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Demissionary Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven visits theatre experience Mindlab online

The moment we had been waiting for arrived on Wednesday evening 2 June: the Mindlab theatre performance could be viewed online by employees of the University of Twente for the second time. Demissionary Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) Ingrid van Engelshoven was among them: "Impressive, what a beautiful piece, and what a good initiative this is," she said in the conversation with TheaterMakers Radio Kootwijk, Rector Tom Veldkamp, initiator Ellen Giebels (vice dean of Research at the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences) and other employees of the University of Twente.

From the theatre to an online platform

It all started last year. In February 2020, Mindlab — the theatre piece that gets at the heart of science — premiered. Mindlab encourages us to reflect on and discuss the dilemmas, dreams, and doubts that every university employee sometimes faces. The production, initiated by Ellen Giebels, was created by TheaterMakers Radio Kootwijk in collaboration with Utrecht University and funded by Sociaal Fonds voor de Kennissector (social fund for the knowledge sector - SoFoKles). In February and March of last year, Mindlab performed six times for employees in the Vrijhof, the theatre on the UT campus. More than six hundred employees saw the performance at that time. Mindlab was then supposed to go on tour, with Utrecht University among its stops along the way, and would then return to do four more shows for UT staff. However, the coronavirus pandemic prevented that from happening. That is why UT developed Mindlab Online at the beginning of this year: an immersive registration of the theatre production. Mindlab Online takes you into the world of academia, but from the comfort of your own home.

“Changing culture doesn’t happen overnight. But we're taking important steps. And Mindlab helps with this — just like our Active Bystander training programme. Mindlab makes it easier to talk to each other about difficult subjects." - Tom Veldkamp, Rector Magnificus

Mindlab inspires and makes you think

Mindlab is a powerful source of inspiration for everyone who works at the university — for everyone who puts their heart and soul into sharing a large part of their life at the university. Mindlab holds a mirror up to you. Walter Supèr, director at TMRK: "And yes, it can sometimes be a bit of a bumpy and uncomfortable ride, but that's necessary in order to make change. Mindlab makes an impression, even online. The reactions of employees in the online follow-up discussions demonstrate this: “Fantastic, realistic, creepy” and “Food for thought”. Winnie Dankers, teacher: "Wow, that hit home. Everything was so recognisable, except for the names of the characters.” Demissionary Minister Van Engelshoven hopes that “Mindlab can serve as a powerful stimulus for all initiatives taken — in the Netherlands and in Europe — to recognise and reward the work of academics more widely.”

Travel through the world of science

Mindlab Online will be screened one more time (for now) for UT staff, on 8 June. We hope that Mindlab can be seen “live” again in the autumn — for employees of Utrecht University and elsewhere. Of course, we hope that Mindlab will eventually become a source of inspiration for everyone working in the academic world, so that we can continue to talk and work together on what we consider important in our work. Initiator Ellen Giebels concludes: “It is so nice to see that Mindlab is doing what I had in mind: people are talking to each other more, listening to each other, and taking action. I'm really noticing that. I am glad that Mindlab will be shown at other universities later this year, such as Utrecht University.”

More information

On www.utwente.nl/mindlab you can read all about Mindlab.


drs. L. Pasqual - van der Landen (Linda)
Communication advisor