The Over het IJ Festival is an adventurous Amsterdam summer festival for site-specific theatre and a playground for makers who like to experiment. The festival offers young talent more than just a stage; it also provides them with extensive support. Festival director Simone Hogendijk presents an overview.
‘We have a place in our programme for every kind of maker: from students in their final year at theatre school through to established directors. And for creatives who are interested in developing their work, there is plenty of room for research. Both figuratively as well as literally. In the spring, makers will be able to use our specially designed studio located in a warehouse at the former NDSM wharves, to take their first step toward a production that will be performed with us in July.’
‘We [Sanne Lips and Liesje Knobel] are both scenographers and have been a makers’ duo since 2018. Starting from a fascination with rebellion and resistance, we explore how our visual culture contributes to the formation of identities and power relations. For instance, as part of our production OVERKILL, there are two women who have taught themselves how to behave in an unrestrained and disruptive way. The question is, why should that be reserved for men? We have developed the piece as part of the New Makers programme at the Over het IJ Festival and performed it there nine times over the summer.’
‘This programme involves intensive supervision. In the first instance, we can make use of the warehouse at the NDSM site for our preliminary research. We also have a fortnightly meeting with Simone Hogendijk to consider how we can present our work to a wider audience and design it in a sustainable way. Our business director Sanne Olijerhoek receives intensive coaching from the business director of Over het IJ. The festival also assists us with marketing and PR. And lastly, we are in consultation with the Feikes Huis (a production house for visual theatre, ed.). With them we discuss our place in the field of theatre and learn about entrepreneurship, the types of funding available, and the best place to perform.’
‘The last project of the makers’ scheme is scheduled for next summer. Officially, the mentoring stops there, but we are still far from finished with our development. As a result of the stagnation caused by Corona, we still feel we need guidance. We are currently discussing this with Over het IJ. Here, we sit perfectly in the middle of the right target group. People who come to Over het IJ are open to experimentation’.
All of our talent development programmes are geared towards advancement. Final year students and recent graduates will be able to take part in the ‘Zeecontainer’ (sea container) programme. Here, they will become involved with site-specific theatre, on a small scale and network with other young makers. They will also develop a proposal for a 15-minute performance in which the container is the central focus.
The New Makers programme goes one step further. Makers with up to five years of theatre experience are invited to develop their project at the NDSM location. The challenge for them here, is how to interact with the new dynamics at Amsterdam-North. We support them artistically, commercially, production-wise and in the area of marketing. Their performances are more advanced with respect to the content and tend to last around thirty to forty minutes.
The Atelier is a collaboration with Oerol that has been running for over ten years. It provides makers with a year of support, with a particular focus on the mobility of location theatre. It is one thing to dance on concrete at the NDSM site but quite another thing to perform on the loose sand of the island of Terschelling. This difference sometimes leads to two different performances, originating from the same idea. ‘Most importantly, we provide an ideal platform to enable young makers to show their work to the audience and to their professional peers. The beauty of it is, that audiences often have come to feel part of the festival over time and actually come along for the experiment. People are keen to track the progress of the talent they have already come to know through our Zeecontainer programme. They can purchase a one-day wristband, wear it on their wrist and watch all the new artists. This proves to be a very effective marketing strategy.’