Searching for Ariana

Entrance to the Van Campen Theatre in Amsterdam  where Nozeman performed © Wikimedia)

Ariana Nozeman (1628-1661) was the first actress on the Dutch stage. Although she came from a family of thespians, this was a daring career choice for a woman in Calvinist Holland, given the clergy’s disapproval of theatre as “a sink of iniquity”. Nevertheless, she played leading roles in the plays of prominent Dutch writers of her day, and she even went on to become the country’s first female ballet dancer as well.

She died young, and on her grave in Amsterdam, she is remembered simply as her husband’s “housewife”. But she had left her mark in the theatre world, for dramatists from then on sought to replace her with new actresses. In this programme, one of her descendents, Malou Nozeman, goes in search of the traces left by her little known ancestor.

Producer: Dheera Sujan

Presenter: Malou Nozeman

Broadcast: May 10, 2002