Visiting Phobiarama is an immersive excursion into our contemporary culture of fear. The tactics of terrorists, politicians and marketers are being staged in a new theater of fear. On a square in the city center rises a 21th century haunted house.
Our fear receptors lie deep in our brains: the amygdalae, two nodules that are responsible for processing frightening stimuli. With a threatening confrontation they decide whether we fight or flee. The reaction is usually automatic, a reflex. In recent years, our amygdalae have been working overtime. Our continent has never been as safe as it is now, yet we have not been this terrified in such a long time.
We are constantly challenged to make the distinction between real threats and irrational imaginary scenarios. Politicians, marketers and terrorists make good use of our alert state of being. They target our fear receptors with great effect. We are attracted to the shivers down our spine. We greedily listen to the words of warning and we watch fearsome images on the news. We exorcise our fears by looking them straight in the eye.
"Phobiarama is exactly the kind of work that thrives in a festival context. It speaks directly to how we live now."
'Making a new future at the Holland Festival', Lyn Gardner wrote about Phobiarama in a series of articles on 'Culture after Brexit' for the British Council (11-08-2017).read the article
"With smart sensationalism, Dries Verhoeven makes a bold performance: this is a perfect theatre of fear … He makes it perfectly clear that those warning of climate disasters serve the same apocalyptic language as those fearing a refugee tsunami. (…) Perfectly scary entertainment with a gloriously successful message."
'Perfectly scary entertainment with a gloriously successful message', Herien Wensink wrote a review for De Volkskrant (16-06-2017).read the article (in Dutch)
"With fairly simple resources, Verhoeven gets you to reflect on an uncomfortable truth: real fears also satisfy a need …But, and that is the wonderful sting in the tail of this installation, the fairground of fear is not innocent: it portrays our view on reality".
“All of a sudden, there’s a bear standing next to you’, Simon van den Berg wrote a review for Het Parool (14-06-2017).read the article (in Dutch)
"Phobiarama debunks the mechanics of fear and power in our society in a gripping and unsubtle way.”
'Haunted house unmasks our fear”, Sara van der Kooi wrote a report for Trouw (14-06-2017).read the article (in Dutch)
"(...) I am not out to make a conclusive statement. The issues are far too complex for that. It is already quite something if the viewer understands the pit of their stomach".
'Together in the bumper cars, getting the creeps about how terribly scared of each other you are’, Hein Janssen interviewed Dries Verhoeven about Phobiarama for the Volkskrant (13-06-2017)read the article (in Dutch)
"In a theatrical haunted house, you slalom for three quarters of an hour through collective fears, to then look them in the eye with a sense of poetry".
'Haunted house confronts us with collective fears ‘, Boukje Cnossen wrote this review for Theaterkrant.nl (13-06-2017)read the article (in Dutch)
"We live in a time in which we are continually being warned".
For the VPRO programme ‘Nooit meer slapen’, Tjitske Mussche visited Phobiarama during the try-outs in Amsterdam. She talked to visitors and to Dries about the performance (12-06-2017).listen to the interview (in Dutch)
"I am picking at the pit of your stomach".
“Getting spooked out in Dries Verhoeven’s haunted house", Ron Rijghard interviewed Verhoeven for NRC (01-06-2017)read the article (in Dutch)
"Just as with the previous projects of Dries Verhoeven, whoever enters the specially designed space of ‘Phobiarama’ will not be able to remain a passive spectator. A “living experience” and at the same time a commentary on the modern “theatre of fear” we all watch and experience every day, this performative installation aims to provoke us, to scare us, to make us think and finally to make us face our own self."
“Black box in syntagma square”, Kathimerini, p.15 (09-05-2017).read the article (in Greek)
"The setting reminds of those ghost trains at the amusement parks, where ghosts and spiders pop in your way, dragons and monsters attack you. The difference in ‘Phobiarama’ is that they have been replaced by terrorism, Brexit, nationalism and far-right, immigrants, and the consequences of leaving the Eurozone. […] The most important is what you reflect upon after getting off the bumper car and going out again in the sunlight. There you understand to what degree you got used to having the madness of Trump, the delirium of Erdogan, the paranoia of Anthimos, the nationalistic outbursts of Michaloliakos in your daily life, or even how easily self-evident rights such as the safety of citizens are being refuted in the European, as well as Greek reality; rights that are often put forward in the speeches of the Greek politicians, such as Kyriakos Mitsotakis who greets us farewell in ‘Phobiarama’…"
“The little train of fear of Brexit and Grexit”, The News, p.34 (09-05-2017).read the article (in Greek)
19 - 29 October 2017, SPRING in Autumn Utrecht / IMPAKT Festival (NL) (tickets on sale)
Opening hours and tickets Phobiarama SPRING in Autumn / IMPAKT Festival
Thursday 19 till Sunday 29 October:
15:00 | 16:00 | 17:00 | 19:00 | 20:00 | 21:00 | 22:00
Phobiarama takes place in a tent in front of the Stadsschouwburg and is unfortunately not accessible to people in wheelchairs. The performance is not suitable for people with epilepsy.
Phobiarama in Utrecht is produced together with SPRING in Autumn, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht and IMPAKT Festival.
concept Dries Verhoeven
performance Michelangelo Hansen, Earl Daniel, Faiz Faouzi, Malcolm Hugo Glenn, Ozan Aydogan, Quincy Nelstein, Rodney Glunder, Rosario Roumou, Sohrab Bayat, Virginio Papa, Zouhair Mtazi
dramaturgy Lara Staal
casting Renske Pluimers
local adaptation Athens Theodora Kapralou
sound design S.M. Snider
technical direction Roel Evenhuis
production Olga Godschalk
assistance Bart van de Woestijne
publicity Harmen van Twillert
business management Valérie Julémont, Cees van Gemert, Inez Coumans
software Sylvain Vriens
costume Tentacle Studio
development technical system Nelissen decorbouw
video design (internship) Casper Wortmann
internship direction Carmen Schwarz
photography Willem Popelier & Kiki Papadopoulou
video trailer Bowie Verschuuren
Thanks to Demi vom Hexenzauber (Hella)
Phobiarama is co-commissioned by Onassis Cultural Centre Athens (GR) and Holland Festival (NL)
Phobiarama is made possible thanks to the Creative Industries Fund NL, The Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, NORMA fonds and VSBfonds.