Toneelgroep Amsterdam: The Poster-Child of International Theatre

April-June 2017

XPO Magazine April-June 2017

In the last ten days, the Amsterdam-based theater group has performed in New York, Paris, and Moscow. He laughs, "you can't get any more international than that". Van Ransbeek specifies, "Three different productions, for three different countries. Otherwise our actors and production crew could never keep up". Van Ransbeek always accompanies TA when they perform abroad. That's his job. While the theater group's director, Ivo van Hove focuses on the artistic side of productions Van Ransbeek heads the international aspect, and isresponsible for developing its talent's program. Van Ransbeek laughs, "it's an ideal marriage, which allows Van Hove to focus his creativity".InternationalIn the last few years, despite the Dutch government's cutbacks in the cultural sector, theatre and concert attendance in the Netherlands was up 13% in 2015 in comparison to 2014. The Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reported that annual theatre attendance has progressively increased from 1.9 million in 1998 and reached a zenith in 2014 with 2.2 million attendees. Van Ransbeek confirms a significant growth of people attending TA's performances. In 2015, more than 120,000 people in the Netherlands attended one of their performances, and 40,000 abroad.TA is booming. One of the reasons can be attested to their international outlook on productions, which distinguishes them from other theatre groups in the Netherlands. Both Van Hove and Van Ransbeek travel extensively abroad and have an endless curiosity for foreign theatre. In season of 2016-2017 only, the group had performances in Paris, Seoul, Taipei, New York, Rome, Barcelona, and Moscow. Van Ransbeek points out that performing in the Dutch language is not an obstacle for foreign audiences. With the translated surtitles, they can still follow the dialogue on stage. In April the theatre group will stage 'Kings of War', an adaptionof William Shakespeare's 'Henry V', 'Henry VI' Parts I, II, & III, and 'Richard III'. It's the political drama of 'House of Cards' and 'Game of Thrones' all wrapped up into one, was last performed in New York City at the beginning of November, just a few days before the American elections. The New Yorker reviewed and called it, "The First Great Theatrical Work of the Trump Era". Van Ransbeek smiles, "for those who like binge watching and suspense, it's a must. Thursday evenings the performances have sur-titles in English.Van Ransbeek points out, "being international is not only 'selling' productions abroad like exporting tulips. It's also about learning from other theatre cultures and adapting new ideas and forms into our plays. It's an exchange from both sides". Van Hove stimulates working with young and talented foreign writers and directors including the Australian writer, actor, and director Simon Stone (1984), who broke through at the age of 30 on the international circuit, and the Broadway director Sam Gold (1978), who won a Tony in 2015 for the musical 'Fun Home'. It's a way of keeping the company's repertoire fresh. In 2015 guest director, Sam Gold staged Tennessee William's 'Glass Menagerie' in Dutch. Van Ransbeek argues, "In the US, contemporary American directorsare afraid of changing anything to the iconic play. The southern accents, the decors. It's ingrained in the American culture and is as American as apple pie". But in Amsterdam, Gold was forced to readapt it to transcend cultural boundaries and focus on the characters. Moreover, it had to be performed in Dutch, which was another hurdle for the New Yorker who doesn't understanda word of Dutch. In the end, the challenges gave him an entirely brand new perspective and allowed him to tell the same story with another twist. Van Ransbeek adds, "Now he is going to stage it with his new insights on Broadway next year, in English".Besides guest directors, Ivo van Hove also works with other companies and foreign actors. Van Ransbeek argues, "that has also added to the theatre company's popularity". In 2016 Van Hove won a Tony for 'A View from the Bridge' and directed David Bowie in 'Lazarus'. In 2015, Van Hove worked with Juliette Binoche who starred in Van Hove's 'Antigone', and in April 2017, the BAFTA-awarding winning and two-time Oscar nominee, Jude Law will perform in Van Hove's 'Obsession'. In November, Van Hove won the IJ Award of 2016, a prestigious accolade from the city of Amsterdam and accountant and audit giant Price Waterhouse Coopers forhis international contribution for socially, culturally, and economically furthering the development of Amsterdam.Social MediaVan Ransbeek believes that theatre has become popular in the last few years has a lot to do with the development of social media and on- demand TV. In an era with Facebook, Youtube, and Netflix when you can see anything you want alone, attending a performance in a theatre is a unique experience. It happens only once. No two performances are identical. The vibes and dynamics between the actors and audience for each performance are completely different. Van Ransbeek smiles, "sometimes I think audiences secretly hope that actors will forget a line or make a mistake just so they can say they witnessed that oneunique moment". Van Ransbeek supposes as people live more in a virtual world filled with technology, having real life experiences as in the theatre are only going to become more popular. He concludes, "People want to share theirexperiences with others".Kings of WarStadsschouwburg Amsterdam13-29 April, 2017Various dates, Thursday evenings with surtitling in English 

<< Back