Style popularisation phase. Introducing new genres. Finding a wide audience. In the early 90s, the Nieuw Symbolistisch Theater was regarded as the “ein von der profileersten theatergruppen of West Europe”.
Nieuw Symbolistisch Theater was founded by Iva Kostović-Mandić & Petar Mandić in 1985. in Amsterdam. Under the name of Nieuw Symbolistisch Theater they created and produced 2 remarkable productions: one “visual comedy” and one grand scale open-air production.
As with previous productions from the period of Maska i Pokret, Iva & Petar featured as complete authors here as well – from their own screenplay, choreography, mask creation, set design to performance. Compared to previous productions, in the productions of the Nieuw Symbolistisch Theater, scenery and stage effects play a more significant role. New masks-making techniques based on techniques from the film industry are also tied to this phase.
Search for (and finding) the “real” audience
Unlike Maska i Pokret period, which characterises the search and exploration of the mask in theatre and the emergence of its own stage language in the “academic”, from the “ordinary” audience to a somewhat isolated circle of theatre people – with an incidental touch with the real audience, the Nieuw Symbolistisch Theater period is characterised by the search – and finally, finding – the “real” audience and communicating with the general public.
This search, which has resulted in numerous appearances in a variety of locations – from classical theatres and opera houses to numerous festivals and open-air stages and frequent tours across Europe – has also brought with it the inevitable popularisation of style, dealing with new genres, etc.
Popularisation of style and new genres
Although they are still using the same means (mask, movement, music), and are still complete authors themselves, productions during the period NST are in many ways different.
The comedy genre is a logical step in the search for a wide audience. But to create a comedy without words, using only masks, (dance) movement and prerecorded sound-track was in itself yet another challenge. After many trial-and-error experiments, ultimately the final version of the show (Le Triomphe de la Fidélité – later Eine Antike Soap Opera) was created, and this opened the door to a broad audience.
While Soap Opera is a logical step in seeking communication with the general public because it is a comedy, the next production of Miracles Now brings them back to the realm of their original messages and thoughts, characteristic of the ‘Maska i Pokret’ period, but this time so current and clear that could excite contemporary audience.
Miracles Now is, without a doubt, the most mature and complex production of the authors – combining, on the one hand, all their many years of research in the field of mask, movement and music, and on the other hand with their extensive experience in the field of communication with a wide audience.
Although primarily a comedy, Soap Opera is at the same time a “recalculation” of authors with a consumer-oriented “dead” theatre, with bourgeois theatre and snobbery.
Relying largely on the works and thoughts of Noam Chomsky, Miracles Now deals with contemporary myths and criticises the hypocrisy of modern, democratic, consumer society.
These two performances are just seemingly diametrically different from each other; in essence (basically), through both prevail the notes of provocation, irony and critical attitude of the author towards certain phenomena within a given social and political system (in this case of modern western capitalist society) (are conveyed).
Support and cooperation
There is a great number of theatre professionals who were of essential importance at this stage through various forms of cooperation – particularly in the field of promotion and marketing (to mention but a few):
Nederlands Theater Institute; Divera Stavenuiter (Nederlands Instituut voor de Dans); Theatre group Sheer Madness; Minnie Marx, actress; George Isherwood, theatre director and actor; Jeroen Kranenburg, actor; De Kleine Komedie Amsterdam; Virginia Friedlaender, impresario; Joost Budde; Frans Bronkhorst (Impresariaat Frans Bronkhorst) ; Interpresario; Manuela Buske Wir Agenten.
Performances by the Nieuw Symbolistisch Theater have been regularly followed by theatre critics, theatrical reviews, and reviews in numerous daily newspapers and magazines. In the early 1990s, the NST was regarded as the “ein von der profiliersten theatergruppen of West Europe”. >> See full press coverage
Productions of the Nieuw Symbolistisch Theater
Le Triomphe de la Fidélité / later Eine Antike Soap Opera
A visual-comedy production composed as a bizarre baroque revue; a series of ‘divertisements’ featuring the whole spectrum of puppet-like larger than life grotesque characters. Two performers appear in the role of more than 25 characters.
- Premiere Le Triomphe de la Fidelite – DE KLEINE KOMEDIE AMSTERDAM 1986
- Premiere Eine Antike Soap Opera – STADSSCHOUWBURG RIJSWIJK 1992
- Numerous appearances and tours in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Spain
Miracles Now, The World Of Modern Myths
Taking over the form of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and using visual, non-verbal language based on Images and new Symbols derived from mass media, advertising and pop-culture – Miracles Now answers the questions: What is our contemporary mythology? To which extent are we part of it?
The Nieuw Symbolistisch Theater operated under that name until 1993.