Issue #015 Published: 02-11-2017 // Written by: Denis McEvoy

Too many foreigners?

“Well it gives us a chance to laugh at the French, the British and the Germans, obviously,” remarked one friend when asked why Dutch people love the TV show ‘Allo ‘Allo. As the Badhuis International Theater company begins its third run of the hilarious stage adaptation of the TV classic, Amsterdammers are facing their city’s eternal question, again: How can we possibly deal with all these foreigners? 

Tourists and expats are flocking to Amsterdam in ever greater numbers. But far from representing a threat to Amsterdam’s culture, foreigners are a vital and vibrant part of the city’s cultural DNA, at every level. However, the policies that tempted this wave of tourists and expats may have a considerable downside. 

Amsterdam has been international for as long as it has existed. In recent decades, foreigners have been drawn here by the perceived liberal attitudes, the easy-going atmosphere and the strength of the city’s counter culture. These newcomers have propped up services and agriculture and provided language skills beyond the reach of even the polyglot Dutch. But, more relevant to the matter at hand, they have become an essential part of the city’s glamorous high cultural delights and just as essential a part of her gritty counter-culture. 

Residents of Amsterdam, foreign and native, can be proud of the city’s world-class cultural landmarks, like the Rijksmuseum, the Hermitage or the Carré Theater. Foreign names, ideas and treasures abound in the esteemed museums, concert halls and theaters. But imported names and ideas also make a massive contribution to the squats, blackbox theaters, and poky bars and cinemas where Amsterdam derives its true culture, its chic, its independence, its uniqueness. 

Counter cultural types don’t tend to come with full wallets, however. For the last ten years, Amsterdam’s officialdom has worked to reinvent the city’s image and make it a more attractive destination for international business and mainstream tourism. That means working to attract a different type of foreigner. 

The plan has worked. Businesses are stacked with young, high-earning professional expats. Rents have sky rocketed. Middle and lower earners have been squeezed further and further out of the centre. 

What does this mean for culture? The city’s famous high- cultural institutions benefit from the increase in tourist spending. Meanwhile the already under-subsidized havens of alternative Amsterdam have to pay more for their rent and fight against the marketing machines of considerably better-resourced venues, and their struggle for survival intensifies. The official plan to sell Amsterdam as a destination, perhaps predictably, risks selling out Amsterdam, and resentment of tourists and immigrants may end up spreading like the proliferation of unsanctioned Air BnBs. 

Fortunes are not made performing obscure Welsh theatre. No one has yet become rich by screening and discussing Communist-era Polish propaganda films. Reinterpreting folk stories from Papua New Guinea is unlikely to prove lucrative. But these sorts of pursuits, coupled with a cheap beer or a cozy cup of tea, are the ecosystem that makes Amsterdam’s culture so vibrant. A captive audience, even if few in number, is the main reward alternative actors, musicians, story-tellers and performers of all sorts are seeking. Amsterdam offers that audience, and foreigners are now and always have been up to their elbows in creating, protecting and promoting alternative culture in Amsterdam. 

In Amsterdam, alternative culture has never needed significant support (although it’s nice, of course) or protection, only enough space to grow. And if that space is taken away, it won’t the fault of foreigners. We can prove it. Don’t believe us? Come and see our acclaimed, foreigner-filled production of ‘Allo ‘Allo. 

From November the 3rd till the 12th, Mike’s Badhuistheater brings the famous BBC series ‘Allo ‘Allo! back to the stage. We have had enormous success with this production, with children as well as parents. The appeal is universal. The play returns after sold out shows Christmas 2016 and Spring 2017.

The cast of ‘Allo ‘Allo! is an international cast and they are fluent in the English language. 
Mike’s Badhuistheater is very successful with classical English language plays like ‘Allo ‘Allo!, Blackadder Goes Forth and Sean O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy.

It is historically interesting as well as being hilarious. The play is set in the local town café in Nouviens in German-occupied France during the Second World War. René, the local café Owner, has many problems! The Germans are threatening to shoot him if he does not secretly hide their stolen goods; the Resistance is using the café as a safe-house for shot-down British airmen; and on top of that, he is trying to keep 3 passionate love affairs going with his café waitresses and also secret from his wife. Sounds like a death sentence?

‘Allo ‘Allo! is directed by Michael Manicardi. Send us a mail ( if you would like to come to the play for a reduced price tickets. It is important that we know the numbers so we can reserve for you

Dates and times:
• 03 / 11 / 2017 - 20:15       
• 04 / 11 / 2017 - 20:15
• 05 / 11 / 2017 - 17:30
• 10 / 11 / 2017 - 20:15
• 11 / 11 / 2017 - 20:15
• 12 / 11 / 2017 - 17:30