news 20-4:
programme 2021 announced

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From 3 through 27 June 2021 the  Holland Festival will be held in and around Amsterdam. Ticket sales for this 74th edition starts mid May.

Associate artists Sakamoto and Vienne
This year’s associate artists are the American-Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and the French-Austrian theatre director Gisèle Vienne - extraordinary artists with a wide range of interests, as demonstrated by their collaborations with Hollywood directors, techno artists, visual artists and rock bands. The festival will feature work of both artists, work of makers that the two feel closely related to as well as pieces that have a thematic connection with the associate artists. 

Theme: Man made 
Central themes in the associate artists’ work include (the experience of) time and the ways in which humans are affected by the world and the environment − and how humans affect the world themselves. This is why the theme for the 2021 Holland Festival is: Man made. The festival’s artists approach the theme from various angles. How do humans affect nature? How are social, human constructs and systems like time and identity formed? 


In Maison Mère, the performance artist Phia Ménard takes a close look at human constructs in a powerful poetic manner by building a Greek temple from cardboard. Together with the media artist Daito Manabe, Sakamoto will render visible and audible electromagnetic waves for Sensing Streams, revealing an invisible but indispensable infrastructure. 

Non-linear time
Featured will be the unconventional opera TIME by Sakamoto in collaboration with the multi-disciplinary artist Shiro Takatani, in which he looks for ways to let go of our linear conceptions of time and rhythm. TIME is inspired by the traditional Japanese theatre called Mugen Noh and its magical elements. Sakamoto explores the phenomenon of time and the relationship between humankind and nature. Sakamoto: ‘We live and we die. And then our body becomes part of a next life. This is samsara, the life circle of creatures on this planet. In dreams, time is not linear. Everything coincides.’ 

Featured works by Vienne include her latest work L’Étang, which is based on a short story of the same title by the Swiss author Robert Walser and performed by Adèle Haenel (known from the film Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu) and Ruth Vega Fernandez (Kiss me). L’Étang is a layered and emotional family drama. The work bends time by creating an experience that holds the middle ground between reality and fantasy. Vienne explores complex family relationships and does not shy from humanity’s darker sides. 

The desire to be someone else 
The festival will also feature Vienne’s Kindertotenlieder. A boy is at his own funeral, and his spirit has a dialogue with another adolescent. What happened? How did he die? In her work, Vienne attempts to show how identity arises as a consequence of social pressure and conventions. With Kindertotenlieder, she created a dream reality full of references to eerily beautiful fairy tales and traditions, like the pagan Perchten cult in Austria. She analyses and criticises the straitjacket humans find themselves in, especially as teens. 

Marleen Scholten’s monologue La codista is based on the true story of Giovanni Cafaro, a man who loses his job and then has people pay him to wait in line for them. The piece is about the fear of losing time that many people experience and the desire to be someone else sometimes. 

Nature and listening
Sakamoto often uses nature sounds in his work and puts great value on attentive listening. The artists Massimo Furlan and Claire de Ribaupierre show how nature is full of possibilities for opening the senses. With Dans la Forêt, they take the audience into the forest to fully immerse itself in nature. The divide between humankind and nature, which has been detrimental to the world, is temporarily bridged in this way. 

The installation Fremdkörper by the performance duo Boogaerdt/VanderSchoot seeks to bridge the divide between mind and body. They seek to restore humankind’s connection with the earth through a sleeping ritual in which the audience is sent on a journey to explore the subconscious. 

The complex interplay between humanity and nature is reflected in several pieces. In the multi-disciplinary piece The Planet – A Lament by the Indonesian director Garin Nugroho, we see how a single survivor in the aftermath of a tsunami embarks on a mission to save life on earth. The opera Ine Aya’ by the Indonesian composer Nursalim Yadi Anugerah and the Dutch librettist and director Miranda Lakerveld is about the deforestation on Kalimantan, which is caused in part by the development of palm oil plantations. The work is based on the Kayan epic Takna’ Lawe’ and Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen  two classical works, one from Eastern and one from Western culture, that feature an earth goddess. 

Context and accessibility
The main program is explored in greater depth online in a context program that includes podcast introductions in collaboration with magazine De Groene Amsterdammer and in which major festival subjects and themes are further expanded on. This year’s collaborating partners include Melkweg EXPO. Inspired by Sakamoto’s many film scores, the Eye Film Museum will present a program that centres on film music. This year’s festival will be staged in new locations in and around Amsterdam, like the trail of short acts in Short Circuit in De School, Fremdkörper at Het HEM in Zaandam and Dans la Forêt in the Smithuyserbos near Hilversum. 

Holland Festival during Covid
As an artist-driven festival, the Holland Festival has made a decision to organise a live festival in 2021 in the belief that it is important that the audience and performers can share a physical experience. The program has been set up in such a way that all pieces can also be performed with small audiences. The festival will follow the protocols of the theatres and concert venues it works with. The conditions that apply during the festival as part of the Covid measures apply to the entire program and ticket sales. 

The Holland Festival will present a total of 39 productions (including the context program) divided over 25 days, including 10 world premiers and 12 Dutch premiers. 

The festival will be held from 3 through 27 June 2021. Tickets may be purchased via hollandfestival.nl from the middle of May.