Drive to experiment


The Flemish director Ivo van Hove – together with his permanent designer Jan Versweyveld – often uses the theatre auditorium as his raw material. Since his appointment as artistic director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam in 2001, he has turned the Stadsschouwburg theatre of Amsterdam inside out. Besides his thematic preference for doomed love affairs and oppressive passions, he continues to experiment with form, using unusual audience seating arrangements and installation-type decors, as, for example, in Koppen, where the audience was seated on beds, or Splendid’s where the audience was free to walk around among the actors. And for Perfect Wedding he turned the entire auditorium into one enormous stage. The pinnacle of this development thus far was Romeinse Tragedies (Roman Tragedies), based on Shakespeare’s Roman plays, a continuous, six-hour-long marathon during which the audience was free to move around the auditorium and the stage. At the moment much of Van Hove’s work is outside the Netherlands.