Prior to making the decision to appoint a managing director, the Toneelhuis Board of Directors first determined in 2020 that it was time to reorganize the structure of Toneelhuis, which for 15 years had been led by Guy Cassiers and a business manager. With the appointment of Maud Van de Velde as managing director – with a background as CEO in the wider audiovisual world – a second step was taken in tackling the future of Toneelhuis. After six months, Maud Van de Velde concluded that in order to rejuvenate and broaden Toneelhuis to make it more inclusive, an even more drastic decision had to be taken, namely choosing an artistic director who was not also a maker. On the basis of talks with a ‘council of experts’, she presented her ambitious plan to the Chair and the Board of Directors, who approved the new approach and course of action. The choice for artistic director ultimately fell to Kathleen Treier, director of Het TheaterFestival Flanders for the past five years and more.
Kathleen supplemented her Master’s degree in Germanic Languages with a specialization in Theatre Studies, built up experience with Flemish theatre companies and also worked in the Netherlands for quite some time. It is not without reason that Toneelhuis chose her. Kathleen has a broad national, Dutch-speaking but also international network, and an eye for established and new talent.
Johan Swinnen, Chair: “The search for a successor to Guy Cassiers, with his long record of service, was a challenging and fascinating exercise in which we carefully examined everything before and behind the scenes in order to arrive at a balanced and future-proof plan. As Chair of the Board of Directors of Toneelhuis, I am therefore delighted with the appointment of Kathleen Treier. Together with the board, I am confident that she will develop a strong vision for the future of Toneelhuis that dovetails with Managing Director Maud Van de Velde’s plans to open up the theatre in every possible way. We are looking forward to a Toneelhuis with contemporary and innovative performing arts focused on diversity and inclusivity in terms of the audience, the artists and our team. In view of the recent approval of the ambitious Masterplan for the Bourla, Toneelhuis will soon shine brighter than ever for its visitors.”
Besides getting Kathleen Treier as artistic director, the artist team has been bolstered by Elsemieke Scholte as head of artistic innovation. In her previous position as artistic coordinator of the theatre workplace ‘detheatermaker’, Elsemieke proved to have a good nose for exceptional theatre talent while working with large and small arts organizations and responding to the needs of each specific theatre maker. The artistic team will soon be further enlarged. This team will ensure that Toneelhuis profiles itself in the future as an open, dynamic and creative production house with a balance between resident and freelance makers, and an openness generated through collaboration and new connections, with new people and new stories.
Toneelhuis is facing the future from a broad artistic base, with the familiar faces of Olympique Dramatique and FC Bergman as mainstays, supplemented by two other structurally integrated companies/makers. This base will help to stimulate the artistic discussion. In addition, Toneelhuis will create openness with a free space in which Antwerp, Flemish and Dutch makers and artists and especially new talent feel welcome.
Maud Van de Velde, Kathleen Treier, Elsemieke Scholte, Olympique Dramatique and FC Bergman, along with two companies/makers as yet to be added, will form the backbone of the future operations of Toneelhuis. What is new is the great focus on free space. More than ever, new talent will be given a place. Makers who work with Toneelhuis on a permanent or project-oriented basis must acknowledge their responsibility to bring a variety of talent to the large stage. Actors, entertainers, artists, performers… all with a single common vision: to produce theatre for the large stage in the marvellous Bourla, rooted in Antwerp and with an eye to the world and international potential.
The artistic team is now getting down to work and will present the full artistic story well before the summer of 2021.
Foto (c) Kristof Ghyselinck