The 12th Amsterdam LIGHT FESTIVAL on the city’s canals

Illuminations are as much a part of Christmas as Santa Claus and while most towns are happy to have their streets and trees decorated with lights and tinsel, Amsterdam has taken the idea to a whole new level. This is the twelfth year that the Amsterdam Light Festival has invited artists from all over the world to show light-based installations in and around the city’s canals. The theme of this year’s glowing extravaganza is Loading… Revealing Art, AI and Tech.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Het Amsterdams Theaterhuis

Set in Scrooge’s office from the start, there is a stern atmosphere – true to the novel – and done, I assume, to highlight the severity of Scrooge’s character. Through the opening scene, our female Scrooge remains terse and closed off from the festive, friendly advances . . .

REBOOT Pioneering Digital Art at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam

It will come as no surprise to discover that there are a lot of flashing lights and bleepy noises, but this isn’t just a stand-and-look exhibition. Most of the pieces are interactive. Right at the beginning is a little room with a chaise longue covered in white leather with a decanter and two glasses on a side table. On the sofa are a pair of headphones and an iPad and you are invited to lie back, relax and discover what happens when the piece is activated.

Pep & Greg back and Politically Incorrect! at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam

Described as a “mix of comedy and current event”, the show aptly opened with a discussion about Geert Wilders. Understandably so! Due to the very recent election results, they had a few notes on the floor of the stage which only slightly interrupted the comedic flow from time to time. This opening gave them the perfect opportunity to show off their Dutch culture knowledge – both having lived here for some time and the theatre itself having been set up by Pep and some friends in 1993

QETC presents a DOUBLE BILL at the CCAmstel Theatre in Amsterdam

Smiley and Endless Second is a perfect, well-matched-fit of two one-act plays. Both deal with love, the former of the homosexual variety, the latter hetero. Perhaps variety is the wrong word – both plays demonstrate that there really isn’t any difference, that the path of true love never runs smooth and that the ensuing trials and tribulations must be addressed for a relationship to succeed. It is said that love conquers all – but it can leave an awful lot of destruction in its wake.

OperaZuid presents Mozart’s Der Schauspiel Direktor

It was billed as an opera starring Sir Thomas Allen, in his day one of the world’s leading baritones and a stalwart of Covent Garden, so we had high hopes. As it turned out, Der Schauspieldirektor was not an opera at all but a play, and not a very good one, which included some Mozart arias and duets. The thankfully short piece contained much less singing than spoken word (in English to accommodate its star performer, I imagine) and to everyone’s surprise and disappointment, Sir Thomas, didn’t sing at all.

ANSELM KIEFER at Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar / The Hague

Of the paintings it is probably the magnificent  Aus Herzen und Hirnen sprießen die Halme der Nacht (From Hearts and Brains the Stalks of Night are Sprouting) that dominates. Measuring 4.70 meter high by 8.40 meters long it has the museum’s largest room almost to itself. On a base of gold a path winds its way through a field while six giant scythes stare down like harbingers of death. Above is scrawled the line by Paul Celan from which the title is taken.

Baha Görkem Yalım MULCH SLEEP at 1646 in The Hague

To stroll through a novel is to take time to immerse yourself completely into a literary world at a leisurely pace. But how does one do so if language is absent? Well, Baha Görkem Yalım, a visual artist from the Netherlands and Turkey has attempted to do just that. In the exhibition, Mulch Sleep, Baha creates an in-between world to dream anew. A world where everyday objects are made grotesque or strange in a sort-of confrontation with reality.