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Ten facts you’d love to know about Ivo van Hove and Jan Versweyveld

From the start, film was inspired by theatre. You might say that cinema, as we know it, was birthed by theatre. Conversely, new cinematic techniques also rapidly find their way into theatre. To celebrate the meeting of the two genres, Eye invited two theatre makers to develop an exhibition. All About Theatre About Film is open from 3 October onwards and features work by director Ivo van Hove and set designer Jan Versweyveld. Ten facts about the illustrious pair you will want to know.

By Annabel Essink05 October 2021

Portrait picture of Ivo Van Hove
Ivo van Hove
Portrait picture of Jan Versweyveld
Jan Versweyveld

1. Van Hove and Versweyveld are life partners as well as artistic partners

They have been together since their 20s. They founded the theatre group Akt in 1981 and since then they have developed dozens of plays for various, international theatre companies.

2. Every play is based on a film script.

Without rewatching the film, Van Hove and Versweyveld transform the same story into theatre. They are inspired by the following seven directors in particular: Marguerite Duras, Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ingmar Bergman, John Cassavetes, Luchino Visconti and Sidney Lumet.

3. Van Hove and Versweyveld became famous for their innovative implementation of theatre.

Specifically that of the audience’s position. For instance, the audience for Koppen (based on John Cassavetes’ Faces) lies on beds.

4. Van Hove and Versweyveld often use a technique called ‘live cinema’.

There are cameras on stage and above it hangs a film screen on which the audience can simultaneously watch the film of the play.

All About Theatre About Film: Network (after Sidney Lumet) (2017) © Jan Versweyveld
Network (after Sidney Lumet) (2017) © Jan Versweyveld

5. Van Hove and Versweyveld's work is renowned far beyond the Netherlands and Belgium.

Their works have been performed from Broadway to Taipei and they have won 26 awards, including the Johannes Vermeer Award.

6. Alongside being a theatre director, Ivo van Hove is also the director of ITA (International Theater Amsterdam).

And Jan Versweyveld works there as a set and lead designer.

7. In the near future, Van Hove and Versweyveld will be adapting a novel into a play.

They chose Mijn lieve gunsteling (My Heavenly Favourite) by Marieke Lukas Rijneveld. This is set to premiere In in 2022 or 2023.

8. The exhibition also constitutes a new medium for Van Hove and Versweyveld.

They opted to structure it like a play with three acts.

Picture of the exhibition All About Theatre About Film
Obsession, All About Theatre About Film – Ivo van Hove & Jan Versweyveld © Studio Hans Wilschut
Picture of the exhibition All About Theatre About Film
Cries and Whispers, All About Theatre About Film – Ivo van Hove & Jan Versweyveld © Studio Hans Wilschut

9. The exhibition’s title refers to two iconic films about theatre.

All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950) and All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999).

Picture of the exhibition All About Theatre About Film
Antonioni Project, All About Theatre About Film – Ivo van Hove & Jan Versweyveld © Studio Hans Wilschut

10. From 3 October 2021 - 9 January 2022 you can not only visit the exhibition at Eye.

You can also watch the films that Van Hove and Versweyveld based their plays on or which inspired them at its cinemas.

View the programme