Rob van Steen: 'In Theaters Tilburg we think even smarter than your supermarket around the corner'

| Sanne Leenders

The Theatre, Concert Hall, Studio and Filmfoyer Tilburg are together one at Theaters Tilburg. It looks beautiful from the outside and the content with her stage artists shines just as beautifully. And don't immediately think: 'The theatre, that's something my parents have a subscription to...' Because Theaters Tilburg has an assortment with something for everyone. And we can tell you, that's much more interesting than that of the supermarket on the corner. We spoke to theatre director Rob van Steen about his passion for the performing arts.
Photo's: Camiel Donders

Before Rob van Steen turned out to be a theatre director, there was a long journey ahead of him. Literally. Rob was born in Woensel-West in Eindhoven. He comes from a large Brabants family with as many as 7 children, none of whom dared to cross the city borders at the time. Neither did Rob, not yet. During his studies in business administration, he was eligible for student theatre. 'The combination of business administration and theatre is what I still do today: I run a theatre company and all my passions have come together in it.' Isn't that everyone's dream? Turning your work into your passion. In order to develop himself further, he studied theatre studies in Utrecht. This led to a career as a consultant in which Rob advised theatres, but ran a real theatre? That was the next step. In Zutphen he became director and programmer at Theatre and Conference Centre Hanzehof. 'If you want to become a theatre director, you don't immediately start in Carré. I just started at the Z and now I'm at the T'. That of Theaters Tilburg.

'I want people to go out the door and think: "That was much cooler than I expected!"

With an average of 400 performances and 180,000 visitors per year, you can probably imagine that Theaters Tilburg has a wide range of products. Rob has a simple but nice comparison for this: 'We are just like a supermarket with an assortment. We have to offer all products to urban life. You cannot offer a single product that covers all target groups. That's why we have both international top dance and the performance: De Achterkant van Tilburg, which focuses on a very broad target group. We focus on all residents of Tilburg and the surrounding area, because half an hour away there is another new theatre.'

The close cooperation makes it unique

'Just like in Eindhoven, we serve the city in the field of performing arts. But where in Eindhoven the Muziekgebouw and the Parktheater are separate, in Tilburg they are one brand: Theatre, Concert Hall, Studio and restaurant Lucebert. Here in Tilburg, we are joining forces with all sorts of parties. The collaboration with people who work in the performing arts is very close, which makes Tilburg unique. De Nieuwe Vorst and Theaters Tilburg complement each other very well. We also often work together with PaRaDoX, Poppodium 013 and Factorium. Like Better Get Hit and Festival Circolo, for example.

IPhoto: Camiel Donders
Decor: Het Zuidelijk Toneel / Simon Haen

'Theaters Tilburg is sometimes contrary and loves absurdism'

This contradiction is expressed in a number of forms of performing arts. 'Take our own city company Het Zuidelijk Toneel. They don't even shy away from a difficult subject like drug problems and give a performance that you don't expect. Performances made by them are then picked up from Tilburg and found their fame in Venice and Japan. It's quite contrary and certainly not in line with the flow.' Typically Tilburgs as far as we are concerned.

Do you know what really is something for this city? Festival Circolo! And who doesn't know it yet? Shame on you. Festival Circolo -sounds like- circus? And yes, it is, but especially without elephants and clowns. Festival Circolo is a festival that one year takes place outside and now moves in. From 16 to 20 October you can enjoy the circus of the future in Theaters Tilburg, De Nieuwe Vorst and Factorium. A mix of (inter)national top performances and stimulating experiments on the cutting edge of acrobatics, theatre, dance, music and performance art. This year there will even be a silo on the doorstep of Theaters Tilburg. For one week, this exclusive silo will offer shows to 120 visitors each sitting on a spiral staircase around the stage. That's a special circus experience! 'I am proud that we can bind this special circus to our city. I think Tilburg is the city of the performing arts. We do it across the board. Everything you can think of that can be done on stage, can be found here. With the circus training that is doing well in Tilburg, this is a logical place for Festival Circolo.' Finally, Rob wants to add: 'Come to Circolo and dare to open yourself up to something you don't know yet. Do you like excitement and spectacle? Then you'll be surprised here!

Tilburg must continue to invest in the performing arts for young people!

Rob believes that you have to convince people at a very young age that performing arts add value. 'I prefer to start with the youngest. You can see that it is still quite difficult for many schools to get here from the Reeshof, Tilburg Noord or, for example, Udenhout. The city could do quite a bit about that. We are already working quite actively on our educational offer among bass schools, but there are still children who have never come into contact with the performing arts. I really regret that! So as a spearhead in cultural policy I would suggest: Just focus on the youth, because otherwise it will be empty here in 25 years' time. Otherwise, the theatre will soon be something that your parents used to go to. The adults know how to find it. You have to help the young people more, otherwise they'll be sitting behind their phones and Netflix all day long. They have to get out of the house, they just have to come to us.'

Unfiltered opinion of the people of Tilburg

Within this section we give creative Tilburgers a stage. A Ticket to... the expression of their unfiltered opinion about the city. Are you curious who also has something to say about Tilburg other than Rob van Steen? Then you should definitely read these interviews: