In Memoriam

Winner Erasmus Prize 2014 Frie Leysen (1950-2020) has passed away

It is with great sorrow that the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has learnt of the death, on 22 September, of theatre-maker Frie Leysen. She received the Erasmus Prize in 2014 for her contribution to the theme ‘Theatre, audience and society’. Frie Leysen was honoured as a ‘fearless champion of the performing arts, who contributes to innovation in international theatre’. Throughout her career Leysen was a vigorous advocate of unknown theatre-makers, driven by her own artistic curiosity coupled with a desire to give audiences a special experience. She also worked tirelessly to provide a platform for non-Western theatre productions in Europe.

The acceptance speech delivered by Leysen upon accepting the Erasmus Prize in 2014 acquired legendary status in the theatre and art world. In her impassioned speech she broke with protocol by directly addressing His Majesty the King. ‘Do we realize exactly what we are losing in this climate of shifting to the right, nationalism and commercialization? Your Majesty, your country has become a place where the arts can hardly breathe any longer.’ Read the whole speech here.