Britsoc: The British Society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Serving the British Expat community since 1920.

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Interview with Badhuis Theatre Director Mike Manicardi

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By  Nick Nugent



Address: Boerhaaveplein 28, 1091 AT Amsterdam




Where are you from?

I was born near Watford F.C. to an Italian Father and Irish mother.


What is you do?

I run the Badhuis Theatre


Do you have family here?

I have 5 kids and my eldest daughter is 23.


How did you end up in Amsterdam?

I have now been working for 40 years as a theatre maker and actor.  It was really down to the fact I was a young actor on tour and I went to see a play at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm with Nicol Williamson playing Hamlet.  Marianne Faithful was in it too.  Nicol Williamson was a famous Scottish actor known for being Merlin in Excalibur.  It was mind blowing for me as a young actor of 17/18 to see him and Antony Hopkins who was playing Claudius. At the bar afterwards a few people said you need to get yourselves off to Amsterdam it’s all happening over there.


This was 1976.  We had an arts council grant to go on tour all round British Isles as a young touring company and we got a call to come to Rotterdam at De Lantaren. We got paid 1,000 guilders for that which was amazing as we were mostly going around in a overfull Ford Transit, sleeping on people’s floors, (doing shows for 50 quid all the way to Glasgow and back) then suddenly to have 1,000 guilders was amazing.  We won an award for that performance.  After that we got a call from a promoter in Amsterdam and we played Melkweg and Paradiso.  The company was travelling backwards and forwards all over Europe between England, Scotland, Germany, Italy and Amsterdam.  We were a young company and were becoming successful, earning money was easy. That was the danger as we started to get lazy, as it was too easy to earn money and you would drop your standards.  So the company broke up and that’s how I found myself working as a teacher and independent actor/director remaining in Amsterdam.


What is the Badhuis Theatre?

We are an independent Community Theatre which is very well known concept in places like UK, Italy and France, but there is not so much of a tradition in the Netherlands.  Community theatre in UK earns it’s money 80% from sponsorship from local businesses and the businesses gain from the promotion of them supporting local theatre.  It is our aim to do this more in the future.  The Amsterdam city council is very interested in us, we have been here for more than 25 years as part of the community with very little public funding.  The local businesses love us because we bring people to them and vice versa .

Many art and theatre centres  in the Netherlands are falling down as they are subsidy “junkies” and the Government is cutting back on art funding and if they lose 20% of their funding their whole organisation falls apart.


I want to serve the community of Expats as they usually highly educated, very talented and with a great sense of humour.  They are looking for something which will bring them together and have a good time.  I don’t want to put on plays that make people want to commit suicide.  I’m a theatre manager that’s my job!


What are plans for the future?

We need to be open 7 days a week.  We are in the heart of a student village of 20,000 students here and we need to get the students and kids in during the day and put on music, workshops and plays during the night.


We are starting to renovate the whole theatre to make it more easy and multi use.

We do most of the building work ourselves , we have always had to be self-sufficient so we have a load of craftsmen and electricians in our technical staff.


You could run a set making course!

Yes, of course , why not, we have a brilliant guy coming from Leicester who makes great décor pieces and is making a Harp (see picture) for us right now to go on top of the theatre.

Our shows are in general artistic, alternative, but we combine this with mainstream.  People want to go out and see something of value. Without pretensions. We want to continue to offer something different but we also do mainstream shows in between.


What is your most favourite production you have put on?

There is no doubt is was “The Good Soldier Svejk.” (see foto) It was just so successful!  It’s a comic story set in 1880/90s, in middle Europe about this guy who is brilliant con artist to make excuses for not going to war.  We had Russian Director Vladimir Koifman who is very famous now on Russian TV.

We got great reviews, we sold out for a more than a month, 120 people per night, making a lot of people enormously happy.  We had a fantastic Polish folk band to play all the songs, a great director, the scenery was black and white and rotated like pages of a book.  At the time we didn’t have a penny and after that we were able to pay everyone properly. It was a big hit! We are thinking of bringing it back.


What other things does the theatre host?

For Liberation day we had an open theatre festival in the square outside with 500 local people and salsa band. Everyone loves the live bands we put on at the weekend, but we need to have better sound isolation so we can have more of them. That’s part of the investment plan this summer in the  building.

Recently we have had a group of 150 Czech people here for a party, we brought  Pilsner Urquell beer directly from German for them and sold come Czech food from our kitchen and they will probably come back again. We have often business lunches here for companies and following lunch they do workshops and have strategy days.


Who are the most famous people you have met?

Well I liked Alan, Alan Rickman, he was a mate of mine. We went to theatre school together, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and we were mates up to the point he sadly died.  Trevor Eve was also at theatre school with me.  Jonathan Price was a year ahead of me in school.  Also Jeff Wilkinson, calls himself Tom now. Alan, a few years ago, got involved with the education element for the RADA and we are also very interested in developing the education element of young performers.

What is your view on the EU referendum?

We are stuck in Europe you and me.  I’m not really sure what the definite advantages and disadvantages to staying in are.  All I hear is propaganda.  What struck me clearly was the difference between big and small business.  I heard about a small Scottish company making really good quality smoked salmon which they were selling to Norway mostly and last year they had to recall a huge amount of stock to relabel their product with the words “Contains Fish!” which cost them 50k.  I do worry the EU is uncontrollable and very big.


Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

We are a volunteer organisation. We all have day jobs. Without central funding. So we always need people to help, selling tickets, standing behind the bar, working with lights & sound, making programmes for kids etc..etc.. If you have an evening off send us a mail if would like to help and take part.

We are very generous with beer.




So what is coming up at the theatre?


Shakespeare Karaoke. THE TEMPEST. Fun reading from the big screen/ everybody takes part.

23 June 2016 – 20:15


The Shadow of a Gunman / PART3 Of the DUBLIN TRILOGY by SEAN o CASEY / English spoken.

30th of June till 3rd of July 2016 – 20:15


Sussex Steel band on the theatre terrace  FREE CONCERT

27 July 2016 – 16:00 (outside) and 20:00 (inside)


Ricciotti ensemble on the theatre terrace  FREE CONCERT

6 August – 14:00


Mike has offered a 25% discount on their latest production The shadow of a Gunman on the 3rd July 8:15.  Simply email Mike with the date you wish to go stating you are a British Society Member.



Address: Boerhaaveplein 28, 1091 AT Amsterdam

Naked in the bath

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By Dave Thomas


Naked in the bath

At least I might have been a few decades back when this round little building was the local bathhouse before it became a thriving independent theatre.

Wandering in through the front door the atmosphere was like a village hall in the pre-internet age. A foldable table at the entrance where the owner’s daughter collected tickets and then round to the right an elliptical bar where the showers used to be. I swear no two chairs in the bar are the same.

It reminded me of a student bar we visited during our honeymoon in Prague and, appropriately enough, one of the barmen was a Czech! The bar lazily opens up into the theatre area: an intimate space in the former waiting room that happily seats about 60 people. There is no stage but an open area at the front where the play unfolds.


Photos by John Richardson

Just before the play started a bard-like voice called us to take our seats. We overcame our British reserve and plumped down on the front row. As the stage is not elevated the action was literally at our feet (I joke not one of the props was just two of my feet – size 13- away).

We were treated to an evening of comedy by the Rotterdam English Speaking Theatre, who did a one-night-in-Amsterdam performance of  The Scottish Play. The story is about a theatre company who have performed every Shakespeare play accept Macbeth because the artistic director refuses to put on a play so cursed. Against his wishes the company nevertheless decides to perform it and fate ensues.

Thanks to our front row seats I was completely immersed in the story. My favourite characters were the three witches. Thanks to an act of revenge they were played by the production director’s ex wives: the bitch who taunted him with access to their child, the psychotherapist who dotingly regarded him more as her patient, and the nymph who fell for the nobody American reality star who’d been cast as Macbeth.

The best part? When the psychotherapist ex-wife walked in and tried to do a therapy session on her former husband. She firmly bound him to his chair (I briefly thought we were in for a lesson in Shades of Grey), berated him like a small child, and rewarded his every utterance with a snide remark and a coloured post-it she slapped on him with such vehemence that I started to inch away.


Photos by John Richardson

Afterwards in the bar I briefly chatted and laughed with the psychotherapist and was relieved to discover that her haggered ex-husband on stage is actually a relaxed Brit who’s moving back to Blighty soon.

The action over we chatted with the theatre’s owner Mike Manicardi. A thoroughbred thespian since his youth, he has been the owner and artistic director of the Badhuistheater for the past 30 years. He is a typical cultural entrepreneur with a finger in many pies because the show must go on. Besides hosting a variety of plays the theatre is home to poetry and jazz events, business meetings, and a variety of local clubs. It’s a rich and eclectic blend of grassroots community and international buzz with lashings of fun.

Talking of which, if you enjoyed Britsoc’s Shakestravaganza back in April then you might like to try As you Like It, an evening of Shakespeare karaoke at the Badhuistheater on 20 August.

Shakespeare KARAOKE
20% discount for Britsoc Members


Useful links


Rotterdam English Speaking Theatre 

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Shakespeare Karaoke (As You Like It)

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Shakespeare Karaoke (As You Like It)

20 AUG 20:15: Mikes BADHUIS Theatre, Amsterdam

Compered by Wil Sutton / Actor / Comic from the Comedy Cafe.

Lots of hilarity. Great night out. Something for everyone. Male and female parts! Mike’s BADHUIS Theatre  20 AUG 20:15

22620_as-you-like-it-1 smallIt’s a popular night out. The audience sits at beer tables in the round.

Compare Wil Sutton makes a comic introduction about the play, characters and scenes and everyone reads from the beamer.

Lots of hilarity, as everyone takes part.

Male and female parts!

Very varied Beer menu, and food is available if people mail us beforehand.

ADt olivier S2

It’s become a cult thing

As You Like It is a pastoral EARLY comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court, accompanied by her cousin Celia to find safety and love in the Forest of Arden. ( Close to shakies birthplace. His Mother was called Arden )

Typical , joyful and full of life in a forest !

Fleay's_Etching_of_the_Forest_of_ArdenWe encounter a variety of memorable characters, notably the melancholy traveller Jaques who speaks many of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches ( such as “All the world’s a stage” and “A fool! A fool! I met a fool in the forest“).


Jaques provides a sharp contrast to the other characters in the play, always observing and disputing the hardships of life in the country.

Shakespeare KARAOKE
20% discount for Britsoc Members


Badhuis theatre logoContact:

Michael Manicardi

Tel: 06 11173324

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England, my England

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England, my England

From 28 August to 6 September the Utrecht Early Music Festival presents glorious music from court, cathedral and tavern with England, my England as Festival theme.

Utrecht Early Music Festival – England, my England

Exclusive ticket offer to Britsoc Members and  Readers of the Magazine

This year the Utrecht Early Music festival, the largest early music festival in the world, will go in search of the English soul. When in the 17th century the Huguenots fled en masse from France to England, they took their own culture with them. Before long they were playing an important role in English artistic life. Architect and decorator Daniel Marot fled to the Netherlands, where Willem III employed him to work on Paleis Het Loo, and later, when Willem became king of England, Marot laid the foundation of the characteristic William and Mary style in England. Typically English? Things that are seen as such are often the product of import and cross-pollination.

The focus of this Early Music Festival will lie on the Renaissance and early Baroque. Of course Henry Purcell plays an important role – the Funeral Sentences will be heard, but also King Arthur and Dido and Aeneas. We will also focus on Handel’s lesser-known contemporaries such as Bononcini, Avison and Boyce in a series of programmes entitled “Out of Handel’s shadow.”

Britsoc Members and  Readers of the Magazine pay € 29,50 instead of € 36 for the following concerts:

Wednesday 2 sept – Dunedin Consort

Thursday 3 sept – La Risonanza

Friday 4 sept – Capriccio Stravagante

Order Tickets Here. REDUCTION FOR BRITSOC MEMBERS AND MAGAZINE READERS. € 29,50 instead of € 36

England, my England

Order your tickets by mailing to

You can buy a maximum of two tickets per person, as long as supplies last



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An Entertainment – A British Curiosity

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An Entertainment – A British Curiosity

In the early 1920s a fresh-faced young composer joined forces with an eccentric upper-class poetess to produce a work which went on to become a stalwart of the British musical repertoire: Façade, a setting by William Walton of poems (recited, not sung) by Edith Sitwell. The texts are exotic, witty, and sometimes frustratingly obscure, but they always appeal to the ear and the imagination.

The music runs the whole gamut of styles from classical to dance-hall, and includes a hornpipe, tarantella, foxtrot and march, as well as some melancholy, quasi-blues numbers. Someone once described Sitwell as ‘the original rapper’, which may go too far, but given the combination of rhyme-inspired lyrics and often driving rhythms there is some truth in this. Walton went on to become a leading British composer, probably best-known for his Crown Imperial march.

This curious and fascinating work, subtitled ‘An Entertainment’ and written for reciter and 6 instruments, can be heard on:

September 28 in the Rode Zaal, Hogeschool Helicon, Den Haag, at 15.00

October 11 in the Synagogue in Delft at 20.15

October 19 in De Toonzaal in Den Bosch at 16.30 (Cocktail Concert!)

performed by the Ebony Ensemble and their conductor Michel Havenith, with Robert Coupe (former member of the Nederlands Kamerkoor, but British to the core!) doing the reciting.

Tickets can be ordered (and a flyer with more details viewed) via the Ebony Ensemble’s website:

Hope to see you there!

The next concerts of the Ebony Ensemble


Concerts in 2014:

Sunday, September 28, 2014, The Hague
Location: Red hall, Helicon University
Address: Riouwstraat 1, The Hague
Time: 15:00.
Programme: William Walton – ‘Façade, an Entertainment’
Details: concert house.
Tickets: click here .

Saturday, October 11, 2014, Delft
Location: Synagogue
Address: Koornmarkt 12, Delft
Start: 20:15 am
Program: William Walton – ‘Façade, an Entertainment’
Details: concert house.
Tickets: click here .

Sunday, October 19, 2014, Den Bosch
Location: The Showroom, Den Bosch |
Address: Prins Bernhardstraat 4-6, 5211 HE, ‘s-Hertogenbosch
Time: 16:30 am
Program: William Walton – ‘Façade, an entertainment
Tickets: click here .


Alvin and the Queen

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Performance of our Drama Rocks group

The teenagers of our Drama Rocks group will perform the play ‘Alvin and the Queen’ for you
on Wednesday June 25th at 8pm.

Alvin and the Queen

The play is about Alvin the nerd who’s in love with Barbara, the prettiest girl in school. Everyday he sees her at the Kozy Korner snack shop working up the courage to talk to her. Will Alvin and Barbara find their happily-ever-after?

Come and find out! The address is Bronckhorststraat 3 in Amsterdam. Admission is free.

Spindlevine is…SPEECHLESS

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18-20 April, Ostadetheater, Amsterdam: 

An evening of musical storytelling in association with Orange Tea Theatre and Mezrab

When a storyteller is asked to give a speech at his best friend’s wedding, he finds his stories have dried up. How can he resolve the anxiety of being lost for words at the wedding, one that includes his best friend and unrequited lover? What if he is left speechless?

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