Marjolijn Van Heemstra

Author Marjolijn van Heemstra (1981) is fascinated by the limitations that face humans – their mortality, their limited senses and language, their mental loneliness – and their attempts to get beyond these limitations. For example, in Het Meer she and Keez Duyves (of, among other things, PIPS:lab) went in search of the ‘more’ that - according to a popular saying - supposedly exists between heaven and earth. This turned into a lecture performance, a theatrical form which, in this and later shows, she became increasingly adept at:

She tells a personal story, sometimes with historic asides, and then beautiful, easily comprehensible ruminations. The form is somewhat akin to that of Laura van Dolron, who seems to be lecturing more than engaging in theatre in her stand-up philosophy shows. But where Van Dolron concentrates on ethics and morals, Van Heemstra is more occupied with mystical conundrums.
(Simon van den Berg about Het Meer

To Van Heemstra the theatre is the place to overcome your boundaries, not in the least those between yourself and the other:

People are creatures which are entirely determined by their environment […] Yet you can never step out of your body, we are all individuals. We are simultaneously liquid and solid. […] A show that starts with a venue full of individuals, all caught up in their own thoughts. [….] Perhaps, at the end of the evening everyone may have briefly thought along the same lines. I think that is valuable.
(Marjolijn van Heemstra in Volume 11)

In her recent theatre work, Van Heemstra increasingly explicitly links her philosophical deliberations to current political and societal themes. In 2009, at the invitation of the Goethe Instituut at Frascati she wrote the text 2012 (directed by Julie van den Berghe), occasioned by the twentieth anniversary of the Berlin wall coming down. She outlined a surrealist game show suspiciously similar to the boundless world of 1989: a world without certainty or direction for determining what is of value. For the project Tegen de tijd (2010) she and writer Hannah van Wieringen engaged in conversation with old age pensioners about the final boundary of human existence: death.

Alongside writing for theatre and autonomous theatre work at Frascati (and formerly the Gasthuis), Van Heemstra has, in recent years, developed into a multi-faceted, socially committed author. She writes columns and reports for, among other publications, the newspapers Trouw and NRC Next, and – together with Hanina Ajarai – co-authored a collection of interviews with Moroccan mothers in the Netherlands entitled Land van werk en honing. Her first collection of poetry Als Mozes had doorgevraagd was published in 2010, both in print and read aloud online (

For her new show at Frascati, Family’81 (expected in the spring of 2011), Van Heemstra contacted three exact peers of hers, on three different continents to see which memories of the 1990s they all share. This performance also promises to be a dynamic lecture performance; an evening of limitless thought.

Productions and texts developed at Frascati

Expected: Family’81 (text and performance 2011)
Tegen de tijd (text and performance, together with Hannah van Wieringen 2010)
2012 (text, directed by Julie van den Berghe 2009)
Ondervlakte (text and performance, together with Roald van Oosten 2009)
Het Dierenrijk: een show (text and acting, research presentation together with Jochem Stavenuiter 2009)
Het Meer (text and performance, developed in cooperation with Keez Duyves 2008-2009)
Blauwe Maan (text, written during Gastschrijvers # 5 2007-2008)
Onderzeeër (text and performance 2007)
Noach Junior (text, written during Gastschrijvers # 4 2006-2007)
Astronaut (text and performance 2005)

A selection of her other texts

Als Mozes had doorgevraagd (Thomas Rap 2010)
Babel (show Giselle Vegter 2008)
Echte liefde (show Urban Myth 2008)
Land van werk en honing (interviews with Moroccan mothers in the Netherlands, written with Hanina Ajarai 2006)
Hyalotunidase, puinruimen (show Rauwster 2006)
Bom (show Theater Omega 2005)
To die for (show Hetveem theater 2004/2006)

© Marjolijn Van Heemstra


Marjolijn Van Heemstra

Concept, text and performance: Marjolijn van Heemstra -
Virtual performance: Souad Abdallah, Satchit Puranik, Ntando Cele
Sound design: Roald van Oosten - Light design: Ramses van den Hurk - Director: Sanne van Rijn
Production : Frascati, with the support of VSB Founds

"People are more children of their time than they are children of their parents", writes historian Marc Bloch.

Writer and performer Marjolijn van Heemstra was born in 1981. For Family'81 she visits three people who were born in that same year in a different place in the world: Souad Abdallah (Lebanon), Ntando Cele (South Africa) and Satchit Puranik (India). As children of the same time, they are thus actually family.
With her three contemporaries, van Heemstra researches the years that raised them and the question what you share with people who lived the same days as you but in another part of the world.
The four contemporaries grew up in a world in which globalistion was the magic word and e-culture slowly brought all the corners of the earth within a hand’s reach. Through which invisible lines are their histories connected in this globalised world? Do they share a story bigger than their own?
In Family'81 van Heemstra reports on the recent history based on memories of four contemporaries. Michael Jackson, the Gulf War, riots in India, Nelson Mandela, Dolly the cloned sheep, reconstruction in Beirut and Mc Donalds in Mumbai. It is an attempt to get a grip on the indissoluble web of events that together form something called the common history. And a search for the bigger story of a generation.

© Anna van Kooij

Regards Croisés

Yaïr Barelli, RSJ Works / Human Works, Rana Hamadeh, Maud Vanhauwaert, Marjolijn Van Heemstra, Le bruit des nuages, L'Employeur, Institut des Recherches Menant à Rien - IRMAR, Alexander Schellow

The same video material is sent to each invited artist one month and a half prior to the festival.
Each can use it anyway they want to come up with a spontaneous artistic act in return: extension, disruption, diversion… of the movie clip.
The open artistic act can be a text, a video, a photograph, a collective or individual proposal on stage, etc.
Each artist or artistic team will show their act during the closing night of this third edition, on Saturday, May 28, 2011.

© Tabas

Bulles d'artistes

Yaïr Barelli, RSJ Works / Human Works, Rana Hamadeh, Marjolijn Van Heemstra, Le bruit des nuages, Alexander Schellow

Venues and times vary for each artist


Over the course of the 9 days of the festival, the Artists' Bubbles are special moments when spectators and artists can talk.
The artists present their references and sources of inspiration as a way of understanding their artistic world and give an insight into their background  (other works by the artist, influences, culture…)
This is yet another way for the spectator to make the most of Rencontres//03.

Please meet us:

Friday 20 May at 19h00: Marjolijn Van Heemstra - La Friche – Hall de la Cartonnerie

Friday 20 May at 20h00: L'IRMAR – during a meal organized by the artistic team as part of the Banquets des Grands Bains Douches de la Plaine – price to be defined - ART-CADE Gallery

Monday 23 May at 7.30pm: Yaïr Barelli - La Friche – Hall de la Cartonnerie

Wednesday 25 May at 19h00: RSJ Works / Human Works - La Friche – Hall de la Cartonnerie

Wednesday 25 May at 19h00: Rana Hamadeh - cipM

Thursday 26 May at 19h00: Le Bruit des nuages - La Friche – Hall de la Cartonnerie

Friday 27 May at 19h00: Alexander Schellow (invited sociologist: Sylvie Mazzella) - HO Gallery

© Tabas