Het Nationale Theater

The dutch “Het Nationale Theater” or HNT is one of the biggest theatres in the country touring every major city. Ivo Pas and Robbert Weinen, both sound engineers, talk about the benefits of digital wireless audio and their after-pandemic plans.

"“Dutch theatres are different than in the rest of the world”, explains Ivo Pas right away. The Senior Sound Engineer at HNT points out that 90% of the shows happen outside the main house. That is because most theatres are tenants of the houses which work independently.So HNT does not focus on the “Koninklijke Schouwburg” shown below. A beautiful theatre in the center of The Hague built in 1766, originally planned as a city palace but then converted and opened as a theatre in 1804.

HNT performs at 50 of nearly 200 theaters cross-country

But with HNT touring the country, around 50 cities see the same show as The Hague. And eventhough the Netherlands appear quite small, HNT only performs at a fourth of the nearly 200 theatres spread across the country. HNT productions start in the theatre and then continue touring through the Netherlands. A team of 5 audio engineers supports more than 300 shows per year. Ivo Pas and his colleague Robbert Weinen mainly work in the touring department, preparing shows and rehearsals in close cooperation with the responsible sound designers. When both talked to Sennheiser for this interview, they were especially happy to spend time together. Both started working for HNT in 2014 and usually do not see each other often because of the large amount of touring.HNT only uses the PA of each location, all other equipment is brought by the team, including high-end wireless equipment.

Digital 6000 at HNT Netherlands

20 channels of Digital 6000 paired with the SK 6212 min-bodypack transmitter are currently located within the Touring Department of HNT.“ The actors love the SK 6212. The previous SK 5212 transmitter was quite small, but all actors now call those ‘the big ones‘,” says Robbert Weinen, who worked at Stage Entertainment Netherlands before joining the team at HNT. “Actors move around the stage a lot and you could definitely see the old bodypacks hidden within the tight outfits. With the SK 6212, this problem is solved.” Ivo Pas also loves working with Digital 6000 and it’s tiny bodypack transmitters. “These days some shows last 5 hours or more. We call them ‘marathon shows’ with two breaks in between for the audience. We start with rehearsals in the morning and do the show with the same battery in the SK 6212 until 11pm at night. That’s simply amazing and saves us a lot of time,” says Ivo, who gathered a lot of experience as a freelancer before joining HNT in 2014 as well.

“And it is wonderful for the comfort of our actors,” Robbert adds. They do not have to peal apart their outfit anymore and can stay dressed all day long. On top of that, the narrow frequency bandwith of Digital 6000 helps the HNT team to always accomodate in every location. “Most of the time on tour, theaters have two or three auditoriums, so there are sometimes a lot of wireless bodypacks ‘on air’ from different shows in the same building.

HNT is the one of biggest theatres in the Netherlands, mostly backed by public funds. During the pandemic the theatre kept up the business with creative new offerings like podcasts or streaming shows. But a lot of planned shows for 2020 have been rescheduled and will now premiere within this year.

Both engineers are very proud of the variety their employer is offering. “From rehearsal to end of tour, we only have a stretch of four months at max. So we don’t run the same show for years as some competitors do. And that is something we really enjoy,” concludes Ivo. The latest show Ivo worked on is “Hebriana” which premiered in late October and will be available through the end of 2021. Robbert will be touring with the show “Yerma” in the coming months."