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Monday, October 31, 2016

In Context: Kings of War

Three Shakespeare kings enter the fluorescent-lit corridors of the present in Ivo van Hove’s clever merging of the plays Henry V, Henry VI Parts I, II & III, and Richard III. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #KingsofWar.

Program Notes

Kings of War (PDF)


Henry V, Henry VI, or Richard III? Vote for your once and future King before exercising your actual democratic rights this Tue, Nov 8.


Shakespeare Explains the 2016 Election (The New York Times)
Renowned Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt lays out the astonishing parallels between this bedeviled election cycle and the Bard’s Richard III.

Ivo van Hove Is Having a Moment (American Theatre)
The acclaimed director talks about his year (going on two) of New York theatrical domination, including productions of View from the Bridge, Antigone (at last year’s Next Wave), and Lazarus.

Tragedy, Power, and Catharsis: Ivo van Hove's Theatrical Humanism (BAM blog)
An overview of van Hove’s storied tenure at BAM.

Kings of War (Toneelgroep)
Read about the production on Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s website.

Now your turn...

What did you think? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #KingsofWar.


  1. Glued to my seat for 4.5 hours!! Van Hove is a genius ... I had my doubts, as I was engulfed into the world of 15th and 16th political rivalries and the destructive politics of today ... truly amazing!!!

  2. Toneelgroep Amsterdam and Ivo van Hove had seemed like a no-brainer when I chose this performance, but I was unsure about the extensive use of video in the piece. I have seen performances that overly relied on the tech aspect, while the actual piece was under-developed. Plus, it was Friday, I was exhausted, and the play was long. I was also up to my eyeballs with election fatigue, and here I was, voluntarily submitting myself to more politics. I took my seat and next thing I knew it was intermission. All too soon it was over. This play could not have been more timely. The focus on the vastly different kings and their leadership styles often echoed our current political landscape with eerie prescience. The brilliant use of technology enhanced the performance. The acting was superb; the live musicians perfectly set the mood; the staging and set designs were exciting. I was completely engrossed in the action. The few well-placed modern political references resonated. Last spring, I attended all four of the king plays BAM presented and that experience enhanced my enjoyment of this play.

  3. First encountered van Hove at the Philly Fringe a couple of years ago with 2 stunners of plays...and have been an acolyte ever since ...Brilliant juxtaposition of the first half where history took over and Shakespeare took a back seat with part II where the Bard's Richard III ruled the roost ...a character whose deficiencies and vain glorious behavior is seen today in the political sphere . However the spontaneous comment " nasty woman " by the actor playing R III brought raucous shouts of approval from some audience members who saw it as a Trumpian put down of a disapproving woman in the Clintonian mode.... While director van Hove is said to " encourage his actors to take extraordinary liberties" i i thought the liberty taken was offensive and broke the ferocious concentration in Part II with a disruptive cheap shot .

  4. Stuart, Richard III's spontaneous "nasty woman" comment was brilliant and it brought on a rousing sustained round of applause throughout the entire audience. This magnificent actor also did impressions of Richard Nixon, Adolph Hitler and Vladimir Putin (at first I thought it was Stalin) as Richard III. There was not one weak link of any kind with the actors, or the set, or the music yesterday, and my only regret at the end was that Ivo van Hove was not there to take a curtain call.


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