Robert Icke

Robert Icke decided to become a playwright and director after he had been torn away from his PlayStation by his father as a teenager and saw a performance of Richard III, with Kenneth Branagh in the title role. Now – only 34 years old – he is regarded as a great young talent in British theatre. From 2013 until 2019 he was an associate director at the Almeida in London, the famous theatre that used to be led by Pierre Audi before he came to Amsterdam.

Since 2019 Robert Icke has committed himself to Internationaal Theater Amsterdam as Ibsen Artist in Residence. This new form of support was created by the Philip Loubser Foundation.

In season 21|22, he will be directing The Doctor and Judas at ITA and his directing of Children of Nora will be reprised.

Icke’s debut at the Almeida was an adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian future novel 1984, which he transformed into an uneasy, contemporary story about surveillance and mind manipulation. Over the past years, he made his name with sensational adaptations and the directing of various classical repertory plays.

He rewrote the Oresteia to a courtroom story where the audience was allowed to decide whether Orestes would be acquitted or declared guilty. The Guardian wrote: ‘This is Aeschylus for the modern age, rightly leaving us to draw our own conclusions about the shaky premises on which political leaders go to war.’ For this, Icke received the Olivier Award for Best Director in 2016. The play was moved to the West End, which is very rare for a Greek tragedy.

In his Mary Stuart, he lets the two actresses flip a coin at the beginning of every performance in order to determine who will play which queen. That also drives home the point of the play: Elizabeth and Mary Stuart are two sides of the same coin.
What stands out in Icke’s adaptations is that everything that presumes foreknowledge in the original play is cancelled. He wants to avoid that the viewer will watch the performance in the light of previous experiences of the same play. That is the only way it can appear as new. Icke: ‘When you deliver a classic your primary responsibility is to try and catch some of the lightning in the bottle that made it happen when it first happened. If you don’t do this I don’t really understand it. I kind of think you have to take the ball otherwise you might just do a new play.’

In his most recent play Hamlet, he elaborates on what he did previously in 1984: the castle Elsinore is a place packed with surveillance cameras. The ghost of Hamlet’s father appears on CCTV. The Guardian wrote: ‘Hamlet himself eavesdrops on Claudius and Gertrude’s post-honeymoon canoodling, and hand-held cameras track Elsinore’s leaders on all public occasions. No one is ever quite alone in this corrupt kingdom.’

His work at ITA

Language NP Language no problem The doctorITA–EnsembleTheater The doctor
Close The doctor ITA–Ensemble
09 Sep '21 to 22 May '22
Robert Icke, the great talent of British theatre, will be our resident director for the next few years. He adapts classics in his own personal and radical way. As he did with Oedipus and Children of Nora at ITA. Now, he is making a contemporary adaptation of Professor Bernhardi by Arthur Schnitzler.
Language NP Language no problem Children of Nora ITA-ensemble / Robert Icke Theater Children of Nora
Close Children of Nora ITA-ensemble / Robert Icke
06 Jan '22 to 16 Jan '22
Nora slams the door of her house, ending her marriage. It became one of the most famous final scenes in theater history. Robert Icke wrote and directed a sequel in which he shows how Nora's choices affect her children.
Language NP Language no problem JudasITA–EnsembleTheater Judas
Close Judas Robert Icke / ITA-ensemble
06 Apr '22 to 23 Apr '22
When you hear the name Judas, you think of betrayal. That is the official version. However, in the Gospel of Judas, Jesus asks Judas to betray him, which means he did it because Jesus himself had asked him to.