Julian Hetzel & Ntando Cele

"Theatremaker and artist Julian Hetzel did it again: after 90 mind-boggling minutes during SPRING Performing Arts Festival, you are outside with a pit in your stomach and a brain full of moral and artistic dilemmas." - ★★★★☆ in De Volkskrant

With SPAfrica, Julian Hetzel delves into the dark politics of water and examines the complex intertwining of ethics and economics. Using water as conflict material, the performer shows how closely racism is linked to capitalism. The performance, which was created in collaboration with South African performer Ntando Cele and musician Frank Wienk, combines theatre, music and video. This creates a hybrid experience that exposes the relationships between a product and the social struggles in the country where it comes from, between consumption and inequality.

SPAfrica critiques extractivist practices and value creation using water as a model. In response to the incongruity of privately owned freshwater resources, despite the human right to clean drinking water, Hetzel questions the problematic mechanisms of empathy. SPAfrica offers a sustainable luxury product - sub-Saharan drinking water exported into Europe - as a contradictory yet sustainable alternative to the commodification of water by multinationals such as Nestlé, Unilever, and Coca-Cola. SPAfrica is the world's first ‘empathy drink’.

While provocative, Hetzel's projects are poetic, moving and humorous. With a tight visual language he brings complex moral, social and political dilemmas close to the audience. Julian Hetzel studied a decade ago with Ntando Cele at DAS Theatre. After his studies Hetzel settled his studio in Utrecht, Ntando Cele is developing her further projects in Switzerland. Two individuals, who focus their artistic practices on a critical approach towards their own communities: artists who constantly try to push us out of our comfort zone.

SPAfrica, like many earlier  productions by Studio Julian Hetzel, is a co-production with SPRING. Since the collaboration with Julian Hetzel started in 2014, several of his significant productions have been presented at SPRING. This year again, Julian works closely together with SPRING. Together with Ntando Cele, he is part of the Topic Talk between invitation and provocation

★★★★☆ in De Volkskrant


Julian Hetzel is a multidisciplinary artist who works in performance, music, and visual art. He explores the intersection of these disciplines with a political and documentary approach. Hetzel is the artistic director of Studio Julian Hetzel, based in Utrecht, which produces and realizes his works internationally. He has presented his work in over 20 countries worldwide and has been recognized with awards such as the VSCD-Mimeprijs in 2017 for The Automated Sniper (by Frascati productions and Ism & Heit). In 2019, SELF by Julian Hetzel was the Netherlands' national entry for the Prague Quadrennial. He is an associated artist at Art Centre CAMPO Gent (BE) and has received structural funding from Fonds Podiumkunsten (FPK) and the City of Utrecht since 2021.

Ntando Cele was born in South Africa and is based in Bern, Switserland. She studied acting in Durban and also attended DasArts in Amsterdam. Her work overturns the borders between Physical Theatre, video installation, concert and performance. She combines music, text and video to recreate her own identity on the stage.

Concept: Julian Hetzel and Ntando Cele

Direction: Julian Hetzel

Performance: Ntando Cele

Dramaturgy: Miguel Angel Melgares

Artistic advisor: Sodja Lotker, Khanyisile Mbongwa

Music & composition: Frank Wienk

Light design: Nico de Rooij

Technical coordination: Cesco van der Zwaag, Martijn van Nunen

Technicians: Bea Verbeek, Simon Kelaita

Technical solutions: Merijn Versnel, Guido Bevers

Production coordinator: Marieke van den Bosch

Production Cape Town: Luca Evans

Galerist Cape Town: Mpilo Ngcukana

Production assistant: Jana Riese

Assistant costume designer: Merel van Erpers Roijaards

Mask artist: Carly Heathcote

Make-up artist: Julia Markow

Prop maker: Saskia Hartog

Video Documentation: Reynold Reynolds, Bongeka Ngcobo

Photography: Alexandra Masmanidi


Special thanks to the local hosts of the artist talk.


Produced by Studio Julian Hetzel, co-produced by Schauspiel Leipzig (DE), CAMPO Gent (BE), Theatre Vidy-Lausanne (CH), SPRING Performing Arts Festival Utrecht (NL), Auawirleben Festival, Bern (CH). 

With the support of: Performing Arts Fund (NL), City of Utrecht (NL), Fonds21 (NL), Vriendenloterij Fund (NL), Prins Bernhard Culture Fund (NL), Fentener van Vlissingen Fonds (NL), Onassis AiR Athens (GR), 16 on Lerotholi Gallery (ZA).



21/05/2023 20:30 tickets sold out cancelled Waiting list

22/05/2023 20:30 tickets sold out cancelled Waiting list

23/05/2023 20:00 tickets sold out cancelled Waiting list


€17,50 / €14,50


Theater Kikker Grote Zaal


SPRING 2023 


Duration: 90 minutes

Language: English with Dutch surtitles


Be careful: possible loud noise and strobic lights

Besides single tickets, SPRING also offers passe-partouts for the whole festival and daypasses for Fri 19, Sat 20, Sun 21, Fri 26, and Sat 27 May.


SPRING passe-partout