17 Apr '19 to 25 Apr '19

Het hout

ITA–Ensemble / Michiel van Erp

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. In his early novel Sunken red, he writes: ‘I do not understand the fundamental difference between a Japanese camp guard and a friar’.

Grote Zaal
Duration 1 hour and 50 minutes, no intermission
Premiere 04 Nov 2018
Dutch spoken
English surtitles on Thursdays

About the play

Many years later, Brouwers writes about these experiences in 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.

Not only are the pupils humiliated and brutalized by the friars, they are also sexually abused. This all takes place under the concealment of a church that propagates charity. Young friar Bonaventura faces a dilemma. Will he choose to be the silent accomplice who helps the victims as much as he can? Or will he decide to go, leaving them to their fate?

It takes a woman in the world outside the monastery to be able to make the decision. During a visit to the dentist, Bonaventura meets young widow Patricia. But even after a secret love affair develops between them, he remains indecisive for a long time.

Jeroen 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.’ This question is the starting point for the first directing of a performance in the main theatre by Michiel van Erp – acclaimed filmmaker of e.g. the TV series Ramses.


'Het acteerwerk is zó overtuigend en de voorstelling zó indringend dat de gebeurtenissen op het toneel je bijblijven. Het celibaat als hogedrukpan die onvermijdelijk tot ontploffing komt.'- Theaterkrant

'Zo behoudt Het Hout ook op toneel knap het midden tussen huiveringwekkend en hoopvol. Tot de roerende slotscène, waarin de hoop uiteindelijk overwint.' - de Volkskrant ****

'Van Erp houdt zijn regie strak en ingetogen. Dat komt de zeggingskracht ten goede. Bart Slegers maakt met zijn indrukwekkend onderkoelde en daardoor des te dreigender interpretatie van broeder Mansuetus de dreiging knisperend tastbaar. Gijs Scholten van Aschat creëert een onvergetelijke broeder-overste Benedictus als een man die door zijn afstandelijke en ambtelijke benadering de illusie van onpartijdigheid en fatsoen probeert op te houden. Maria Kraakman maakt als de vlinderige weduwe Patricia de verliefdheid van Bonaventura volledig invoelbaar. Maar de kracht van het stuk ligt toch bij Aus Greidanus als Bonaventura. Hij vertelt zijn verhaal in flasbacks en onontkoombaar voel je zijn woede stijgen.' - Noordhollands Dagblad

'Aan de eerste, geslaagde theaterregie van documentairemaker Michiel van Erp is af te zien hoe goed hij in beelden kan denken.' - Trouw ****


Language NP Language no problem Khaldoun Alexander Elmecky Khaldoun Alexander Elmecky
Language NP Language no problem Thomas Cammaert Thomas Cammaert
Language NP Language no problem Jules Croiset Jules Croiset
Language NP Language no problem Aus Greidanus jr. Aus Greidanus jr.
Language NP Language no problem Fred Goessens Fred Goessens
Language NP Language no problem Achraf Koutet Achraf Koutet
Language NP Language no problem Maria Kraakman Maria Kraakman
Language NP Language no problem Joep Paddenburg Joep Paddenburg
Language NP Language no problem Gijs Scholten van Aschat Gijs Scholten van Aschat
Language NP Language no problem Bart Slegers Bart Slegers
Michiel van Erp
Michiel van Erp

Van Erp (1963) created more than fifty documentaries, both for television and cinema. In the 1990s, he made a name for himself with Lang leve…, a long-running series in which ordinary Dutch people were portrayed in a special way, often with much irony (which is regarded as his trademark) and full of sympathy at the same time.

He filmed portraits of famous Dutch people, such as author Connie Palmen and photographer Erwin Olaf, but also Queen Beatrix and singer Mary Servaes. He made films about the funeral of Prince Claus and the relatives of the MH17 plane crash victims. A recurring theme is (sexual) identity. In I Am a Woman Now, Van Erp portrayed five women who underwent gender reassignment surgery more than fifty years ago. When asked ‘who is the successor of Bert Haanstra?’ Haanstra’s former cameraman Kees van Hin answered: ‘Michiel van Erp’.

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Michiel van Erp about The wood

‘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.


director Michiel van Erp
author Jeroen Brouwers
adaptation Jibbe Willems
dramaturge Johan Reyniers
scenographer, light design Andrew Lieberman
sound design Daniel Freitag
costumes Wojciech Dziedzic
assistant director Olivier Diepenhorst
dramaturge assistant Amber Visser
assistant scenographer Ramón Huijbrechts
casting advice Hans Kemna
privat producer Peter Dorsman
head of technique & production department Wolf-Götz Schwörer
production leader Edith den Hamer, Marjanne Wilmink
first stage manager Joost Verlinden
stage manager Daan Westendorp, Dennis van Scheppingen, Emile Bleeker, Peter Pieksma, Pieter Roodbeen, Quincy Muller, Stephan Pot
hair & grime department David Verswijveren
head of costume department Wim van Vliet
costumes department Farida Bouhbouh
dresser Jacolien Honders
publicity Ewa Chojecka
repetitor Robert Joosten
set building Kloosterboer Decor bv, levtec

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