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Discover: the favourite performing arts hotspots of director Zorba Huisman

Hidden gems in Maastricht’s theatre world

Maastricht has nurtured a lot of big talents in the area of music, theatre, and art. With academies such as the Maastricht Academy of Music, the Jan van Eyck Academy, and the Maastricht Academy of Performing Arts, Maastricht is an extraordinary and inspiring breeding ground for new talent in the cultural sector. This includes Zorba Huisman, a theatre and film maker from Limburg who draws inspiration from the special locations in ‘her’ city of Maastricht. The director reports on the hidden gems in Maastricht’s theatre world that are a daily source of inspiration for her.

Maastricht Academy of Performing Arts (Toneelacademie)

‘The Maastricht Academy of Performing Arts is a truly magical place and is at the heart of what inspires me in Maastricht. I spent several wonderful years here which have shaped me into who I am today. Not only as a creator but also – and above all – as a person. You live in a bubble, surrounded by talented creators, during a time in which you can focus fully on your development and you can do this in a unique and historical setting in the heart of Maastricht. Now and then I go and look at the final projects of the current students, from which I can always draw inspiration and I would recommend that every visitor to Maastricht do the same. Not only do you learn more about a unique and historical location but you also discover the future-shaping talent of the Netherlands, such as Maria Marbus and Eva van Kleef. The recently graduated actress and director have formed a fantastic partnership and have already created a number of strong performances. Recently, they have also been selected for the project “Het Debuut” by Via Rudolphi Productions.’

Click herefor an up-to-date list of performances and final projects.

The well-known peanut shells on the floor of Café De Tribunal.

Café De Tribunal

‘After attending a performance or final project at the Maastricht Academy of Performing Arts, you simply have to pop into the Café De Tribunal. This is the academy’s local haunt and is a mere stone’s throw away from the old gates of the school. It’s a place where students, lecturers, graduates, and Maastricht locals meet up. During the day it has a pleasant and welcoming ambiance, with photos of famous alumni on the wall and a mixture of peanut shells and sand on the floor. On Thursday evenings, there is dancing on the tables and the old bell above the bar rings loud and clear in between typical Dutch tunes. You’ll find interesting characters here at any time of day and can also visit the café for a sumptuous meal.

Lumière Cinema at the Bassin quayside

Lumière Cinema

The Lumière cinema is a fantastic cinema in the centre of Maastricht that is housed in a former saw mill. This is the place I go to whenever I’m looking for a distraction or something to surprise me. The cinema listing varies in such a way that there is always something that fits the mood of the moment. In addition to the latest arthouse films, classics, Oscar winners, and documentaries, Lumière also has special screenings. One such screening I enjoyed was the première of the first short film made by my dear friend Luka Kluskens: “Als een schaduw bleef je mij bewaard” [English title: The great appeal of the cherry blossom]. Luka is a Limburg actress and creator of whom you have undoubtedly not heard the last. ’

De Bordenhal

Maastricht Theatre Group (Toneelgroep Maastricht)

‘The Maastricht Theatre Group is the city’s theatre group but to me it means a great deal more. Of course, it’s a place close to my heart as it’s the place where I can continue growing as a creator under the supervision of directors and artistic minds that inspire me, but I also think the direction that TGM is taking is an interesting path that I am enthusiastic about. They combine classic and contemporary ideas and know how to transform what is happening now into tales that need to be told. The work of the director and creative director, Michel Sluysmans, is a good example of this – he often directs classic pieces from writers such as Tsjechov but in a form and narrative that is so in tune with the times that it leaves a strong impression on me as a spectator. As a young budding creator during the Covid pandemic, I was given space to investigate new forms between film and theatre as part of the Lentekus project, a type of cross-over that is not unfamiliar to the theatre group. TGM not only produces theatre performances but also films and has become established in locations such as the unique Bordenhal.

Have a look at the Events Calendar for an overview of the performances and activities of the Maastricht Theatre Group.

Theatre on the Vrijthof

Maastricht Academy of Music (Conservatorium Maastricht)

‘Of course, there are many other places that I would recommend such as the AINSI, Theater aan het Vrijthof , and the Fotomuseum, but for my last “tip” I would especially like to mention the Maastricht Academy of Music (Conservatorium Maastricht). This is a place where I often end up after a walk through the city park at the end of the day. Located opposite the historic city wall and built over the Jeker river, this is an unusual building filled with music.  When you walk through the Jeker quarter and approach the building, you can hear the various rehearsals and performances increase in volume. I often stop at the old mill opposite the building and listen from a distance to all the different musical threads, accompanied by the sound of the water flowing in the Jeker. It’s a place with a fantastic atmosphere and certainly worth a visit. ’

Have a look at the Events Calendar for an overview of the performances and activities of the Maastricht Academy of Music.

This article was written by Zorba Huisman. She trained as a director at the prestigious Maastricht Academy of Performing Arts. It was while studying here that she made her first acquaintance with theatre, film, and documentaries. An acquaintance that resulted in documentaries such as Claiming to be The Original and Brieven aan de Hemel [Letters to Heaven], both of which can be seen at After graduating, Zorbo joined the artistic core of the Maastricht Theatre Group as a young talent.

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