Ivo van Hove
by John Cassavetes
directed by Ivo van Hove
dramaturge Thibaud Delpeut
translation Gerardjan Rijnders
set / light design Jan Versweyveld
costume design An D’Huys
video design Tal Yarden
sound design Thibaud Delpeut
with Barry Atsma, Roeland Fernhout, Hans Kesting, Alwin Pulinckx, Halina Reijn
direction assistance Lucas de Man, Tatiana Pratley (in stage)
set / light assistance Roel van Berckelaer
video assistance Rodrik Biersteker
co-production Prospero, Theâtre National De Bretagne / Rennes
Running time 1h 55’
Played in Dutch with Italian subtitles
Husbands, with Barry Atsma, Hans Kesting, Roeland Fernhout, Alwin Pulinckx and Halina Reijn, is based on John Cassavetes’ film and tells the story of ‘men in menopause’. Three friends in crisis, after the death of an old mutual friend, try to ease the grieving process with a trip to London, hoping to prove to themselves that they are still alive.
In London they hit the town, drinking and full of sexist banter, they pick up a couple of women. It is pure escapism – a male bonding session in the face of death. You can see their trip as a kind of adolescent excess, giving it a bitter-sweet note.
Ivo van Hove comments on the plot: “Husbands is a film which at first glance does not contain much drama. It sometimes seems like a series of fragments, in which each of the characters takes their turn on centre stage. But when reading the script, it struck me that there is a clear three-act structure after all. Husbands has a clear beginning, middle and end.
The story begins at the funeral of their friend. That is where we become familiar with the lives of the three friends in New York – we see them at home or at work. They live empty lives. The second act takes place on the flight to London. This is where they step into another world in which they are going to start living more adventurously. They do things they have never done before – they gamble and visit prostitutes. In the third act, two of them return home while the third stays in London. For two of them, the crisis passes and they go back to their families. For these two, their London adventure was just an intermezzo, a way of dealing with their grief. For the third, the escapade results in a definitive break with the past. But his future is unclear. For Cassavetes, there is nothing negative about this, because family meant a great deal to him. Here we see the human warmth of the cinematographer. What appeals to me about this is that the ending is still positive: Cassavetes shows that this is not about ‘Happiness’ with a capital ‘H’. On the contrary, it is about the small pleasures. For me, that is an important lesson in life. Looking back at the evolution of the characters, the story is rather like a kind of rite of passage”.
Van Hove’s earlier journeys into the world of Cassavetes proved his great affinity with this film-maker and he previously directed the internationally acclaimed Opening Night and Faces. However, Husbands is his ‘first true love’. As with the other productions, the translation comes from the pen of Gerardjan Rijnders. Husbands is an international co-production, part of the Prospero Project, for which only one director is selected each year. For this reason, the production will be shown exclusively in Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam and six major European theatres in Lisbon, Berlin, Rennes, Ličge, Modena and Tampere.
Ivo van Hove
Ivo van Hove
Theatre director Ivo van Hove has held central positions in Dutch-Belgian cultural life, first as the head of Het Zuidelijk Toneel in Eindhoven from 1990 to 2000 and from 2001 as general director of the Toneelgroep Amsterdam. This is the country's prime theatre company and the official municipal theatre company of Amsterdam. With an annual average of five new plays and over 350 performances, the company plays to audiences of 100.000 each year. Toneelgroep Amsterdam has been invited by international festivals such as RuhrTriennale, Wiener Festwochen, the Edinburgh Festival and Festival d'Avignon, and performs in The United States, Russia and Australia.
Van Hove’s international focus explains why well-known directors such as Christoph Marthaler, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Johan Simons and Thomas Ostermeier have joined the troupe as guest directors.
Along with his frequent guest directing at the New York Theatre Workshop, Van Hove has directed companies from the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, the Schaubuehne in Berlin and the Münchner Kammerspiele. He also staged opera at the Flemish Opera (Alban Berg’s Lulu and the complete Ring Cycle by Wagner). At La Monnaie in Brussels he directed Idomeneo by Mozart and in Amsterdam Janaceck’ Macropulous Case.
One can track back his world-class reputation to his leadership of the annual Holland Festival, at which he programmed international theatre, music, opera and dance from 1997 to 2004.
During the last years Van Hove has directed Rocco and his Brothers by Luchino Visconti and Teorema based on the work of Pier Paolo Pasolini (both in partnership with the Ruhrtriennale), Antonioni Project by Michelangelo Antonioni, Cries and Whispers by Ingmar Bergman, The Human Voice by Jean Cocteau, Summer Trilogy by Carlo Goldoni, And We'll Never Be Parted by Jon Fosse and The Russians! by Tom Lanoye, based on Tsjechow at the Toneelgroep Amsterdam. But also The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman (New York Theatre Workshop), The Misanthrope by Moličre (Schaubühne Berlin) and Ludwig II based on the work of Visconti (Münchener Kammerspiele).
This season (11/12) van Hove has directed The Miser by Moličre and John Cassavetes' Husbands as a European coproduction at the Toneelgroep Amsterdam and Edward II by Christopher Marlowe at the Schaubühne Berlin.