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Theatre

Seefhoek Series

Toneelhuis, Thomas Verstraeten, Creative Europe: UNLOCK THE CITY!

After the stunning and heart-warming Familiestraat, Thomas Verstraeten returns to the Seefhoek with an ode to this extremely diverse district in the northern part of Antwerp, where he himself also lives.

Seefhoek Series attempts to penetrate the soul of an urban district. It is a meditation on a vibrant but marginalized neighbourhood. Ordinary urban sights and unexpected occurrences inspire and invite Verstraeten to make shows, videos and installations. 

Seefhoek Series is a seven-part location project. In each episode, Verstraeten examines a different aspect of his neighbourhood, only to lift it out of its context, turn it around, take it apart, enlarge it, isolate it, and then finally reintroduce it into that same urban context. Seefhoek Series is like a relay race, where one project leads to the next. 

A forgotten football square where young street players football their way toward stardom in front of cameras. A performance in which local residents transform the urban district into a moving soundscape. An installation in the nearby Park Spoor Noord. A collection of food stalls spread out across the city, seeking cross-pollination between culinary cultures. A happening on the Stuivenbergplein, where throwing and picking up rubbish becomes an aesthetic event. The merry-go-round comes to an end on the stage of the Bourla Theatre, where the preacher from the Astridplein preaches salvation. Urbi et Orbi. For the city and the world.

Thomas Verstraeten invites you to join 300 residents of Seefhoek in searching for beauty, resilience and poetry in a reality that can be stubborn at times.

Fri. 22 Sept., 8:30 PM
21st Century Portrait

Street football on the Jos Verhelstplein, live on ATV

A street football game is presented as if it were a highly important match. Stadium light illuminates the small, concrete square. The action is filmed for TV. The editing and footage, with drone shots, Steadicam and slow-motion shots, are no different from a professionally filmed match. Two football commentators from the Koolcast Sport podcast professionally comment upon and analyse the game. See it on the spot, or watch it live on ATV.

Sat. 23 Sept., 1-6 PM
Bloedworst en Fladder

Caravan of nomadic food stands

A while ago, there was a small red Surinamese food stand on the De Coninckplein. You could get Surinamese bloedworst (blood sausage) and fladder (tripe) there. The makeshift little kiosk was copied and has grown into a chain of 20 identical stands that pop up in unexpected places in the cityscape, advancing like a caravan from De Coninckplein to the Bourla. These little eateries are now a Seefhoek export product that is growing into a multinational on the urban level.

Sun. 24 Sept., 3 PM
Looking for Harmony

live DJ set moves along the Seefhoek district

Two hundred local residents walk, bicycle or drive by car along a designated route through the Seefhoek. Everyone carries a small, portable loudspeaker that plays their favourite song. The Seefhoek is transformed into a live DJ set, an eclectic soundscape representing the diversely populated district. 

Mon. 25 Sept., 8 PM
Met de krik ketsen

World tour of cricket in Park Spoor Noord
On the large field on the Viséstraat, directly opposite the Parkloods

In Park Spoor Noord, youngsters from the Afghan community have long played cricket, a sport introduced to England by Flemish weavers in the 17th century. Now, a cricket match transforms into a theatrical event, with dramatic lighting, a mesmerizing soundscape, choreographic patterns of movement and a large painted backdrop gently gliding by, taking a journey around the world. Cricket around the world.

Tue. 26 Sept., 8 PM
Speaker's Corner

Public gathering on the Schoolplak, about the beauty of the Seefhoek
(the Schoolplak is the little square between Onderwijsstraat, Schoolstraat and Lange Stuivenbergstraat)

Local residents seek answers to the question: 'What do you feel is the beauty of the Seefhoek?' Using their own photos, they reveal the hidden sides of this unpredictable neighbourhood.

Thu. 28 - Sat. 30 Sept., 8 PM
Urbi et Orbi

A preacher preaches salvation on the Bourla stage

A public square in Antwerp, the Astridplein, has been replicated in perspective on the stage of the Bourla Theatre. The preacher stands in the middle of the square. Usually, the city itself is his theatre; now he delivers a monologue based on his sermons on an actual stage. Street theatre in all senses of the word.

Sat. 30 Sept., 4 PM
Mythe van Sisyfus

Rubbish choreography on the Stuivenbergplein

Two hundred local residents walk across the Stuivenbergplein in a single line. They throw a huge abstract drawing onto the ground, made of rubbish assorted by colour. Then the group, garbed in the fluorescent attire of the sanitation department, picks up all the rubbish again. The movement repeats itself. The throwing and picking up of rubbish almost becomes a dance, like the ebb and flow of the tide.
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The performance is part of UNLOCK THE CITY!, a European project supported by the European Union's Creative Europe programme.

The performance is also part of Dear Antwerp, DE SINGEL's city festival.

“My search for the theatrical in the city goes together with my research on what George Perec advocates in his essay, Approaches to what? That we should ‘question the habitual’, that by describing the ordinary, daily and banal things in life, we can say something about who we are and why we do the things we do.” – Thomas Verstraeten 

"I look for poetry in little things. Ordinary, everyday occurrences have a tremendous dramatic potential. By ‘theatricalising’ them, I hope something special will happen. And I invite people to look at reality in a different way."

Thomas Verstraeten in De Tijd , 22 September 2023

"By looking at this district through an artistic pair of glasses, I platonically fell in love with it. That’s got to do with the vitality of this area, the energy and the poetry that is contained in the little things. Rather than raising my voice to complain about the Seefhoek, which is not all that difficult, I wanted to sing the praises of its beauty."

"I start with images that are typical of this neighbourhood and magnify or dramatize them. (….) I strongly believe in the community-strengthening side effects of art. This production might not be a long-term participation project, but something meaningful definitely does occur on that one day. The neighbour who would normally call the police to complain about noise is suddenly performing along with the young people."

Thomas Verstraeten in De Morgen , 22 September 2023

"Besides being an artistic ode to a district, this location project does away with accepted viewing codes. In the Seefhoek Series , Verstraeten’s attempt to dramatize the city thoroughly shakes up the relation between viewers and performers while giving the most diverse district in Antwerp a new role. Different generations of locale residents from varied backgrounds meet each other for the first time. The connections between them run like a common thread through the seven interventions. Together, they form a fabric that is shared with the whole city."

Liesbeth De Clercq in Etcetera , 9 October 2023

"We watch the cricket match and the trash choreography as if it were a theatre performance. Together with local residents, he appropriates public space –for the duration of the performance – by theatricalizing it, by creating a fixed perspective, a clear framework around the event. He focuses the spectator’s gaze on something ordinary (a football match, a food stall, a street preacher) for just long enough and intensely enough to look at it effectively – because of the framing, the multiplication, the choreographed patterns of movement: all strategies of alienation, which momentarily cancel out an existing alienation (habit, custom)."

concept, direction

  • Thomas Verstraeten

with

  • 300 inwoners van de Seefhoek

production

  • Toneelhuis
  • Thomas Verstraeten

coproduction

  • DE SINGEL
  • Het Oude Badhuis

the performance is part of

  • UNLOCK THE CITY!

with the support of

  • de Tax Shelter van de Belgische federale overheid
  • via Look@Leo
  • Creative Europe: UNLOCK THE CITY!
  • de Vlaamse Overheid
  • Nationale Loterij

All data

There are no upcoming activities for this event.

  1. Friday 22 September 2023 — 20h30 — Jos Verhelstplein, Antwerpen
  2. Saturday 23 September 2023 — 13h00 — Verschillende locaties tussen De Coninckplein en Bourla, Antwerpen
  3. Sunday 24 September 2023 — 15h00 — Parcours door de Seefhoek, Antwerpen
  4. Monday 25 September 2023 — 20h00 — Park Spoor Noord - Viséstraat, Antwerpen
  5. Tuesday 26 September 2023 — 20h00 — Schoolplak (pleintje tussen Onderwijsstr., Schoolstr. en Lange Stuivenbergstr.), Antwerpen
  6. Thursday 28 September 2023 — 20h00 — Bourlaschouwburg, Antwerpen
  7. Friday 29 September 2023 — 20h00 — Bourlaschouwburg, Antwerpen
  8. Saturday 30 September 2023 — 16h00 — Stuivenbergplein, Antwerpen
  9. Saturday 30 September 2023 — 20h00 — Bourlaschouwburg, Antwerpen

News about ‘Seefhoek Series’

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