24 August 2023

Boulevard shines a light and connects

The 39th edition of Theaterfestival Boulevard was concluded successfully. The eleven day festival welcomed approximately 90.000 visitors. This edition of Boulevard was a celebration of what connects us as human beings: our desires, bodies, emotions. This edition was about radical empathy. About learning to live together, understanding without words, care for each other and enjoy together. Noticeably, the relationship between generations was often the subject of the conversation. Between the audience and the artists as well as the performances. 


Boulevard 2023 offered 120 different performances, concerts, installations, after talks and workshops at the intersection of theatre, dance, music, and visual arts of which 21 (Dutch) premieres. During the first few days of the festival, Boulevard experienced a lot of rain. However, the rain did not impede the interest in the performances. The festival counted 40.000 visits to paid and free performances. The beautiful weather in the second half of the festival made for a busy and thrilling Zuiderpark and Parade. The audience appreciated the festival as well as the programming with an 8. 


For the third year, the Zuiderpark was decorated as the green heart of the festival. Besides this, the festival was present at 15 locations throughout the city; de Parade, Engelermeer, the garden of the Sint Jan cathedral, BBS De Kruiskamp, and the former Militaire Rijbaan at the Hekellaan.  


For a long time, Boulevard embraces sustainability and every year new steps are taken. Now, the festival strives for recognition formed by the Green Key certification. There are high hopes of receiving the certification in autumn.  


The food and drink supply was more diverse than ever. The cook of the crew catering made 3000 lunches and 4000 dinners for employees and artists.  


This year, a record number of donations was collected via Geef een Toegift. People who otherwise would not be a part of the festival were welcomed because of these donations.  


Because the Light 

The theme of the festival was ‘Because the Light’, that glow fits with Boulevard: unheard stories, concealed dreams, and shining a light on new ideas. This edition, new artists were offered stage opportunities. Dana Kibbelaar, director: “the reactions of the audience indicate that they are curious about the new and unknown. At the same time, we strive to a balance between established and new names.” 


The audience was interested in ONE SONG - HISTOIRE[S] DU THÉÂTRE IV by Miet Warlop [BE], The Weight of Water by Panama Pictures and Bosch Parade [NL], What Remains by Ultima Vez [BE], ODE by Schippers&VanGucht [NL], Hush bij de Dansers [NL] and Artemisia All Inclusive by Theater Artemis [NL]. Boulevard provided an opportunity to new names, among which Faizah Grootens with Corpus Criolla [NL], Louis Janssens with Desire [BE], Euhm… in vijf bedrijven by Elias De Bruyne [BE], Karlijn Hamer with Siriana, mijn vriendin [NL]. 


The dance performance SOTTOBOSCO by Chiara Bersani [IT] was accompanied by a three day workshop. Eight participants joined the performance. The performance A True Story by 71BODIES/Daniel Mariblanca [NO] was also accompanied by a three day workshop. 


International collaborations 

Boulevard is a part of the international network apap [advancing performing arts project] which consists of eleven European cultural organisations. For four days, the festival offered a stage to the programme Feminist Futures including workshops, discussions, installations, and films by the collective buren [BE], Tatiana Julien and Anna Gaïotti [FR], Selma Selman [BA/US], Noëmi Lakmaier [GB/AT] and Chiara Bersani [IT]. 


Nine communities from eight European countries gathered under the flag of the project Performing Gender – Dancing In Your Shoes. For the production of Boulevard, But First, We are Going to Eat, choreographer Jija Sohn [NL] worked together with people with roots in the former Dutch East-Indies and Moluccan from the city of Den Bosch and surroundings. 


Forwards to the 40th edition! 

Boulevard counts down to her 40th edition that will take place from Thursday 1 August till Sunday 11 August 2024. The countdown begins. Party? Tessa Smeulers, director: “Yes, in which different generations of audiences, employees, and artists will have a clear voice. We already have conversations about it. I can imagine a Memory Café.” Dana Kibbelaar: “However, I do not just want to look 40 years back. I also want to look 40 years forward.”


Photo: Karin Jonkers


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