doing this in various ways: with translations of complete theatre texts and text fragments, by organising workshops and promotional events abroad, and by creating contextualising material for a better understanding of the art of playwriting in the Low Countries. This online dossier is part of this extensive process.
With the online theatre text dossier, we aim to give visibility to theatre authors and their texts, but also to provide the necessary context. We asked dramaturge Peter Anthonissen to write an overview of the Flemish theatre text today, albeit in a historical perspective. What trends and challenges does he see? The first aim of this text is to offer foreign professionals an overview of the uniqueness of Flemish dramaturgy. In addition, we set up a ‘Who’s Who’, which consists of substantive profiles of contemporary theatre authors, supplemented with a number of translated excerpts from their work.
There are some 140 theatre authors active in Flanders. Unfortunately, it is not possible to include all of them. Which is why we put together a committee for the first selection of authors consisting of Peter Anthonissen, Evelyne Coussens, Sarah Eisa and Ditte Pelgrom. Criteria for the selection were: the quality and autonomy of the texts (can the texts of the author stand on their own?), the author’s career development and the importance of the author in contemporary theatre and – very important – a diversity in the selection. We emphasise that this is ‘only’ a first set of profiles, and that this overview certainly does not include all relevant authors. Flanders Arts Institute is committed to continuing to update this website with new profiles in the coming years.
This website also includes the three Dutch authors who were selected for the text theatre lectures in Austria (Alex Van Warmerdam, Eric De Vroedt and Maaike Bergstra) (see below).
Promotion and workshops in Austria and France
In a first phase we focused on the German language area. For this we worked with two Austrian partners, Schauspielhaus Graz and Uni-T. This cooperation took various forms: in June 2018 we invited a number of Flemish and Dutch theatre makers/dramaturges to the DramatikerInnenfestival in Graz to investigate possible collaboration. In March 2019, Dutch Performing Arts and Flanders Literature supported several authors in their participation in a translation workshop organised by Uni-T that took place in Retzhof. The following authors participated: Benjamin Van Tourhout, Annet Bremen, Iona Daniel and Timen Jan Veenstra. On 15 and 16 June 2019, together with our Austrian partners, we organised six staged text theatre lectures during the DramatikerInnenfestival in Graz. These lectures were staged by local directors and actors and coordinated by Schauspielhaus and Uni-T. An audience of theatre professionals (directors, dramaturges, press, publishers …) followed the lectures. The authors of the six texts were present and had the opportunity to explain their work and make new contacts.
A committee was tasked with selecting these six texts. On the Flemish side, after long deliberations, Peter Anthonissen, Evelyne Coussens, Karel Vanhaesebrouck and Ditte Pelgrom arrived at a longlist of ten works. Criteria were text quality, time frame (only texts written in the last ten years), the autonomous status of the text and the potential in the German language area. In addition, they had to be texts that had not previously been translated into German, and which had not yet found their way into the German language area. The Austrian partners chose three texts from this list of ten. On the Dutch side, Dutch Performing Arts coordinated the selection. In the Netherlands, a reading committee of Het Toneelschrijfhuis made a first selection of stage texts, which were translated into German. Subsequently, 25 experts (journalists, dramaturges, directors, etc.) were asked to supplement this selection with stage texts they found relevant to the German language area. The final choice was made by the Austrian partners.
The winner of the 2018 Toneelschrijfprijs playwright award was selected in any case. This resulted in a selection of six texts that received a full translation into German:
- Bij het kanaal naar links [Turn left at the canal] – Alex van Warmerdam
- MEN. de mening herzien [MEN: The opinion reconsidered] – BOG.
- Aperçu de l’Inconnu [Overview of the unknown]- Michael Bijnens
- Wij / Zij [Us/Them] – Carly Wijs
- True colors – Maaike Bergstra
- The Nation – Eric De Vroedt (winner of Toneelschrijfprijs playwright award)
Prospects for the future
In a second phase we will be travelling to French language areas. We have initiated collaboration with French project partner Maison Antoine Vitez. Here again we are providing full translations into French, text theatre lectures, a workshop, and an extension of our online dossier.
Together with our Austrian and French partners, we are also looking at how we can expand the cooperation to Flanders and the Netherlands, in order to stimulate interest in foreign theatre texts in our language area, and to promote sharing expertise and cooperation. Dutch Performing Arts, Flanders Literature and Flanders Arts Institute will continue to focus on the theatre text and author in the coming years.