For the third time director Ivo van Hove has selected a novel by the great Dutch author Louis Couperus as the material for a theatre production. Couperus wrote ‘The Book of Small Souls’ between 1901 and 1903, in the turbulent period of transition from the 19th to the 20th centuries.
A bourgeois family from The Hague is forced by circumstances to move out of the city. Away from their familiar life in the city centre, the family members are forced to re-orientate itself in a new location and adapt to local customs. The residents of the villa, which combines aspects of a haunted house, hospital and psychiatric institution, all suffer to varying degrees from some great trauma, handicap or neurosis. They are “small souls”, suffering as a result of decisions which were made long ago and bearing the consequences like some irremovable fate. They appear neither to want nor to be capable of finding a way out.
Gradually, however, even these people – both individually and together – develop strategies to solve a crisis and to help events take a turn for the better. In contrast with their earlier lives, they slowly find the courage to speak openly about their disillusionment, their desires and expectations. The outline emerges of a perspective which suggests they might understand themselves differently and view the world afresh.
The production is performed – like those of 2015 and 2016 – by the Toneelgroep Amsterdam
company in Dutch, with German and English surtitles.
Author Louis Couperus
Director Ivo van Hove
With Chris Nietvelt, Maria Kraakman, Hans Kesting, Steven van Watermeulen, Robert de Hoog, Janni Goslinga, Hélène Devos, Frieda Pittoors
Stage Version Koen Tachelet
Dramaturgy Jan Peter Gerrits
Lighting and Stage Design Jan Versweyveld
Video Theunis Zijlstra
Music Harry de Wit
Costume Design An D’Huys
Supported by Ammodo.
A production by Ruhrtriennale and Toneelgroep Amsterdam