Arnon Grunberg and Wunderbaum about the future of sex

The Future of Sex


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Actors collective Wunderbaum are joined by writer Arnon Grunberg and director Johan Simons in a performance about the future of sex. Will we limit ourselves to interactive, digital sex in the future? Is online sex always safe or does a virtual sex life also have its risks? Wunderbaum and Grunberg will share their take on new forms of sex in our globalised world, drawing on Grunberg’s own experiences in the famous French nudist and swingers’ village Cap d’Agde.

A performance about desire, fulfillment and asceticism, that will take us from Marquis de Sade’s excesses to clinical avatar sex and everything in between.


Festivalfocus: Wunderbaum - The New Forest

What will happen after the crisis? This was the question the actors collective Wunderbaum took as their starting point for a series of performances entitled The New Forest, a four-year search for new forms of community. 

Neither utopia nor dystopia, The New Forest, according to project partner and sociologist Willem Schinkel, is a heterotopia, a place from which to view the world in a different way. Moving between reality and fiction, the project explores the process of change.

At the Holland Festival, Wunderbaum presents an overview of four years of The New Forest with The Coming of Xia, in which the actors explore the rise of China as a world power; a new piece: The Future of Sex; and a screening of their film Stop Acting Now, a mock documentary directed by Mijke de Jong, in which the actors take a closer look at their own ideals. Wunderbaum’s imagination does wonders to help us understand our changing world.



Background information

“And while we increasingly strike our touch screens, we forget how to touch our beloved ones.” – Byung-Chul Han

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles - a British survey from 2014 - states that people in the most prosperous countries of the world, these days have less sex than a few decades ago. Despite the omnipresence of sex in advertising and the media, ’it’ happens increasingly less in our relationships. Whereas we used to screw about five or six times a month in the nineties, nowadays on average we hardly manage to do it about three of four times.

According to this National Survey,the main reasons are: work stress and the universal presence of communication technology in our life. Increasingly, our laptops and smart phones lie in our bed between us and our partners. Online sex appears to be more practical, quicker and more hygienic than that messy performance in our bedroom. Sex robots provide the masturbating human with a new arsenal of possibilities. It seems that private fantasies and actual physical human contact are becoming more and more removed from each other.

People used to see sex as a reproductive means and a social pastime, but nowadays it has become some form of self expression. At the same time, a number of European countries contend with decreasing birth rates. Is there a link? In some regions, the shrinkage is so huge, that we think that becoming extinct can only be prevented by immigration.


Dying out as Utopia

The above-mentioned train of thought provides the basis of the fictitious world as sketched in The Future of Sex. The performance portrays the decline of a culture. This decline is not only threatening and pitiful; in the major religious and revolutionary traditions, decline is accepted with open arms as the seed of a new age.

In the future of sex – the sex of the remaining people – the characters look into the abyss, lonely and self-conscious: the self-elimination as an ambition, dying out as a Utopia. Obviously, there are languishing specimens who cherish the covert wish that a new human being will arise from their ashes. Some people cling to technology. Others pin their hopes on fertile, virile fugitives. That migrant is not always pleased with that role: ‘I am not your sex slave.’

The text of this performance is the result of a continuous interaction between Arnon Grunberg and the Wunderbaum actors. In addition, The Future of Sex forms part of Wunderbaum’s four-year project The New Forest. The huge social transformations, as examined by the group in this project, are traced back, in this item, to the most elementary instrument of the human being: our lonely, yearning body.



Wunderbaum are a Dutch-Flemish actors' collective who create performances dealing with current issues, mainly on location but also in the theatre. Usually they write their own scripts based on research; occasionally they commission authors to write for them. Wunderbaum have performed in the Netherlands as well as abroad, including the United States, Iran. Scandinavia and Brazil. 

They received the Mary Dresselhuys Prize and the VSCD Proscenium Prize for their oeuvre, as well as the Total Theatre Award at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Since 2013, Wunderbaum have been working on The New Forest, a four-year collaboration with various partners, volunteers and audience members to portray society's transition to the world of tomorrow. In 2012 Wunderbaum made their debut at the Holland Festival with Detroit Dealers.


Arnon Grunberg is one of the Netherlands' most famous and prolific contemporary authors. Besides fiction (his publications include the novels Blauwe maandagen (Blue Mondays), Fantoompijn (Phantom pain), De asielzoeker (The asylum seeker) and Tirza) and stage plays, Grunberg also writes essays and various columns in newspapers and magazines, including a daily column on the front page of de Volkskrant and his weekly column Seksrabbijn des Vaderlands (Sex Rabbi Laureate), also for de Volkskrant.


Stage and opera director Johan Simons is artistic leader at NTGent and the Ruhrtriennale. Simons has been appointed artistic leader at Theater Rotterdam from 2017. As of 2018 he will be Schauspielhaus Bochum's new intendant. Previously, he was intendant (artistic director) at the Munich Kammerspiele and founder/artistic director at Hollandia theatre company. Several of Simons' plays have been performed at the Holland Festival, including Sentimenti (2006), Hiob (2009) and Macbeth (2012). Working both in the Netherlands and abroad, Simons' many awards include the Prijs van de Kritiek and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prijs. In 2004, Theater Heute voted him Director of the Year.




Walter Bart, Matijs Jansen, Maartje Remmers, Marleen Scholten, Arnon Grunberg
Arnon Grunberg
Simon Lenski
Theaterkoor Dario Fo
supervising direction
Johan Simons
Maarten van Otterdijk
Tobias Kokkelmans
Holland Festival,
Rotterdamse Schouwburg

This performance is made possible with support by