Contemporary theatrical thriller about multicultural society in the Netherlands

The Nation (1-3)

Eric de Vroedt, Het Nationale Theater

You are looking at a performance from our archive

The Nation is a theatrical thriller about tensions in the tumultuous culturally diverse Netherlands. It starts with a mystery: eleven-year-old Ismaël from a deprived area in The Hague has vanished without a trace. The search involves all levels of society – police officers, jihadists, businessmen, politicians, journalists and social workers, each with their own interests. The Nation is director Eric de Vroedt’s state of the nation. For the next few years he will work on this theatre series at the National Theatre. De Vroedt will make his debut at the Holland Festival, where the first three episodes will be shown in succession. It will star Anniek Pheifer, Mark Rietman and Hein van der Heijden. Eric de Vroedt has included an additional plot line which can only be seen with virtual-reality glasses which we will provide.

Programme book


Episode 1

Summer 2018. In the Schilderswijk neighbourhood in The Hague eleven year- old Ismael Ahmedovic is arrested 

for throwing a stone through the window of a halal wine bar that was being set up to emancipate Muslim women. Ismael’s biological mother, Mariam Traoré, is the founder of the wine bar. The bar encounters fierce opposition in the neighbourhood, and Mariam receives anonymous death threats by post. Detective Mark van Ommeren and policewoman Ludmilla Bratusek investigate whether anything went wrong during Ismael’s interrogation by police motorcyclist David Wilzen. What is the role of Ismael’s half brother Damir, the young Salafist in charge of the District Prevention Team?


Episode 2
Politician Wouter Wolff is a guest on the talk show Kuypers. He is a member of the Toorenburg parliamentary commission into the failed merger of the national police. During the show Wolff clashes with project developer Sjoerd van der Poot, the driving force behind Safe City. Then Ismael’s disappearance is discussed. Both Mariam and Ismael and Damir’s foster parents, Alexander and Ida Aschenbach, speak. Mariam develops the theory of the ‘sacrificial son’, and is supported by John Landschot of the New Dutch Front. Their theory is based on jihadist Sifin Min Zawaytirmir’s call in an internet pamphlet for children to be sacrificed, following the example set by Ibrahim.


Episode 3
As part of a deradicalisation programme, Damir talks to therapist Hester Keursma about his relationship with his father, Adem Ahmedovic. Van Ommeren and Bratusek investigate the threating letters Mariam has received. Ida and Alexander Aschenbach also press Mariam for more information about the letters. Whilst Wouter Wolff prepares an important speech with his spin doctor and lover Stijn Baver, vlogger De Beer van’s-Gravenhage (The Hague Bear) bombards him with allegations.



Eric de Vroedt (1972) graduated from the Arnhem Stage School in 1996. He writes and directs his own shows and also directs repertory theatre. De Vroedt is a director and artistic leader at the Dutch National Theatre (Het Nationale Theater). 

In 2018 he will take over the role of artistic director from Theu Boermans. Since 2004 De Vroedt has made name for himself with his ten-part project mightysociety: engaged theatre about burning questions of the day. The series of productions has been awarded many prizes, such as the Dutch Critics’ Prize, the Amsterdam Arts Prize and the Theatregoers Prize of the Theatre on the Spui, The Hague. De Vroedt has worked as a freelance director for Toneelgroep Amsterdam  – A Streetcar Named Desire (2008), The Entertainer (2014), King Lear (2015) – and Schauspielhaus Bochum  – Freitag (2014), Leas Hochzeit (2015). He has also mentored a number of young playwrights. He recently directed David Mamet’s Race at the Dutch National Theatre. 

The National Theatre is a new institute, created from a merger between the Koninklijke Schouwburg, Theater aan het Spui, Het Nationale Toneel and NTjong. The National Theater offers classics, new drama, journalistic programs, cabaret, dance and music theater. In The Hague, The National Theatre operates two theaters: Koninklijke Schouwburg and Theater aan het Spui. It is the largest touring production company in the Netherlands.



Focus: democracy

This year several festival artists are looking at the problems faced by Western democracies. The French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville admired democracy for its social equality. He saw its dangers too. Director Romeo Castellucci is making Democracy in America, based on De Tocqueville’s eponymous book 

(1835). In The Gabriels director Richard Nelson reflects on the recent American election year through the eyes of an ordinary family. Other artists focus on controversies in democracies, such as the issue of refugees in directors Dieudonné Niangouna and Thomas Bellinck’s performances. Others address the threat of violence (Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed), tyranny (Octavia), or shaping activism (The Tempest Society). In Manifesto the film director Julian Rosefeldt examines the relation between art and society. 

We are presenting two national theatre production companies, each with its own state of the nation: My Country by the National Theatre in London, and The Nation by the Dutch National Theatre in The Hague. Both performances show divided countries in which no one, from politicians to citizens, seems to dare to take responsibility. We also believe that it is important to explore democracy of form. Members of the audience can get actively involved as a passer-by, participant, or activist, if they so wish. Our artists encourage you to question the old hierarchy between the audience and the artists.



concept, text, direction
Eric de Vroedt
Remco van Rijn
set design
Maze de Boer
lightingdesign & video
Bernie van Velzen
Florentijn Boddendijk, Remco de Jong
Lotte Goos
assistant to the director
Abdel Daoudi
production manager
Hans Nass
project manager
Pien van Gemert
marketing & communication
Dieke van der Spek, Priscilla Vaas
Lejo de Hingh, Dimphna Fruijtier
Peter van der Meer
Bram Coopmans, Hein van der Heijde, Antoinette Jelgersma, Anniek Pheifer, Mark Rietman, Vanja Rukavina, Pieter van der Sman, Romana Vrede, Saman Amini, Tamar van den Dop, Bram Suijker, Chergeo Pracht, Jamie Pinas
advice hair and make-up
Cynthia van der Linden
hair and make-up
Bärbel Scheid, Carmen de Fretes (internship), Vito van Haagen (internship)
head technical department
Alphons Verhallen
technical coordinator
Glenn Neyndorff
costume department
Iris Elströdt (head), Daan Wieman, Peter van der Meer, Amanda van Marion
scenery department
Ruud Brouwer (head), Ron van Rijn, Arjen Schoneveld, Krijn Peters, Hans Spinnler, Maite Krogl, Peter Visscher, Fred Schuurink, Lois de Rooy (internship)
Angelique Miedema
technical team
Jan Harm Wagner (performance leader), Gerco Kolthoff, Robbert Weinen, Marco Alibux, Ivo Pas, Willie Caspers, Jimi Kees (internship)
Sandra Scholtes, Hannie de Vries
special thanks to
Torica Optiek
Het Nationale Theater
Het Nationale Theater, Holland Festival

This performance was made possible with support by