Touring in Holland - What does it mean?

 

Both in the US and in the UK touring companies travel the country with shows, plays and musicals that proved successes on Broadway or the West End. Without prejudice to these productions there are a couple of observations that can be made.

 

For one, these countries are large enough for touring companies to travel around for months. Also, it is necessary for productions to tour the country in order to reach audiences that will not travel to the main cities. This brings us to the main difference between e.g. London or New York and The Netherlands.

 

In the Netherlands there is no core centre with all important theatre productions grouped together. Throughout the years the Dutch have developed the habit of expecting actors to come to their towns. Governments and city councils started building large theatres in a radius of merely miles. This did not quite encourage audiences to travel far in order to visit the theatre.

 

Another reason can be found in the language. Foreign tourists are not likely to go and watch a Dutch speaking show, let alone travel to e.g. Amsterdam especially for it. Both Broadway and the West End are for a large part also tourist attractions. Even if these tourists are fellow-countrymen from out of town.


So The Netherlands created the odd tradition for all theatre productions to be touring. After all, the country is small enough for the company to travel back home after the show most of the time.

 

Although there are a few 'fixed' - usually large musical shows, the enormous amount of various theatrical productions are thus forced to travel around. This means all first cast productions including the stars are used to travelling around. In other words: travelling or touring theatre productions in the Netherlands are not automatically associated with 'second cast' productions with a lesser quality. Imagine the work and the intensity and amount of work for cast and crew. Building and breaking the set each single night alone is an immense job. Especially when you realize most productions play a different venue each night!

 

This crazy system led to one positive thing. Because all these theatres, in all these towns are programmed each night, The Netherlands offer the largest variety of seasonal theatrical productions in the world.

 

So... if you ever meet a Dutch actor, singer, dancer or producer who tells you he is touring the country, make sure you know he is going around the country within the Dutch tradition of touring! 

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