In Avignon, Ivo van Hove staged the “Proust Dutch”

À Avignon, Ivo van Hove met en scène le «Proust hollandais»

Photo: Boris Horvat Agence France-Presse
Director prolific, with hundreds of productions for theatre and opera, Ivo van Hove is the artistic director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the largest troupe of the netherlands.

Very few have heard of Louis Couperus. Until Ivo van Hove, one of the masters of the european theatre, decides to adapt a novel by this author of the Dutch on the drama of a family in a state of decomposition.

A matriarch who has killed her husband with the help of her lover, 60 years ago is at the heart of the plot of De Dingen die Voorbijgaan (” The things that pass “), presented at the Festival d’avignon.

“It is a play about the inevitability of a Greek tragedy to contemporary,” says the director of the belgian in 2016 had caused a sensation with another fresco of the family in nazi Germany, in The damned by Luchino Visconti.

The terrible secret is not really one, since the whole family, from children to grandchildren, and suffers the consequences.

“Everyone knows what happened, but nobody speaks of this trauma. What are the ” things that go “, but in fact they do not pass “, because the members of the family are caught by the secret decades later, writes the artist 59-year-old.

Oppressive atmosphere

If Ivo van Hove has been compared several times Louis Couperus (1863-1923) Marcel Proust, staging, it, is worthy of a drama heavy of Federico García Lorca, as in The house of Bernarda Alba, where the 15 characters are dressed in black, wearing a mourning perpetual.

Asceticism scenographic — chairs lined up on both sides of a large room, a mirror in which the audience sees its reflection, the sound of a metronome, a carillon and a clock in the background noise — goes hand in hand with a text frozen.

“The family has lasted long enough “, stated one of the characters at the beginning of the piece which lasts a little over two hours, with surtitles in French.

The members of this family have trouble accepting their age — young actors embody of septuagenarians and octogenarians, while the thirty-somethings give up their ambitions.

The oppressive atmosphere and austere, is interrupted only by a single scene in which we see the newly married Lot and Elly during their honeymoon in Italy and then in Nice stripping and spraying of champagne, and even Whipped cream.

“The South Couperus has always been the freedom, the joy, and to the North, this is Holland, the cold, the calvinism, the sexual desires are frustrated,” said Ivo van Hove on Sunday during a press conference in Avignon.

Desires are impossible

Couperus sharing with Proust, Oscar Wilde or Thomas Mann, to whom he is also compared, having been a writer and a homosexual.

“It was at a time when he could not write publicly on this topic, because otherwise it was jail. He has always hidden, but he wrote about the desires which are impossible [to achieve] “, stressed the director.

For him, the character of the Lot, separated from his wife at the end of the room, “has a link with the own life of Couperus” who has struggled to live his homosexuality without guilt.

“This has perhaps not changed much “, says Ivo van Hove, who is openly gay.

Director prolific with a hundred productions in the theatre and the opera, Ivo van Hove is the artistic director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the largest troupe of the netherlands, the actors have delivered a brilliant game throughout the room.

For him, this company is a ” laboratory theatre “. “I can do whatever I want and take risks, otherwise there is no evolution. “