Here are 10 quality Amsterdam theaters, catering to various tastes ranging from quirky and alternative to the more established.
AMSTERDAM THEATER • 10 BEST OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Quirky, alternative and innovative are three words that would describe the theatre scene in Amsterdam. Theatre in Amsterdam is more often than not housed within broader cultural organizations which offer an array of performances and activities. Usually these include dance, musical performances, stand up comedy, and often also film, photography, and performance art. Often different art forms will be combined into an interdisciplinary innovative mix.
Another characteristic of Amsterdam theatre, if a slight generalization, is that it aims to be innovative and alternative, and that it targets a young demographic. As this means theatre is off the beaten track here, and often well hidden within a mass of other art forms, it can be tricky finding a quality performance or even locating a theatre.
We’ve done the work for you and have compiled a list of ten quality Amsterdam theaters, ranging from the alternative to more established and catering to various tastes.
Amsterdam’s municipal theatre Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam is home to the largest theatre company in the Netherlands, Toneelgroep Amsterdam (Amsterdam Theatre Group) and is our top theatre pick. Renowned for their quality performances which display a thoughtful balance of tradition and innovation, Toneelgroep Amsterdam has in recent years acquired an increasingly international identity, regularly cooperating with talented professionals from around the globe. A core group of twenty ‘in house’ actors is supplemented with temporary additions from established companies from the Netherlands and abroad, creating an innovative vibe while maintaining a constant standard of quality.
Toneelgroep Amsterdam mixes international influences, and aims to stay in tune with innovation in the national and international world of theatre. An additional aim is to respond to politics and global events without explicitly addressing these, as a result Toneelgroep Amsterdam manages to produce theatre which is very subtly routed in current affairs while at the same time maintaining an artistic neutrality.
Performances are mostly in Dutch but are often subtitled in English. Check the website or phone for more information. See ssba.nl for an overview of English language and subtitled performances at Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam
Leidseplein 26, Amsterdam
De Melkweg (Milky Way) is a non-profit organization which was established in 1970 in a former milk factory in central Amsterdam. Since the 1970s De Melkweg has developed into a cultural centre hosting musical and dance performances, exhibitions, and theatre productions. Nowadays it is so well-known as a club and music venue it is sometimes forgotten that De Melkweg also encompasses a cinema, a gallery, and a theatre.
The Melkweg Theatre works with established actors and directors with an innovative outlook, as well as with young but talented performers, resulting in dynamic and fresh performances. Overall, productions performed at Melkweg are somewhat experimental and alternative and ever surprising. In a sense this means a visit to a Melkweg production is a bit of a gamble, it can be sheer brilliance or slightly disappointing and it’s often impossible to predict which it will be. It is a risk well worth taking though, as when it works out the productions are truly fabulous.
Most productions are in Dutch but De Melkweg regularly hosts performances in English. Check the website or call for more information.
Lijnbaansgracht 234, Amsterdam
De Kleine Komedie
Although mainly a cabaret venue, De Kleine Komedie also puts on vibrant comedy, music, dance, and theatrical performances. Founded in 1786, it was once frequented by king Willem I and by Napoleon. Over the following centuries the premises were used for many different purposes, ranging from lecture hall to bicycle lot, before once again becoming a theatre. This notwithstanding, De Kleine Komedie proudly calls itself Amsterdam’s oldest theatre. That being a matter of perspective, there is no doubt this renowned theatre is amongst the most important in the Netherlands, anyone of any consequence at some point performs here. De Kleine Komedie manages to attract celebrated and about to be celebrated talent without losing its local character, and for that reason is particularly loved by the public.
For English spoken or surtitled performances check the website for shows marked ‘Language no Problem’, or call for more information.
De Kleine Komedie
Amstel 56-58, Amsterdam
De Engelenbak (Dutch for The Gods) is the balcony above the upper circle of a theatre. As this is where the cheapest seats are, de Engelenbak is accessible to almost anyone, which is exactly the image this theatre strives to present. This is a place where no professional credentials other than talent are required to get stage time, a place for young artists and newcomers to perform. By fostering emerging talent and by bringing amateurs into contact with professionals, De Engelenbak aims to serve as a stepping stone for amateurs wanting to enter the world of professional theatre, whilst at the same time producing quality theatre. In addition to theatre de Engelenbak also produces dance, mime, opera, and cabaret performances.
Most of the productions are in Dutch, but de Engelenbak occasionally hosts performances in English. Check the website or call for more information.
Nes 71, Amsterdam
Theater Bellevue stages modern theatre, dance, and cabaret productions by talented young performers as well as established professionals. The in house theatre company produces quality performances and many other companies try out their new productions here. The ambiance is informal, particularly so in the downstairs theatre where drinks are served during performances. Bellevue also stages lunchtime productions, one-acters which last as long as an average lunch break and attract a crowd of local professionals.
Most productions are in Dutch but Bellevue occasional hosts performances in English. Check the website or call for more information.
Leidsekade 90, Amsterdam
Frascati stages innovative theatre both from the Netherlands and abroad. Careful about inviting unknown companies to perform here, the theatre instead works with a small number of trusted theatre groups. At the same time this is a venue where companies stage some of their more experimental productions, resulting in productions of a fairly constant quality paired with an innovative vibe. Frascati runs two separate venues with different profiles, the more established productions take place at Nes, while young actors and newcomers perform at Frascati WG (at Wilhelmina Gasthuis terrein). In addition Frascati often stages productions at Flemish cultural society De Brakke Grond (see below).
For English spoken productions check the ‘Language No Problem’ section on the website or call for more information.
Nes 63, Amsterdam
M. v. B. Bastiaansestraat 54, Amsterdam
De Brakke Grond
Flemish cultural institute De Brakke Grond has close ties with the Frascati Theater (see above) which often stages productions here. Founded and funded by the Flemish government, De Brakke Grond offers a stage to Flemish actors and production companies as well as Dutch ones, and actively promotes cultural exchange between Flemish and Dutch artists, which often adds an extra dimension to their productions. The institute aims to profile Flemish culture in the Netherlands by hosting theatre, dance, and musical performances, as well as exhibitions, festivals, and debates. Occasionally Flemish films and documentaries are shown here. For an all round cultural experience the in house restaurant serves decent quality Flemish food.
Performances are mostly in Dutch. Check the website or phone for more information.
De Brakke Grond
Nes 45, Amsterdam
Koninklijk Theater Carré
Royal Theatre Carré has been a permanent fixture on the Amsterdam theatre and entertainment scene since 1863. This theatre offers a broad mix of both highbrow and lowbrow art and entertainment, staging musicals, cabaret, theatre productions, ballet, and circus acts, all set in a splendid building at a top location.
Carré’s programming is broad and eclectic, on trend and inclines towards the more popular forms of entertainment, although sometimes productions rise to a more intellectual level. One could object that this venue caters too much to popular taste, the alternative quirkiness that is typical of Amsterdam theatre is a long way away here. However, Carré has with some authority been named the most popular theatre in the Netherlands, and while this no doubt has something to do with the vast amount of popular entertainment on offer, its is also due to a high number of top acts and the reliable quality of the performances.
Most productions are in Dutch but Carré occasionally hosts performances in English. Check the website or call for more information.
Amstel 115, Amsterdam
Rozentheater is the only theatre in the Netherlands staging productions specifically aimed at young people. As such it aims to address the issues young people face in their everyday lives, including political events and societal trends. Rozentheater aims to produce an array of artistic performances and hosts theatre and dance performances, as well as poetry nights, and open mic evenings. In addition it aims to be interdisciplinary and multicultural, and to combine professional productions with amateur performances, which results in innovative and often interesting productions. The bulk of the productions are by companies existing of young up and coming performers, although the theatre also stages productions by established professionals and one man shows by young artists.
Although not many, Rozentheater occasionally hosts performances in English. Check the website or call for more information.
Rozengracht 117, Amsterdam
Jeugdtheater de Krakeling
The epicentre of Amsterdam children’s theatre and the only truly established children’s theatre in the Netherlands, De Krakeling covers the entire range of youth theatre from puppet-theatre to dance performances. The theatre aims to produce quality theatre for children aged two to seventeen and to stage productions with an educative twist. It regularly produces performances in cooperation with local primary schools and it is safe to say no Amsterdam schoolchild reaches adulthood without having been introduced to a number of different art-forms at De Krakeling.
As most Krakeling performances are produced by professional directors and actors and some by debutant artists, De Krakeling can be trusted to put on quality performances but also innovative productions. Parents are welcome and up to two adults accompanying a child will receive a discount on their ticket.
Performances are in Dutch.
Nieuwe Passeerderstraat 1, Amsterdam
STET: The English Theatre
Are you interested in English language theater productions? STET is working on the production and promotion of English language theater in the Netherlands. They are located near Den Haag and thus most of the performances are there, but you can also find out about productions in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands on their website or by subscribing to their newsletter.
Nassaulaan 17, Wassenaar
Thanks to Sophia Hendrikx for the original 2011 version of this informative article!
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