Jan Hulst and Kasper Tarenskeen (the Netherlands, 1987 & 1988) write and direct plays about the epic and the everyday, Big History and personal more histories. With an unerring sense of irony, they examine their generation’s urgent and less pressing life issues, against the background of world news. Or they show the more petty human natures of an epic hero such as Achilles or a war criminal such as Assad. Their style is a refreshing mash-up of melodrama and irony, filmic images and drily comic performance; at the same time compelling and disruptive.
Jan Hulst graduated in directing from the AHK in 2014 with his own adaptation of Heijermans’ Op hoop van zegen and an adaptation of La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils. While still studying, he worked with composer Kasper Tarenskeen, who studied classical singing at the Conservatorium in Amsterdam. Immediately after graduating, Jan Hulst started working with Kasper Tarenskeen for Frascati Producties, creating The Woods (2015), a play characterised by an alienating kind of hyper-realism.
In the 2015-2016 season, Hulst and Tarenskeen presented the productions De Rekening and Scheeps-Horeca for Frascati Producties and created the location-specific production De Ilias specially for the Oerol festival. This co-production by Toneelgroep Oostpool and Frascati Producties was a coming-of-age drama on the extensive motocross circuit on the island of Terschelling about Achilles, the greatest hero in Western history. The next production, Scheeps-Horeca, was selected for Circuit X, part of the Vlaams Theaterfestival, and was performed in various theatres throughout the Netherlands and Flanders.
January 2017 saw the release of Buut, De naderende dood! with Frascati Producties in co-production with Toneelgroep Oostpool. A theatre hit which, according to Het Parool, 'stamps hard on the tail of the times'.
At the beginning of 2019, Hulst and Tarenskeen presented their latest production for Frascati Producties, in cooperation with De Coproducers. With ASSAD, they addressed the subject that has long been a massive elephant in the room on the world stage: the war in Syria. Through a mosaic of scenes taking place in the presidential suites in Damascus, among the temples of Palmyra, the headquarters of Vogue in New York and the skies above Aleppo, they sketched a portrait of humans in inhuman times. A big family drama in a country torn apart by civil war.
The première of La Pretenza will follow in the autumn of 2019, for which Hulst and Tarenskeen get to grips with the classic Il Gattopardo. The pair will adapt the novel by Di Tomasi di Lampedusa (1958) and the film by Visconti (1963) into a modern epic dealing with the fall of Europe, referendums, decadence, war and love, thoughts on people versus the elite, and father versus son.
‘'Buut, De naderende dood! is intelligent, witty and put together with musical precision. (…) and after all deserves to be seen by vast numbers of people.’ De Groene Amsterdammer
‘Scheeps-Horeca by Jan Hulst & Kasper Tarenskeen is a catchy search for fame and meaning in life.’ ★★★ Theaterkrant
Van Warmerdamesque irony’ Theaterkrant on The Woods
‘Sometimes a production sinks its teeth into you more deeply than you thought immediately afterwards. This is one such, thanks to its completely weird atmosphere, strong images, music, uniqueness’ De Volkskrant on De Rekening
‘A classic text expertly disassembled and built up again as a contemporary view of advanced warfare’ NRC next on De Ilias
Jan Hulst and Kasper Tarenskeen (the Netherlands, 1987 & 1988) got to know one another during Hulsts’ studies of directing at the Academy of Theatre and Dance. They started as makers with Frascati Producties in 2014. Hulst and Tarenskeen now write all of their theatre texts themselves. Then then made The Woods (2015), De Rekening (2015) and Scheeps-Horeca (2016, nominated for the BNG Theaterprijs award and selected for Circuit X). They followed these up with the location-specific production De Ilias (2016) (in co-production with Toneelgroep Oostpool and Frascati Producties and made specially for the Oerol festival). January 2017 saw the premiere of Buut! De naderende dood. And in 2018 they re-wrote Romeo & Juliet for Oostpool, directed by Marcus Azzini. This was followed (also in co-production with Frascati and Oostpool) by Assad (January 2019) and La Pretenza (September 2019).
Nominations and awards
Photo: Romy Treebosch