The sound of hammer blows, drills and other construction equipment overwhelms the serenity of the Noorderplantsoen. Fences and tents are being build and the breakdown lorry is driving slowly with its big wheels over the green grass, which is normally the place where all students relax in the summer sun. All this hassle can mean two things: either the king is planning to visit the city, or the greatest festival that Groningen has ever known is on its way. We can happily announce that the king isn’t visiting, and the festival will start today!
Amsterdam has the Parade, a travelling theatre festival with dancers, musicians and actors. Groningen has something similar and maybe even cooler: the Performing Arts Festival Noorderzon. Noorderzon is, as they call it, a somewhat curious combination of a cutting-edge international art festival and a large-scale summer fest. The festival contains all sorts of acts: theatre, dance, music, literature and visual art, in combination with eating, drinking and social encounters.
For eleven summer days, a village appears almost out of nowhere, and is freely accessible for 135.000 visitors. It’s like a fairy paradise, with beautiful lights and very cool acts. The heart of the festival is the idyllic Noorderplantsoen, but you can also check all other locations, like the Sugarfactory, the Prinsentheater and the German embassy. The question that raises is: where do you have to be?
On the big stages in the Noorderplantsoen (Het Dok and Podium Zuid) you can expect big names. The act that catches the ear is Lucius, a band from America, that will perform on the 27th of August. The music of the band can be described as colourful indie pop. Lucius made an appearance on Pukkelpop and DWDD (A Dutch televisionprogram) this year. For the techno fans among us; a band from Belgium called Oscar and the Wolf will perform on the 23th of august. The songs can described as minimal techno and elektro-r&b, because of the electronic structures. During eleven days you can hear a melting pot of different styles of music, from lovely Caribbean sounds to big bands.
Besides main acts on the big stages, less mainstream acts are performed on the little stages in the Noorderplantsoen and on several cool locations in the city. These acts are very special and artistic. An example of a special act, which you can see in the Stadsschouwburg, is called 600 HIGHWAYMAN from the group ‘the Record’. During this acts, 45 strangers meet onstage to show us who they are and who they could be. Collectively, they create a performance that is part theatre, part dance and part hallucination - and you, the audience, are just as much a subject as the people onstage.
Or do you like comedy more? Than you have to go to Steve Rawlings, who performed for president Obama and performed in over a hundred TV-shows. His show is called ‘best wishes’. During this show in the Spiegeltent, he plays with fire, juggles with tables and chairs, he will let several things balance on his chin and makes jokes all the time.
These things are of course not everything that you can see at Noorderzon, there is a lot more to experience. Check the program here. Noorderzon will take place from Thursday the 21th of august until Sunday the 31th of august. We hope to see you there!
By Beppie van der Sluis