A dazzling sanctuary for an ever-changing group of people where personal and honest stories about masculinity take centre stage.
Boys Won’t Be Boys will be hitting the stages at Svenska Teatern, Helsinki in May and Oulun teatteri, Oulu in September 2024. With over 100 performers taking part in this major theatre project across the Netherlands, the show is now making it’s way to Finland for its first-ever international premiere! After a successful study trip together in Finland this time last year, where Rikkert van Huisstede met with theatres and actors in Helsinki and Oulu, the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux is very excited to be commissioning and producing it’s international debut.
”We are all different, so what? Labels cannot define us. One size never fits all, and that’s exactly what we want to celebrate. By sharing all our different stories, and wearing our hearts on our sleeves, we break down prejudices and stereotypes and come closer together. Boys Won’t Be Boys is an upbeat deconstruction and ode to the concept of ‘man’.”
Host Rikkert van Huisstede – wearing his killer heels – performs together with a colourful parade of people who tell stories, sing, rap, and dance in shows that are bursting at the seams with talent. And labels? Labels are for clothes, not people.
Tour Dates in Finland
Boys Won’t Be Boys’ international debut is commissioned and produced by the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, produced together with Svenska Teatern and Oulun Teatteri. The production is generously supported by Svenska kulturfonden, Konstsamfundet, Otto A. Malm lahjoitusrahasto and the Netherlands Embassy in Finland.
About Boys Won’t Be Boys
Boys Won’t Be Boys is a Dutch theatrical and social movement in the field of male emancipation. We are an ever-growing platform with an inexhaustible source of innovative theatrical perspectives around the changing role men have in our time.
With his singing voice spanning four octaves, initiator Rikkert van Huisstede (1993) transcends boundaries. His innovative take on themes like gender, sexuality and love originated in his attic room, where he dreamed about creating more space for boys and men to break out of the ill-fitting idealised image of masculinity.
In no time, the company grew into a major social theatre project in the Netherlands, in which over a 100 performers and legions of young people are given the space to freely express themselves as human beings and theatre-makers. They share various stories about their relationship with masculinity, identity and gender roles. Through these stories, performers and audiences free themselves (if only for a while) from male societal norms.
Boys Won’t Be Boys reaches a diverse audience (those interested in these themes, theatre lovers, young, old and culturally diverse), many of whom are new to theatres, and appeals to both queer and straight communities. The show forges unique connections between many different social groups, creating a sense that diversity and inclusivity is about everyone, and that everyone is welcome.
About the Artists
Rikkert van Huisstede
Rikkert van Huisstede (1993) is the initiator and artistic director of Boys Won’t Be Boys which he founded in 2018. He is a Dutch theatre maker, singer and poet, and studied music theatre at the Conservatory of Haarlem. With a powerful voice with a range of four octaves, he has been defying the masculine norms for years. He has an innovative view on themes such as gender, sexuality and parenthood.
”Van Huisstede is an engaging performer and dares to link his personal urgency to a broad social commitment” Parool
Julian Bohn (1992), a German jazz pianist and pop music producer currently based in the Netherlands, crafts genre-blending music resonating with authenticity and warmth. From his album ”Feels Like Home,” which features 11 musicians from across the globe, to his work with artists like electro-pop singer FRÉ and alternative R&B artist XILLAN, he defies musical boundaries while exploring themes close to his heart, for example the climate crisis, feminism and equality. Beyond his music, Julian co-founded Music Declares Emergency NL, an organisation advocating for climate action in the music industry, and is actively involved in Boys Won’t Be Boys, a Dutch theatre production centred on real stories about masculinities and gender equality. Graduating from the Conservatory of Amsterdam in 2023, Julian’s thesis, echoing the theatre production’s title, investigates how evolving masculine identities can foster safer working environments in the music industry. This research led to multiple guest lectures on this topic at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.
Jamie MacDonald (1977) is a stand-up comedian with degrees in performance art and theatre. Originally from Canada, he is now a queer transgender nuisance who performs on Finnish and international stages since 2004. In comedy he works with emotionally charged topics and the abject, while in curating he combines genres, highlights ”low-brow” culture, and creates spaces for others to perform in. Recently this has included the trans-masculine group dance piece “T4T4U” in Kiasma Museum, as well as the “Queer Art Superstar Ball” event in Kiasma in 2023.
He has co-created several community-driven projects, including “Feminist Comedy Night” and “Feminist Comedy Academy”, the Thalia award-winning drag, burlesque and comedy show “Punch Up! – Resistance and Glitter”, and the monthly queer salon “Attic Underground”. His most recent solo show, “Cuck”, takes on fatherhood, masculinity, and online humiliation, which sounds high-brow but it’s rather a lot of dirty queer jokes. He’s currently doing a PhD on dirty queer jokes.
Roderick Kabanga (1993) is an actor born in Oulu. Kabanga’s first professional role was in Savoy Theatre’s critically-acclaimed West Side Story musical in the autumn of 2021. In his role as Chino, Kabanga was able to show his versatile talent in dancing, acting and singing. With West Side Story, Kabanga was attached to Helsinki City Theatre’s musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which received a phenomenal reception during its performance season. Kabanga, who discovered acting professionally with the Ilves theatre in his mid-twenties, ambitiously pursues roles both in front of the camera and on theatre stages. Kabanga made his on-camera debut with his role as the second main character in Dance Brothers (Netflix).
Julian Owusu is a multifaceted artist whose artistic core lies in community building practices, pedagogy, Hip Hop, dance, spoken word poetry, facilitation, decolonial practices and reimagining. Alongside his work with Hip Hop and his own projects, Julian has also worked as dancer, choreographer and actor at, among others, Zodiak – Centre for New Dance, Jojo – Oulu Dance Centre and the Oulu City Theatre. He has taught at the Theatre Academy of the University of Arts, the Oulu University of Applied science as well as in numerous commercial dance schools.
In addition to direct artistic work, Julian is the chairperson on the board of The Nordic House of Reykjavík as well as a member of the board of dance and tech association Taikabox ry. Julian Owusu worked as Regional Artist for Youth Culture at the Arts Promotion Centre (Taike) in Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu regions between 2016 and 2021.
Jani Toivola is a writer, actor and performer based in Helsinki Finland. He served as an MP from 2011 to 2019. He is the first black member of the Finnish Parliament. As a politician he is known for his work on human rights, equality and inclusive education.
His biggest political success was passing the same-sex marriage act in 2016. He continues to work on a number of diversity and inclusion related projects for both public and private sector clients. He is also a sought-after speaker . He has hosted the Finnish version of American Idol and many other entertainment and comedy shows. He has appeared on stage at the National Theatre, Helsinki City Theatre and Teatteri Jurkka. In addition he has appeared in several films and TV shows. He has published three books for adults in relation to identity (Musta tuleeisona valkoinen, 2016), fatherhood (Kirja tytölleni, 2018) and masculinity (Rakkaudesta 2021). He has also written books for children. He is currently hosting his own podcast and performing his popular one man show About love.
With a mother from Finland and a father from Kenya, Jani Toivola was born and raised in Helsinki Finland. In 2002 he moved to New York, USA to study acting at the HB Acting Studio. He is a proud father of a 9-year old.
Daniel Woodward is a cultural and gender studies masters student, who has worked within the field of diversity, equity and inclusion both in Finland and New York, specialising in questions of masculinity and women’s rights. His interest in masculinity stems from his own experience from highly masculine coded worlds, such as sports, and having had a long career within the restaurant industry.
In the Dutch press
”Boys Won’t Be Boys, Rikkert van Huisstede’s wonderful concept that has been touring the Netherlands for five years. Brilliant in its simplicity.” – Trouw
”Boys Won’t Be Boys stands up for men who do not fit the ideal image of the macho man.” – Algemeen Dagblad
”An ode to the vulnerability of men.” – Algemeen Dagblad
”Frank and loving men’s collage.” – Theaterkrant
”A varied and powerfully moving programme” – Theaterkrant
”Here, audiences and actors celebrate life and each other” – Parool