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OverActing | Theatre Festival Leiden

Friday 2 December 2022 - Sunday 4 December 2022
Leidse Schouwburg, Stadsgehoorzaal, Scheltema, Het Leidse Volkshuis


Theaterfestival OverActing is a rich mixture of theatre and music, research and art, emotion and reason. Through performances, lectures, spoken word interventions and workshops, OverActing explores the power of the theatrical traditions of the past, from tragic Greek mythology to comic silent films. Are the pronounced gestures, poses and facial expressions of past centuries incomprehensible to us, or might they form a source of emotional pleasure if we open ourselves up to them? We take you on a journey through human feelings, lovingly painted using the techniques of a lost acting tradition. Confrontational? Perhaps. Exciting? For sure! After experiencing what OverActing has to offer, you will look at contemporary theatre with refreshed eyes.


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Lecture: Emotions and Acting
Dr. Disa Sauter (Universiteit van Amsterdam) and João Luís Paixão (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Leidse Schouwburg, Bonbonnière
Time: 17.00 – 18.00
Prices: regular 5,00 - CJP/student €5,00

Emotions are central to theatrical events. Artists strive to arouse them in the audience, and the audience in turn expects to feel them throughout the performance. Since antiquity, they have been the universal currency of the theatre: we all have emotions. But do we actually understand what emotions are? And is there something peculiar about the actor’s emotion, on and off the stage? In this talk, two researchers, from the fields of social psychology and theatre history, will discuss what emotions are, what it means to express our emotions, and how we can understand other people's emotions, all the while exploring how the practice of acting might influence these processes.

Lecture in English.

Film: Nosferatu – A Symphony of Horrors
With live music by Olga Pashchenko on historical piano

Leidse Schouwburg, Grote Zaal
Time: 19.30 – 21.00
Prices: regular €15,00 – CJP/student €10,00

Nosferatu. A Symphony of Horrors (1922), one of the most famous silent films, celebrates its centenary this year. The film’s powerful, expressionistic visual style has not lost its ability to frighten audiences today. It is based on Bram Stocker’s novel Dracula, but tells its own perverse tale of psychological horror and sexual dysfunction, strongly contrasted with the ‘normalcy’ projected by Biedemeier bourgeois society. With his unrivalled eye for poetic and atmospheric images, Murnau invites us to look ‘with horror into the secrets of nature’. The emotional charge of the film will be heightened, during our OverActing festival, by the performance of master-pianist Olga Pashchenko, who will perform the soundtrack – compiled especially for her by Jed Wentz from masterworks by composers like Mendelssohn, Liszt and Chopin – on an historical piano by Blüthner from 1865.

German intertitles with English subtitles.

Café Belle Époque
The Songs of Yvette Guilbert

Volkshuis, Theaterzaal
Time: 22.00 – 23.00
Prices: regular €23,00 – CJP/student €10,00

The work of chanteuse Yvette Guilbert (1865-1944) is the focal point of this musical evocation of a Paris salon. With songs that are sometimes frivolous, sometimes sensual, the singer Katarina Livlijanic and pianist Danijel Detoni guide us from Satie to Debussy and on into the wings of the famous Montmartre cabaret Le Chat Noir.

Songs in French, with Dutch subtitles.


Kuhnau’s Biblische Sonaten I

Waalse Kerk
Prices: regular €23,00 – CJP/student €10,00

Music can be used to tell a story: known as programme music, this genre has its roots in the 17th century. Baroque composer Johann Kuhnau composed keyboard pieces inspired by non-musical material, in this case Biblical stories. The tales of David and Goliath, of Saul and David¾translated into harpsichord music and poetical texts¾form the script from which harpsichordist Michael Hell and reciter Thomas Höft create gripping stories, leading us from one emotion to the next.

In German.

Lecture: The Dual Art: Music, Speech and the Performance of Melodrama ca. 1900
dr. Jed Wentz

Scheltema, Expo 1
Time: 15.00 – 16.00
Prices: regular 5,00 - CJP/student €5,00

Declamation is the art of musical speech, and in no performance-genre is the relationship between musical and textual expression more pronounced than in that of melodrama. The melodrama, or ‘dual art’, combines spoken texts with musical accompaniments. It makes special demands on the speaker to pitch and organize their speech rhythmically in relationship to a predetermined musical score. Although the genre was very popular up until the 1920s, it has currently fallen out of favour and its associated manner of declaiming has fallen into disuse. This lecture explores the potential for melodrama to revitalize our public speaking today.

This lecture is also meant to prepare the audience for the theatre performances of Pygmalion and Proserpina later the same evening in the Leidse Schouwburg.

In English.

Ice don’t drown
A Spoken Word Intervention by Alexander Cromer

Scheltema, Expo 1
Time: 17.00 – 18.00
Price: €10,00 - CJP/student €10,00

Alexander Cromer is a storyteller, researcher, and spoken word artist pursuing his doctorate through the Academy of Creative and Performing arts, Leiden University. Alexander’s focus revolves around Afrofuturism, Black Ontology, and ecological issues. Using his storytelling practice (which includes spoken word, poetry, music, and performance art), he translates theoretical research to produce and design meaningful experiences. In the past, he has worked with the Dutch National Opera and Ballet, the British Film Institute, XL Recordings, WeTransfer, the Istanbul Design Biennale, the annual Conference of Youth, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Cromer will perform a one-man show, and also will curate Sunday’s 6 poets in 60 Minutes event in de Leidse Schouwburg.

In English.

Theatre Evening: A Historically Inspired Extravaganza

Ensemble Postscript, Theater Kwast and soloists

Leidse Schouwburg, Grote Zaal
Time: 19.30 - 22.30

Prices: regular €39,00 - CJP/student €10,00

The excitement of an historical evening in the theatre, set in the oldest theatre of the country. Our Saturday gala event in the Leidse Schouwburg will have no intermission, the lights will stay on in the auditorium, and the audience will come and go as they please. Three short one-act play - a drama, a tragedy and a comedy - will be performed with live music, singing and dancing. With 100-year-old theatrical decors from the Vanderberghe collection on stage, historically inspired costumes, and actors using historical gesture and declamation techniques, this will be a night to remember! The music will be performed by the young early music ensemble Postscript.

Texts in German, French and Dutch, with Dutch & English synopsis.

Pygmalion is a melodrama about an artist so love with his own creation that his obsession drives him close to madness His beautiful statue of Galatea is cold marble, …or does he see her breathing, can she come to life? With text by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the version that actor João Luís Paixão and dancer Irène Feste will perform is in German, set to music by the Czech composer Jiri Benda.

Proserpina is a dark and powerfully tragic one-woman show, with a text by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and music by Carl Eberwein. It paints the desperate situation of the young and innocent Proserpina, who was abducted and forced into marriage with Pluto, the God of Hades. Unlike the Greek myth, where Proserpina is allowed to return to the light for half the year as Goddess of Spring, Goethe’s heroine finds no escape from the horrors of the hell to which she is condemned.

The farcical comedy De Bruiloft van Kloris en Roosje (Kloris and Roosje’s Wedding) used to be enormously popular in the Netherlands. It was performed non-stop from the early 18th century into the 1970s. Although it is usually associated with Amsterdam, it was written by Jacob van Rijndorp, the founder of the Leidse Schouwburg, so that in reviving the piece we are also bringing it back home. The innovative performers of Theater Kwast will tear down the fourth wall and draw the audience into the show, reviving lost traditions and leading the evening to a joyous conclusion.



Acting workshop: Kat Carson

Scheltema, Expo 1
Time: 11.00 – 12.30
Prices: regular €19,00 – CJP/student €10,00

Artistic Research is the speciality of the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University. Artistic research places great value on trying things out, experiencing them physically and emotionally, and then drawing conclusions from the resulting proprioception. This workshop, led by experienced historical actor Kat Carson, gives the audience an opportunity to better understand what they are seeing and hearing during Overacting by experimenting with it themselves. How does historical acting, through postures, gestures and facial expression, activate the body and emotions of people today? Try it and find out!

Workshop in English.

Kuhnau’s Biblische sonaten II

Waalse kerk
Time: 13.00 – 14.00
Prices: regular €23,00 – CJP/student €10,00

In the 18th and 19th centuries music and declamation were often heard in close proximity: both the church congregation and the theatre audience listened with rapture to alternating speech and music. It is no wonder that public speaking then was conceived of as a kind a music, and music in turn was believed to be a kind of speech. In part two of our concerts dedicated to Johann Kuhnau’s Biblical Sonatas, reciter Thomas Höft and harpsichordist Louise Acabo will present music and declamation as sister arts which together can tell stories and excite emotions.

In German.

Lecture: The Vandenberghe Theater Decors - Legacy of a Travelling Theater Company in Flanders

Bruno Forment

Leidse Schouwburg, Bonbonnière

Time: 14.30 – 15.30
Prices: regular 5,00 - CJP/student €5,00

Theater historian and musicologist Bruno Forment is specialized in the history of theatrical decors. The Flemish government recently commissioned him to make an inventory of theater decors in Belgium. During this research project he stumbled onto the obscure but important Vanderberghe collection of theatrical decors. Several sets from this collection, which is now in the possession of the Dutch foundation Stichting Musica ad Rhenum, will be used during the OverActing festival’s Saturday evening event. Forment’s lecture tells the surprising tale of a travelling theater company which not only acted but also created their own beautiful costumes and sets. This tradition is perpetuated today by Circus Ronaldo, descendants of the Vandenberghe acting troop.

Language: Dutch

Sono io?
Circus Ronaldo

Leidse Schouwburg, Grote Zaal
Time: 16.00 - 17.30
Prices: regular €23,00 - CJP/student €10,00

Danny and Pepijn Ronaldo, father and son, together on stage. Through their shared love of music and gimmicks, they build a bridge between similarities and differences. The father seems entrenched in his past, desperately searching for an ancient but faded sense of ecstasy. The son seeks reconciliation between the old circus his father created and the world beyond.

The roots of Circus Ronaldo stretch back far into the past, with Danny and Pepijn as the sixth and seventh generations. With seven as a sacred number, they now pay tribute to this past: ‘Sono io?’ (‘Is that me?).

6 Poets in 60 minutes
Curated by Alexander Cromer

Leidse Schouwburg, foyer
Time: 17.30 - 18.30
Free entry

Spoken word artist and doctoral candidate Alexander Cromer (Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University) curates this celebration of contemporary poetry and recitation techniques in which a new generation of spoken word artists display their artistry, their passion and their politics. By placing contemporary poetic style in the context of OverActing, we question just how closely the rhymical, musical quality of today’s spoken word approaches the declamation of the past?

The Last Act

An Evening of Music, Theatre and Film

Stadsgehoorzaal Leiden
Time: 20.00 - 22.00, including intermission

Prices: regular €39,00 - CJP/student €10,00

Three performances of half an hour each in different spaces in the Stadsgehoorzaal, with the audience moving from hall to hall. The grand finale to OverActing 2022!

In the Breezaal, Jed Wentz performs Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic masterpiece The Raven, with a musical accompaniment by Olga Pashchenko on an historical piano. Wentz’s performance is inspired by the research he carried out in the archive of David Bispham, who famously performed The Raven as a melodrama in 1909. In English.

In the Aalmarktzaal, Martin de Ruiter (Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam) will accompany the 1920 silent film De Dood van Pierrot, a dramatic comedy about actors, acting and film-making. This film underscores the main themes of our OverActing festival by showcasing three different acting styles: the naturalism of drama, the exaggerated naturalism of comedy, and the unnaturalistic, expressive and dancelike qualities of tragedy. De Dood van Pierrot is not only charming in its own right, but invites us to reflect on the central position of naturalism in our current acting styles. Dutch intertitles and English subtitles.

We finish the evening in the Aalmarkzaal with a semi-scenic performance of a comic French Baroque cantata by composer Jean-Baptiste Stuck, Héraclite et Démocrite. These two Greek philosophers inform us that the world is a sad disaster and advise us how to cope: according to Heraclitus we can only weep, but Democritus simply cannot stop laughing at us, at himself, at everything. Two historical singer-actors, Michal Bitan and João Luís Paixão, take us back to the Paris of the 1710s, and help us to look out on our own sad world with tears of laughter in our eyes. In French.


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