Whilst the Dutch Theatre Festival is all about revisiting some of the most popular and successful productions from last season, the Amsterdam Fringe Festival is all about the avant-garde. In just ten days you have the choice of over 80 shows in over 40 different locations all over the city. It’s hallmark is in bringing the most bizarre, thought-provoking and unorthodox productions to Amsterdam. It also boasts that over 50% of the productions are certified as ‘Language No Problem’, which basically means that either the production is in English or the production does not use words, which means these shows are suitable for non-Dutch speakers.
OK, I’m not able to get to that many shows in a week and a half (unfortunately, I do have to work) but here are the shows I’ll be attending this year:
Mick Jagger is my Nightmare – Marius Mensink – 4,5,10 and 11 September
Love them or loathe them, Jagger’s dance moves are so legendary, even a successful pop record was recorded about them (Maroon 5’s ‘Moves like Jagger’). So how would you feel if Mick Jagger took over your body?? Like a strange mix of The Exorcist and the Stones at their most famous (circa 1967), Mensink depicts the story of what it actually might be like to have Jagger possess your body and soul, where you have to fight Jagger to get your portion of the limelight and justify your very existence. Perhaps having the moves like Jagger may not actually be a blessing? A must-watch show.
I Prefer not to Look at my Body – Jip & Hoax – 4-7 September
A timely production, considering how the way we look has become even more important what with the constant updates and images we have of ourselves on social media.This show will take you on a journey where body image is everything and how soulless we are becoming. As woman bought up in the image concious 80’s era and with a young sister growing up in the ‘seflie’ era, this is definitely on my list of shows not to miss.
Homo Sapiens – Igor Vrebac – 4 and 5 September
Despite the progression of the homosexual community over the last few decades, it never ceases to amaze me how, as human beings, we still feel the need to segregate, even within communities (never mind between different communities).I was struck recently by a comment made by one of my male gay friends who announced that he hated ‘obviously gay men’. When I pressed him on what he meant, he stated he didn’t like gay men who were ‘trying too hard to be gay; the camp voice, the showmanship, the over-feminisation etc’. Homo Sapiens is a show about how one man fears about being ‘stereotypically gay’. How does his sexuality define who he is? What image does he portray? As someone who believes that everyone should be who they want to be and not have to fit in to a particular stereotype (or indeed, constantly worry about NOT being a stereotype) I will be watching this physical and imaginary production with keen interest.
Siembamba – Rust Co-Operative – 5-8 September
I only recently watched ‘The Secret Life of Bees’, despite it being released in 2008. The film highlights the poignant relationship between Dakota Fanning’s character, Lily, who is a white, middle-class girl who is bought up her black nanny, played by Jennifer Hudson. Indeed, the film captures beautifully how these black women were more like mothers to these white children then their own mothers were. Celebrating 20 years of democracy in South Africa, Siembamba is a show about the complex relationships between these black women (often leaving their own children behind) and the young white children entrusted to their care. This show explores issues regarding what exactly is a mother, what is family and what is identity. These women were very much part of the white family so much so that the children were more likely to cry for their nannies than their own mothers, and yet they were not part of the family as they were ‘servants’. This is a multi-lingual play by an award-winning collective exploring these relationships and how they have forged South Africa today.
Fabrique Erotique – De prikkelpoppies – 6,7,13 and 14 September
Sex show and puppets? Hmm! Actress and puppeteer Eva van Heijningen promises to take you on a journey where she will test your decency boundaries. I’m not sure if puppetry can be erotic, but I guess I’ll find out!
I AM NOT ANTIGONE – Vivien von Abendorff & NT Sterija – 4-7 September
‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’. I’ve heard this quote from numerous people over the last 20 years, from the Gulf War in the 90’s, through the various wars in Afghanistan and Iraq right up to the present escalating issues in the Ukraine and Gaza. I am not Antigone is the story of a sister who loses both her older brothers to war. One is lauded posthumously as a hero, the other proclaimed evil. This is her battle in trying to get the world to see her brothers as equals and how the media dictates to each and every one of us whether an act is seen as heroic or the actions of an ‘extremist’. Considering my general confusion on which side is ‘right’ between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians in Gaza, as well as the ongoing tensions between Ukrainians and pro-Russian separatists, this is a production that is on my must-watch list.
Rendez-vous – Coen & Jeroen – 8 and 11 September
Another topical production about our dependency on everything digital, especially when it comes to intimacy. It seems that we are now more likely to be more intimate and share more of ourselves online than face-to-face. This show explores what it is to be close to one another. Why are we connecting to strangers online more than the people we are physically nearer to? As someone who loves social media, but despairs at how friends and family seem to share their most intimate details on Facebook and Twitter, this show is likely to be an eye-opener for me.
THE CALL – DTMF Signaling – 10-13 September
An immersive experience, this will be a modern re-envisaging of a murder mystery show. However, unlike traditional murder mystery events where the emphasis is on finding the murderer within your group, this show will be about the audience piecing together clues and evidence to find the real story of 40 year old lady who is found dead, lying on her living room floor with her unhooked telephone by her side. I love a good mystery, so this production will be high on my must-visit list.
The Dahmer Syndrome – Øystein Johansen & Bunnyheadproductions – 10-13 September
Likely to be a disturbing show, The Dahmer Syndrome is based on Jeffrey Dahmer who was arrested in 1991 when police found decomposing body parts in his flat as well as polaroids he had taken of his victims while he butchered them. This show concentrates on how cruelty comes about in humans, the relationship between sexuality and perversion, and the blurred lines between observation and voyeurism. How and why does a human mind disconnect itself from empathy and go down a path of absolute cruelty to another human being? An extremely topical subject, what with our abilities to now download quite horrific content online, this production explores how the secretive world of sexuality is being turned into obsession, and how the more we feel isolated with our obsession, the more obsessive we become. Having worked in psychiatric wards for 4 years whilst doing a Psychology degree, I suspect this show would be of immense interest to me.
Now this is in no way an exhaustive list! These are just the shows I am able to go to. The Fringe is a fantastic festival to see shows that really are at the fringe of entertainment. Expect boundaries to be pushed and broken. For a full programme click here and get planning!