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Ibsen house

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director simon stone
from simon stone
after henrik ibsen
duration 3:35, incl. 1 pauze
premiere 09 May 2017


Based on Ibsen, Simon Stone writes and directs a grand family epic about the troublesome but inevitable coexistence of different generations under one roof.


After his stagings of an entirely contemporary Medea and Husbands and wives by Woody Allen, Simon Stone falls back on Ibsen. He already caused much ado internationally with his quirky adaptation of The wild duck, which was performed a few years ago at the Holland Festival. That adaptation was the starting point for Stone’s first and much-praised feature film The Daughter (2016). For Ibsen house, Stone used several of the Norwegian playwright’s less well-known plays.

At the centre of the play, there is the holiday home designed by renowned architect Cees Kerkman, where the various family members meet each other at crucial moments in their lives. We watch the family from 1964, when the house is being built, until 2016, when it finally goes up in flames. As is traditional with Ibsen, there are quite a few secrets and traumas that have a fatal influence on the lives of the different generations. An intriguing game of repression, lies and reckonings emerges, with the house as the only witness to the entire family tragedy.

Stone has absorbed Ibsen completely and wrote an entirely new play in close dialogue with the ensemble. ‘Rehearsing and writing are both one uninterrupted dialogue with the actors and contributors. The most important thing is to continuously find out more about the characters, so they become complex and genuine, but also as playful and humorous as possible.’

In non-chronological order, he reconstructs the crucial scenes from the family album. In his staging, he looks for a form of hyperrealism where the actors constantly talk over each other and a sense of realistic time is created. His approach shows his passion for film. The revolving house enables him to alternate between scenes and periods, but also to constantly change the visual setting. Stone enjoys welcoming coincidence into his rehearsal process and using theatrical means in a way that generates great authenticity. Catching life’s complexity and banality is what he is continuously striving for. In his dialogues, deep tragedy and humour alternate at a fast pace in a story about a family that tries to leave the past behind, but keeps repeating the mistakes of the previous generations.


'Personne hier ne s’attendait à la déferlante d’intelligence, de virtuosité, de tension et même de machiavélisme qui a envahi le plateau.' - France Culture

'Avec la formidable troupe du Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Simon Stone signe un spectacle prodigieux d’intelligence et de sensibilité.' - Sceneweb

'ce drame du XXIe siècle qu’Enrik Ibsen aurait pu écrire' - TouteLaCulture

'le séquençage digne des meilleures séries de HBO' - Libération

'éprouvant et magnifique' - La Croix

'Mais il se trouve que ce scélérat est incarné par l'un des plus grands comédiens européens, Hans Kesting, décidément abonné aux personnages ambigus. Il a notamment été un Richard III extraordinaire avec Ivo van Hove et un Max Aue impressionnant dans l'adaptation des Bienveillantes de Jonathan Littell par Guy Cassiers. Il est d'une finesse et d'une humanité bouleversantes et ce méchant homme qu'il joue est un être complexe. On s'y attache comme s'y attachent les êtres qu'il empoisonne. Tout en lui est délicatesse de jeu, voix précise et prenante, interprétation magistrale. Tous ses camarades sont remarquables qui changent au fil du temps, interprétant presque tous plusieurs personnages. Alors bien sûr, on oublie Ibsen. On regarde, on admire, on suit les déchirements de cette famille qui est littéralement empoisonnée par la présence en son cœur d'un être toxique. Tous sont admirables et très bien dirigés. Janni Goslinga est Caroline, et seulement Caroline, adulte. Elle est déchirante dans sa rebellion, ses gouffres. Mais tous, qu'ils jouent le personnage jeune ou plus âgé, sont à louer. Celia Nufaar, Bart Klever, Maria Kraakman, Janni Goslinga, Claire Bender, Maarten Heijmans, Aus Greidanus jr., Eva Heijen, Bart Slegers, David Roos. Des comédiens que l'on connaît en France et que l'on admire profondément.' - Le Figaro


Simon Stone about Ibsen house

‘The more I read Ibsen’s plays, the more I see that characters recur. Although they have different names, they bear the same features. Like they are cousins, sisters, daughters, sons of a single character, once imagined by Ibsen. The young, idealistic dreamer; the bankrupt industrialist, fighting for his legacy; the woman who is stronger than her husband, searching for meaning; the man who is haunted by his father’s actions throughout his life; the couple whose relationship falls apart into a chaos of sex, death and mutual accusation.

In Ibsen house, I process this material into a story about different generations in one house. The rooms in this house are places of trauma and confrontation, but also of joyful memory. The house harbours the memory of each chapter from this family’s history in the way it jumps from one masterpiece by Ibsen to another. His entire work is permeated with a deep insight into families in times of crisis. Into wounds that do not heal. It is about how we struggle to be able to go on. About how we attempt to feel normal again after things have been far from normal for far too long.’

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