October 16, 2018

Michiel Van Erp at International Theater Amsterdam

MICHIEL VAN ERP MAKES HIS MAIN STAGE THEATRE DEBUT WITH THE WOOD AT INTERNATIONAAL THEATER AMSTERDAM

The filmmaker laureate. That is how Michiel van Erp, known from e.g. the award-winning series Ramses, was described in 2016, the year he had been active as a creator of documentaries for 25 years. Now he is directing The wood by Jeroen Brouwers for ITA. Van Erp: ‘The wood is about the mechanisms behind the collective concealment of abuse. And about the dilemmas that individuals face when they want to do something about it, and about the courage that is required to step forward.’ The performance – with Aus Greidanus jr., Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Maria Kraakman, Thomas Cammaert, Achraf Koutet et al. – will have its world premiere on 4 November. The book was adapted for the stage by Jibbe Willems.

As a child, Jeroen Brouwers spends time in a Japanese POW camp in Indonesia. After the war, he is sent to boarding school in the Netherlands. It’s a prison camp and a concentration camp rolled into one. Many years later, he writes about these experiences in his award-winning novel The wood. Brouwers dips his pen in poison as he portrays a Roman Catholic monastery and boarding school for boys, in which a completely perverted community of males goes about its business with impunity. In 2015, he receives the award for the best literary Dutch-language book for it, the ECI Literatuurprijs.

Brouwers: ‘What caused these people to stay and remain silent? That was the challenge for me: making it credible that Bonaventura is unable to leave, unable to speak.‘ Van Erp: ‘For me, the boys’ boarding school where the story of The wood takes place represents many more closed communities. We live in a world where revelations about power abuse and sexual intimidation are a daily phenomenon. The wood is about the mechanisms behind the collective concealment of abuse. And about the dilemmas that individuals face when they want to do something about it, and about the courage that is required to step forward. And that love wins in the end. The wood is also an ode to the authorship of Jeroen Brouwers. In the theatre adaptation by Jibbe Willems, his language has been preserved. Brouwers’ words fire through the church like bullets.’

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