‘Powered by Boulevard’: intimate and grand
A successful exercise in getting closer
Under the name ‘Powered by Boulevard’ the organisation of Theaterfestival Boulevard presented six weeks of live encounters in ’s-Hertogenbosch. More than 40 different projects provided an exceptional variety of theater productions, performances and installation art. With the theme ‘Near and dear’ Boulevard more than ever engaged in a conversation with performers and audiences, which led to an intense dialogue with resounding results.
Powered by Boulevard brought new work, such as Spectrum by Schweigman&, Happyclappy by Theater Artemis, My shadow used to have a density by Francesca Lazzeri, Het Pentaccordeon by Studio Orka and Applaus by Circus Ronaldo. It seemed like the rerun of U bevindt zich hier by Studio Dries Verhoeven was made for this moment, which goes for In order of disappearance by Bart van de Woestijne as well.
In our own open-air theater on De Citadel we programmed performances and concerts by the likes of Anoek Nuyens, De Indië Monologen, Boi Akih, Sven Ratzke, Karin Bloemen and Meral Polat.
Ten different makers (Alexandra Broeder, Benjamin Verdonck, Building Conversation, Corpo Máquina, Katja Heitmann, Minou Bosua, Oscar Kocken & Patrick Nederkoorn, Shailesh Bahoran, The100Hands, Theater Artemis) were asked the open question: “What are your dreams? How would you like to share them with the city at this moment?” And the city’s inhabitants were in turn included in an artistic process. The classical triangle of maker, festival and audience was stirred up firmly: all parties involved became participants in a search for a common sense of urgency.
The projects of Lijn73 literally went into town; theater and dance performers searched for the meaning of togetherness, of being close to one another. The most intimate and grand theater productions emerged from the ground rule: ‘I am seen because you are watching’. And so the Flemish theater maker Benjamin Verdonck went through town by bike, asking if he could demonstrate his self-built miniature theaters, Oscar Kocken and Patrick Nederkoorn traveled past sports clubs, youth centers, volunteer organizations and neighborhood associations with Zomaargasten, and Theater Artemis made a choreography with shoppers near different supermarkets throughout the city.
There was quieter work as well, such as Washing Hands, the serene installation about touch by Building Conversation and the little cottage of the ‘Schapenkind’ that Alexandra Broeder created based on her experiences with adolescents in a Mental Health Institution. Choreographer Shailesh Bahoran created the documentary dance project Traces about the roots of Arjuna Vermeulen and Jeffrey Hoofs, both residents of ’s-Hertogenbosch.
In addition to the wide range of live encounters, work was presented online as well. Two series of podcasts can still be listened to, among which De Voorleessessies with stories from the East Indies and the Moluccan islands, edited by Romy Roelofsen. Boulevard presented a television broadcast about the commemoration of 15 August 1945 (the capitulation of Japan in the former Dutch East Indies) in collaboration with Ellen Deckwitz and Lara Nuberg, which was broadcast by Omroep Brabant. And in our own brand-new online magazine ‘BLVRD Vandaag’ filmmakers, columnists and photographers collaborated on publications that went beyond regular reporting. Additionally, international collaborations gained an online dimension with a series of workshops called Anatomy of Togetherness and the webinar about innovative projects that Boulevard organised with festival Bassano del Grappa.
The contributions of loyal subsidising bodies, funds and friends, enabled hundreds of artists and self-employed contractors to bring theater, dance, and music to a wide audience. Fortunately, like previous summers, the audiences from Den Bosch were hungry for culture this summer as well. Boulevard welcomed more than 15,000 visitors to their performances, installations and pop-up projects, that could take place thanks to the space provided by De Bossche Zomer [Summer in ‘s-Hertogenbosch]. Most of the more than 500 performances with tickets sales or a notification obligation were sold out. In addition, people witnessed pop-up theater in their own neighborhood, in parks and on terraces or they visited the free ‘one-mile concert’ by Strijbos&VanRijswijk. Thousands of others visited cultural activities online.