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Powerful and ingeniously composed portrait of Johan Simons, the inspired stage director who invented location theatre in the Netherlands and now reaps success in Munich. Still, doubts sometimes keep him awake.
Johan Simons (1946) is a passionate European stage director. Van Ditshuyzen followed him for two years on his quest. With reviews and fragments of performances, the film is a triple jump through a life full of ambition and drive. A director who swears by the actors’ freedom. A gambler who takes risks, just like his father used to do in the village where young Johan saw the train to Paris rush past. In 1968, he was infected by political ideals. In the Netherlands, he invented location theatre. He put NTGent on the international map. He wants to create theatre that makes a difference, but doubts keep him awake at times. Only in Munich, as recently appointed manager, he gets ready for yet another baptism of fire, with Hotel Savoy. A surprising element in this ingeniously composed documentary is the use of split screens. And the scenes in which some of Simons’ actors imitate their director in hilarious ways are quite revealing.