Mindlab: A theatre performance that touches at the heart of science and academia

At Utrecht University, we want employees to feel at home, we want people to be committed to one another and we want there to be room for development, interaction, knowledge sharing and open debate. That is why we want to engage with you about what makes a comfortable and safe working environment, how to work on achieving that environment together – and what everyone’s responsibility is in this. The Mindlab theatre performance aimed to facilitate that dialogue and create an environment in which dilemmas can be discussed openly and there is room for open discussion.

‘You’re not who you think you are. You are what you do.’

About Mindlab

Mindlab goes to the very heart of science and academia and deals with fact-finding, value and truthfulness within the institution of ‘the university’. It is a science fiction thriller that could happen to all of us if we were to dare to live our own truth as well as the impact of our actions with complete transparency. What happens once cognitive dissonance reduction has left our mind... Veni, Vidi, Vici? 


Impressive and confronting – as it contains so many relatable aspects. On top of that, it’s just a wonderful piece of theatre to experience. It’s something special – after a long time during which it was not possible to attend performances due to the pandemic.

Mindlab at Utrecht University

The actors of the Mindlab show portray that they do not hear, see or say anything.
Photo from the performance

The performance was developed by TheaterMakers Radio Kootwijk and was in part based on interviews with staff members of the University of Twente and Utrecht University. Early 2020 the performance premiered with tremendous success, with guests from Twente and Utrecht. The performance was put on at the Parnassos Cultural Center theatre for University Utrecht staff from October 2021. After the performance, there was time for a follow-up discussion in the Mindlab café. All performances in Utrecht have been presented now. Many of the UU staff attended one of the performances and it was a great success. Audience responses ranged from 'impressive' and 'it really does trigger you to reflect and have discussions with people' to 'very relatable' and 'gripping'.

Reactions to the performance

If you are curious about audience responses to the performance, you can watch the video clip to see what the performance stirred up among the employees of Utrecht University.

Why Mindlab?

These performances are intended to help facilitate discussions on what constitutes a safe and inspiring environment within the university and how we can realise that vision together: how should we teach, provide leadership, conduct research, ensure a safe work environment – and what is everyone's responsibility in this? Mindlab is a performance that fits in seamlessly in a zeitgeist of reflection and reorientation, with greater focus on the impact of our work, appreciation of diversity in careers, a safe study and working environment and, above all, greater focus on collaboration. 

Mindlab is not an end point, but rather serves to help shape the envisaged follow-up process. By having conversations and using anonymous input, we will be able to explore what is required to create a comfortable and safe work environment at the level of the individual, the team and the organisation. In this way, we will be strengthening the open living and working environment of the university as one.