Programmeurs Pop Arts Festival

Pop Arts Festival 2017 according to its programmers
15 performances with models, miniatures, clay, paints and oldschool puppets.

The three programmers of the Pop Arts Festival are looking forward to the eighth edition of the event. Dramaturge Tom Helmer engages in conversation with Frank Noorland (Theater Bellevue), Colette van Wees (De Krakeling) and Lisa Wiegel (De Brakke Grond) to find out what we can expect, and which highlights we absolutely shouldn’t miss.

This is the eighth time the Pop Arts Festival will take place, that’s quite a number. Why did you decide to organise this?
     “This festival gives us a great opportunity to collect and present playful, visual theatre pieces. We think the style of theatre we focus on is a beautiful art form that doesn’t often get the attention it deserves. It is perfect for young visitors who love imagery, and the international nature of the works is a great bonus for us.”

De Brakke Grond, the Flemish Cultural Centre in Amsterdam, will be a festival venue for the first time this year. What can we expect from this new collaboration?
     “De Brakke Grond will mainly be presenting performances from Flanders. The creatives over there are generally very free in pursuing their vision. They make a lot of visual and stimulating theatre, that cannot easily be classified. It is immensely interesting to schedule a bunch of these productions to be shown in one week.”

“Puppets have the ability to enthrall an entire audience, and that will never change.”

Are you noticing any new developments in the genre after eight editions of Pop Arts?
     “Absolutely. Eight years ago, productions were very focused on *oldschool* puppetry. This year, most of the performances are clearly inspired by the visual arts, using very different forms of craftmanship. Visual artists do great things with video, objects and models. However, the best works from the world of puppetry will still be a feature, of course. Puppets have the ability to enthrall an entire audience, and that will never change.”

So Pop Arts Festival 2017 will mainly focus on visual arts?
     “Yes, visual arts are a main theme in this year’s festival. For instance, we have The Modern Art Revue , where the comical creatives Steef de Jong and Alex Klaasen join forces to combine a variety show with object theatre and abstract art forms. Their production is yet to premiere, but we are expecting something that is both a parody and an ode to the beauty of the visual arts.
     Then there is the young but, in their narrow field, world famous artistic duo Robbert&Frank Frank&Robbert, who will be presenting a new theatre production (at long last). Colourfully painted objects will star in a fantastical universe, proving that they are each a work of art in their own way.
     The spectacular performance Bonte nacht (Colourful night), by Tuning People/DE MAAN, will be using more buckets of paint than Jackson Pollock in an indulging mood. They don’t just use canvases to paint, but each other’s bodies as well. Add some objects and strange masks, and the full effect is like a kind of moving Picasso dream.”

 “The very contemporary theme of migration versus holding on to your roots is a prevalent subject at the festival.”

Can you name any other defining traits of Pop Arts Festival 2017?
     “The very contemporary theme of migration versus holding on to your roots is a prevalent subject at the festival. Onbekend land (Unknown land) by het Houten Huis is about a woman who is knocking on the door of a new country she is hoping to enter. You are shown everything she left behind, and how much strength it takes for her to stay standing. The whole story is told without words. 
     Birdie is a production that illustrates the migratory habits of birds. It starts as a beautiful sight, and slowly transforms into an allegory for human migration.
     The breathtaking performance Zvivdal takes us in the other direction, by focusing on how strongly people can hold on to their roots. In an artistic film installation using special models, we follow an elderly couple in North-Eastern Ukraine who are sure to steal your heart. They are the only remaining inhabitants of an area that was hit by radioactivity after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. They are like a set of Robinson Crusoes in a sea of green forest.
In short, some of the most important traits of this festival are its contemporary and innovative theatre productions.”

Will the festival be offering any site-specific theatre this year?
     “Outside De Krakeling, we will park a truck. Special physical circus show Pakman will take place in the back. It consists of a juggler and a drummer, who get together to find the optimal heart rate of a package delivery boy who has to keep up with the speed of our internet purchases. It will make a great family outing.”

Which performances should we definitely keep an eye on this year?
     “They are all special performances, of course. After all, a festival like ours is one big celebration of successful and unique theatre. The Pop Arts Festival presents the best of the best in the area of puppetry and object theatre. With 15 very diverse performances featuring models, miniatures, clay, paints and oldschool puppets, there will be something special for everyone.”



Pop Arts Festival is an initiative of Theater Bellevue, De Krakeling and De Brakke Grond and presents the latest in the field of puppetry and objecttheater from the Netherlands and abroad. In 2017, the eighth edition of this annual festival will take place in Theater Bellevue, De Krakeling and  De Brakke Grond and a outdoor location.