The Independent School for the City is proud and nervous with excitement about our School’s Out! guest for April 2020: Jan Versweyveld.
He has been responsible for some of the most poignant and complex architecture of the past decades, all of it temporary yet experienced by hundreds of thousands of people. As the head of scenography and main designer for Toneelgroep Amsterdam, and for many International groups in France, Portugal, Germany. Poland and the UK. Perhaps is most well known and most spectacular work has been for Broadway productions, like ‘Lazarus’, the musical conceived with David Bowie, Network, the play by Lee Hall and upcoming, the very first radical overhaul of Leonard Bernsteins West Side Story with Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker and his collaborator of three decades, the director Ivo van Hove.
Jan Versweyveld is extremely well known and praised, yet relatively unknown in the world of architecture and urbanism. It is hallucinogenic in its effect yet brutally realist in its usage of materials and props; it is spare and bare yet kinetic through the use of video and the active way in which actors and dancers engage with the sets. It is both real architecture and an image of architecture, both hardware and software. It dazzles you and alienates at the same time. You will never be able to look at a corporate meeting room or a television studio in the same way after seeing a set by Jan Versweyveld. Jan Versweyveld will show us old and new work, will explain how the design process works and how the sets and props become co-actors and stories themselves. Tickets are available for 5 Euro here
Scenographer and lighting designer Jan Versweyveld received his training at the Sint Lucas Institute in Brussels and at the Royal Academy in Antwerp. In the 1980's he founded the Flemish theatre groups Akt/Vertikaal and Toneelproducties De Tijd together with Ivo van Hove, afther which he became the regular scenographer of Eindhoven’s Zuidelijk Toneel in 1990. In 2001 he made the switch to Toneelgroep Amsterdam, where he became the head of scenography and the group’s regular designer. He worked on productions of Angels in America, Cries and whispers, Rocco and his brothers, the Antonioni project, La voix humaine, Teorema, Summer trilogy, Children of the Sun, And We'll Never Be Parted, The Miser, The Russians!, Husbands, Macbeth, Long Day’s Journey into Night, Danton's Dead, The Fountainhead and Mary Stuart.
Jan Versweyveld has been a guest lecturer at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and is one of the co-founders of the scenography training programme in Antwerp. He has been responsible for designing the scenes and lighting for a wide variety of theatre productions, ranging from the classics, to modern plays. His oeuvre includes theatre, dance and opera. In addition to his work with Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, he has also collaborated with many internationally renowned directors, including Johan Simons and Pierre Audi. Versweyveld won the Bessie Award in New York for his scenography for Drumming Live, and he received the OBIE Award for Hedda Gabler. In 2008, he received the Prosceniumprijs, a Dutch theatre prize, together with Ivo van Hove. In 2015 he received the Amsterdam Award for the Arts for proven quality (with Ivo van Hove) and in 2016 the Knight of Illumination Award for Song from Far Away.