Star-studded cast play Ayn Rand’s timeless bestseller

The Fountainhead

World premiere

Ivo van Hove, Toneelgroep Amsterdam

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Ayn Rand’s 1943 bestseller The Fountainhead recounts the dramatic story of the breathtaking feud between the young and brilliant architect Howard Roark, who pursues his ideals without compromise, and his rival Peter Keating, a man who opts for commercial success and social status. In the midst of this war of ideas between individualism and collectivism, this clash between tradition and change, between inspiration and compromise, a love story unfolds which challenges all convention. Roark and the ravishing beauty Dominique Francon embark on a love relationship without bounds which demonstrates how difficult it is to give oneself to another without losing oneself. In the words of director Ivo van Hove The Fountainhead is ‘an addictive novel that demanded to be put onto the stage.’

‘I could die for you, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t live for you.’

Howard Roark

show details

Public rehearsal: Wed 11 June
Try-out: Tue 12, Fri 13, Sat 14 June
Premiere: Sun 15 June

Background information

This is the fascinating portrait of the brilliant young architect Howard Roark, who follows his calling and sets himself up against those who spinelessly parrot the views of others; of Peter Keating, a fellow architect who sells his soul for commercial success and public esteem; of Guy Francon, a traditionalist who uncritically copies architecture from the past; and of the intellectual Ellsworth Toohey, who manipulates public opinion while slyly grooming the masses for a socialist takeover.

‘The theme of my novel', said Ayn Rand, 'is the struggle between individualism and collectivism, not in the political arena but in the human soul. My aim in writing The Fountainhead was always to present a novel whose protagonist embodies the ideal man.’ That man is Howard Roark, a creative artist who, like a sun, is surrounded by less talented and easily influenced characters who envy him his genius and vocation. But equally, The Fountainhead is the story of the struggle between two lovers: between Roark and the beautiful, idealistic and uncompromising Dominique Francon – two likeminded spirits determined never to sacrifice their own liberty or autonomy.

Ivo van Hove: ‘When I first read the novel the characters gripped me, each and every one of them humans of fles hand blood, and at the same time they are larger than life. They are symbols for ideas of grandeur: There’s the brilliant architect Howard Roark who follows his own ideals and dreams of a new world, a city of tomorrow. And then there’s Peter Keating, his colleague who constantly compromises and adapts his designs to fit the market’s demands. The battle between Roark and his adversaries is bloodcurdlingly well written. To me, The Fountainhead is a war of ideas. The great question the book poses: What is creation? What does it mean to create? And what is integrity in the process of creating? The novel is set in the milieu of architects in Twenties New York, where the battle between modernism and classicism raged, but even today its questioning of creation is one that plays in our minds: The balance between the commercial and the innovative, the market and pure expression. Rand uses the architect’s world as a metaphore to discuss art, engagement, individualism and autonomy. But The Fountainhead is also a love story that tinkers at the edges of decency. A relentless love develops between Howard Roark and Domonique Francon, that shows the hardships of giving yourself wholly to another while maintaining your own integrity. At a certain point Roark states: ‘I could die for you, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t live for you.’ It is an engaging, addictive novel that was begging to be staged.'


Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a writer and philosopher. Having fled from Russia to the United States, she turned resolutely against all forms of altruism, putting her faith in the absolute freedom of the individual. Her books and beliefs inspired and provoked, selling in their millions. The Fountainhead is Rand's most famous novel. Her other great novel Atlas Shrugged, an ode to capitalism, is the most popular book in the United States after the Holy Bible and was a major source of inspiration to the Republican Party in the run-up to the last elections.

Theatre director Ivo van Hove has held central positions in Dutch-Belgian cultural life, first as the head of Het Zuidelijk Toneel in Eindhoven from 1990 to 2000 and from 2001 as general director of the Toneelgroep Amsterdam. Toneelgroep Amsterdam has been invited by international festivals such as RuhrTriennale, Wiener Festwochen, the Edinburgh Festival and Festival d'Avignon, and performs in The United States, Canada, Russia and Australia.
Van Hove directed companies as the New York Theatre Workshop, the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, the Schaubuehne in Berlin and the Münchner Kammerspiele. He also staged productions at the Flemish Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels and in Amsterdam. In 2014 he staged the world premiere of the opera Brokeback Mountain at Teatro Real. One can track back his world-class reputation to his leadership of the annual Holland Festival, at which he programmed international theatre, music, opera and dance from 1997 to 2004.
Awarded repertoire of the Toneelgroep Amsterdam includes Shakespeare's Roman Tragedies and The Taming of the Shrew, Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage and John Cassavetes' Husbands and Opening Night.
Van Hove has received many accolades, including two Obie Awards for off-Broadway productions in New York (for More Stately Mansions and Hedda Gabler), the Flanders Oeuvre Prize (1995), the Theatre Festival Prize (1996) and the Archangel Award at the Edinburgh Festival (1999). He was made a knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in 2004. In 2007 he received the prize awarded by Dutch theatre critics. In 2008, he also received the Prosceniumprijs, the Dutch oeuvre prize, together with Jan Versweyveld, his stage designer for many years and in 2012 The Amsterdam Business Oeuvre Award. In 2014 Van Hove will receive an honorary doctorate for general merit of the University of Antwerp.

Toneelgroep Amsterdam (TA) is one of the leading ambassadors of Dutch performing art in the Netherlands and abroad. With a core composed of a broad and highly versatile ensemble of world-famous actors and a team of leading directors, TA is the in-house company of Amsterdam’s Stadsschouwburg Theatre and performs on stages worldwide. TA is lead by Ivo van Hove, who has been instrumental in attracting sensational international directors to the group such as Thomas Ostermeier, Johan Simons, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Grzegorz Jarzyna, Luk Perceval and Guy Cassiers, as well as members of a new generation such as Eric de Vroedt and Susanne Kennedy. TA sets itself apart by staging innovative and contemporary productions from the classic and modern repertoire for a wide audience in the Netherlands and abroad. The group performs for around 110,000 people a year, helping ensure that repertory theatre remains an indispensable component of contemporary culture. TA has an extensive talent development programme in areas such as acting, directing and stage design, as well as theatre technology and back-office work. In addition, TA has an extensive education programme, including an annual junior production, and there is a programme of other events occurring almost every day under the title of TA-extra. Furthermore, TA works together with alliance partner Adelheid Roosen ǀ Female Economy.


Ayn Rand
Ivo van Hove
Tamar van den Dop (Catherine Halsey)
Aus Greidanus jr. (Peter Keating)
Robert de Hoog (steve Mallory, Alvah Scarett)
Hans Kesting (Gail Wynand)
Hugo Koolschijn (Henry Cameron)
Ramsey Nasr (Howard Roark)
Frieda Pittoors (Mrs. Keating)
Halina Reijn (Dominique Francon)
Bart Slegers (Ellsworth M. Toohey)
Jan van Rheenen, Erica van Rijsewijk
Koen Tachelet
Peter van Kraaij
Jan Versweyveld
Eric Sleichim
An d’Huys
Tal Yarden
music performed by
Bl!ndman (drums):
Hannes Niewlaet
Yves Goemaere
assistant director
Matthias Mooij
assistant video
Rodrik Biersteker
private producer
Emmerique Granpré Moliere
head technique & production
Wolf-Götz Schwörer
production manager
Edith den Hamer
Marleen Koens
Toneelgroep Amsterdam

This performance was made possible with support by