De La Mar Theater

Marnixstraat 402
De Weteringschans
Jo Coenen, Arno Meijs
Jo Coenen Architects
Arno Meijs
VandenEnde Foundation
H+R Bouw
Cultuur, Leisure

Old glory, new radiation

The De La Mar theatre was established in 1947 by Piet Grossouw, husband of revue artist Fien de la Mar, and was named after the latter’s father, Nap de la Mar. The building on Marnixstraat in which the theatre was housed was originally a school.

Unfortunately, the couple were unable to make a go of the theatre and were forced to sell. In 1953, it was taken over by Wim Sonneveld, who renamed it the ‘Nieuwe de la Mar Theater’, much to the annoyance of Fien de la Mar, who refused ever to visit it. In the years that followed, the theatre acquired national fame with performances by, among others, Wim Kan, musicals by Annie M.G. Schmidt and Freek de Jonge. The Nieuwe de la Mar theatre closed its doors at the end of 2005 for extensive remodeling. Financed by the VandenEnde Foundation, the theatre adheres to the tradition of private initiative.

As part of the redevelopment, the Nieuwe de la Mar and the adjacent Calypso cinema were knocked together. The challenge for the architects Jo Coenen and Arno Meijs was to knit the complex into its surroundings while at the same time giving the whole an appealing, ‘theatrical’ touch. They have opted for a combination of old and new: the largely glazed façade opens the building towards the city and also reveals part of the original façade of 1887.

The theatre has two auditoriums: a large auditorium on the ground floor that extends the full height of the building and a more intimate auditorium on the first floor. Together they contain 1500 seats. The main aim in the design of the interior was that the nostalgic theatre ambience should be preserved. The red colour, which is repeated in the interior fit-out and furnishing of the auditoriums, contributes to this. The foyer and corridors contain spectacular photographs by various leading Dutch photographers, including Viviane Sassen and Erwin Olaf, which were commissioned by Van den Ende.

The aim is to continue to provide the varied programme that was so typical of the Nieuwe de la Mar. There will be a mixture of plays, cabarets and musicals, both commercial and subsidized.