House Logo
Explore categories +

Park Avenue Armory (#110 of 6)

Interview: Ivo van Hove on Adapting Visconti’s The Damned for the Stage

Comments Comments (...)

Interview: Ivo van Hove on Adapting Visconti’s The Damned for the Stage

Jan Versweyveld

Interview: Ivo van Hove on Adapting Visconti’s The Damned for the Stage

There are no half measures with Ivo van Hove. Whether he’s revisiting modern classics like Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge and The Crucible, or premiering David Bowie’s musical Lazarus, you can expect riveting—and in some instances controversial—theater fare from the Belgian-born director. So there’s great anticipation for his latest New York production: an epic staging of The Damned at the Park Avenue Armory, which runs from July 17 to 28.

The production, created for the Comédie-Française theater in Paris, premiered two summers ago at the Festival d’Avignon and is adapted from the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the 1969 film by Italian auteur Luchino Visconti. An operatic tale of decadence and greed, The Damned recounts the internecine struggles and disintegration of the powerful von Essenbeck family as they collude with the rising Nazi regime in 1930s Germany.

Hailed as a visionary, and sometimes dismissed as a provocateur, van Hove is currently in great demand in theater capitals across the globe. His upcoming international projects include the world-premiere stage adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, opening in September at the Toneelgroep Amsterdam, van Hove’s home-theater base; a new adaptation of All About Eve, set to premiere next February in London’s West End; and Électre/Oreste, a combination of two Euripides plays that will be presented next Summer at the ancient Epidaurus theater in Greece. And it’s just been announced that van Hove will helm a new interpretation of the classic American musical West Side Story, slated for Broadway at the end of next year.

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with van Hove and talk about the experience of bringing new life to Visconti’s provocative The Damned.

Review: Macbeth at Park Avenue Armory

Comments Comments (...)

Review: <em>Macbeth</em> at Park Avenue Armory
Review: <em>Macbeth</em> at Park Avenue Armory

The Macbeth now playing at the Park Avenue Armory, co-directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, achieves a remarkable theatrical feat: It makes the experience of entering and exiting the theater more exciting than watching the play itself. That’s not to say that this latest interpretation of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play, in which Branagh plays the titular tyrant, isn’t full of swashbuckling excitement, frightening depictions of murder and madness, and performers at the limits of their vocal and physical capacities. But these are the hallmarks of Macbeth in the modern age, when the 1606 play is typically rendered like a Hollywood action movie, with an antihero knocking off all the bad (well, good) guys until his own violent demise. Ashford and Branagh’s unsurprising Macbeth might have passed without much notice, or complaint, were it not for a set design that reminds us how much more this play can be.

Review: The Life and Death of Marina Abramović

Comments Comments (...)

Review: <em>The Life and Death of Marina Abramović</em>
Review: <em>The Life and Death of Marina Abramović</em>

The Museum of Modern Art’s 2010 exhibition of performance artist Marina Abramović’s life work, five years after the Guggenheim allowed her to “re-perform” seven performances by herself and others, cemented Abramović’s conversion into performance art’s ruling figure, at once parent to the form and gatekeeper of its history, at least in the public imagination. Those who’ve accused her of crossing the thin line from self-sacrificing hero to self-aggrandizing celebrity will likely be further displeased by The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, an impressionistic theatrical biography co-authored and co-starring Abramović, and designed and directed by Robert Wilson. Here we see Abramović as a living saint, already transubstantiated.

The evening is framed as a funeral for Abramović (newspapers are distributed to the audience with the headline, “ARTIST MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ DIES AT 67”), who begins by lying in a white robe on a coffin-shaped table and ends drifting into the air in the same gown. She’s flanked by two women, and in the finale a triptych of black crows peppers the sky. The two-and-a-half-hour work might have been called The Passion of Marina.

Anti-Capitalist Tragedy Matt Charman’s The Machine

Comments Comments (...)

Anti-Capitalist Tragedy: Matt Charman’s The Machine

Stephanie Berger

Anti-Capitalist Tragedy: Matt Charman’s The Machine

“Man versus Machine. That’s how we’re billing it!” The tortuous contradictions that motivate British playwright Matt Charman’s high-intensity The Machine are summed up by this confession. In 1997, when Manhattan chess wunderkind Garry Kasparov played a match against IBM supercomputer “Deep Blue,” the game was indeed pitched to its global audience as a test of mankind’s dignity before its increasingly sophisticated widgets. In Charman’s dramatic retelling of the event, directed by Donmar Warehouse artistic director Josie Rourke, we’re meant to take a more wizened view. The frustrated young publicist who blurts out these lines is attempting to clue Kasparov into the bigger reality: The real game being played isn’t over the chessboard, but between the online media stream and the global network of potential customers for IBM hardware and software. Mankind’s dignity isn’t on the line; stock prices are.

Grasping the Infinite Through Order Ryoji Ikeda’s the transfinite

Comments Comments (...)

Grasping the Infinite Through Order: Ryoji Ikeda’s the transfinite
Grasping the Infinite Through Order: Ryoji Ikeda’s the transfinite

There is, of course, no one set of criteria to determine whether something is a truly great work of art; different people will have their own conceptions of what makes something truly great, and what makes something great to one might not make it so to another. To my mind, though, one thing art indubitably has the ability to do is alter our view of the everyday in some tangible or intangible way—whether that means giving us a different perspective on something, or simply reawakening our awareness of things we notice everyday without really reflecting on it.

Upon experiencing, for the first time, the transfinite, the new installation from multimedia artist Ryoji Ikeda that’s currently standing at the Park Avenue Armory, I found myself impressed by it, but in a rather detached way, inspiring little more than mostly intellectual contemplation. But then, after walking around in its darkly lit, strobe-light-flashy, numbers-heavy grip for an extended period of time, I then stepped into the “real” world outside and found myself unable to easily shake off the experience. Instead of buildings, I would see numbers pulsing through its surfaces; instead of coherent thoughts, I would see barcode-like line patterns flitting through my mind. The revelations of the transfinite, it seems, don’t make themselves truly apparent until you’ve stepped away from its imposing structures—but afterward, the cumulative effect is like seeing the world around you in a wholly different way than you did going in.

Peter Greenaway’s Leonardo’s Last Supper

Comments Comments (...)

Peter Greenaway’s <em>Leonardo’s Last Supper</em>
Peter Greenaway’s <em>Leonardo’s Last Supper</em>

Peter Greenaway has referred to his “Ten Classic Paintings” series, where the art-obsessed director tweaks and fusses with some of mankind’s greatest treasures, “a dialogue between 8,000 years of art and 112 years of cinema.” This is a big, mostly empty statement, tinged with the kind of arrogance that might make such a grand undertaking work, as well as the vagueness that assures it doesn’t. That’s at least the case with his third installment, casting a spotlight on Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, which runs at the Park Avenue Armory through January 6.

I haven’t seen Greenaway’s first two installations, one on Rembrandt’s The Night Watch at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, the other on a copy of Paolo Veronese’s The Wedding at Cana at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Yet it seems pretty likely that they involved more thought and insight than this one, which arrives colorfully bloated with hot air. The Rembrandt project so over-spilled its boundaries that it resulted in two films, encompassing the narrative skullduggery of Nightwatching and the art-history lesson/detective yarn of Rembrandt’s J’Accuse. The Veronese one makes an inexplicable appearance near the end of this show, seemingly showing up solely to relieve its winded counterpart.