De Kleine Komedie is the oldest theatre in Amsterdam. Situated on the Amstel near the Halvemaansteeg, the building was built in 1786. It was called the Theatre Français sur l'Erwtemarkt on grounds previously purchased by the founders in 1784, the year performances began. In those days, the performances were often in French and modelled on a Parisian theater form that was very popular. Today the Kleine Komedie offers a stage for both upcoming and established Dutch talents.
History of the building
In 1784 Henry Hope
of Hope & Co.
purchased ground on the Amstel near the east side of the Halvemaansteeg in Amsterdam
, together with his fellow banker friends Balthazar Elias Abbema
, Pieter deSmeth, Henry Fizeaux, Jean Alexander Botereau, and Pieter Muilman. These were all very influential men of Amsterdam who had far reaching connections. Henry Fizeaux was a banker who had close ties with John Adams
and Benjamin Franklin
. He tried to raise funds for the American cause and shared revolutionary
sympathies, though merchant
tradition was to deny political preferences. The 'Patriotic
' or 'Anti-Orange' sympathies of the directors Henry Fizeaux
and Jean Alexander Botereau resulted in their stepping down in 1787 when the House of Orange
was re-established. Orangist Henry Hope
took over the running of the establishment until he fled the country before Napoleon
's army in 1794
Napoleon himself supported the Theatre Francais, and French opera's and plays were shown in the theatre well into the 19th century. Today the program is primarily in Dutch.