Ivo van Hove’s cultural highlights

Belgian theater director Ivo van Hove, 64, has been artistic director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, now Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, since 2001 A view from the bridge at Young Vic, Lazarus at King’s Cross Theater and Hedda Gabler at the national. He also directed the 2009 film Amsterdam and a number of operas such as Salomé by Richard Strauss and Wagner ring cycle. Van Hove’s adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s a little lifestarring 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

terminus longing, Phoenix Theatre, London, March 20th to May 6th

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

2. Restaurant

Jose, London SE1

When I work in London I always live in the same flat in my beloved South London. On Saturdays I like to go to José, an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant. Enjoy croquetas, pan con tomate and much more and don’t forget to drink a good glass of wine. It’s a tiny, cosy, homely place with just a few tables and a bar – like you’re in a village in Spain, or staying with a friend, where the chef prepares the food in a small open kitchen. It’s always full of people.

3. Movies

Close (dir Lukas Dhont)

This is one of the best films I’ve seen lately. The film begins as a tender portrait of an intense, innocent friendship between two inseparable boys. Then they start to adjust their behavior due to the bullying environment of their friends at school. And then a catastrophe happens. The storytelling is nuanced and understated, and the film is visually sophisticated and very cinematographic. It received a well-deserved nomination for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film. I have to admit that I cried three times watching it.

4. Dancing

Future Proche by Jan Martens

Jan Martens is the new star of contemporary dance. future proche begins with people in normal clothes entering the stage, who gradually turn out to be dancers. It is a masterfully imaginative choreography that deals with how to proceed in a world threatened by major issues such as war or the climate crisis. In one of the key scenes, dancers form a chain to bring in countless buckets of water to fill a huge tub, into which they dive, dive, and emerge reborn. A wonderful, hopeful ode to the power of togetherness.

5. Book

The Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain was the story of a boy living with his alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow. In The young mongoose We meet another boy in 1993. There are two stories: one of Mungo being escorted by two men to 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 submerges this in phenomenal descriptions of Glasgow. It’s a page turner: heartbreaking and poetic, perfectly balancing cruelty and beauty.

6. Music

Julius Ostman

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard from him until recently when a friend told me about him. Julius Eastman was a black, gay composer who died in 1990 at the age of 49. It’s really a pity that he is never mentioned as one of the founders of minimal music alongside Steve Reich and Philip Glass. He brings emotion to the genre. His music should be heard: it is ecstatic, sophisticated, fueled by an unstoppable inner fire. Some of my favorite pieces are gay guerrillas And The Sacred Presence of Joan D’Arc.

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