Opening Show of HKRep’s International Black Box Festival 2016
Toneelgroep AmsterdamLa voix humaine(Netherlands)
A lovelorn woman and her painful confession
【Hong Kong Repertory Theatre】The Hong Kong Repertory Theatre presents its second International Black Box Festival this year under the theme of ‘The Colours of Humanity’. The opening show of the festival is La voix humaine, directed by Ivo van Hove, Artistic Director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, a leading theatre company in the Netherlands, and he has recently won the 2015 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director. The performance is adapted from a soliloquy written by French poet and director Jean Cocteau, and performed by Halina Reijn, a renowned stage and film actress in the Netherlands. La voix humaine is about a woman calls her ex-lover who ended the relationship a few days earlier. The woman tries in vain to keep him on the line. For about an hour, she goes through a rollercoaster of emotions and the acting of Halina Reijn gets the audience moving. La voix humaine runs from 15th to 17th April at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. Tickets are currently on sale at URBTIX.
In Jean Cocteau’s play La Voix Humaine (the human voice), a lone actress talks on the phone to a lover she has just broken up with. She keeps getting interrupted by a bad connection.
For about an hour, the unnamed woman goes through a rollercoaster of emotions as she addresses the man who left her, and herself. It is uncommonly, uncomfortably voyeuristic, even for theatre. Ivo van Hove drives the point home by placing his performer, Halina Reijn, in a small boxlike room and behind a big glass window, through which the audience scrutinizes her. It feels as if she is imprisoned in her own apartment, and at times she roams her limited space like a caged animal.
Ivo van Hove thinks there is more to the script than the anecdotal rift between two lovers. La voix humaine is an existential drama about loss and loneliness, and the painful realisation that often you hardly know your most intimate partner. The script reveals the pitfalls of expectation and projection that arise in relationships and the bitter truth that the veil of love is sometimes torn to shreds. It gradually dawns on the woman that she has devoted her entire life to her other half and that now, for the first time, she has only herself to fall back on. La voix humaine is a script about looming emptiness and a desire for inconsolability. The starting point for its staging was the human voice, and it investigates all sorts of ways of talking; from conversation about imaginary dialogue to monologue intérieur, from the hushed to the elated, and from muffled behind glass to dissipated in the noise of the city.
In Halina Reijn, director Ivo van Hove has found the ideal actress for bringing to life the complex emotions of the woman. She says, “The script turned out to be so familiar and accessible that from the very first day of rehearsals I was swept up in the story of this woman. Much of it seemed to come straight from my own life. Besides being a love story, it is also predominantly a desperate scream for the right to exist”. It is the first time Halina Reijn is venturing on a monologue. “It is a strange feeling to talk for over an hour to someone who isn’t there, but with Ivo’s help the man on the other end of the line came to life, and I can hear him clearly in my mind as soon as I pick up the phone at the beginning of the performance”.
Resident Director of Hong Kong Repertory Theatre and also the Curator of International Black Box Festival, Fung Wai Hang, has chosen five productions for the festival, including productions from Netherlands, Hong Kong, Taipei, Japan and South Korea. She hopes the festival can bring a unique and unprecedented experience to the audience. For La voix humaine, “although it was a piece in 1930, the experience of the main character keeps repeating itself.” she said.
HKRep presents its International Black Box Festival 2016 under the theme of “The Colours of Humanity”. We hope to present a distinctly different face of theatre to the audience, through a number of scripts with various textual structures, under the leadership of internationally-renowned playwrights as well as young and new talents. Besides La voix humaine in April, we are going to have Performer Studio Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral (Hong Kong), Möbius Strip Theatre The 9 Fridas (Taipei), KYUYUGEKITAI Asagao (Japan) and Creative VaQi Before After (South Korea) in October and November.
About Playwirght Jean Cocteau (1889 – 1963)
The French poet, artist and film maker Jean Cocteau started his career by writing libretti for ballet. In Paris, he came into contact with influential artists like Pablo Picasso, Sergei Diaghilev and the composer Igor Stravinsky. After World War I, he founded Editions de la Sirène; a publishing house where he started publishing his own poetry. His fame was established with his first plays, Orphée and Les enfants terribles. In 1930, he ventured into film for the first time with Le sang d’un poète. Later, he and Francis Poulenc made film history with the film La Belle et la Bête (1945). During the 1950’s, Cocteau became increasingly involved in graphic art and in designing scenery and interiors. In 1955, he became a member of the Académie Française.
About Director Ivo van Hove
Ivo van Hove has held central positions in Dutch-Belgian cultural life, first as the head of Het Zuidelijk Toneel from 1990 to 2000, from 1997 to 2004 leadership of the annual Holland Festival and from 2001 as general director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam.
Van Hove has received many accolades, including two Obie Awards in New York (More Stately Mansions and Hedda Gabler), the Flanders Oeuvre Prize (1995), the Theatre Festival Prize (1996) and the Archangel Award at the Edinburgh Festival (1999). He was made a knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in 2004. In 2007, he received the prize awarded by Dutch theatre critics. In 2008, he also received the Prosceniumprijs, the Dutch oeuvre prize, together with Jan Versweyveld, and in 2012 the Amsterdam Business Oeuvre Award. In 2014, Van Hove received an honorary doctorate for general merit of the University of Antwerp. In 2015, he received two Olivier Award (A View from the Bridge) and the Amsterdam Prize for Art.
About cast Halina Reijn
Halina Reijn is a member of Toneelgroep Amsterdam since 2003. She appeared in Nora (Theo d’Or 2013), Mourning becomes Electra (nomination Theo d’Or 2003), Danton’s Death and Mary Stuart (nomination Theo d’Or 2015). She also appeared regularly in films and television, such as Isabelle (directed by the Dutch film and TV director, Ben Sombogaart) and Valkyrie(alongside Tom Cruise), etc.
Toneelgroep Amsterdam presents contemporary theatre of an international standard produced from its home base, the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg. As the Netherlands’ largest repertory company, it holds a prominent place in the Dutch capital’s international cultural scene. With an annual average of 20 plays and performing a total of over 350 performances, the company entertains audiences of 100,000 each year.
The kaleidoscope of the ideas and activities has its ramifications among theatres and theatre makers abroad.
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