English speaking theatre in Antwerp: meet BATS!

BATS (British American Theatrical Society) has been bringing a wide variety of stage productions to English speaking audiences in Antwerp for over 60 years now. They have their own theatre (the “Little Theatre”) at Paardenmarkt 111 and recently I attended their production of Dracula. Here’s the review I wrote for them, and if that makes you think you should get tickets for their next show in January, then continue reading for all the info and links you need ….

A BLOODY GOOD NIGHT AT THE LITTLE THEATRE

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“Dracula” by Stephen Dietz, performed by  BATS vzw, at The Little Theatre, Paardenmarkt

Kids love Hallowe’en but for grown-ups, October and November can be a bit of a bleak time as the days get darker, yet Christmas cheer still seems a long way off.

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Getting with the program

This year, BATS production of Dracula (Dir: Robert Meyvisch) was -literally -just the ticket for anybody who shares my feelings of autumnal glumness. And it was most certainly not for children. I went to see it on Hallowe’en night and it was sold out, so I was pleased to have booked my seat.

I wasn’t familiar with this play version of the story by Stephen Dietz. Naturally as an English undergraduate, I’d read the novel, and also The Liz Lochhead play version, both of which I love.

BATS Little Theatre is a very small venue for a very big story, so the staging had to be cleverly done with characters frequently positioned on stage performing lines that also had a semi-narratorial function -for example, Jonathon’s accounts of his time at Dracula castle v. his fiancee’s experience back at home, at the point where she receives his letter. This really worked, and the feeling of the various settings -and the distance between them -was very successfully conveyed.

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Photo: Robert Meyvisch

Visually this production was very pleasing and stylish -again, this is an achievement in a smaller venue. The use of the bed as a central focus for much of the action was simple yet effective, emphasising -with its changing colour schemes of black/ red and black/ white – its association with illness, sex and death.

The combination of the traditional and the contemporary was spot on: the traditional elements were all there in the form of its Victorian feel, the madness, the inclusion of all the Vampire lore we would expect (plenty of garlic and unwitting invites to cross the threshold) and a satisfying quantity of blood, vampire-induced agonies and horrid red mouths. I delighted in the creepy hand shadow effect -a nod to traditional horror movies (especially Nosferatu, 1922). The more modern edge was provided by the costumes which I loved -these all had a steam-punk element: a carefully placed accessory on a boot or hat made all the difference.

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The enthusiasm, imagination and commitment of the cast to be faithful to the story was evident -it sometimes had the feel of a murderous pantomime because the story and characters are ones which as adults we feel as familiar with as children do about Cinderella or Peter Pan -but it was steam-punk, blood-bespattered panto for sure. For the grown-ups. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope that BATS will consider doing something similarly macabre every Hallowe’en.

♦     ♦     ♦

AND NEXT …

Every year BATS stages a pantomime. If, like me you grew up with panto as an essential part of your childhood around Christmas and new year, you will be pleased to know that BATS delivers the traditional pantomime stories, in the traditional way, with plenty of corny jokes, songs, a Dame and lots of audience participation. If it’s not part of your childhood, well, I am willing to bet your kids will love it. This year’s production is the story of Aladdin, and will be shown at Theater ‘t Eilandje. You can order your tickets HERE, for one of three performances in January 2018.

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This is just a taster of what BATS is all about. If you would like to find out more, you can go along to one of their Open Evenings, which will resume next year: the first is the Spring Open Evening on Saturday, 17th of March 2018.

Images courtesy of BATS VZW

(except program image which is from @nessascityblog insta)

 

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This weekend in Antwerp: 6th, 7th & 8th October

AS EVER, HERE’S YOUR TRUSTY MAP FOR THIS WEEKEND IN ANTWERP!

Friday

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Kunstwerk 5 at Plein Publiek

A rather special exhibition at Plein Publiek from 6pm: the fifth and final Kunst/Werk expo to take place at this special location will feature work in a variety of media from a group of local artists, displayed not only in the old apartments of the ‘Fierensblokken’ but also in other parts of the venue. It’s a unique location in which to view artwork (closing for refurb in January, so not so many more chances to see it in its original form) and when you are done admiring the artwork, Plein Publiek itself is a cool place to linger on for a while and have a drink or some food. Table bookings: reserveren@pleinpubliek.be / 0474 07 48 92 or online via: https://goo.gl/Dmol84 

The featured image for this post is a work by Sacha Eckes (“Untitled (Thumb)”) who will be exhibiting at Kunstwerk 5

*      *      *

BATS Theatre Society hold their monthly Open Evening at the Little Theatre on Paardenmarkt 111 from 8.30pm. A good chance to find about joining in with some local English- speaking theatre, and also to get tickets for their upcoming production of Dracula -in time for Hallowe’en (I’ve already got mine!)

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Dracula -pic courtesy of BATS Antwerp VZW

Saturday

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Sint Jansplein

There’s one of the regular enormous ‘rommelmarkts’ on Sint Jansplein between 10am and 6pm. There’s also a regular market every Wednesday on Sint Jansplein, with food, clothing and household goods.

Or take a wander into Berchem for a food market –the Berchem Bazar -on Driekoningenstraat and Statiestraat. Many local shops, café and food producers are taking part, including Nellie’s Café/ House of Sweets & Things which I finally had the pleasure of visiting this week, for a delicious scone with real clotted cream and jam.

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Corner Boy

For your Saturday night entertainment, you could head to An Sibhin Irish pub on Nationalestraat for some live music at 9pm. An Sibhin will shortly be celebrating their 20th birthday (more info soon) in the meantime, warm up for the celebrations with Irish band Corner Boy

Sunday

What’s not to like about a stroll along Kloosterstraat? This Sunday with the addition of Kloosterfest! From 11am -6pm.

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Colour Collective

Or if you enjoyed Colour Collective’s concerts at Bar Paniek, you might want to make your way to Deurne for their Cava Concert & Dance at La Luna. It’s a combined chamber music concert with contemporary dance performance. Included in the ticket price (10 euros) is a glass of Cava (or orange juice).

Over at Rivierenhof, it’s the annual Ecodroom event: stall and stands offering environmentally-friendly  and local products and food, a repair café (including bike-repair atelier), a second-hand market, vegetarian and vegan snacks, and a green café for kids (as well as the usual wide green spaces and petting farm that children can enjoy). Ecodroom takes place from 1-6pm around the Kasteel Rivierenhof  and Parkweg Rivierenhof.

Temperatures around 14 -15 degrees this weekend, with the chance of some showers. Take a brolly!

Miscellaneous

It’s Fair Trade Week from the 4th- 14th October. Search the Fair Trade Week Belgium site for events in Antwerp.

If you use public transport a lot in Antwerp, you may be interested in the City Pass Antwerp from De Lijn.

Next week’s post will be a brief round-up as I am away in London. For London pics, follow the #nessascitybloglondon hashtag on Instagram.

Don’t forget to find me on social media, where additional events and locations are also posted:

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Instagram

Facebook (Events in Antwerp: in conjunction with London Calling)

Twitter

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Pinterest

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