misunderstanding each other since 2003


Creative Encounter and Staged Readings


Read the dutch performing arts report on this project here.

International network for playwrights The Fence, together with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the United Kingdom and Dutch Performing Arts, are collaborating on Boom! a new project that explores the shared heritage of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, while looking to the future.

Phase One

The Boom! Team - 7 writers working on 6 projects (Jude & Gable are working jointly together).

  • Maaike Bergstra (NL)
  • Neske Beks (NL)
  • Jude Christian (UK)
  • Enver Husicic (NL)
  • Uma Nada-Rajah (UK)
  • Chinoyerem Odimba (UK)
  • Gable Roelofsen (NL)

This diverse group of 3 UK and 4 Dutch playwrights met together for 3 days in December 2019 in Rotterdam, to encounter each other, learn about their shared colonial history and begin to explore what might be interesting to each of them to write about.

We went to see J for Jessica presented by Theater Babel, who also kindly hosted us, and to an exhibition at the Weereldmuseum on the history of Indonesia under colonialism.

The playwrights then spent the rest of December and January developing their own plays, with translation and then dramaturgical work on material submitted taking place in February, with rewrites in March. English is the working language, but the Dutch playwrights have been writing in Dutch.

The focus for Phase One has been to identify and build the Boom Team, meet each other, begin writing and work towards the goal of 20 minute teasers, with dramaturgical and translation support

Phase Two


Boom! on Zoom

While we are still unable to stage these teasers, we have been keen to maintain on-line momentum. Playwrights would like to be able to end up with full length plays (as opposed to just the 20-minute teasers, from Phases One and Three), so that when we are ready to go live with the staged Readings and promote the work to industry professionals, Full Length First Drafts will be immediately available with which to follow-up. For this Boom! has secured further resources to enable writing time and additional access to translation and dramaturgical support. As part of this interim phase, we will also run an Autumn laboratories, with actors and possibly a sound designer.

We want to strengthen the path to Phase Three, rather than undermine or replace it. So these laboratories are craft, rather than industry-focused. It is about the writers hearing their work; testing the relationship between possible 20-minute teasers and their expanded full-length drafts. We will open up these laboratory presentations to allies, but they are not intended to be public/industry facing.

Phase Three

Once we are allowed to, we will present two sessions of staged Readings of 20-minute teasers in London for an invited audience of industry professionals. These will be extracts from the full length works.

Jude has shared a list of possible directors, whose backgrounds match our diverse focus. Via Enver, we have begun to explore the future possibility of a future partnership with Bijlmerpark theatre. The focus of Phase Three is the successful presentation of staged readings for a well curated audience of industry professionals, to generate and further develop interest in as many of the 6 projects as possible, both in the UK and the Netherlands.

Boom! Playwrights and Plays

Neske Beks works as a multi-disciplinary artist with a base in theatre, literature, film and music. She is also a prize-winning documentary director and novelist.

Battle is an intersectional documentary play about colonisation, slavery, nobility, working class repetitive patterns and race. The play starts with the roots of the name Battle.

Maaike Bergstra is a graduate of the Writing for Performance programme at the HKU Utrecht University of the Arts. She received the 2016 TheaterTekstTalent Stipendium to write a play about modern families and in 2018 her play True Colours was published. Her latest play Zoek (Lost) premiered in September 2019 and will go on tour in Autumn 2020.

Certain dynamics in families will be passed on from one generation to another, as well as various cultural values. Recent studies even suggest that violent events in someone’s lifetime can change the way their DNA is expressed, and this change can be passed on to the next generation. Riding The Tiger explores: What does it mean now, to decolonize?

Jude Christian is a British-Chinese playwright, director and theatremaker based in Manchester. She is currently Associate Director at HOME, and an Associate Artist at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill.

Gable Roelofsen is an actor, singer, director, playwright and producer from Dutch-indies decent. He writes, directs and performs at his own music theatre company Het Geluid Maastricht. The company is artist in residence of Theater aan het Vrijthof Maastricht and partner organization of Nederlandse Reisopera.

We are both of mixed South-East Asian/West European ancestry, both the product of the colonial occupation of a mother’s birthplace (Malaysia; Indonesia) by a father’s homeland (Britain; the Netherlands). Both political, interdisciplinary, collaborative artists with a strong background in classical and contemporary music, and formally inventive theatre. It’s time for us to celebrate and accept the glorious multifacetedness of who we are. We want to create something which does that, and which invites an audience to find unity in difference.

Keeping record of the ships at night - A theatrical text for voice and a sound installation/spatial design. The text can be seen as fuel for a production. Not a set recipe. A basis to work and depart from. Ideally this text forms the basis for a performative experience at the intersection of theatre, visual art, and sound art. The text can be broken up and can also be supplemented with other sources and perspectives. The spatial and sound design will play a large part in the further development of the text/production. We imagine an interactive mechanical mobile full of speakers. The mobile doesn’t hang above a cot, but it moves above our audience. This way, besides the written voices, snippets of history and the contemporary digital world can chime in too.

Enver Husicic writes for theatre and for film. He also teaches playwriting. His mother was born in Surinam, the former Dutch colony. His father was born in Bosnia. They met in Bosnia where his mother, as an 18 year old, got stranded after someone stole her money while she was on a train, inter-railing through Europe.


The Colonial History:The friendship between the 90-year-old Surinamese Augustine van Almelo and the 38-year-old Rogier van Sommelsdijk is central in The Colonial History. They live in the same flat. Rogier is unemployed and provides informal care to Augustine. Every day he does groceries for her and does odd jobs. Together they watch television and talk about various subjects. Out of curiosity, they sign up for a Tell-sell study of colonial history. The outcome is so intense that it puts pressure on their routines and their relationship. The question is, should they investigate whether this research is correct? Or should they forget it and continue with their life as it was? Is that possible?

Uma Nada-Rajah is a playwright based in Kirknewton, Scotland and the current female political comedy writer in residence at the National Theatre of Scotland. More details to follow…

Chinonyerem Odimba is a Nigeria-born, Bristol based playwright, director and poet. She also writes for radio and TV. Her Productions in 2019 were seen at The Kiln, Hampstead Theatre, Watermill Theatre and Bristol Old Vic. Chino is Associate Artist at Live Theatre.

Wrapper is about one woman's discovery that the 'cloth' that she has always identified as belonging to her culture, has historically, and still is, being manufactured and imported from Dutch companies. Who is she without this wrapper, without this symbol of her past and what does the future now hold when 'cultural appropriation’ is not so simple after all?

Boom! Is curated by Jonathan Meth as Producer-Dramaturg.