Not just Shakespeare as Utrecht welcomes Viafestival

Last updated 1 year ago by Jon Wilkins

Two spectacular events coming up in the UNESCO City of Literature that is Utrecht.

Viafestival: Crazy of Happiness?

We are encouraged every day to seek, make or experience happiness. Contradictory advice drives us crazy. Can a lucky professor make chocolate out of it? Or do we have to eat a lot of chocolate to see results?

On April 6 there is a new festival where you can put it to the test. The doors of the monumental Jacobikerk in the Utrecht city centre are open to ViaFestival. The ‘Crazy of happiness’ theme challenges visitors to think about the value of happiness. How do you experience happiness? And does our search for happiness make us happier or does that search sometimes drive us crazy?

During the plenary program, singer-songwriters Rogier Pelgrim and Maarten van Veen perform in the show Pelgrim and Reisgenoot, in which the big questions are not shunned. Happiness researcher Ad Bergsma takes visitors into the world of scientific research on happiness. Among the vaults of the age-old building, visitors can also choose from various sessions, such as poetry with Kila van der Starre spoken word with the Drominee and theatre with I Love Me. The whole is framed by various happiness experiences in the side aisles of the building, where visitors can stimulate their senses.

The driving force behind this festival is the new platform Via Jacobi. Via Jacobi wants to offer Utrechters a place to meet and think about current issues together. In addition to ViaFestival, Via Jacobi offers various activities during these months around the theme of ‘Happiness’, such as a debate and a pop-up book club. More information about these activities can be found on

The ViaFestival is on Saturday, April 6 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Jacobikerk in Utrecht.

Then we are lucky to have another unique performance when we welcome Toneelschuur Producties with their production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew at Podium Hoge Woerd on April 9 with: Roeland Fernhout and Astrid van Eck.

Katherina is a woman nobody wants to marry. Her sister Bianca, her opposite in everything, is much more loved. However, Bianca is only allowed to marry from their father when Katherina is also sold. Although this seems like a hellish task, the rich Petruchio takes on the challenge of taming these shrews. But who actually tames who?

In this version of Taming of the Shrew, all women’s roles are played by men and all men’s roles are played by women. A festive show with fake eyelashes, music and the beautiful language of Shakespeare. With Roeland Fernhout in the leading roles as Katherina and Astrid van Eck as Petruchio.

Director Nina Spijkers talks about Taming of the Shrew:

“I have personally experienced the past two years as an enormous search for my voice as a theatre maker and as a woman. For this I have often been guilty of putting away feminism as something outrageous and ‘hating nice men’.

There are now fantastic new voices in the discussion. It is now about equality and strength. On the other hand, the #metoo movement proves that we are not there yet. In this show I investigate, together with a group of great actors, the differences and similarities in male-female relationships now and in Shakespeare’s time. With double roles, fake eyelashes, beautiful language, music and show, we formulate our answer to Shakespeare’s piece.”

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About the Author

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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