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Rave reviews in the international press and a stellar cast including Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Hans Kesting, Maria Kraakman, Marieke Heebink, Eelco Smits and Chris Nietvelt. A performance of almost six hours’ duration that does not flag for a second, partly because the audience is free to wander around the theatre, mingle with the actors, enjoy refreshments and interact via social media. This is Roman Tragedies, three Shakespeare plays melded together by Ivo van Hove to form a spectacular full-length examination of the workings of government and political intrigue. Take your place on the stage and let this astonishing multimedia show unfold around you.
Finally back in Amsterdam
Roman Tragedies was first presented as part of the 2007 Holland Festival. Since then, the Toneelgroep Amsterdam production has toured the world, playing to full houses in New York, Adelaide, London, Montréal, Vienna, Avignon, Quebec, Zurich and Barcelona. It now comes back to where it all began with the grand finale in Amsterdam’s Carré Theater.
The three Roman Tragedies reveal the political game in all its facets. Coriolanus takes place during the rise of the Roman Republic. The eponymous hero refuses to submit to the changed political constellation. He defies the masses and their new representatives and is banished. Ultimately he takes up arms against Rome, his own city. Julius Caesar acquires power because, by contrast, he is a virtuoso in manipulating the masses. A number of politicians fear the advent of a dictatorship and remove him in order to save the democracy, but by then it is already too late to reverse the changed political climate. In Antony & Cleopatra, global politics and the passionate love between the Roman Antony and the Egyptian Cleopatra become intertwined. Antony’s inner conflict between public responsibility and his heart’s desire leads to a bloodbath.
Ivo van Hove on Roman Tragedies
‘These are political dramas. They are not so much about human psychology, but consider the mechanisms which drive joint decisions: a political assassination, war, the retrenchment of ideas or complete capitulation. Roman Tragedies is a work which presents various opinions and standpoints alongside each other. It does not attempt to make any hard and fast statement about who is right or wrong, or which direction we should take. Shakespeare does not take sides.’
Not to be missed
Roman Tragedies is five and a half hours in duration and is presented in Dutch with English surtitles. Please note that the performance includes flashing lights and strobe effects. The audience is free to move around the auditorium throughout the non-stop performance. They can mingle with the actors and even venture behind the scenes. Refreshments are available and the production is live-streamed online (click here for audience reactions). Critics worldwide have given the production very strong reviews. ‘This is an exhilarating pleasure. Director Ivo van Hove gleefully reinvents these tragedies to make it seem as if Shakespeare finished writing the plays this morning. The final hour is about as good as theatre gets; combining astonishingly inventive stagecraft with glorious acting, raw as an open wound, totally invested and decidedly unpretty.’ - The Guardian *****
From William Shakespeare
Regie Ivo van Hove
Cast Hélène Devos, Fred Goessens, Janni Goslinga, Marieke Heebink, Hans Kesting, Hugo Koolschijn, Maria Kraakman, Chris Nietvelt, Frieda Pittoors, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Harm Duco Schut, Bart Slegers, Eelco Smits e.a.
Composition Eric Sleichim
Music Bl!ndman Drums: Yves Goemaere, Hannes Nieuwlaet, Ruben Cooman, Ward de Ketelaere
Translation Tom Kleijn
Dramaturgy Bart van den Eynde, Jan Pieter Gerrits, Alexander Schreuder
Scenography, lighting design Jan Versweyveld
Video Tal Yarden
Costumes Lies van Assche
Coproduction Holland Festival, De Munt/La Monnaie, Kaaitheater, Muziektheater Transparant, Bl!ndman
Production Toneelgroep Amsterdam