The bookseller – said – hurt on stage

I tell people that one of the shows I’m most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival is a four-hour adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s international bestseller. A Little Lifetheir first reaction was to ask how in the world a story like that could translate to the stage.

It’s a fair question. Published in 2015, Yanagihara’s book, which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies in the UK alone, has inspired many ideas about how to express pain. Whether or not you’re a fan of Yanagihara’s novel – which tends to provoke strong emotions in people in other ways – you can’t resist putting his words through the wringer. He heaps pain upon pain upon his protagonist Jude St. Francis, a humble young man who became a high-flying lawyer despite suffering horrific childhood abuse, a string of abuses and break-ups that left him mentally disabled, psychologically scared and prone. in self-harm.

Although Yanagihara has been working on a television adaptation of the book for some time, it has yet to be picked up by any station, as he does not want to call out the horror aspect of the material. However, he gave the rights to the prolific Belgian director Ivo van Hove to replace him for his company Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA).

Van Hove is not interested in truth, but in finding a form of drama that can express the pain of things – and the meaning of the story.

If you’re familiar with van Hove, this makes a lot of sense. The Adaptation is a big step in the work of the director, the two adaptations of the films – “All About Eve”, “Visconti’s Obsession”, Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage” – and the last script adaptations. He first referred to a version of Ayn Rand’s The Source (four hours long, although apolitical) and adapted the third novel of the French essayist Édouard Louis, He killed my Father, for the stage – UK audiences can see this in September at the Young Vic. An adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining is still on the cards.

It’s an overstatement, but European leaders are better at document editing than their UK/US counterparts. A power of A Little Life Anyone who tries to come to grips with his endless cycle of domestic violence, female abuse, self-harm and mental health issues is hard to watch, a horrifying experience for the audience and the actors alike, but van Hove, of whom I have just now spoken of the The stagenot interested in the literal or natural interpretation of these things, but in the search for a form of drama that can express the pain of things – and the meaning of the story.

The end of the work, which started in Amsterdam in 2018, is being presented in Edinburgh with the Toneelschuur Productions’s “The End of Eddy”, based on the first story of Louis (the reason for the changes on many levels). Marie Vinck and Stef Aerts play German legend Thomas Mann The Magic Mountain, was also intended to be performed but was canceled because it was too difficult for the Edinburgh stage. All these products share a metaphorical and expressionist style in their texts. In their opinion of The Magic MountainThe death of Hans Castorp’s brother Joachim saw the actor playing quietly with his clothes off as he ran in circles, his breathing more intense – that’s how he moved. like normal death scenes, maybe more.

The European approach to adaptation allows leaders to edit texts that may otherwise be difficult to do. In the UK we put a lot of emphasis on truth, design, story, while in the country the text is a fleeting moment. Again, this is a summary – Anthony Lau’s new version of Anna Karenina for the Crucible Theater in Sheffield is creative and playful, taking many of Tolstoy’s ideas and adding modern costumes and poppy music, while producing to Anna’s confusion. Could it make things worse? it’s true. But this type of approach requires more development time than is common in the UK and represents a relief to be satisfied.

After interviewing van Hove, it is clear that the book is about love and relationships like pain. It’s also a book about beauty – and van Hove, who does all his work in collaboration with his partner, the designer Jan Versweyveld, will no doubt find a place way to tell the unholy world of Jude and his fellow artists on stage. That being said, it’s hard to think of a British cinema that has the confidence, clarity of vision, or willingness to try it in the first place.

“A Little Life” is at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh from 20-22 August.

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