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Johan Simons

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Johan Simons (1946) has been an agent of the Münchner Kammerspiele since 10|11. For Toneelgroep Amsterdam, he has previously directed reeds Macbeth (11|12), La grande bouffe (09|10), Oresteia (06|07), Othello (92|93) and Gust (95|96). In 13|14, his newly directed work Danton’s Death by Georg Büchner will premiere.

Simons on Danton’s Death: ‘Of course I have asked myself what revolution means in this day and age. Does the Arab Spring count as a revolution? Does the anti-globalism movement? The sit ins of the Indignados? I believe that today’s only real revolution is the revolution of genetics. When I view the shambles mankind is making of its world and its self, I –together with Michel Houellebecq and Peter Sloterdijk- ask ourselves: if we had the means to create a better human being than the one who walks the earth today, why shouldn’t we? It is a question I explicitly want to address in Danton’s Death.’

After an education in acting and dance, Johan Simons starts his acting/directing career at the Haagsche Comedie in 1976. In 1979 he begins his own theatre company Het Wespetheater, and in 1982 he starts the Regiotheater (called Hollandia from 1985 onwards). The choice to mainly perform on location, thus absorbing current reality directly into the theatre, is a part of Hollandia’s strength. From 2000 to 2005, Simons is in charge of ZTHollandia, the merger company of Het Zuidelijk Toneel and Hollandia.

Together with his regular actors, Simons creates a trademark performance style: Heren ad now, from a specific situation, with an autonomous physical movement of the character. Thanks to composer and percussionist Paul Koek, Hollandia’s performances identify themselves by a recital of texts in a way that conveys a deeply developed musical understanding. It is especially in the staging of Greek Tragedies that this style of acting truly expresses itself. In the Nineties, Simons’ interests shift to more societally engaged, sometimes explicitly political themes. This clearly shows in the performances that Simons directs for NTGent, such as De asielzoeker, Platform, De tien geboden, Instinct, Kasimir und Karoline and Underground.

Simons is also active as an Opera director. In 2006 he directed Verdi’s Opera Simon Boccanegra in the Opéra Bastille (Paris). In 2008 followed Die Entführung aus dem Serail with De Nederlandse Opera, Herzog Blaubarts Burcht with the Salzburger Festspiele and Fidelio in the Opéra of Paris.
Simons’ performances harvest great esteem across the borders, and they travel through Europe and other English speaking countries with German and English versions. Simons often directs in other countries, among others with Schauspielhaus Zürich and Schauspielhaus Stuttgart.



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