Residency artists and researchers

Performing arts, performance art

Nienke Scholts

dramaturge and curator of discursive programs and projects

Kuva: Jussi Virkkumaa

.. Keep exploring, keep asking questions. Hold on to the slowness of our practices. Determine your own rhythm and depth… Take your time and take your freedom. – Marianne van Kerkhoven


Dramaturgy as a politicized practice, a ground onto which to address artistic production, by working within structures and re-imagining our relation to them at the same time, in order to produce something that exceeds them. – K. Georgelou et all.


Dutch freelance dramaturge and curator of discursive programs and projects Nienke Scholts finds working in Saari Residence, “a remote Finnish countryside artist in residency”, as a case study for exploring dramaturgy as artistic practice and the field (discipline / method / substance etc.) through which she can do research.

“As a practitioner of dramaturgy, I have been mainly involved in emerging practices that break through the borders of the art-disciplines as we know them. It challenged me to think and work with dramaturgy in relation to more than performance alone. I have come to understand dramaturgy as a site of a collaborative dialogical work that attends to situations that aren’t only artistic, but also social, political, ecological, etc. This made me gradually shift from a dramaturge of others towards an author of artistic projects in which I take initiative in addressing questions and concerns that I consider urgent.” Nienke tells.

At Saari, she wants to explore further this evolvement in her practice. “This work is all about, as Lucy Cotter framed it so well for me: ‘…spending time in the challenging but productive space of not-quite-definable areas. It’s about feeling out the way forward slowly, moving intuitively and consciously operating in the dark (at Saari both metaphorically and literally!) for good reasons that have everything to do with attending to processes while they are still in process.’ “

Engaging in dramaturgy as an artistic practice, the residency allows her to explore which knowledges are ‘composed together’ through the process of handling, working, thinking with, organising, and ‘form-ing’ of research material in the context of a studio, in a residency, in Finland, in nature, in winter.

“My practice is very much entangled with the field of performing arts in Amsterdam, and in the past few years particularly involved with the question what practices of organising performing arts differently are desired today? Through my work I co-created and observed from within, these emergent artists and institutional practices that searched to reorganise themselves in ways that are not predicated on neo-liberal value systems; but that are for example endurable, fair practice, and attentive.  Among the material gathered in this light so far is the experience of working on ‘institutional actions’ as dramaturge at Veem House for Performance (2013-2019); a performing arts venue in Amsterdam at the forefront of Fair Practice developments that made the radical transition to the 100 Day House in 2017. The pioneering, and therefore as intriguing as vulnerable, organisational practice that followed from that decision, forms the main research material that I bring into Saari context as a 2-month case study of what dramaturgy as artistic practice is/can be” she continues.

Scholts’s current works-in-progress demarcate a space for dramaturgy to bring knowledge from different fields and diverse locations together. The greater how of that coming together remains an open question, answerable only through the making of new tools and methodologies. – Lucy Cotter

Nienke Scholts (1984) is a freelance dramaturge and curator of discursive programs and projects. Since her graduation at the MA Theatre Studies (Utrecht/Berlin) in 2009, she works/ed (inter)nationally with several performance artists, and as house dramaturge at Veem House for Performance (2013-2019) in Amsterdam, in collaboration with whom she developed the multi-voiced publication series Words for the Future (2017–2018). She is currently (2018-2020) a fellow of THIRD at DASresearch (Amsterdam University of the Arts), and part-time programme coordinator of ARIAS Amsterdam platform for discipline-transgressing research practices. Recent writings include ‘Dramaturges That Do Not Work For A Work’, in The Practice of Dramaturgy (Valiz, 2016) and ‘Zorg, ergens aan gaan staan’ in nY magazine #37 (2018). She is also co-founder and editor of Platform-Scenography (P-S), and an inspired beekeeper apprentice.