"Horrifying and hopeful." - de Volkskrant ★★★★
"The opening scene shows us how well Michiel van Erp can think in images." - Trouw ★★★★
110 minutes, no intermission
Langage: Dutch with surtitles on Friday December 20th
The story we shouldn't forget
With The wood, Two Dutch storytellers tell a story about the abuse of power in their own way. The wood was written by acclaimed writer Jeroen Brouwers in the setting of the 50s. Award-winning director Michiel van Erp brought this story to the theater and to the present. A story that is still very present in our society, a story that cannot be forgotten.
Jeroen Brouwers received the ECI Prize for Literature for The wood in 2015, the prize is awarded to the best literary work in the Netherlands. Brouwers processes his experiences through his writing. In this case experiences of finding himself in a boarding school as a child after the war. Brouwers depicts a Roman Catholic monastery with an adjoining boarding school for boys where a male community of monks exploit the boys with impunity. It is however, not the abuse that is central to the performance. No, it is the dilemma one is confronted within such a situation: “What made these people stay and remain silent? That was also my challenge: to make it credible that Bonaventura just cannot possibly leave, can’t possibly speak of what he has seen.”, says Brouwers.
Michiel van Erp proceeded from this question in directing this theatre performance. For Van Erp, the boy’s boarding school is a symbol for other closed communities. Van Erp: “We live in a world where revelations concerning misuse of power and sexual intimidation are a daily occurrence. The wood is about the mechanisms behind the collective secrecy concerning abuse. It is also about the dilemma’s one is confronted with if one is to take action and the courage that is necessary in order to step forward; and also that love does finally conquer all. The wood is an ode to the literary talent of Jeroen Brouwers. In the theatre adaptation by Jibbe Willems, his style of language has been maintained. Brouwers’ words shoot with a true aim always hitting their target.”
About The wood
In The wood, the young brother Bonaventura reflects on what to do with his life. He started out as a fresh young German language teacher at a monastery/boarding school for boys. But he unknowingly transforms slowly into a brother watching over study halls and dormitories doing all kinds of odd jobs. He looks on sadly as students are systematically brutalized and even sexually abused by other brothers. It is common knowledge yet no one steps in. Bonaventura is confronted with a paralyzing dilemma: does he leave in protest or does he stay to help the boys as much as he can? During a visit to the dentist, Bonaventura meets the young widow Patricia. Even after a secret love blossoms between them, he remains undecided. Will she help him to choose a course of action?
Michiel van Erp in an interview with Bol.com: “It is strong stuff, just like the book. And yet… I couldn’t put it down; it’s a real page-turner. How does it end, for heaven’s sake? The interaction between humour and deadly earnest is what makes it so interesting. I hope that people experience that duality and leave the theatre with the feeling that it was not only merciless, but that it also made them laugh – like I did with the book."
“In the optimistic theatre adaptation of Jeroen Brouwers’ The wood, language, as it does in the novel, plays the leading role.” – de Volkskrant ★★★★
“This successful theatre direction by documentary film director Michiel van Erp shows how well he can think in terms of images.” – Trouw
“Michiel van Erp makes abuse horribly tangible.” – De Telegraaf ★★★★
“The acting was directed with great attention to detail – starting with Aus Greidanus.” – Het Parool
“Van Erp keeps his direction tight and restrained. This definitely benefits the expression. Bart Slegers is tangibly menacing with his impressively unemotional and therefore all the more compelling portrayal of brother Mansuetus. Gijs Scholten van Aschat creates an unforgettable brother-superior Benedictus as a man who through his distant and official approach attempts to maintain the illusion of impartiality and decency. Maria Kraakman, as the flighty widow Patricia, lends a deep credibility to Bonaventura’s infatuation. But the full force of the piece lies firmly with Aus Greidanus as Bonventura. He tells his story in flashbacks and you feel his anger rising inescapably.” – Noordhollands Dagblad
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
private producer Peter Dorsman