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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ivo van Hove reimagines Bergman

Many plays have been turned into films. Shakespeare’s texts have been reimagined by directors from Mel Gibson to Franco Zeffirelli, but contemporary minds are flipping the equation.

As a part of the 2011 Next Wave Festival the excruciatingly intimate, confined, and very red Ingmar Bergman film Cries and Whispers (1972) gets a very blue extreme makeover by Belgian director Ivo van Hove and his company Toneelgroep Amsterdam—and it’s not just the color scheme that’s different. Bergman’s tale of an artist dying of cancer, surrounded by her sisters at the end of the 19th century, was shot almost entirely within the walls of their family estate. Van Hove updates the setting, manifesting confinement within video screens, drawing us closer to the performers’ inner thoughts as the tragic and painful events unfold live.

Known for explosive and unconventional productions that take huge risks in metatheatricality—enhancing theater’s artifice—van Hove’s work has a distinct, aggressive style. Cate Blanchett says van Hove’s work is “everything you want theater to be, and he doesn’t shy away from the ugly or the profane.” (His blockbuster production of The Little Foxes at New York Theater Workshop last year was so brutal, lead actress Elizabeth Marvel literally drew blood during a performance.)

This isn’t the first film van Hove has adapted for BAM’s stage. Opening Night, in the 2008 Next Wave Festival, was one of the season’s hot tickets. Cassavetes’ drama about an actress losing her grip on reality walked straight off the screen and into the Harvey Theater, amid audience members seated onstage.

See how this adaptation (BAM Harvey Theater, Oct 25-29) of Bergman’s Cries and Whispers matches up with what you remember about the film.

What movie would you like to see performed live at BAM?

-Alexandra Siladi

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