11 till 13 August 2023


Studio Julian Hetzel en Ntando Cele | NL

Share this show

For SPAfrica, theatre maker and artist Julian Hetzel and the South-African performer Ntando Cele bundle their powers to explore the borders of empathy – the ability to replace yourself in the feelings of the other. What if empathy does not break or change power mechanisms but strengthens existing privileges? SPAfrica reveals the problematic operation and hidden racism of empathy. A performance to talk about for a while. 

Location Verkadefabriek/Kleine zaal
Running time 90 min.
Genre Theatre

SPAfrica is bottled water from Sub Sahara. The world's first ‘empathy drink’ magnifies the relationship between the exchange of resources between Europe and Africa. This ‘fluid empathy’ is for sales in exchange for European tears which are dropped down as rain. Absurd? Think about the market of natural resources by companies such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola, and Unilever. What about our art sector? Is the same mechanism in place? Is the trauma of performers the new gold? Did the staging of non-Western identities and cultural backgrounds become a valuable asset for the market? For the benefit of whom actually? 

With SPAfrica, Hetzel and Cele show how identity and cultural background play a role within our profit-driven society.  

For the performance, Julian Hetzel collaborates with Ntando Cele and musician Frank Wienk and together they create a combination of theatre, music (spoken word) and video.

The performance is spoken in English and has Dutch subtitles.  

Stroboscopes and loud sounds are used in the performance. 


“After 90 brain-cracking minutes you will leave the hall with a knotted stomach and a brain filled with moral and artistic dilemmas. Julian Hetzel smartly wraps these dilemmas in the performance SPAfrica– any summary will fall short and would reveal too much of the performance.”

★★★★ - De Volkskrant

“It is justifiable call for critical dialogue instead of a hollow alliance.”



Concept Julian Hetzel and Ntando Cele 
Direction Julian Hetzel 
Performance Ntando Cele 
Dramaturgy Miguel Angel Melgares 
Artistic advisor Sodja Lotker, Khanyisile Mbongwa 
Music & composition Frank Wienk 
Light design Nico de Rooij 
Technical coordination Cesco van der Zwaag, Martijn van Nunen 
Technicians Bea Verbeek, Simon Kelaita 
Technical solutions Merijn Versnel, Guido Bevers 
Production coordinator Marieke van den Bosch 
Production Cape Town Lungilem (Lolita) Mbongwa 
Galerist Cape Town Mpilo Ngcukana 
Production assistant Jana Riese 
Assistant costume designer Merel van Erpers Roijaards 

Mask artist Carly Heathcote 
Make-up artist Julia Markow 
Prop maker Saskia Hertog 
Video documentation Reynold Reynolds, Bongeka Ngcobo 
Photography Alexandra Masmanidi, Anouk Maupu
Special thanks to the volunTEARS and the local hosts of the artist talk. 
Produced by Studio Julian Hetzel
Coproduced by Schauspiel Leipzig (DE), CAMPO Gent (BE), Theatre Vidy-Lausanne (CH), SPRING Performing Arts Festival Utrecht (NL), Auawirleben Festival, Bern (CH). 
With the support of Performing Arts Fund (NL), City of Utrecht (NL), Vriendenloterij Fund (NL), Prins Bernhard Culture Fund (NL), Onassis AiR Athens (GR), 16 on Lerotholi Gallery (ZA).

Theaterfestival Boulevard thanks:
  • Gemeente 's-Hertogenbosch
  • Provincie Noord-Brabant
  • Fonds Podiumkunsten
  • Brabant C
  • VSBfonds
  • Fonds21
  • BankGiro Loterij
  • Cultuurfonds
  • Creative Europe Programme (EU)
  • De Versterking
  • Verkadefabriek
  • Theater aan de Parade
  • Apap
  • Performing Gender
  • Feminist Futures