Eugene O’Neill

directed by: Ivo van Hove

TONEELGROEP AMSTERDAM, Amsterdam, Netherlands

running time 2h and 55 min. one intermission.

Long Day’s Journey into Night is O’Neill’s ultimate family tragedy. It chronicles a single day in the life of the Tyrone family. From sunrise to sunset, we follow the parents James (Gijs Scholten van Aschat) and Mary (Marieke Heebink) and their two sons Jamie (Ramsey Nasr) and Edmund (Roeland Fernhout) in their struggle against each other and against the demons from their past. Even as the mother denies her morphine addiction, the other family members keep silent about the youngest son’s tuberculosis. No one in the family seems to be capable of facing up to the reality that they are all living lives of self-deception and unfulfilled dreams. It was Eugene O’Neill's wish that his masterpiece would not be published until after his death, and it’s no mystery why: the piece is a frank portrayal of his own youth, overshadowed by his mother's addiction and his father’s and brother’s alcoholism. Yet, it also attests to the deep love and sympathy binding the family members together, presenting a heartrending portrait of four people unable to live with – or without – each other.


Ivo van Hove has a special relationship with Eugene O’Neill. With Het Zuidelijk Toneel, he successfully directed „Mourning Becomes Electra“, „Desire Under the Elms“ and „More Stately Mansions“. With Staatstheater Stuttgart, he directed „Desire Under the Elms“, „More Stately Mansions“ with the New York Theatre Workshop (Obie Award best director), „Strange Interlude“ with the Münchner Kammerspiele and with Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the acclaimed „Mourning Becomes Electra“. Van Hove in De Volkskrant: ‘I always call him the American Shakespeare. Many of his plays are autobiographical, everything makes sense, nothing is made up, but it is still the great art of theatre. He can turn the most personal story into a universal tale. Apart from that, he is one of the few people who succeeded in building up a large oeuvre, while writing in different styles. From peasant dramas to the so-called sea plays, switching from a naturalistic style to an expressionistic one. And he loves digging around in the deepest crypts of the soul. In this context, he writes about ‘realism of the soul’, which does not mean you have to stage it realistically, which is often misunderstood. It purely means that he looks for the level of truth in that which goes on in people’s souls. For me, he is the playwright who expresses this idea in the most personal, universal, but at the same time also the most extreme way. This is why I am drawn to him once every couple of years.“

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. This is the country's prime theatre company and the official municipal theatre company of Amsterdam. With an annual average of five new plays and over 350 performances, the company plays to audiences of 110.000 each year. 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’s international focus explains why well-known directors such as Christoph Marthaler, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Grzegorz Jarzyna, Johan Simons and Thomas Ostermeier have joined the troupe as guest directors. 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. Along with his frequent guest directing at the New York Theatre Workshop (Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman) Van Hove has directed companies from the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg (Kameliendame by Alexandre Dumas), the Schaubühne Berlin (Der Menschenfeind by Molière, Edward II by Marlowe) and the Münchner Kammerspiele (Ludwig II by Luchino Visconti). He also staged opera at the Flemish Opera (Alban Berg’s Lulu and the complete Ring Cycle by Wagner). At La Monnaie in Brussels he directed Idomeneo by Mozart and in Amsterdam at the Dutch Opera Janaceck’ Macropulous Case and Der Schatzgräber by Franz Schreker.

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' 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.

During the last years Van Hove has directed at Toneelgroep Amsterdam Rocco and his Brothers by Luchino Visconti and Teorema based on the work of Pier Paolo Pasolini (both in partnership with the Ruhrtriennale), Antonioni Project by Michelangelo Antonioni, The Human Voice by Jean Cocteau, Summer Trilogy by Carlo Goldoni, And We'll Never Be Parted by Jon Fosse, The Russians! by Tom Lanoye, based on Chekhov, The Miser by Molière and John Cassavetes' Opening Night and Husbands (European coproduction Prospero Project).

After his successful staging of Scenes from a Marriage (2005) and Cries and Whispers (2009), Ivo van Hove has once again directed two works by Ingmar Bergman in 12/13 at Toneelgroep Amsterdam: After the Rehearsal and Persona. These performances are co-produced internationally by the Théâtre de la Place (in Liège), Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and Maison des Arts de Créteil. Season 13/14 Van Hove directs Longs Day’s Journey into Night and The Fountainhead.

The repertoire of Van Hove is characterized by its great diversity. He chooses both contemporary and classic texts. In recent years he discovered the power of making adaptations of screenplays. The fact that he has obtained first rights to adapt the film scripts of John Cassavetes and Michelangelo Antonioni is an important recognition of his craftsmanship and talent.

Van Hove re-examines repertoire through the prism of our own time and by doing so became a specialist in dismantling theatre classics. He can never be accused of slavish reproduction. Rather he uses the structure of the text in order to either choose extreme sceneries - in which different media play an important role -, or to make actors dare to take extraordinary liberties, in which he strives for a naked-soul acting. Van Hove's 2007 bare-staged Angels in America "was the most literal version of anti-space I've seen in the conventional theatre," says the author Tony Kushner. "It threw the entire event on the actors and their performances. There was no attempt to create stage illusion of any sort. The only departure from the play was that the Angel was played by a male actor. You learn immensely new things from whatever is formalistically unfamiliar in his productions."

Van Hove is fascinated by human behavior and relationships in the context of great social upheaval. In fact you can say that he transforms every play into a laboratory of human behavior. While choosing his repertoire he looks for arenas chock-full of conflicts and strategies, and he loves characters that live their obsession to the end. He focuses on their wounds and scars: he wants to hit where it hurts. Van Hove is an intuitive and accurate mathematician, researching the everlasting balancing act between our basest instincts and our more superficial manners and attitudes.

The scenery of Jan Versweyveld offers Van Hove the space needed for exploring the interior landscapes of the characters and needed for -what you may call - his a-moral approach. Van Hove doesn’t judge his characters and presents their good and bad qualities with the same amount of attention; in their full potency. At the same time the scenery articulates a vision on our contemporary culture. We live in an individualistic, self-absorbed and liquid society. Van Hove and Versweyveld show the mechanisms of this society but also make clear that we can’t live in isolation. A different notion of collectivity has to be found and theatre is the ultimate place to experiment with this, since according to Van Hove, it is both a place to celebrate the irrational and a place to ask questions. Without fears and without restraint.


Toneelgroep Amsterdam presents contemporary theatre of an international standard produced from its home base, the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg. As the Netherlands’ largest repertory company, it holds a prominent place in the Dutch capital’s international cultural scene. With an annual average of 20 plays and performing a total of over 350 performances, the company entertains audiences of 100,000 each year.

The kaleidoscope of our ideas and activities has its ramifications among theatres and theatre makers abroad. Toneelgroep Amsterdam is associated with such artists as Krzysztof Warlikowski, Christoph Marthaler, Wim Vandekeybus, Johan Simons, Thomas Ostermeier and Grzegorz Jarzyna and operates internationally with organizations such as Holland Festival, NTGent, the Belgian arts centres in Antwerp and Ghent, Wiener Festwochen, RuhrTriennale, Festival d’Avignon, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Centre Festival New York, Festival Transamerique Montreal, Barbican London, Schaubühne Berlin and the Münchner Kammerspiele.