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song from far away

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duration 1:15
premiere 10 Mar 2015


Song from Far Away was created in English last season in São Paulo, Brazil at the Mostra Internacional de Teatro de São Paulo.


A young banker returns from New York to his birth city Amsterdam to be present at the funeral of his younger brother. Before the funeral he writes letters, alternately melancholic, rebellious or calm in tone, in an attempt to come into contact with the brother he never had any real contact with. A monologue as a mourning process.

Song from Far Away was written especially for Eelco Smits by English playwright Simon Stephens. American singer-songwriter Mark Eitzel composed the ominous theme song. Together with La voix humaine (by Jean Cocteau, played by Halina Reijn) and The other voice (written and played by Ramsey Nasr), the play is part of an organically developing series of monologues.  For director Ivo van Hove, they are an exploration of the loneliness of the western cosmopolitan citizen at the beginning of the 21st century.

Song from Far Away was created in English at the at the Mostra Internacional de Teatro de São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil. The play has since been performed at the Young Vic in London for three weeks and at the Galway International Arts Festival in Ireland.


'Dreamlike and deeply unsettling … exquisitely matched by Jan Versweyveld’s set and lighting' - The Times ****

'A frail, gorgeous monologue – Smits is splendid – wryly charismatic, brimming with confusion and long-suppressed feeling' - Time Out ****

'Van Hove distills his staging to the heart' - Financial Times ****

'Simon Stephens’s first original work at the Young Vic is meticulous' - The Independent ****

'Smits delivers. With an almost misleadingly light tone, reserved acting and a surprisingly beautiful singing voice, with which he sings a song by the American songwriter Mark Eitzel – also written especially for him. Song From Far Away makes complete sense' - Parool ****

'It is clever how Smits, slowly and with very careful and modest acting, eventually manages to draw the audience into the helplessness, the raw mourning and the solitude. How he manages to keep it small and vulnerable and still succeeds in moving the spectators, to the core' - De Telegraaf ****

'Muted monologue makes an impression' - Theaterkrant ****

'The battle that Willem, played by Eelco Smits, fights with himself in this monologue is impressive.' - De Volkskrant ***

‘Song from Far Away offers a window into the heart. Its staging reflects us back to ourselves, like pale ghosts peering into the abyss, straining to hear a distant song.’ The Guardian

‘Shakespeare would call it the undiscovered country, from which no traveller returns. Beckett might see a light gleaming for an instant, pointlessly, before night snuffs it out again. And now Simon Stephens turns his thoughts to death, and everything it hollows or spurs, for this elegant solo show from Toneelgroep Amsterdam.’The Irish Times


Simon Stephens about Song from Far Away

'I wanted to reconstruct the past lives of the two brothers through their correspondence. Their letters take us directly into the intimacy of their relationship, their common ties, but also explore the questions which remain unanswered following the death of a loved one. This is a piece about loss and the fact that the past is a foreign country to which we can never return. The songs by Mark Eitzel, with whom I worked on Marine Parade, reinforce the intimate atmosphere of family, memories and farewells.'


Simon Stephens is one of the most talented authors of his generation. Motortown, Pornography, Harper Regan, Wastwater and Three Kingdoms are gaining response in his country and abroad. His theatrical scripts are often bold family portraits, deeply rooted in Social Realism, but they also have a lyrical and optimistic tone that give him a completely unique place in contemporary English dramatic literature. He wrote Song from Far Away especially for Eelco Smits. For Toneelgroep Amsterdam and Schauspielhaus Essen, he wrote Ubu, based on the work of Alfred Jarry.

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