About us

Our foundation is respect, trust, and commitment. This goes for everything: the play and the people. We aim to create a safe place to learn, to grow as an actor and to enjoy every moment in the process. 

Our projects so far have been focused around the work of William Shakespeare. We feel his plays have everything; endless depth in text, truth, and humor. The workshops, currently, are the only place where we use contemporary text as well.

All of our shows have the same mission: To make the story come to life for the audience and to make them feel part of it in a uniquely accessible way.

A word from our director

“I have known that I wanted to be in theater since before I can remember. My grandmother told me that I performed ‘something’ on every-single-birthday. Whether it was playing the flute, singing or putting on any other kind of show, something was always to be expected. That urge to create never stopped.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been putting plays on stage with that never-ending passion. None of the projects I ever worked on were funded, so everyone always rolled up their sleeves and got to work. That makes for a special connection. My husband sewing costumes with the cast, my wedding garland was used in a show before we even got married, during kings day I always carry a list of props to the flea market and everyone in the cast comes up with stuff from everywhere to create our magic on stage. It’s very much a community thing to put on a show.”

Meet the Creatives Behind
Park Avenue Theater

Jo van der Meij

Artistic director

Jo is the heart of Park Avenue, she not only has a passion and love for Shakespeare and Theater but also for every single person she works with. From a short private lesson in her own time to help a player with stage fright to the altering of exercises during rehearsals to get the most out of an actor. Everyone feels heard and trusted when working with her.

Jo specializes in Shakespeare & Comedy and personal coaching of actors. She has directed and edited over twenty plays, and teaches at the Paul van Vliet Theater Academy in Scheveningen. She graduated from the ‘Amsterdam Theater Academy’ with her own show in 2009. Master classes at the renowned Stella Adler Acting Studio in New York followed and after a short period in London, working on small film projects, she was back in the Netherlands. She joined The Dutch Factory,  played (lead) roles in ‘Romeo & Juliet, MSND, and Richard III and has done a variety of other shows.

Karsten Baan

Production designer

Karsten can best be described as the man that can make something out of nothing. During the many years of collaborating with him, the budget wasn’t always on our side. But, where there is a will, there’s a way. Sets with trees, houses and magical tables as well as countless costumes were fabricated by him. We, as Park Avenue Theater are extremely grateful that together with Karsten we can create new worlds every single show.


Karsten graduated from both Kunst Cultuur (2005) and the Amsterdamse Theater Academie (2010). One of his many projects is the design and production of elaborate costumes for stilt-walking artists and as such his creations can often be admired at festivals. As an artist, he frequently works on one of his many side-projects such as D&D attributes, leather notebooks, belts, puppets for shows and many other things.

Janna van Leeuwen

In-house dramaturg

Story always comes first. Whatever part of the process, whether it be the script, the costume or the marketing, Janna’s focus begins and ends with the story. Her enthusiasm for the stories written by Shakespeare drives her forward in both her work for Park Avenue Theater, and outside of it. She brings her knowledge, creativity and energy to the community, always hoping to make everyone feel as exciting about the work as she is.

Janna has a Bachelor at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in film, creative writing, literature and Shakespeare adaptations. Expanding her expertise, she has taken courses in Commedia Dell’Arte at Arscomica in Reggio Emilia, Stage Combat at Bataille and Set Design at the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Arts in Dublin. Janna has been playing with Park Avenue Theater since 2017 and started working for the Creative Team in 2021. She focusses on the visualization and designs of posters, social media posts and general aesthetic, as well as writing blogs on the productions and techniques used within Park Avenue Theater.

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