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Ivo van Hove casts two cows in latest production

A true cattle call!

Director Ivo van Hove and two cows
© Left: Dan Wooller

Award-winning director Ivo van Hove (All About Eve, A Little Life, Network, Hedda Gabler) has cast two cows in his new production of My Heavenly Favourite.

Based on the critically-beloved recent Dutch novel by International Booker Prize-winner Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (which has not yet been released in the UK, but keep an eye out for it), the piece follows a 49-year old vet who develops a romantic obsession when visiting a farm. Staged in Dutch and adapted by van Hove, the piece might well end up on our shores one day.

Beyond the cast of regular Internationaal Theater Amsterdam performers in the piece (which runs in Amsterdam across dates to June 2023), the production has also cast two cows in the show – Dora and Trix. The news caused a small social media stir this morning after being spotted by user @floremcebell.

Their casting wasn't a shoe-in (or a hoof-in) – the pair had to be selected by the production's dedicated cow casting director Sabine van der Helm, who also provided advice and more for the show. Further training and guidance was given by Chantal van den Broek.

You can see the cows in action here:

Livestock being used on stage is not a novelty – the Royal Court famously staged a show Goats a few years ago (no prizes for guessing who made a special appearance) – where they had to put out a special release explaining the steps being taken to guarantee animal welfare. The Royal Opera House did a similar trick the same year.

A version of King Lear featuring a flock of sheep was also seen in east London a few years back in a special tribute to the Baaaa-rd. We don't, however, expect we'll get a production of War Horse with real horses any time soon.

In the meantime, van Hove is preparing to direct the English language stage version of hit novel A Little Life, which opens in March in Richmond and the West End.