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“What number of liters of blood do we want?”: Ivo van Hove’s ITA in 20 years of stunning theatergoers | Ivo van Hove

Ivo van Hovedirector: I come from a small village in Belgium. My mother and father wished me to be a lawyer and thought I might by no means earn a cent as a director. Artwork in Belgium was completely quaint: there was no room for brand new expertise, solely the outdated crocodiles. Elsewhere, efficiency and punk occurred. The actor Dora van der Groen mentioned to go to the Netherlands as a result of I might lose a number of years with out having 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 come to a big establishment, I prefer to honor custom but additionally innovate. I had labored quite a bit with my very own era however determined that this may be an all-ages assembly so we’d have actors of their 20s and 70s. It is an actual ensemble – totally different opinions and experiences.

Marieke Heebinkactor: Amsterdammers are recognized to resign; Belgians are very well mannered. So it was a sort of tradition conflict. We needed to get to know one another. An ensemble is sort of a working household – you see one another’s flaws.

And D’Huyscostume designer: It has been 20 years since I’ve labored with Ivo. He typically has the identical individuals round him – it jogs my memory of Fassbinder or Fellini. You understand one another so properly and there’s a sensitivity that runs very deep. It isn’t nearly style however about his characters. I do know in a short time what he thinks about them.

Robert Ickescreenwriter-director: There’s something lovely about how the ensemble has grown collectively. They’re so diligent about not getting snug. You get depth, richness, bravery, confidence – and you do not get staleness. It’s a dream orchestra to conduct.

‘The productions are like rituals’ … 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 and requested to affix the corporate. He by no means wrote again! It was my dream to affix them however I used to be additionally scared after I lastly did. They have been the largest firm in Amsterdam with the largest theater stars. The hierarchy modified when Ivo got here – he was a younger director and put in a unique dynamic and gave younger actors numerous area. Earlier than that it was tremendous scary.

Ivo van Hove: An ensemble is numerous work. It isn’t simple and it prices cash. We pay the actors each month and are very loyal to them.

Hans Kestingactor: For those who work with the identical group of individuals, there isn’t any distrust, no concern of creating errors. We work a lot sooner. Ivo made the ensemble a way more skilled group and elevated it to a world touring theater firm.

Marie Heebink: The event could be very demanding. Earlier than Covid, nearly each two months we have been someplace new – Tokyo, Singapore, New York, London.

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

Ivo van Hove: We stroll in all places so we determined to deliver our personal chef. Worldwide touring is a part of our id. It’s not for nothing that we now name ourselves ITA. Our aim is to make one of the best theater on this planet – that is why the bookkeeper is there, the advertising and marketing individuals, the actors.

Jan Versweyveldstage designer: I really like that we have now two lovely properties the place we work. One among our theaters in Amsterdam, 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 area – it is fairly giant, fairly open. It takes some expertise to actually profit from it.

In D’Huys: With an ensemble, you already know the our bodies of the actors. I see how they transfer. The actor has to stay within the costume which needs to be like a second pores and skin. We use video projections on stage so you might be conscious of equipment and particulars. I am chargeable for the make-up, however we prefer 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 want? We’ve got three additional costumes for every actor however typically that is not sufficient.

An event ... Marieke Heebink and Chris Nietvelt in the Roman tragedies.
An occasion … Marieke Heebink and Chris Nietvelt within the Roman tragedies. Picture: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Halina Reyn: Whenever you do one of many performs that final a number of hours, you actually undergo it! However there’s nothing that compares – I miss it a lot now that I’ve left the ensemble. The exhibits are in regards to the essence of life – so in the event you’re coping with dying or love privately, you get on stage and provides your personal emotions. It is a lot deeper than delivering a line. The productions are like rituals or exorcisms.

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

Experimental … Ivo van Hove.
“I by no means take into consideration the viewers till the final days earlier than we carry out” … Ivo van Hove. Picture: Dave Bennett/Getty Photos

Jan Versweyveld: We all the time attempt to dig deep into the fabric and discover a connection to our time and present concepts. Firstly of a manufacturing, we take the ensemble and lead them into the brand new mission. The primary time we discuss it, everyone seems to be invited and we give a visible presentation.

Marie Heebink: Once we begin rehearsing, Jan exhibits us the set and tells us to smell round. The primary actually huge manufacturing I used to be in was the Roman tragedies. It wasn’t simply an enormous stage, it was an occasion – the viewers sat subsequent to us and ate.

Halina Reyn: Ivo has carried out stage variations of so many movies: Antonioni, Visconti, Cassavetes. He all the time mentioned that you simply need not watch films. But it surely’s too tempting! And so thrilling to see what he does with them. Ivo was one of many first to make use of video in such a profound method on stage. Video designer Tal Yarden is an absolute genius. It’s a method of breaking by conventional theater expectations. I used a digicam on set for Mourning Turns into Electra – Ivo based mostly his idea on Capturing the Friedmans, the chilling documentary a couple of household who took dwelling movies of one another.

Jan Versweyveld: Within the first conceptual part of a manufacturing, we resolve whether or not to make use of video and the design relies on that. I exploit mannequin packing containers: Fountainhead was developed virtually within the mannequin field by placing in a single paper after one other. Ivo isn’t involved in fashions – he believes they restrict his creativeness.

Ivo van Hove: I by no means take into consideration the viewers till the previous few days earlier than we carry out. Then I sit and attempt to behave like them. For those who do it from scratch, you may’t be inventive since you’re censoring your self—that is too loud, too huge. I by no means would have made Age of Rage if I had thought in regards to the viewers. It is 4 hours of conflict.

Gaite Jansen and Gijs Scholten Van Aschat in After the Rehearsal at the Barbican, London, 2017.
Thorough use of video … Gaite Jansen and Gijs Scholten Van Aschat in After the Rehearsal on the Barbican, London, 2017. Picture: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Hans Kesting: These are draining productions that demand quite a bit from you. I performed Mark Antony in Roman Tragedies and Richard III in Kings of Struggle. Big roles. You might be nearly in awe of them while you go on stage. We belief Ivo and the place to go together with him. He nonetheless has numerous hearth and fury however has calmed down in his presentation. Good actors work properly with him, lesser actors do higher with him.

Robert Icke: The actors combat with one another as a household. They don’t seem to be afraid of one another. You give them the scent they usually stroll like a pack of wolves into the scene. They’re all the time in search of methods to make it extra visceral.

Halina Reyn: I discover the performing and every thing that comes with it tremendous creepy and embarrassing and annoying. However Ivo creates a really clear context the place you could be free. He doesn’t choose any character. He simply holds up a mirror and makes the viewers a witness to his personal habits.

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

Robert Icke: I did Oedipus in 2018 with Hans and Marieke. I had written an English script that was translated – they acted and spoke to one another in Dutch and to me in English. It had the potential to be deeply alienating however I cherished it.

In D’Huys: Earlier than my very first assembly with Ivo, for Othello, I ready plenty of drawings but it surely did not take greater than 5 minutes. Ivo is aware of what he desires.

Hans Kesting: There’s a lengthy monologue, “Associates, Romans, Countrymen,” in Julius Caesar. I believed it could be a protracted, tough course of to rehearse however we did it in 20 minutes. Increase. Now we do [Hanya Yanagihara’s novel] A small life. I believed: how might you flip that e book, with these graphic scenes, right into a stage manufacturing? Ivo’s thought was to have me play all of the villains within the story – I embody the evil. As I become old, after I play a darkish character in his performs – and there are a lot of of them – I’ve darker desires. It does one thing to you.

Robert Icke: Someday at Oedipus, Hans mentioned to me in entrance of everybody, “That is an OK speech however I feel it could in all probability be higher if it was an excellent speech!” I believed: You are completely proper, I am going to attempt once more. Their fixed aim is to make one other nice manufacturing that may play for 10 years and be a kind of exhibits that goes all over the world.

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