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Johan Simons and Hollandia

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From the early 1980s Johan Simons, now one of the leading figures of contemporary theatre in Europe focused on an audience outside the theatres. His monumental and ritualistic style took on a permanent shape at Theatergroep Hollandia, the company he started in 1985 with musician Paul Koek. The stylised manner of acting and the earthly and musical performances of classic tragedies such as Prometheus and Bacchanten in former factory buildings, a breaker’s yard or horticultural greenhouse quickly brought the company fame and respect. In the 1990s, Simons and Hollandia increasingly explored the idea of theatre as a total experience, in which the journey to the location, the meal beforehand and sensory impressions such as image, scent and temperature, which play no role in the traditional theatre setting, can form an integral part of the theatrical work. With his successful productions with ZTHollandia in Germany such as Anatomie Titus and Sentimenti, and adaptations of books by the controversial French writer Michel Houellebecq such as Tragbar and Elementarteilchen in Zurich, and Platform in Ghent, Simons’ international celebrity status was established once and for all.