a little life

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a little life

ITA-ensemble / Ivo van Hove


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a little life
ITA Ensemble / Ivo van Hove

No novel has captivated and moved millions of readers during the past few years like A little life by American author Hanya Yanagihara. Ivo van Hove adapted Yanagihara’s novel to theater and created a penetrating performance. Ramsey Nasr won the Louis d'Or (best male performance) for his portrayal of Jude.

Festival Adelaide Festival

Location Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre
Run time 250 minutes, incl. intermission
Genre Theatre
Language Dutch

A little life

In A little life, we watch four men over a period of more than thirty years: lawyer Jude, actor Willem, visual artist JB and architect Malcolm. The story is the history of their friendship, as they remain closely connected with each other during the rest of their lives. They develop their careers in the city where ambition and success are the indicators of a successful life: New York.

The main character is the introverted Jude. His past is wrapped in a veil of mystery. Behind the façade of professional success, he lives with unresolved grief as a result of structural sexual abuse during his childhood. It has left him with extreme distrust and a feeling of worthlessness. He finds release in compulsive automutilation, causing his body to become more and more exhausted.
How do you live with trauma and pain? Jude has no family, his friends are everything to him. Nevertheless, he finds it impossible to share his past with them. The closer someone gets, the more difficult it is for him to talk about it. For Jude, openness and surrender are equal to abuse. In a constellation like that, intimacy becomes an impossible task. Can friendship provide compensation for the incurred damage? Is it possible to have a romantic relationship without sex? What is love actually able to do?

Jude’s friends are facing a dilemma. How can you help someone who doesn’t want to be helped, while realizing you’re not a real friend if you don’t try to help?

Hanya Yanagihara about A little life

‘Ivo and I talked a lot about A little life. He saw the book as an allegory of good and evil. I didn’t see it like that at all. During our first conversation, he talked about his ideas about how he wants to transport the book to the stage. And that is exactly what I’m curious about when someone wants to adapt the book to another art form; how will they use their medium to tell the story. It has to be an interpretation, not a literal translation. The book requires total surrender from the reader. And it will be the same with the play. This is the case with all of Ivo’s work. The stage adaptation of A little life will invite the audience to be humble, attentive and actively involved. The spectator will be challenged. And he will be rewarded. I hope this play will let people see the book in a new light. Maybe I will also see the book differently. Thanks to adaptations like Ivo’s play, the book and its characters are given a much longer life than I originally expected. I consider that a great gift.’


Language NP Language no problem Ramsey Nasr Ramsey Nasr
Language NP Language no problem Maarten Heijmans Maarten Heijmans
Language NP Language no problem Majd Mardo Majd Mardo
Language NP Language no problem Edwin Jonker Edwin Jonker
Language NP Language no problem Hans Kesting Hans Kesting
Language NP Language no problem Marieke Heebink Marieke Heebink
Language NP Language no problem Steven Van Watermeulen Steven Van Watermeulen
Language NP Language no problem Bart Slegers Bart Slegers


Financial Times

'Ivo van Hove's production is as gruelling yet compulsive as Hanya Yanagihara's source novel.'

New York Times

‘A Little Life’ Comes to the Stage. The Audience Can’t Look Away.'


'Theater in its most glorious form'


'Director Ivo van Hove created a powerhouse'

De Standaard

'Thrilling and moving theater'

Behind the scenes

Go backstage at the rehearsal process of A little life and find out how the show is made.

Ivo van Hove
Ivo van Hove

Ivo van Hove was director of Internationaal Theater Amsterdam from 2001 till 2023.

In season 23|24, his directing of The Damned, My Heavenly Favourite and Who Killed My Father will be reprised.

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concept and direction Ivo van Hove
based on the novel by Hanya Yanagihara
translation Kitty Pouwels and Josephine Ruitenberg
adaptation Koen Tachelet
dramaturgy Bart Van den Eynde
scenographer, light design Jan Versweyveld
video Mark Thewessen, Jan Versweyveld
music and sounddesign Eric Sleichim
with Marieke Heebink, Maarten Heijmans, Edwin Jonker, Hans Kesting, Majd Mardo, Ramsey Nasr, Bart Slegers, Steven Van Watermeulen
musicians BL!NDMAN [strings]: Stefanie Van Backlé (viool), Marlon Dek (cello),Caroline Denys (viool), Monica Goicea (altviool), Floor Lecoultre (viool), Suzanne Vermeyen (cello), Femke Verstappen (viool), Iteke Wijbenga (altviool)
costumes An D'Huys
assistant director Daniël 't Hoen
assistant scenographer Bart van Merode
casting advice Hans Kemna
coproducer GREC Festival, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen
private producer Gert-Jan en Corinne van den Bergh, Hendrik Jan ten Have en Gabriëlla de Rooij, Joost en Marcelle Kuiper
production leader Inge Zeilinga
first stage manager Kevin Cuijvers, Sebastiaan Kruijs, Reyer Meeter
stage manager Pepijn van Beek, Bart Coenen, Sander van Elteren, Zinzi Kemper, Stijn van der Leeuw, David Logger, Timo Merkies, Hans Pieksma, Stephan Pot, Dennis van Scheppingen, Erwin Sterk, Mark Thewessen, Jeffrey van Vloten, Ruud de Vos, Jordi Wolswijk, Paul van der Zouwe
hair & make-up Mirjam Venema
photography Jan Versweyveld
publicity Natasa Cvjetkovic
supported by ammodo


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