“Art is an effective way to stir things up”

9789048811397_achieversIn preparation of our Intrepid Tongues Event on 8 May, the Intrepid Tongues team in Sheffield conducted a Skype discussion with Johan Fretz and Marcel Harteveld (Amsterdam) on 28 March 2014. Johan Fretz’ novel Fretz 2025, which was published in 2012, took centre stage.

“Stir things up”: the novel

Fretz 2025 is set on polling day 2025. Twelve years from now, the political landscape of the Netherlands still feels very familiar: ambitions and ideals are either fettered by practical objections and cynicism or smothered in too much meaningless detail. That is until Johan Fretz decides to swap the theatre for the political arena.

Fretz, who shares more than the name with the author of the novel, enters the race to the ‘Catshuis’ with a grand narrative of unity and on the back of his skills as an orator. Idealism, community, togetherness, patriotism, Fretz brings it all back to Dutch politics. But will it bring him electoral success?


The Gebroeders Fretz are currently touring the Netherlands with their theatre performance that sprung from Fretz 2025 the novel. On 8 May they will share extracts from Johan Fretz’ political campaign.

Real political ambitions?

The relationship between art and politics remains a key concern, which dominated our  discussion. The ficticious politician Johan Fretz shows considerable overlap with the author and actor Johan Fretz. So how real is this story? Will we be welcoming the future Prime Minister on 8 May?

Here is a short clip (in Dutch) from the discussion in which Johan comments on his political ambitions and on how art can be more effective than politics: ‘art is an effective way to stir things up’.