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On the eve

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An autobiographical play by Eli Asser about the patients and carers of the Jewish psychiatric institution 'Het Apeldoornsche Bosch' on the eve of the deportation to Auschwitz. A play about his most dramatic war experience, more than half a century ago.

This play, about one of the most moving events in the history of Apeldoorn, premiered for the first time in Apeldoorn last season 2021-2022 and was an immediate success.  

The story must still be told, even or perhaps especially in this time. Moreover, not all of us are faced with such complicated choices in our lives… whether it concerns life or death, or the future of our (grand) children.  That is why the Jori Hermsen Productions Foundation, Theater Orpheus and Theater Vooropleiding Amersfoort are once again joining forces to bring this moving performance on tour in the 2022-2023 season.  

In October 2022 we will first visit several theaters in Israel. From April 2023 we want to tour in the Netherlands.

A digital registration of the performance is available on request.  

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"In On the eve, one of those patients plays the leading role: Aaron Waterman, one moment completely clear, the next moment talking to the dead, one moment lovingly, the next moment cynical and cold. A role that fits Bas Keijzer perfectly. was written, not in the least because he eagerly magnifies the gallows humor that is abundantly present in Asser's text. In his delusions Aaron thinks he has an illustrious past as an actor and revuester, which is emphatically brought to the stage during the performance. 'apprentice insane nurses' Matthieu and Barend is played sympathetically by Lester van Olffen and Peter Boven, just as Emma Remmelts (Judith) and Jessica Zeylmaker (Rosa) convincingly showcase their choices."

review Theater newspaper Henri Drost

00:00 / 00:53


You are a nurse in a Jewish psychiatric institution and you know that the German occupier is about to collect the patients for deportation to Auschwitz. What would you do? Flight or stay? Do you choose the security of your own life or do you give up that security for the safety of others?

On the eve of the Nazis clearing out the Jewish psychiatric facility, the nurses are faced with the choice of fleeing or accompanying the patients to an unknown destination. Comedy writer Eli Asser was one of the nurses. Together with his girlfriend, Eefje Croiset, he fled on 21 January 1943 from the Het Apeldoornsche Bosch institution. As well as approximately 150 other staff members and 80 patients. Nearly 1,300 patients, many of them children, and 50 nurses were deported to the Auschwitz death camp in appalling conditions. None of them have returned. Of the other deported personnel, probably only fourteen people survived the camps.  

The  performance is directed by Jori Hermsen. As a director, Hermsen built up a good relationship with the Asser family (daughter Joosje Asser and son David Asser) and in this way he got to know the family from close by, in addition to all the historical material. Through the conversations he found out what impact this dramatic event still has on the 2nd and even 3rd generation. As a result, in addition to the 5 existing roles, he added 1 character to the play: the granddaughter, in order to give voice to the generations that have survived and to create a link.  make to the present. She imagines it  importance of this story to the present generation.  In addition to a professional cast consisting of: Bas Keijzer, Jessica Zeylmaker, Lester van Olffen, Peter Boven, Emma Remmelts and Marjolein den Boer (internship), students from the Theater Vooropleiding Amersfoort play and dance in the play. They embody the wandering souls and teasing spirits in patient Aaron Waterman's mind.  

In the press



An education program and lesson letter are available for secondary schools with the performance. In this we discuss the performance on the basis of 4 themes: Flights, Safety, Friendship and Freedom. These aspects are constantly discussed in the play. They're also intertwined, as they were intertwined that last night for: 

-Eli Asser (Matthieu in the play)

-His girlfriend Eva Croiset (Judith in the play)

-His best friend Remi Frank (Barend in the play)

-And nurse / girlfriend Rosa

These themes are still current and will appeal to the students in their own way.  


Israel play period: October 2022

Playing period in the Netherlands: April to June 2023

Plays in: theater list stage

Duration: the piece consists of 2 parts of 60 min (excluding intermission)

Technical specifications: +/- 11 x 8 (wxd) + draw height 12m

Number of players on the floor: 6 actors and 8 ensemble members. 

Asking price: between 3000 and 4000 euros excluding 10% AR per performance. 

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Eli Asser writer

Elias (Eli) Asser (Amsterdam 1922 - 2019) was a screenwriter and lyricist. He often collaborated with Annie MG Schmidt and Harry Bannink. He gained public fame with MiMoZa, 't Schaep met de 5 pooten and Citroentje met sugar. In his last active years, after his heart attack, Asser devoted himself to work, in which his Jewish background played an important role. Then he also wrote On the Eve.

on photo: wedding photo Eli Asser and Eefje Croiset in 1945 


"With On the eve Eli Asser wrote a personal theater monument especially for the following generations. With his razor-sharp pen he navigates between humor and drama. Not afraid to go beyond reality and thus fathom the truth. Without their jump over the ditch, which he made together with his wife Eefje Croiset, there had never been a 2nd and 3rd generation Asser/Croiset. And the story could not have been presented so beautifully through this piece. Despite the fact that the right to exist triumphs, you can feel it guilt in every pore of the piece and the living dead sing “we're still here, hello!” On the Eve presents you with a human dilemma. Do you choose the security of your own life or
do you give up that security for the safety of others? What would you do? Flight or stay? A piece that I, as a director, like to sink my teeth into and, like Eli, want to reach new generations."

Jori Hermsen  Direction


Jori Hermsen (Zevenaar, 1983) is  a Dutch director, producer, actor and teacher. He  graduated from the acting course in Utrecht (HKU) in the direction of actor-theatre maker. After graduating, he mainly focused on directing. In 2006 he founded Theatergroep Sonja, where he produced and directed several performances until 2014. In 2015, Theatergroep Sonja transferred to the Jori Hermsen Productions foundation. Under this foundation he now produces and directs a lot of his own work. He also directs for other groups such as De Waterlanders.  For his performances, he draws on both new and existing theatrical repertoire, in which man's eternal search for something to hold on to is palpable. His productions are social, visual, poetic, musical and often moving.  


In addition to his work as a director, he is director / mentor / teacher at the 4-day  Theater Preparatory Course Amersfoort  and occasionally works as a freelance actor. He is currently working with Theater Orpheus  to a  new city company to be established in Apeldoorn. 


"I am proud to be in this piece. The underlying theme of On the Eve, fleeing or caring for the safety of others, gives a deeper meaning to the performance. I could not bring myself to go to Auschwitz or Westerbork, alone or with my family. Then I will really lose my footing, I already know that. I do think it is extremely important to pass on the stories of the war to my two children, because it is always said but it is also true: this must never happen again!”

Bas Keijzer actor 


Bas Keijzer (Schoonhoven, 1973) He knew from an early age that he wanted to become an actor. Since graduating from the drama school in Utrecht in 1999, Bas has been active as an actor in the theatre, film and television world. Bas played in various stage productions of the Horse Cathedral in Utrecht. He has also appeared at the Nationale Toneel and Bos Theater Productions. Bas was also seen for a long time in the musical show 'War Horse'. Until the end of July 2017 Bas played in the musical 'Ciske de Rat'.  In 2018 he played in the open-air performance 'Welstaat' in Frederiksoord.  He has already written films such as 'Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe' and 'De storm'. Bas Keijzer was featured in the film 'De Eetclub' in 2010 and in 'Bennie Stout' at the end of 2011. In 2012 we saw him in the cinema in 'Nova Zemlya' and 'Black Out'. In the latter film he was nominated for a Golden Calf for his role. He also participated in the films 'TIM', 'Resistance', 'Lucia de B.', 'Tonio' and 'Kleine IJtijd'. Bas also shows himself abroad with roles in the French film 'Gangsterdamn', the American production 'Kill Switch' and the Swedish television series 'Arne Dahl'.  The most recent film in which Bas plays is Kruimeltje/ and the battle for the Goldmine as crook Eduard.

In "On the eve" he plays the lead role  patient  Aaron Waterman.


"A story that is always topical, because unlike many performances about the Second World War, On the eve does not focus on heroic choices or admirable actions of resistance, but on the moral dilemma: at what moment do you choose to preserve oneself in the knowledge that the assisting others as long as possible leads to certain death?"

review Theater newspaper Henri Drost


Producers  Jori Hermsen Productions and Theater Orpheus

Directed by Jori Hermsen  

Text  Eli Asser

Game Bas Keijzer, Jessica Zeylmaker, Lester van Olffen, Peter Boven, Emma Remmelts and Marjolein den Boer

Ensemble Theater Preparatory Course Amersfoort

Scenography Trudy Hekman

costumes  Jessica  Zeylmaker

Lighting design Uri Rapaport

Choreography  Sophia van der Putten

Singing coaching Melissa Vos and Irene de Haan

Music  including Tonny Eyk and Erik Woltmeijer

Moderator fringe program/education  Beyke Goris, Elize Kuiper and Timo Lourens

Advices Joosje Asser and David Asser

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