Sign of the Times: A Culture of Democracy

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Sign of the Times: A Culture of Democracy

Internationaal Theater Amsterdam / De Balie / Ivo van Hove

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Sign of the Times: A Culture of Democracy
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam / De Balie / Ivo van Hove

In the programme series Sign of the Times, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam and debate centre De Balie link performances by the ITA ensemble to today's major social themes in a unique combination of theatre and conversation. On 4 June we will create a programme as part of the biennial Forum on European Culture.

De Balie and ITA present a one-off collage performance directed by Ivo van Hove about the state of democracy in Europe. With a special performance of one of the most famous historians worldwide: Simon Schama.

Run time 90 minutes
Genre Perspective
Language Dutch and English, with partial English surtitles

A Culture of Democracy


The artist and the tyrant are age-old foes. The arts are outlawed in most dictatorships, not because the dictator dislikes painting but because they know that the artist has the power to win over the public and inspire freedom. Throughout history, artists and writers have fought for truth, freedom, and democracy. From Aeschylus' Suppliants to Picasso's Guernica, and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, these creative individuals have used their talents to bring attention to important issues.

The arts offer a space for different perspectives and the freedom to immerse oneself in another's story. They amplify the voices of those who are often unheard. For democratic rule to endure, citizens must believe in its worth.
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Failure to internalize a culture of democracy can lead to its demise. Misinformation and propaganda fuel distrust, which can in turn breed dictatorships. Therefore, nurturing the arts is vital for a true culture of democracy.

Bringing together political speeches and theatre texts, recent events and historical moments, the performance featuring ITA’s ensemble and guest speaker Simon Schama, reflects on the European society of today.

Every two years De Balie and Ivo van Hove create a one-off performance for the Forum on European Culture. The performance Re:Creating Europe (2016) travelled to Manchester International Festival and Théâtre d l’Odéon in Paris.

Simon Schama

Simon Schama is a renowned expert on European history, ecology and art history. He published numerous awarded history books and created famous television series such as The Power of Art, The Story of the Jews and most recently The History of Now (2022). With over 40 documentaries on his name, he keeps informing his audience about Europe’s vast history.

This programme is supported by

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