Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist is considered one of the masterpieces of the world theatre repertoire. In this searing drama about a fatal love, a blistering passion churns unstoppably to the surface. Kleist himself wrote about it: 'My innermost being is to be found in it, the whole filth and loftiness of my soul.'
Run time 125 minutes
Surtitles English, Thu, August 24 until Thu, August 31
In Gesprek Fri, August 25 & Fri, September 1
Please note: the performance uses stroboscopic lighting effects.
Penthesilea is the queen of the Amazons, a nation of all-female warriors. They were only allowed to reproduce with men whom they had defeated in battle. During the Trojan War, the Amazons do not fight against the Greeks to help the besieged Trojans, but only to capture soldiers. When Amazon queen Penthesilea and the Greek army commander Achilles come face to face on the battlefield, it is love at first sight. From that moment on, Penthesilea will do anything to defeat him.
Eline Arbo won the 2020 Regieprijs with her adaptation of Weg met Eddy Bellegueule. Last season she directed the hit performance De jaren, based on the book by the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for literature Annie Ernaux. For ITA she previously directed The Hours based on the novel by Michael Cunningham. Since September 2023, Eline Arbo is Artistic Director at ITA.
Eline Arbo about Penthesilea
‘Kleist knows how to translate the age-old conflict between man and woman into a moving love story with complex characters. The meeting between Penthesilea and Achilles plunges them both into an existential crisis. She represents a hopeful, new form of love. And yet they fail to get together. They underestimate each other, and the consequences are horrific. The play is therefore more than a story about the difference between man and woman. It reveals how we internalise the norms and values of our own culture. Kleist wrote a dramatic piece with a tragic ending. But the real tragedy is that in the society Penthesilea and Achilles live in, there is no room for their version of love.'
In the press
'Penthesilea is a ravishing performance and a new highlight in Arbo's oeuvre.'
'Eline Arbo puts a mark of her own on Penthesilea.'
Theaterkrant (Critic's Choice)
'Arbo's Penthesilea proves to be the most vital love tragedy since Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet.'
After the performance, come and think, listen and chat at In Gesprek. We invite a guest to further explore the themes of Penthesilea and to exchange experiences. If you have any questions, this is the perfect time to ask them. In Gesprek is free of charge and starts shortly after the performance in one of our foyers, is conducted in Dutch and lasts about half an hour.
Eline Arbo is Artistic Director at ITA since September 2023. Previously (2022 - 2023) she was already linked to ITA as Associate Artistic Director. From January ‘23, Arbo will be appointed Ibsen Artist in Residence, an initiative of the Philip Loubser Foundation, which gives directors with an international ambition the opportunity to develop themselves artistically.
In season 23|24 her directions of Prima Facie (Suzie Miller) and The Laws (Connie Palmen) will premiere at ITA and her directions of Penthesilea and The Hours will be reprised.
Ibsen artist in residence
Since January '23, Eline Arbo is Ibsen Artist in Residence, an initiative of the Philip Loubser Foundation, which gives directors with an international ambition the opportunity to develop themselves artistically. The Ibsen Artist in Residence receives an annual budget for their own artistic development, also outside ITA.
by Heinrich von Kleist
directed by Eline Arbo
composition and musical direction Thijs van Vuure
adaptation Eline Arbo, Bart Van den Eynde
translation Gerrit Komrij
dramaturgy Bart Van den Eynde
scenography Pascal Leboucq
light design Varja Klosse
sound design Dennis Slot
costumes Alva Brosten
private producer Jeroen van Ingen and Jaap Kooijman, Bertil van Kaam
supported by Ammodo
this production is supported by the Philip Loubser Foundation within Eline Arbo's Ibsen Artist in Residency