Johan Simons

Johan Simons, born in Heerjansdam in 1946, is a Dutch theatre director and head of theatres and festivals. He trained as a dancer at the Rotterdam Academy and as an actor at Maastricht’s Theatre Academy before becoming head, director and actor of Haagsche Comedie in 1976. In 1985, he founded Theatergroep Hollandia together with musician Paul Koek. Their repertoire focused on topics like the drive to survive and intense life experiences; unusual venues for their performances included abandoned factory halls, stables and churches, chiefly in the province of Noord-Holland. In 2000, Simons and Koek received the European Award for Innovation in the Theatre. In 2005, the company ZT/Hollandia was disbanded and Simons was appointed artistic director of the Belgian “Publiekstheater”, which he re-named “NTGent”. He has been regularly working as a director at German-language theatres since 2000.

His production of Heiner Müller’s “Anatomie Titus Fall of Rome” at Münchner Kammerspiele was presented at the 2004 Berlin Theatertreffen. His production of “Elementarteilchen” at Schauspielhaus Zürich was also invited to the Theatertreffen and received the Nestroy-Theatre Prize for the best German-language production of 2004. “Kasimir und Karoline”, produced at Schauspiel Köln, was invited to the 2010 Theatertreffen. Between 2010 and 2015, he was the artistic director of Münchner Kammerspiele. His productions of “Gesäubert/Gier/4.48 Psychose (Cleansed/Crave/4.48 Psychosis)” by Sarah Kane and “Die Straße. Die Stadt. Der Überfall” by Elfriede Jelinek were also invited to the Theatertreffen. In 2013, Theater heute named Münchner Kammerspiele Theatre of the Year. Simons received the 2014 German Theatre Prize DER FAUST for his staging of “Dantons Tod” and the Berlin Theatre Prize in the same year. For his significant services rendered to the theatre, both in the Netherlands and internationally, Queen Máxima bestowed the most important artistic distinction in the Netherlands, the Prince Bernhard Culture Prize on him in 2014. From 2015 to 2017, Johan Simons was artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale and returned to NTGent as an artistic consultant. In 2017, his staging of “Der Schimmelreiter” by Theodor Storm (Thalia Theater Hamburg) was invited to the Theatertreffen. Simons has been artistic director of Schauspielhaus Bochum since 2018/19. His production of “Hamlet”, which was created in Bochum, has been invited to the 2020 Theatertreffen.