het Theater Festival

Wouter Hillaert


For fifteen years, Wouter Hillaert was a freelance theatre critic and cultural journalist at De Morgen and De Standaard. Between 2003 and 2020, he also co-edited the cultural magazine rekto:verso. Today, he teaches several courses at the Antwerp Conservatory and has been working on a book on theatre since 2000. As a concerned citizen, he is/was active in Hart boven Hard, State of the Arts, Common Income, Move Your Money, Door to Door, In My Name….

I’m on the jury because…

I’ve come to miss watching theatre on an almost daily basis a bit since I left the newspaper. And because nothing can beat a hearty conversation among engaged viewers about what you’ve all seen differently. Reviewing is something you do solo; being on the jury together is the real polyphony on which theatre is built. And especially with all sorts of things shifting unnoticed among the performing arts, a jury (selection) is the perfect magnifying glass on performances that (increasingly) have been seen by too few people. They can celebrate dance and theatre again as the best form of yoga for these splintering times.

For me, an important performance is….

A performance that does something you don’t expect, when you never thought or knew it was possible. In a playing field where selling work is becoming increasingly predictable, inventiveness is now a higher good. Gladly, performances also have something to say that has been given nuanced thought or that is poured out without hesitation. A transverse perspective on man, art or the world (or our own image of it) is never to be despised. The rest is hard work, a touch of unpublished skill and sheer unpredictability. You can’t order surprise.