Hanaya Yanagihara’s bestselling novel is disorienting
Love or Hate, 750 The book left an immediate, indelible mark. “Not a contemporary classic, [but] an instant classic,” noted stage director Ivo van Hove. “It was never a ‘new novel’. Instantly turned into a mythical figure, it’s weird to think about. It talks about horrific things – the structural violence and sexual abuse of a seven-year-old boy until he reaches adulthood years old, cruel, lifelong consequences of this trauma. How can it attract so many people?”
in the US with his confrontation of Broadway landmarks Known for his sexual adaptations Side Story and Network, the Dutch drama producer A limited run of BAM’s novel now brings his take on Yanagihara. Premiered on 671 with his Toneelgroep Amsterdam company in the Netherlands, and then a brief stop in Edinburgh, the production ran for just over four hours, with many hurdles to cross before coming together. The first: Convince Van Hoof and his husband and longtime collaborator, production designer Jan Versweyveld, to believe the hype.
“I thought, ‘Okay, another gay story…why?'” Van Hoof quipped. “I don’t care.” But after enough friends persuaded him to read, his views changed overnight, and as with Versweyveld’s, he wondered how its stories spanning decades and continents might translate into what they are now Known for its minimalist, live aesthetics.
“The book goes deep into your skin, and then all I know is that the core part of the set design should be something related to Jude as a character,” Versweyveld said, focusing on the book’s protagonist, and its big Partial trauma bearer. “At a very early stage, we decided that the centerpiece of the stage would be the skin—a large chunk of human-colored skin that conveys [Jude’s] vulnerability.”