This year, a Belgian director revived classic American theater and sharpened its edges, cutting to the very heart of the neo-McCarthyism currently poisoning swaths of U.S. politics. In critically praised productions of A View From the Bridge and The Crucible, Ivo van Hove pared down Arthur Miller’s signature overt moralism, as well as indications of the plays’ historic periods, with minimalist sets, bland costumes, and tense pacing. This avant-garde approach exposed the scripts’ darkest themes—xenophobia, homophobia, suspicion, social hysteria—as universal, timeless, and unnervingly familiar. Van Hove’s vision of theater as a means of holding up a mirror to audiences’ lived reality won him two Tonys, for Best Revival and Best Director of a Play. (Photo credit: JAN VERSWEYVELD)
Van Hove makes actors in his plays operate “off book,” memorizing all their lines before they begin rehearsals.