Ivo van Hove has turned theater upside down with his avant-garde productions of A View From the Bridge and the Bowie musical Lazarus. On November 28, the queer Belgian director will add The Fountainhead to that list when he brings his adaptation of Ayn Rand’s controversial 1943 novel to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
What is it like presenting plays now, in this turbulent time?
The work is even more urgent. Everything is so extreme now that nuance seems to be gone.
How does your take on The Fountainhead respond to that?
In my vision, architect Howard Roark is the idealist not wanting to compromise. He’d rather go work in the quarry than give in to his client. His colleague Peter is the opposite—Rand calls him an opportunist. I’m a bit different from Rand, who is, of course, very judgmental—the Tea Party made her work their bible.
How do you two differ?
As an artist I want to be an idealist—not pleasing but challenging the audience. As a citizen, I’m not on Rand’s side. For example, I’m happy to pay taxes to help others. The show presents both sides so viewers can make up their own minds.
What’s your ultimate hope?
We’re in a transitional time. We think we can go back to the good old days, but back then there was no internet. We want only what we want. That’s not reality. Reality is like a marriage: You have to live with the good things and the bad.