The Dutch are enjoying a healthy theatre boom, despite the country's general economic slump. The government, at both state and local levels, is assisting the theatre as much as possible, awarding subsidies to many different kinds of companies, including experimental companies.
The Netherlands theatre companies are divided into three categories: (1) The municipally supported, which keep a permanent company and are subsidized not only by the city of the home theatre, but also by the national government, and frequently by the province. They are run with a managing director, permanent stage directors, a permanent acting company, dramaturges, and a technical staff, generally operating two theatres and touring extensively to other cities. (2) The experimental companies, which are surprisingly good because most are subsidized by the government. Practically every major city in Holland has one ( Amsterdam has a couple), and, while there is practically no interchange between the municipally supported and the experimental companies, there is no open hostility. (3) The commercial theatre companies, which play current Broadway, West End, or boulevard hits and which tour. These occasionally receive government help.
The 'repertory of the first and third types derives largely from abroad. Their productions reflect what has been popular at theatres all over Europe, at least capitalist Europe. Plays are well presented, with every theatre company, both commercial and municipal, trying to get as much mileage from a success as possible by touring. Since the Netherlands is a small country, this is not a hardship on the actors; many either drive or take the train back home after a performance. Some companies play Northern Belgium as well as the Netherlands.
The Dutch theatre has two major plusses: its experimentation and the sheer number of companies. Not only do the small companies experiment, but within the municipally controlled houses there is also considerable probing of new ways to present plays, especially in the smaller subsidiary houses, which most companies have. On any given night in the Netherlands one is seldom more than a few kilometers from a play, and a good one at that.