Background Henry J. Alles

I am a theatremaker as well as initiator of artist-in-residencies. Until 2014 I was a core member of the theatregroup PeerGrouP.  Originally I was trained as an environmental engineer, developed as a self-taught artist and through the years I have build up a network of both national and international artists, scientists, writers and relevant organisations.

I was born, in 1965, on Ruitenlaan No. 16 in the Dutch village of Froombosh in the municipality of Slochteren. The municipality, five years earlier, became world famous because of the immense natural gas pocket that was discovered there. My mother, a former chef in a tobacco factory before marriage, took care of my brother and me and my father drilled for that gas. I remember that we considered it a big treat when my mother made poffert, a typical main course, in the region. The cake like dish was to be eaten with brown sugar and clarified butter. Poffert is based on a recipe that only mentions some eggs, self-raising flour, and salt but in the history of my family’s relatively poor background it was considered a feast.

My career is an asseblage of disciplines. My musical pursuits, from the age of 15, developed into performing and writing contemporary music, and the need to stage it developed into creating visual- and sound installations, the performances brought with it co-operations with designers, visual artist, video artists and theatre makers. This created a career of writing music for dance performances, visual art and theatrical performances. And very soon most of the work was presented on site, often outside and many times during a self-made journey. All of it more or less naturally let to becoming part of the core of the site-specific theatre group PeerGrouP for many years. This gave the opportunity to create a more distinct move towards environmentally aware art for which I started to work with mobile theatre performances and residencies that worked in a sustainable way. Looking back I can now see that there has often been a focus on landscape and the co-operation with all kinds of people. And the work I create are assemblages made of historical facts, environmental care, site-specific knowledge, mental space and identity constructed with a strong intuition and sense of not-knowing.