Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

Kings of War and Roman Tragedies

Power, persuasion, war—the disturbingly modern relevance of Shakespeare is laid bare in one-time Hong Kong screenings of two epic productions by Dutch theatre maestro Ivo van Hove. Pivotal power struggles unfold in quiet office corners in Kings of War, which combines Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III. Meanwhile, the six-hour Roman Tragedies transplants Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra into an era of TV news – complete with a flashing LED ticker counting down to the climatic fatalities ahead.


Tony winner Ivo van Hove’s exhilarating Shakespeare marathon in a one-off film screening

It might be Shakespeare’s comedies we first fall in love with, but it’s the tragedies we keep returning to, frequently to find unnervingly relevant parallels with the world today. And few recent interpretations have been as disturbingly modern as Tony Award-winner Ivo van Hove’s, who has reworked and reimagined six classic Shakespeare plays into two epic fresh dramatic works, each of which is presented in a single screening to live theatre audiences at this year’s Festival.

In Kings of War, van Hove rolls the various conflicts of Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III into a single four-and-a-half-hour marathon, recast for 19 actors—and a brass band. Events unfold onstage and off, amid a muted office environment; rather than grand bellowed confrontations, delicate negotiations and pivotal power struggles unfold in quiet corridors of influence.

Meanwhile, with Roman Tragedies, over six rolling hours, van Hove and partner Jan Versweyveld transplant the tragic travails of Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra into an era of TV news—with the original audience free to casually stroll, eat and drink at leisure, while a huge screen magnifies the action onstage as a 24-hour live broadcast, and a flashing LED news ticker counts down to climactic moments and looming fatalities ahead.


Both screenings in Dutch with Chinese and English surtitles
Kings of War: Approx. 4 hrs 15 mins including an interval
Roman Tragedies: Approx. 6 hrs including an interval