a dutchman discovers flanders

(godfried bomans)

This is a Comp.Marius radio adaptation of a book and TV programme from 1971 'A Dutchman discovers Flanders'.
It’s a voyage of discovery through Flanders by caravan, which seeks either to undermine or prove the (un)truths in the book about our rich language, ugly spatial planning, political tensions and the agrarian remnants in our national character.

Premiere: 2013, De Warande, Turnhout (BE)

The text

The Dutch writer and journalist Godfried Bomans (1913-1971) journeyed through Flanders in 1971 on behalf of the then BRT. His task was to sketch a portrait of the Flemings’ identity. He spoke to ministers, professors, writers, students and (other) protesting youngsters, with whom he discussed Flemish history, the national character, ugly spatial planning, tensions with the Walloons and, last but not least, the ‘juicy’ little Flemish language. A book based on the TV programme was published in the same year, and also contained ‘out-takes’ where hosts and interviewer were judged to have gone too far.

Because of the naive brutality of a Dutchman like Bomans and doubtless also because of the time perspective – we are reading the book 40 years on – the whole idea of Flemish ‘emancipation’ is removed from the corner into which political parties have gradually corralled it for political ends. The portrait is a reflection of the tensions and preconceptions, as well as a search for the identity, of a population group that shares both a language and a history.

The setting

In 2011, Comp.Marius produced the first test programme in its ‘Summer Library projects’ series, based on the TV programme and book publication. A live radio programme was broadcast from a caravan, citing interviews from the book, and with presenters posing anew the same questions that were asked 40 years ago, both to old-interviewees and to each other. This test programme is now being further developed: Comp.Marius’ caravan is travelling around Flanders, local radios are broadcasting, theatres are offering space in their cafeterias, libraries or lobbies. You can choose whether to simply listen from a distance or to observe the spectacle up close.

A Comp.Marius on-location project/radio broadcast, from a caravan on cultural centre car parks or a nearby square, which you can hear either on local radio or through your local theatre’s loudspeakers.



Adaptation, play, DJ set: Waas Gramser, Bert Haelvoet, Koen Roggen, Kyoko Scholiers, Kris Van Trier
Costumes: Thijsje Strypens
Production: Comp.Marius