Theaterfestival Boulevard 'S-Hertogenbosch closes her 37th edition (5th till 22nd of August) happy and relieved. Despite the pandemic, the festival could go through, which justified the motto 'Hack the horizon'. During this edition, which lasted sixteen days, hundreds of artists and speakers performed. Visitors could visit 120 different performances and concerts at locations, in Bossche theatres or the new and temporary heart of the festival in the Zuiderpark.
For the festival's team, makers and partners, this 37th edition was an exercise in manoeuvrability. The changing insights and regulations made it necessary for Boulevard to adjust the programming and production constantly. Now, there is nothing but happiness. A total of 120 performances were performed at about thirty locations in and around the city. Among these performances were 24 (Dutch) opening nights by established, new and returning national and international names. Two colleague festivals that could not take place due to corona were guests of Boulevard. November Music and Festival Cement offered a total of 15 performances and concerts.
Boulevard 2021 welcomed 65.000 visitors who ordered around 37.000 tickets, which achieved the targets. We are proud to achieve these numbers in a pandemic, with measures, a new temporary heart of the festival in the Zuiderpark and the changing weather.
Lots of makers contributed to the motto 'Hack the horizon' in their work. With this year's theme, Boulevard invited makers and the audience to crack open the horizon to learn how to relate to nature, climate, origin, care and health and to each other.
The reactions of the press and audience implied that the strong programme is appreciated. A few highlights: the honest, hot and non-heteronormative theatre duet Lady Chatterley's Lover by Florian Myjer [NL] and Lisa Verbelen [BE], the relentless theatre concert Pain Against Fear by Permanent Destruction [NL], the location theatre Born to Protest by choreographer Joseph Toonga [GB], the adventurous TussenTijdCapsule by Schippers&VanGucht [NL] in the Block Box, the queer-arts night by the Bossche Trek Iets Leuks Uit [NL], the swinging soul night by Steffen Morrisson in the BLVRD Theater, and the (Dutch) opening nights of Songs for no one by Nastaran Razawi Khorasani [NL] and Save the last dance for me by Alessandro Sciarroni [IT] at the Parkpodium.
The Zuiderpark, as big as nine soccer fields, offered peace and space for the festival to flourish. The audience's reactions imply that they appreciate this temporarily green location because of the various stages, such as the colourful Block Boxen, the tree-lined Parkpodium, the enormous BLVRD Theater and the theatre tents Noord, Oost, Zuid en West. The size of the park made it easier to maintain the corona measures. The audience was able to keep a 1,5-meter distance, and orders at the terraces could be made by scanning QR-codes, limiting the number of contact moments.
Meetings, connections and context
Boulevard celebrates the arts, culture and meeting in, with, for and around the city. The project Lijn73 provided meetings between festivals, theatre-makers, choreographers and citizens. Together with makers who have a special connection to the city, Boulevard established relations with the city's communities. MINOUX [NL] danced in a specially designed tent about motherhood with mothers in Leer Me De Dans Van Je Moeder. Makers Jija Sohn and Keerthi Basavarajaiah travelled to caregivers and caretakers with an artistic present in their Phantom Travels.
Theun Mosk, who designed the colourful Block Boxen, sketched the design of de Dom. The Dom was the crown jewel of the festival visually as well as substantive. At this new place for meetings and context, we had conversations with makers, experts and audiences, organised reading sessions for children and worked with various people and organisations at questions between arts and society. The Brabantse night scene had a conversation about the current state of the nightlife, and we talked to experts in a workshop about accessibility.
Accessibility is an essential pillar at Boulevard. The festival makes sure that visitors who have a physical or cognitive impairment can participate. A small number of procedures: Gebarencafé, workshops with interested parties and their members, performances with audio descriptions, sign language interpreters, the use of an inclusive picnic table for wheelchair users. Boulevard offered performances for people of modest at the Parkpodium. In addition, Boulevard provided members of the Quiet Community performance visits, lunch and a workshop.
PRESS ABOUT BOULEVARD
“Festival Boulevard is still cheeky and quirky, with a strong programming”- Volkskrant
“Theaterfestival Boulevard in Den Bosch leads the spectator to unexpected places in the city, which prove to be an ideal partner for theatre and dance.”
“One thing that makes Boulevard so special in the Dutch festival landscape is the attention for Belgian performances. While the Dutch theatres are programming less and less work from across the southern borders, Boulevard continues to offer a stage to many Belgian makers.”- Cultureel Persbureau
“Right through, behind and in front of the audience. Surprising and entertaining. With drumming on their bare barks, with a lot of trial and error, with all kinds of instruments. And finally, loud applause, cheers and whistles from the spectators. Collective joy and relief everywhere: different than usual that may be, but the theatre festival is back.”- Brabants Dagblad