‘What number of liters of blood do we’d like?’: Ita Ivo van Hove on 20 years of surprising theatergoers | Ivo van Hove

Ivo van Hovedirector: I am from a small village in Belgium. My mother and father wished me to be a lawyer and thought I’d by no means be a director. Artwork in Belgium is totally outdated: there isn’t a room for brand spanking new expertise, solely outdated crocodiles. Elsewhere, artwork and punk performances are taking place. The actor Dora van der Groen stated to go to the Netherlands as a result of I’ll lose years and not using a job in Belgium. I ran a theater within the south of the Netherlands after which took over Toneelgroep Amsterdam [which became Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA)] in 2001. After I got here to a giant establishment, I wish to respect custom but additionally innovate. I labored lots with my very own technology however determined that this could convey all ages collectively so we’ve got actors of their 20s and 70s. It is an actual ensemble – completely different opinions and experiences.

Marieke Heebinkactor: Amsterdam persons are recognized for talking up; Belgians are very well mannered. So there’s a type of tradition conflict. We have to get to know one another. An ensemble is sort of a working household – you see one another’s flaws.

And D’Huyscostume designer: I’ve been working with Ivo for 20 years. He typically has the identical individuals round him – it jogs my memory of Fassbinder or Fellini. You understand one another very effectively and there’s a very deep sensibility. Not solely in regards to the style however in regards to the character. I knew in a short time what he considered them.

Robert Ickewriter-directors: There’s something lovely about how the ensemble has grown collectively. They’re so desperate to make you’re feeling uncomfortable. You get depth, richness, braveness, confidence – and you do not get staleness. It is a dream orchestra to carry out.

Fantasy ... Halina Reijn in The Fountainhead.
‘The manufacturing is sort of a ritual’ … Halina Reijn in The Fountainhead. Picture: Tristram Kenton / The Guardian

Halina Reijnactor: After I was 13 I noticed certainly one of Ivo’s productions, Lulu, starring Chris Nietvelt. I wrote him a letter asking to hitch the corporate. He by no means wrote once more! It was my dream to hitch them however I used to be additionally scared, once I lastly did. It’s the largest firm in Amsterdam and the largest theater star. The hierarchy modified when Ivo arrived – he was a younger director and put in a distinct dynamic and gave younger actors a variety of house. Earlier than it was super-intimidating.

Ivo van Hove: An ensemble is a variety of work. It isn’t straightforward and it takes cash. We pay the actors each month and are very loyal to them.

Hans Kestingactor: If you happen to work with a bunch of like-minded individuals, there isn’t a mistrust, no worry of creating errors. We work quicker. Ivo made the ensemble a extra skilled group and elevated it to a global touring theater firm.

Marie Heebink: Touring could be very demanding. Earlier than Covid, virtually each few months we went someplace new – Tokyo, Singapore, New York, London.

Four hours of war ... Age of Rage.
4 hours of warfare … Age of Rage. Picture: Jan Versweyveld

Ivo van Hove: We went all over the place so we determined to convey our personal cook dinner. Worldwide journey is a part of our identification. It’s not for nothing that we now name ourselves ITA. Our objective is to make the perfect theater on this planet – that is why the bookers are there, the advertising individuals, the actors.

Jan Versweyveldstage designer: I really like that we’ve got two lovely homes the place we work. One among Amsterdam’s theaters, the Stadsschouwburg, was constructed on the finish of the nineteenth century. Then we had the chance to develop a second theater which took 10 years. It isn’t a straightforward house – it is fairly large, fairly open. It takes some expertise to actually get the advantages.

In D’Huys: With an ensemble, you already know the physique of the actors. I see how they transfer. Actors should dwell in costumes that have to be like a second pores and skin. We use video projection on stage so you already know about equipment and particulars. I am answerable for make-up however we wish to see small wrinkles and sweat as an alternative. With Ivo it is about homicide, blood, aggression … I ask: what number of liters of blood do we’d like? We have now three spare costumes for every actor however generally that is not sufficient.

A show ... Marieke Heebink and Chris Nietvelt in Roman Tragedy.
A present … Marieke Heebink and Chris Nietvelt in Roman Tragedy. Picture: Tristram Kenton / The Guardian

Halina Reyn: If you happen to do one of many performs that lasts just a few hours you actually undergo it! However nothing compares – I miss it a lot now that I’ve left the ensemble. The present is in regards to the essence of life – so if you happen to face dying or love personally then you definitely go on stage and provides your personal emotions. It goes deeper than sending a line. The manufacturing is sort of a ritual or an exorcism.

Ivo van Hove: Each director is completely different and works in numerous methods. Simon McBurney, for instance, makes use of improvisation. My firm was very open when he got here right here – it is in his DNA to be that manner.

Experiment ... Ivo van Hove.
‘I by no means take into consideration the viewers till the final day earlier than we carry out’ … Ivo van Hove. Picture: Dave Bennett/Getty Photographs

Jan Versweyveld: We at all times attempt to dig deep into the fabric and discover connections to present instances and concepts. Firstly of the manufacturing we took the ensemble and led them into a brand new venture. The primary time we spoke about it, everybody was invited and we gave a visible presentation.

Marie Heebink: After we begin coaching, Jan reveals us the association and says to have a sniff round. The primary actually good manufacturing I used to be in was a Roman Tragedy. This isn’t only a large stage however an occasion – the viewers sits subsequent to us and eats.

Halina Reyn: Ivo has made stage variations of many movies: Antonioni, Visconti, Cassavetes. He at all times stated you should not watch motion pictures. However too tempting! And so intriguing to see what he did with them. Ivo was one of many first to make use of video in a profound manner on stage. The video designer Tal Yarden is an absolute genius. It is a strategy to break via conventional theater expectations. I used the digicam on stage for Grief Turns into Electra – Ivo based mostly his idea on Capturing the Friedmans, a terrifying documentary a few household that takes movies of one another’s houses.

Jan Versweyveld: Within the first conceptual section of manufacturing we determined to make use of video and the design began from that. I exploit a mannequin field: This fountainhead is virtually developed in a mannequin field by placing it on a chunk of paper after one other. Ivo will not be all in favour of fashions – he thinks they restrict his creativeness.

Ivo van Hove: I by no means take into consideration the viewers till the final day earlier than we carry out. Then I sit again and attempt to act like them. If you happen to do this from the beginning you possibly can’t be artistic since you’re censoring your self – it is too loud, too large. I’d by no means make Age of Rage if I believed in regards to the viewers. It was 4 hours of warfare.

Gaite Jansen and Gijs Scholten Van Aschat in After Rehearsal at the Barbican, London, in 2017.
Using in-depth video … Gaite Jansen and Gijs Scholten Van Aschat in After Train on the Barbican, London, in 2017. Picture: Tristram Kenton / The Guardian

Hans Kesting: That is an exhausting manufacturing that asks of you. I performed Mark Antony in Roman Tragedies and Richard III in Kings of Struggle. A giant function. You are virtually in awe of them while you step on stage. We imagine in Ivo and the place we wish to go along with him. He nonetheless has a variety of hearth and anger however has calmed down in his presentation. Good actors work with him, higher actors work higher with him.

Robert Icke: Actors combat one another like household. They aren’t afraid of one another. You give them a scent and so they take off like a pack of wolves onto the scene. They’re at all times on the lookout for methods to make it extra visceral.

Halina Reyn: I discover appearing and all the pieces that comes with it to be super-scary and embarrassing and annoying. However Ivo creates a really clear context the place you may be free. He would not choose any character. He merely holds up a mirror and makes the viewers witness his personal habits.

Draining ... Kings of War at the Barbican in 2016.
Draining … Kings of Struggle on the Barbican in 2016. Picture: Tristram Kenton / The Guardian

Robert Icke: I did Oedipus in 2018 with Hans and Marieke. I write the translated English script – they act and speak in Dutch and I in English. It has the potential to be very isolating however I adore it.

In D’Huys: Earlier than my first assembly with Ivo, for Othello, I ready many drawings however they didn’t take greater than 5 minutes. Ivo knew what he wished.

Hans Kesting: There’s a lengthy monologue, “Mates, Romans, countrymen”, in Julius Caesar. I believed it might be a protracted and tough course of to follow however we did it in 20 minutes. Increase. Now we do [Hanya Yanagihara’s novel] A Little Life. Assume: how may you flip that guide, with that graphic scene, right into a stage manufacturing? Ivo’s concept was to let me play all of the dangerous guys within the story – I included the dangerous ones. After I bought older, once I performed darkish characters in his performs – and there have been lots of them – I had darker goals. It does issues for you.

Robert Icke: Someday in Oedipus, Hans stated to me in entrance of everybody, “It is a good speech, however I feel it might be higher if it was an awesome speech!” I used to be like: You’re fairly proper, I’ll give it again. His fixed objective is to provide an impressive manufacturing that may play for 10 years and grow to be one of many reveals that exist around the globe.

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