Jos van Kan

Jos van Kan
theatre director
(1962, The Netherlands)
Photo: © Jan Glas


Jos van Kan finished his study at the Academie voor Expressie in Utrecht. Since his debut as a theatre director at Fact in Rotterdam in 1989, he staged around eighthyfive theatre plays, music-theatre shows and opera's.

He started to stage classical plays e.g. S.Beckett, H.Pinter, T.Williams at Het Zuidelijk Toneel in Eindhoven and Carroussel in Amsterdam. For Artemis in Den Bosch he directed new plays by Pauline Mol and Eric de Volder.

Since he was invited in 1992 to a masterclass of the German theatre director Manfred Karge at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Maastricht, he works regularly in Germany. He staged plays and music-theatre shows at i.a. Staatstheater Schwerin, Bad Herschfelder Festspiele, Schauspiel Essen, Staatstheater Braunschweig. In Osnabrück he staged comedies, Cloaca - Maria Goos, The Importance of Being Ernest - Oscar Wilde and Cash - Michael Cooney.

From 1995 till 2003 Jos van Kan was the artistic-leader of Theatergroep Maccus in Delft, a theatre company he transformed into a music-theatre company. Since their first collaboration in 1994, Jos van Kan still works with the composer Micha Hamel. At Theatergroep Maccus they created a variety of music-theatre shows, for instance a chamberopera accompanied by the carillon of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft and an oratorio for eight actresses and three female pianists on the Spuiplein in The Hague.

For Theatergroep Maccus Jos van Kan adapted classical plays and created new music-theatre, the baroque opera King Arthur by Purcell, in collaboration with L.Coltof, was the opening of the Holland Festival 1999. Beside working at Theatergroep Maccus, he staged in Belgium and Germany: Fietsen, a chamber-opera by Astrid Kruisselbrink at Het Paleis in Antwerp, and the baroque-opera Argenore by W.von Bayreuth at the Hans Otto Theater in Potsdam. Argenore was invited to the Barok Festspiele in Bayreuth.

In 2003 Jos van Kan became a freelancer again. He got a grant from the F.A.P.K. to study opera-styles on three continents. (The New York City Opera, U.S.A., the Lan Yang Taiwanese Opera Company, Taiwan and Teatro di San Carlo, Napoli, Italy.) After studying in Taiwan Jos van Kan started to work in Asia. He initiated and staged in Taiwan The Second Goodbye a chamber-opera composed by Marlijn Helder at the Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company. This multi-media-show was performed at The National Theatre and Concert Hall in Taipei and at festivals in Beijing and Shanghai. He directed at the Visual Theatre Festival in Singapore, a collaboration with Ulrike Quade. In Cambodia he staged at PPS in Battambang, The Maids by Jean Genet, accompanied by traditional Khmer musicians.

Besides Vloed, the opening of the Zeeland Nazomer Festival, Jos van Kan directed several plays of Herman van de Wijdeven at De Wetten van Kepler in Den Bosch where he also staged the theatre-world-premiere of Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx.

He invited Micha Hamel to compose the music for The story of the maid Zerline by H.Broch at Orkater in Amsterdam. The actress Ariane Schluter was nominated for the Theo D'Or, best theatre actress of the year 2007.

At Oostpool in Arnhem he directed Histoire du Soldat by I.Stavinsky, a co-production with Het Gelders Orkest and Introdans. For Concertgebouw Amsterdam he staged De keuze van Ariane Schluter and Ogen Dicht.

From 2010 till 2017 he worked as a permanent guest at Tryater in Leeuwarden, where he staged five shows, i.a. Bridges of Madisson County and Brekber, a theatre show and exhibition in the National Museum of Ceramics Princessehof in Leeuwarden.

In The Netherlands Jos van Kan stages more and more newly written modern classical music. For the Ives Ensemble in Amsterdam he directed works of the composers M.Feldman, G.Barry, S.Sciarrino and two works of the composer Richard Rijnvos: Die Kammersängerin, a chamber opera, invited to the Musik 21 Festival, in Hannover, Germany and Mappamondo, a co-production with De Zaterdag Matinee, performed in Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam. He directed Black Feather Rising, a chamber opera by the Indian composer Param Vir and Words and Beyond by the Korean composer Seung-Ah Oh at Slagwerk Den Haag. For this percussion-ensemble he also staged Vissen hoesten niet by the composer Jan van de Putte.

De Rode Kimono was a new work in collaboration with the composer Micha Hamel, a co-production of Holland Festival 2010 and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The heart of this music-theater show was the painting De Rode Kimono by G.H.Breitner; Jos van Kan's second collaboration with the dancer Michael Schumacher.

Jos van Kan staged a new opera of Joey Roukens, Mister Finney, a co-production of Asko-Schönberg Ensemble and Koninklijke Schouwburg Den Haag, and The End of Desire by Ian Wilson, an Irish Dutch co-production with the saxophone player Ties Mellema.

At Schauspiel Wuppertal het staged Die Schone Müllerin by Schubert and Gift by Lot Vekemans. In Dresden he directed two music-theatre productions at TJG-theater der junge generation: Peter and the Wolf a co-production with Dresdner Philharmonie and The Black Rider a co-production with Staatsoperette Dresden (2018).

At the PeerGroup Jos van Kan directed Maalkop, written by Herman v.d. Wijdeven(2018). This play, performed by the actor Fabian Jansen and a cow, was staged in bankrupt and empty farms.


Beside his work as a stage director Jos van Kan is a teacher, adviser and coach. He worked as an adviser for e.g. Tomoko Mukaiyama and Ulrike Quade and also coaches young theaterdirectors. He taught at the ATKA, the drama-department of the Amsterdan University of the Arts; HKU, School of the Arts in Utrecht and at the Academy of Dramatic Arts Maastricht; at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and the Conservatories of Maastricht, Arnhem and Rotterdam. He staged two circus shows with students of Codarts Circus Arts and Codarts World Music in Rotterdam.

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