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Two famous 17th century plays will soon be performed together for the first time in history; one in Dutch and one in English. The unique production The Miller + The King, which will take place in CC Amstel on 16 March 2023, is an initiative of the UvA and Princeton University (US). ‘Many interesting interconnections can be found between the development of Dutch and English theatre from that time.’
The Miller + The King (Photo: Onno Roozen / David Snowden Photography)

Two theatre companies – the Dutch Theatergroep De Kale and the English travelling company Oddbodies – will together provide a full evening’s programme with Bredero’s Klucht van de Molenaar (1613) and Shakespeare’s King Lear (1606). ‘These two important plays have never been staged together before,’ says Professor of Global Dynamics of Dutch Literature Feike Dietz, one of the organisers.

Comedy and tragedy in one evening

The performance of different plays on the same evening is a phenomenon that occurred frequently in the history of theatre. As early as Ancient Greece, it was common for audiences to be presented with a tragedy and a comedy one after the other.

The two plays that will be performed on 16 March contrast and complement each other. They are totally different in terms of style and content: De Klucht van de Molenaar is a daring and funny play, while King Lear is a relentless, dark tragedy. However, the plays were written within a few years of each other. ‘Many interesting interconnections can be found between the development of Dutch and English theatre from that time’, says Dietz. ‘This evening will allow the audience to become acquainted with them. The bilingual setting makes the whole thing even more special.’

Workshops for students

In the afternoon prior to the show, the theatre groups will hold two workshops especially for students of the UvA and Princeton, where the students will set to work with the texts themselves and learn how to perform them. ‘In that way, they will be examining, among other things, the question of how you handle centuries-old texts in this day and age’, explains Dietz.

The projects stems from a collaboration that was initiated years ago by Nigel Smith, Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature at Princeton University, and Lia van Gemert, (now emeritus) Professor of Historical Dutch Literature at the UvA. The two professors looked for ways together to introduce their students and a broader audience to the joint development of Post-Renaissance Dutch and English theatre. The programme with De Klucht van de Molenaar and King Lear was originally going to take place years ago, but COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works. The two classics will finally shine together soon in the theatre.

Prof. dr. F.M. (Feike) Dietz

Faculty of Humanities

Departement Neerlandistiek