The cultural highlights of Ivo van Hove

Belgian theater director Ivo van Hove, 64, has been the artistic director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, now Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, since 2001. His “minimalist maximalist” productions include the Tony and Olivier-winning A view from the bridge at the Young Vic, Lazarus at the King’s Cross Theater and Hedda Gabler at the National. He also directed the 2009 film amsterdam and several operas such as Salome by Richard Strauss and Wagner ring cycle. Van Hove’s adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara A little lifewith James Norton and Omari Douglas, is at the Harold Pinter Theater from March 25 to June 18 and at the Savoy Theater from July 4 to August 5.

1. Theater

A streetcar named Desire, Phoenix theatre, London, March 20-May 6

It’s a must see, directed by the wonderful Rebecca Frecknall [which I saw at the Almeida theatre]. The audience was seated around a bare stage and actors were entering from all sides all the time. This created a claustrophobic atmosphere; you could smell the sweat of the actors. It was an intense environment for the clash between southern belle Blanche DuBois and her sister Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski. The highlight of the evening was the visceral and magnetic performance of Paul Mescal: he makes us forget the brilliant Marlon Brando and shows us Stanley as a man of the working class, a Polish immigrant who has to fight (literally) for a job in the States -United. .

2. Catering

Jose, London SE1

When I work in London I always stay in the same flat in my beloved South London. On Saturdays, I like to go to José, an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant. Taste the croquetas, pan con tomate and much more, and don’t forget to accompany it with a good glass of wine. It’s a cosy, warm little place with just a few tables and a bar – like being in a village in Spain, or a guest at a friend’s house where the cook prepares the meal in a small open kitchen. It’s always full of people.

3. Film

Close (dir Lukas Dhont)

It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen lately. The film begins as a tender portrait of an intense and innocent friendship between two inseparable young boys. Then they begin to adapt their behavior due to the bullying environment of their friends at school. And then disaster strikes. The storytelling is nuanced and understated, and the film is visually polished and very cinematic. It received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best International Feature Film. I have to admit I cried three times watching it.

4. Dance

Near Future by Jan Martens

Jan Martens is the new star of contemporary dance. Near future begins with the appearance of people wearing ordinary clothes, who gradually turn out to be dancers. It is a masterfully inventive choreography, dealing with the way forward in a world threatened by major issues, such as war or the climate crisis. In one of the key scenes, the dancers form a chain to bring countless buckets of water and fill a gigantic tub, in which they dive, immerse themselves and come out again. A wonderful and hopeful ode to the power of unity.

5. Book

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie bath was the story of a boy who lives with his alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow. In Young Mungo we meet a different boy, in 1993. There are two stories: one of Mungo accompanied by two men in a lake in the Highlands to make him more “manly”, and the other a love story between the Protestant Mungo and the Catholic James. Stuart bathes this in phenomenal descriptions of Glasgow. It’s a page turner: harrowing and poetic, perfectly balancing cruelty and beauty.

6. Music

Jules Eastman

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of him until recently when a friend told me about him. Julius Eastman was a black and gay composer who died in 1990 at just 49 years old. It’s a shame he’s never mentioned as one of the founders of minimal music alongside Steve Reich and Philip Glass. He brings emotion to the genre. People should listen to his music: it is ecstatic, refined, carried by an unstoppable inner fire. Some of my favorite pieces are gay guerrilla And The Holy Presence of Joan of Arc.

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