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Ola Mafaalani is a theatre and opera director. She is called ‘the empress of fantasy’. She makes main-stage productions. Recently, in januari 2021 she joined Zina, a Female Economy in Amsterdam as artistic leader together with Adelheid Roosen. Also as we speak she works on Taste, an experience for senses, starting in amsterdam 1 october 2021 and extends to every city of our world. Next to that she directs opera’s. 2009-2016 she was general director of the Dutch theatrecompany named North Netherlands Theatre (NNT).

Ola Mafaalani (born 1968) is a theater director. Januari 2021 she joined A Female Economy in Amsterdam as artistic leader together with Adelheid Roosen. At this moment Taste, an experience for senses is her new creation in Amsterdome (Amsterdam) and is made to shortly play in all citys of the world. Next to that she directs opera’s. As of 2009 she was the artistic and general director of the Noord Nederlands Toneel (NNT) in Groningen, in the Netherlands. A position she holded until the end of 2016. In these years her company got a leading role in the arts in the Netherlands and became an example how art can become of great importance in a city. Remarkable is that she succeeded in introducing theatre to people that never thought about visiting a performance. 30% newcommers in main stage has been counted and in her final production Borgen half of the public visited theatre for the first time.

In 2016 she receives the precious ‘proscenium price‘ for her groundbreaking work that brings live itself into theatre and art into society.

Mafaalani invented a new genre: live bingewatching. She adapted the serie Borgen to theatre, lasting 9 hours. It became a theatre-hit with full houses  and a selection for the theatrefestival 2016. The documentary made during the bingewatching theatre serie Borgen about Ola Mafaalani (made in 2016 by director Carin Goeijers).

<a href=”http://www.npo.nl/het-uur-van-de-wolf/05-05-2016/VPWON_1257918″>Watch documentary</a>

Right now:

She works on taste, an experience for the senses in Amsterdam. It will run in an own theatre Amsterdome, starting 1 october 2021. And then extend international.

In 2021 she also created a new artform with the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ at the National Operahouse in Amsterdam. A livestream, live-operafilm where the handcam is following the scéne with mainly close up shots that bring the intensive feeling of the singers and actress to the public. Groundbreaking in a time of pandemie where opera houses are closed she found with her wonderful team a new way to perform for public – no compromises made.

Mafaalani was born in Syria and moved with her family to Germany at age 2. In Bochum she studied film and television (Anglistic, Politics and German). She continued her studies in theater in Amsterdam, and has lived in the Netherlands since 1992. 1995 she followed the post graduate education at DasArts (created by her mentor Ritsaert ten Cate). From 2002 until 2009 she was the house-director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam and directed in Europe and the US.

Mafaalani’s outspokenness has been the subject of some controversy; when she opened the Dutch Theater Festival in Amsterdam in 2015, she shared in her speech ‘the state of theatre’ her concern about the lack of involvement outside and inside the theater with human rights, a point she illustrated by sharing the stage with a hundred refugees.

Female senses have her focus to light souls in theatre. Senses and invitation to a joyful world.

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Mission
Mafaalani’s theatre reminds to find sight back of who we are. The truly important things in life need to adjust to an overwhelming mass of information and the drastic changes taking place quicker than ever yet before in history. Ola Mafaalani’s work wants to stop the clock for an hour or two, to address one of the most fundamental questions that confronts us in life: what are you doing on this planet today, and what will you have changed when you leave this mortal coil. Theatre to provide trust. Confirming our audience is proof against change and uncertainty of life.
To build trust in our own strength and flexibility. Flexibility and unforeseen possibilities people encompass.

Social Engineering

This term that Noam Chomsky coined is the connecting thread of the repertoire of Ola Mafaalani: changing consciousness one small step at a time. The theatre has provided insight into human behaviour for 2500 years. This entails 2500 years of experience with social, political and emotional mechanisms. Mafaalani’s work combines a love of the classics – both tragedy and comedy – with its own unique and ready passion, set squarely in society. This draws her work to the theatres, but also has driven her out in the streets to unleash our creativity. High visibility in the public arena reminds people of the value of theatre and the place where it really shines: in the theatre itself. The place where social necessity meets repertory is theatre at its best. In doing so, Mafaalani seeks to collaborate with other partys within art en in all disciplines of society. Dansers, with actors, repertoire with visual art, actors with politicians, blind people with seeing people, tv-newsreaders with arealists. Her love is to give a central place to people who the society excludes. And always with rich fantasy.In her repertory light pieces are provided a bite, while the serious ones are given a twist.

The story of one man is the story of mankind

Now I am preparing for a big commercial play that will premiére in october 2021.

Selections and prizes

2017

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

She was appointed in Januari a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In The Netherlands only 46 people are asked to join.

2016

Proscenium Price

Ola Mafaalani was the joungest artist in the Netherlands who received an award for her oeuvre, the 'proscenium price': 'for her groundbreaking work that brings live itself into theatre and art into society'.

2016

Borgen

Netherlands Theaterfestival 2016 (selection)

Belgium Theaterfestival 2016 (selection)

2015

Nomination

Gansfort Cultuurprijs 2015

2013

Fellini

Netherlands Theatrefestival 2014 (selection)
Kontakt Festival 2014 Torun, Polen (selection)

2010

Elf Minuten (eleven minutes)

Netherlands Theatrefestival 2010 (selection)

2001

Macbeth

Netherlands Theatrefestival 2001 (selection)

2001

Ten Liefde

Theatre festival Maubeuge 2001, France (selection)

2000

Directors award

Erik Vos directors award

CV

2021

Kurt Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins

Dutch National Opera & Ballet

Unique live online film experience

2021-2025

she commited as artistic leader of Zina, a female economy in duo with Adelheid Roosen

Zina, A female Economy is a wonderful art group that invents high art projects together with non artists and their storys. It is focused on breaking the difference of ethnic, colour, age, status. Meeting in art, seeing, really seeing the other.

-2016

General director of Noord Nederlands Toneel

NNT is one of the 4 big company's of the Netherlands. Ola leaded the company from 2009 until 2017

2016

Borgen

An adaptation of the Danish hitserie 'Borgen'

in own company NNT

2016

Ola's Borgen

TV Documentary about the Ola Mafaalani

Watch documentary

2015

Staat van het theater/state of the theatre

Opens the theatre festival in the main theatre of Amsterdam with hundred refugees.

Watch trailer

2014

De laatkomer

Theatre adaptation of Dimitri Verhulst book 'De laatkomer'
in own company NNT

2013

Fellini

A performance about live and work of the maestro
in own company NNT

2012

Misdaad en Straf (Crime and punishment)

Dostojevski
in own company NNT

2011

Hamlet

William Shakespeare
in own company NNT

2010

Medea

Euripides
invited to Winterthur, Switzerland

2010

Tereisias

The story of a blind man who could see
in own company NNT

2009

Medea

Euripides
in own company NNT

2009

La Divina Commedia

Dante
in own company NNT

2009

Eleven minutes/Elf minuten

Paulo Coelho
in own company NNT

2009-2017

General director of Noord Nederlands Toneel

NNT is one of the 4 big company's of the Netherlands.

2008

Frankenstein

Shelley
at d’Electrique

2006

Himmel über Berlin/Wings of Desire

Wim Wenders, Peter Handke
coproduction Toneelgroep Amsterdam (now International Theatre Amsterdam) and American Repertory Theatre, Boston, Cambridge, MA.
Two versions with different emphasis, both bilingual (English and Dutch)

2005

A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess
at d’Electrique & Multi-punkband The Ex)

2005

VPRO television: The day of civilisation.

VPRO TV day about civilisation based on the ideas of Norbert Elias

2004

Romeo en Juliet

William Shakespeare
Actors are pitched against Argentinian tango dancers
at Toneelgroep Amsterdam (now International Theatre Amsterdam)

2004

Othello

William Shakespeare
invited to Winterthur, Switzerland

2003

Le Bal

based on a senario by Ettore Scola
at Schauspielhaus Köln
Germany

2002

Othello

William Shakespeare
at Schauspielhaus Köln,
Germany stayed 2 years in the repertoire

2002

The Merchant of Venice (De Koopman van Venetië)


William Shakespeare
at Toneelgroep Amsterdam (now International Theatre Amsterdam)

2001

Macbeth

William Shakespeare
at Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS), Brussels, Belgium

2000

Ajax

Sophokles
Mafaalani's first large scale theatre production
coproduction Theater aan het Spui & productiehuis Fact

1998

Key West/Westkaai

B.M. Koltes
at Fact, a site-specific project in Rotterdam

Small stage productions

2015

Mijn Tweede

at NNT. A solo with Marcel Hensema

2013-2016

Mijn Ede

at NNT. About Ede Staal. The legend of Noth of Holland. A solo with Marcel Hensema. Played in every village and in Carré Amsterdam. Became a hit

2013

Mama

A suitcase performance at NNT. Against child abuse. Performes for professionals at social service and for politicians

2005

Extase

Suver Nuver

2004

People in Shit Hotels

Renée Polesch. On location in the Hotel American in Amsterdam’s Leidseplein, as part of the Transition Festival

2002

A well fucked up play

Festival De Parade

1999

The Sorry Saint

about life and work of outsider artist Henry Darger.
at Fact Rotterdam

1999-2001

Ten Liefde/To love

Ko van den Bosch
A modern version of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" became a theatre hit.
at theatre Bellevue

1999

Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino
at theatreschool Maastricht

1998

Schwitters material

Combines the poem 'The Onion' with "Ursonate" by Kurt Schwitters.
at Nes-Theaters Amsterdam

1998

Mama Courage

Inspired by Bertold Brecht play Mother Courage

1997

A Battleoper

Inspired by lyrics and music of Tom Waits.
at Grand Theatre Groningen
Noorderzon festival

1996

Leersmoel

Helmut Krausser
at Grand Theatre Groningen

1995-1997

Hairy Machines/Harige machines

S.I. Witkiewicz.
at Grand Theatre and later tour Germany and Poland

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
celebration of 8 years NNT
 
Photo: Adelheid Roosen
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Foto: Reyer Boxem
Foto: Reyer Boxem Ola with her composer Eef van Breen
 
 
 
 
 
Foto: Reyer Boxem Adam Price, the inventor of tv serie Borgen, visits rehearsals and writes on the spot a new speech.
 
 
Foto: Radek Leski Ola with her mother inbetween rehearsals.
Foto: Radek Leski
Foto: Uur van de Wolf
 
Foto: Reyer Boxem
Foto: Freek van den Bergh
Foto: Sanne Peper