Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.
Froe Froe produces and performs artistically unique, multidisciplinary puppet theatres for young and old. We actively try to reach an audience that’s as large as possible. Moreover, FroeFroe is an open-minded theatre house, where the more established artists have their place alongside the burgeoning talent. That’s how we try to cross the borders of puppet theatre. Our rehearsal spaces, administration, halls and ateliers are located on Antwerp’s (new) Zuid.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?
Antwerp is a pleasant city. It still has a bit of a narrow-minded Flemish character, but migration and the harbour are two things that help make things more dynamic over here. Thanks to its vibrant nightlife, Antwerp still has a lot of young and restless walking through its streets. When it comes to traffic though, Antwerp is almost as big a disaster as Brussels. It seems like we really can’t fix this problem in our country.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
I’d say the many schools and universities help turn the city into one to live for young creatives that need to express themselves. They’ll always find an audience in Antwerp. Theatre, cinema, ballet and museums are all equally loved, very accessible and are ran by very capable people. Because of our many problems – racism and integration issues – our artists have enough frustration to express in their work. It keeps them fresh and active, although that might sound cynical. Also, Antwerp has always invested heavily in the arts and, despite its right-wing administration, continues doing so.
How would you say has Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?
The city shaped us in the first place by making sure we found a nice place to work. The large festivals and local media helped us reach a large audience, as well. We’re happy to say that our halls are regularly completely full. It’s the ideal starting base to reach the rest of the country.
Because of our many problems – racism and integration issues – our artists have enough frustration to express in their work.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
Less restrictions to those wanting to take initiatives. Nowadays, people eager to open their own bar, shop, art space, theatre or cinema bump into an administrative maze that just loves to punctually and blindly follow the rules. This numbs the ambition of hundreds, especially young starters. And the right-wing convictions of our city are little by little showing its consequences: there’s more police, ridiculous GAS-fines, and pedestrians regularly get bullied. Not a particularly nice atmosphere for young people to live and work in.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
To me, the MAS symbolises our city’s merge of the contemporary and the traditional, just next to the river that’s so representative of Antwerp.froefroe.be Photography Joke De Wilde