Der Theatermacher: Luk Perceval

Der Theatermacher with Johan Simons, Katie Mitchell and Luk Perceval

Since the arrival of Yvette Fijen and Steven Van Watermeulen as the artistic director of the Direction department, the AHK has been supporting the change of path through the Der Theatermacher Artist in Residence (AIR) project. Through this intensive project, students confront crucial issues surrounding individual artistic passions; the impossible and the hidden; radical and uncompromising theatre; and the social significance of the artist. In the special series entitled Der Theatermacher students get to meet and work with important artists from the international circuit. The guest artists on the 2014-2015 programme are Johan Simons (Münchner Kammerspiele & Ruhrtriennale), Luk Perceval (Thalia Theater Hamburg) and Katie Mitchell (Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz), all of them theatre directors with a prominent profile in Europe, not least because of their outstanding choice of material and their ability to raise critical issues. 

Der Theatermacher
AIR project takes its name from the eponymous work by Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard.

Steven van Watermeulen is interviewed by Robbert van Heuven in ON AIR 2015-16.

Luk Perceval

On 24 April 2015 Luk Perceval and his assistant Benedikt Haubrich will arrive in Amsterdam for an intensive eight-day programme on directorial methods, focusing in particular on tension as a tool directors can use to hold the audience’s attention and arouse their curiosity. And how can theatre maker best go about working with the actors to discover the secret underlying the text? Perceval’s play Front is a dark masterpiece about the First World War based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front. This multilingual ‘European’ play is underpinned by music by the maverick composer and instrument builder Ferdinand Försch, who worked with Perceval and the actors to create a unique polyphonic soundscape with ‘an atmosphere in which the spoken word is lifted up’ and made incarnate.

Luk Perceval is currently working on part one of Liebe. Trilogie Meiner Familie, based on Émile Zola’s twenty-novel Rougon-Marquart cycle. Perceval’s approach for this piece is rooted in his fascination for the family unit as a microcosm, a synechdoche for the modern world and its problems and processes. The three consecutive parts of this dramatic trilogy will premiere at the Ruhrtriennale. Perceval’s stage adaptation of Die Blechtrommel by Nobel prize winner Günter Grass recently premiered in Hamburg’s Thalia theatre.

Katie Mitchell

The British director Katie Mitchell will be the next special guest of the Der Theatermacher, in March, this time partly through her Brandstichter (Firestarter) programme at the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam. On 16 and 17 March, and with reference to her book The Director’s Craft, she’ll talk with students about her directorial method, about repertoire and about the special relationship a director needs to develop with the creative team, especially when technical, filmic and visual material takes a prominent place – as it does in Mitchell’s work. She has built a reputation for meticulous preparation, a detailed approach to text, and her highly effective rendering of issues matter such as science, war, climate change and responsibility. This Theatermacher project will doubtless serve as inspiration for our latest generation of direction students. 

On Monday 16 March the Direction department and Katie Mitchell will present a special public edition of the HALF6 meeting in De Theaterschool’s TipTop theatre. Theatre Directing students talk with her at HALf6 about methodology and repertoire, and the importance of a creative team whenever technical, filmic and visual elements take a prominent role in a work.

Johan Simons

Der Theatermacher’s first guest, in September 2014, was Johan Simons. Under his guidance and encouragement, the students responded to his appeal for radicalism by imposing their vision on a staging of three scenes from world repertoire. Working with four renowned actors (Elsie de Brauw, Pierre Bokma, Bert Luppes and Jacob Derwig) on key scenes from Vrijdag, The Oresteia and The Elementary Particles the students learned how to translate their individual ‘radical’ vision into clear and concrete directions as they developed their scene.


Artist in Residence (AIR) is a programme of the Amsterdam University of the Arts in conjunction with all of its departments. It stimulates innovation and facilitates encounters with contemporary art practice. And provides host faculties with the opportunity to benefit from the experience of respected artists, breathing new life into the educational and artistic structures of the Academy. Results of the AIR programme are published internal and external in the journal ON AIR.