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National Theatre 2017 Autumn Press Conference

NT entrance 3 Feb 2015 Photo by Philip Vile
NT entrance 3 Feb 2015 Photo by Philip Vile
  • Sam Mendes directs the UK premiere of Stefano Massini’s The Lehman Trilogy adapted by Ben Power
  • A broad programme including three world premieres, and classics reimagined by Polly Stenham and Patrick Marber
  • Indhu Rubasingham directs the world premiere of Francis Turnly’s play The Great Wave, a co-production with the Tricycle Theatre
  • World premiere of David Hare’s new play I’m not Running, directed by Neil Armfield
  • Natasha Gordon’s debut play Nine Night premieres at the National Theatre, directed by Roy Alexander Weise
  • Laura Wade makes her National Theatre debut with Home, I’m Darling, a co-production with Theatr Clwyd
  • Sophie Okonedo joins Ralph Fiennes in Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Simon Godwin
  • Leading actors returning to the NT include Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Kirby, Cecilia Noble, Katherine Parkinson and Indira Varma, with Colin Morgan making his NT debut
  • NT will be on tour for 115 weeks and will visit 40 venues and 36 towns and cities by March 2019
  • A new schools tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will begin in autumn 2018 and be performed in schools across the UK
  • Public Acts – a new programme to create participatory theatre with local communities launches with a new production of Pericles in the Olivier theatre
  • The pilot of Open Access Smart Capture, new technology enabling access service users the ability to attend any National Theatre performance via always-on closed-captioning service
  • National Theatre and Spotlight launch ProFile – a resource for TV, film and theatre casting directors to address the underrepresentation of D/deaf and disabled actors

Olivier Theatre

Rufus Norris - Credit Richard H Smith
Rufus Norris – Credit Richard H Smith

Ian Rickson directs Brian Friel‘s Translations, a powerful account of language and nationhood. Set in rural Donegal, the turbulent relationship between England and Ireland plays out in one quiet community. Cast includes Colin Morgan with designs by Rae Smith, lighting by Neil Austin and music by Stephen WarbeckTranslations is a Travelex show with hundreds of tickets available at £15 for every performance, opening in May 2018.

Patrick Marber adapts and directs Ionesco‘s glorious dark comedy Exit the King. Surrounded by his court, an unpredictable, belligerent and magnetic king – once all powerful – rages against the inevitability of his own decline. Designed by Anthony Ward, lighting Hugh Vanstone and music and sound Adam Cork. Cast includes Rhys Ifans as the King and Indira Varma as his Queen. Exit the King is a Travelex show with hundreds of tickets available at £15 for every performance, opening in July 2018.

Simon Godwin directs Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo as the iconic lovers in a new production of Antony and Cleopatra opening in September 2018. Set design by Hildegard Bechtler, costume design by Wojciech Dziedzic, lighting by Tim Lutkin, music by Michael Bruce and sound by Christopher Shutt. The production will be broadcast worldwide as part of the NT Live season. Production supported by Mary M. Miner, Shawn M. Donnelley & Christopher M. Kelly and Monica G-S & Ali E Wambold.

Shakespeare’s late romance Pericles is remixed in Chris Bush‘s vivid new adaptation. Directed by Emily Lim, choreographed by Imogen Knight with music composed by James FortunePericlesmarks the first Public Acts production featuring a large community ensemble and small cast of professional actors who will bring this epic story of love, loss, family and community to the Olivier theatre in August 2018.

Lyttelton Theatre

30 years after the rediscovery of Absolute Hell Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the NT to direct Rodney Ackland‘s plunge into post-war Soho, full of despair, longing and a need to escape. Set design is byLizzie Clachan with costumes designed by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Jon Clark and sound by Paul Arditti. Opening in April 2018, cast to be announced.

In Julie Polly Stenham updates Strindberg’s tragedy Miss Julie to contemporary London. Upstairs, the party is dying but still Julie dances. Downstairs, Jean and Kristin listen and wait. Carrie Cracknelldirects Vanessa Kirby in this new version designed by Tom Scutt, opening in June 2018. Julie is a Travelex show with hundreds of tickets available for every performance at £15.

The Lehman Trilogy, by Stefano Massini a hit across Europe, is staged at the NT in a new English adaptation by Ben Power, directed by Sam Mendes, a co-production with Neal Street Productions. On a cold September morning in 1844, a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside. Dreaming of a new life in the new world, he is soon joined by his two brothers and an American epic begins. 163 years later the firm they establish, Lehman Brothers, spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy, and triggers the largest financial crisis in history. This is the story of a family and a company that changed the world. Stefano Massini’s vast and poetic play unfolds over three parts in a single evening, opening in July 2018, cast to be announced.

David Hare’s new play I’m not Running, directed by Neil Armfield opening in autumn 2018. Pauline Gibson has unintentionally become a national treasure by staying out of party politics, while one of her close friends from university, Jack Gould, is making his way to the top of the Labour Party. The 20 year span of their adult lives and their contrasting fortunes raise sharp questions about how to do good in the new century. After the world wide success of his production of Cloudstreet which visited the National in 1999 and 2001, Neil Armfield directs his first NT production, cast to be announced.

Dorfman Theatre

Rufus Norris at NT Autumn 2017 Press Conference (c) Cameron Slater
Rufus Norris at NT Autumn 2017 Press Conference (c) Cameron Slater

Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre Indhu Rubasingham returns to the National Theatre to direct The Great Wave – in a co-production with the Tricycle, an epic play by Francis Turnly. Developed, while on a Channel 4 playwriting bursary at the Tricycle, the play is set in Japan and North Korea and tells the story of two sisters, Hanako and Reiko, who are struck by a gigantic wave. Reiko survives while Hanako is, seemingly, lost to the sea. Their mother, however, can’t shake the feeling her daughter is still alive. Designed by Tom Piper, video projection by Luke Halls, lighting design by Oliver Fenwick, movement direction by Polly Bennett, music by David Shrubsole, and sound design by Alex Caplen. Opening at the NT in March 2018, cast to be announced.

Natasha Gordon’s debut play Nine Night is a funny and touching exploration of the rituals of family. The nine nights extended wake is an important custom in West Indian families. But for Gloria’s children and grandchildren, marking her death with a party that lasts a week and a half is a test that forces them to confront themselves and each other. Roy Alexander Weise directs, designed byRajha Shakiry. Cast includes Cecilia Noble, opening in April 2018.

Ned Bennett’s highly praised production for the Orange Tree Theatre of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ provocative and hilarious satire An Octoroon transfers to the National Theatre in June 2018 in a co-productionCast to be announced.

Laura Wade makes her NT and Theatr Clwyd debuts with Home, I’m Darling, a new comedy about sex, cake and the quest to be a perfect 50s housewife. Cast includes Katherine Parkinson with further cast to be announced. A National Theatre co-production with Theatr Clwyd, directed by Clwyd artistic director Tamara Harvey, also making her NT debut, and designed by Anna Fleischle. The production opens at Theatr Clwyd in June and in the Dorfman theatre the following month.

Justin Audibert directs a new production of The Winter’s Tale for primary schools, opening in the Dorfman theatre in February 2018. This exciting new version of the play, adapted by Justin and the company, is the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for younger audiences, designed by Lucy Sierra with music by Jonathan Girling. Shakespeare for younger audiences is supported by: The Ingram Trust, Archie Sherman Charitable Trust. The National Theatre’s Partner for Learning is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

At the Young Vic

The Jungle by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson of Good Chance Theatre tells stories of loss, fear, community and hope. Europe’s largest unofficial refugee camp, the Calais ‘Jungle’ became a temporary home for more than 10,000 people at its peak – many desperate to find a way to enter the UK. Commissioned by the NT in a co-production with the Young Vic The Jungle is directed byStephen Daldry and Justin Martin, set design Miriam Buether, costume design Catherine Kodicek, sound designer Paul Arditti and lighting Jon Clark. Opening at the Young Vic in December, cast to be announced. Generously supported by Glenn and Phyllida Earle and Clive and Sally Sherling.

Public Acts

Public Acts: a nationwide initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community. The programme builds on our experience of creating the award-winning we’re here because we’re here with volunteer performers and theatres across the UK.

Public Acts is inspired by Public Works, The Public Theater’s ground-breaking programme of participatory theatre in New York.

Public Acts will be built on sustained partnerships with organisations that share our vision for theatre as a force for change. Over the next two years we will work with the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch and a number of community organisations across Greater London. Through these partnerships we will invite members of London’s diverse communities to take part in regular creative activity and join us in the creation of theatre productions.

The first of these will be a new production of Pericles on the Olivier stage in August 2018. It will feature a small cast of professional actors together with a large number of non-professional actors who will be cast through their connection with our community partner organisations. The NT has commissioned Chris Bush, a writer with extensive experience working with large community ensembles, to adapt Shakespeare’s Pericles which will be directed by NT resident director Emily Lim. The production will also feature cameo performances from a diverse range of local performance groups.

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch will be the first theatre partner for Public Acts. The Queen’s Theatre is a vibrant regional theatre working in Outer East London, Essex and beyond. Over 200,000 people enjoy the programme each year, including the best in home grown theatre, visiting live entertainment and inspiring Learning and Participation projects including a wide range of life enhancing workshops and classes for people of all ages. Queen’s Theatre staff will work alongside NT staff on Pericles.

Our community partners for Public Acts over the next two years will include: Body & Soul, a charity dedicated to transforming the impact of childhood adversity; Open Age, a charity that works with older Londoners to create opportunities for them to connect, learn new skills and combat isolation; Thames Reach a London-based charity helping homeless and vulnerable people to find decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives; The Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (HASWA) works with all sections of the local Havering community, particularly of Asian origin with specific emphasis on isolated and disadvantaged individuals; Bromley by Bow Centre supports vulnerable young people, adults and families to help create a cohesive, healthy, successful and vibrant east London community, Coram, the UK children’s charity that helps children and young people develop their skills and emotional health, finds adoptive parents and upholds children’s rights, creating a change that lasts a lifetime and Three Faiths Forum (3FF) who work to build good relations between people of all different faiths, beliefs and identities.

Future Public Acts productions will be developed in partnership with theatres and community groups outside London.

Generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Sackler Trust, founding supporters of Public Acts. The first 3 years of Public Acts is also supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.


D/deaf and disabled actors are currently under-represented on stage and screen in the UK. The National Theatre and Spotlight have created a new resource to champion this talent pool by offering industry professionals the opportunity to watch these actors in action on an online video database. It is a free service, both for performers and industry users, and is available for the use of film, theatre and television professionals across the UK. Its aim is to widen the pool from which casting directors and other industry professionals draw their talent, with a view to creating a more inclusive industry in the long term, and one that better represents the diversity of the nation.

ProFile was created as part of the National Theatre’s Creative Diversity Project, a pilot project focusing on diversity and inclusion at the NT, one strand of which aims to address the under-representation of D/deaf and disabled actors on our stages.

The NT is committed to establishing a target to increase the representation of D/deaf and disabled actors on our stages. To do this, we are working with a range of artists from the D/deaf and disabled community, casting directors and some of the UK’s leading drama schools to ensure the target is meaningful and realistic.

National Theatre from the northeast Photo by Philip Vile
National Theatre from the northeast Photo by Philip Vile

Open Access Smart Capture

The National Theatre today announces the pilot launch of a brand new technological innovation, Open Access Smart Capture.

The NT and its partner for innovation, Accenture, have developed new technology, which will mean for the first-time access service users will be able to attend any performance thanks to a transformative, always-on closed captioning and audio-description service.

The smart glasses support the NT’s vision to ensure theatre access for all and have been designed and manufactured by Epson, with ease-of-use, durability and accessibility in mind. The glasses enable the user to discreetly see the captions for theatre performances on a screen directly in front of their eyes from any seat in the auditorium. At the heart of this advanced system is new technology which aims to achieve 97% accuracy of the timing of the captions and descriptions.

Captioned performances are currently restricted to selected performances at the National Theatre with the NT programming up to four captioned performances and up to three audio-described performances per production with captions and audio-description delivered live. Since its inception in 2014, the vision for Open Access Smart Capture has been to have always-on smart captioning systems in all three of the NT’s theatres by October 2018 with always-on audio description by April 2019, ensuring all performances will be fully accessible via this new technology.  Action on Hearing Loss estimated that by 2035, 1 in 5 people will be affected by hearing loss. This equates to 11 million potential customers who could benefit from an always-on service, with the freedom to attend any performance, seated anywhere in the auditorium, and have their access needs met.

Over the next year the pilot phase will rigorously test this unique access system and during this time the NT will evaluate the Open Access Smart Capture technology, initially in the Dorfman theatre, with the system being further developed on large scale shows in the Lyttelton and Olivier theatres to understand the scale and scope of the technology and ensure the system is adaptable for all service users. The National Theatre has had a close working relationship with StageText and VocalEyes throughout and will continue to work alongside them on this transformative project.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time schools tour

Today the NT announces a schools tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, in a specially staged production which will visit selected secondary schools from autumn 2018 targeting areas of the country with lower engagement with theatre. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time schools tour marks the NT’s desire to take more work into schools over the coming years. The novel is the winner of more than 17 literary awards and features on the national curriculum.

Winner of seven Olivier Awards and five Tony Awards® including ‘Best Play’, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time brings Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel to life on stage, adapted by two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens and directed by Olivier and Tony Award®‑winning director Marianne Elliott.

Simon Stephens’ said: ‘It means the world to me that Curious Incident will be touring schools around the country. I worked as a schoolteacher teaching kids in Dagenham in Essex 20 years ago. I loved it. I still think of myself as a teacher. I have seen firsthand how inspiring drama is to young people in schools. I believe the arts to be fundamental to our society. We can’t afford to lose them from our education system. I am delighted that our play will play its part in introducing young people to the theatre. I always hoped that Curious Incident was a play that could be performed anywhere, by anyone. The play is designed to provoke and inspire imagination and interpretation in its staging and inspiration in its audience. The tour will, I hope, provide the same kind of imagination and inspiration throughout the country.’

Funded by the Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund

Schools touring is supported by The Mohn Westlake Foundation.

The National Theatre on tour

The NT will tour to 40 venues in 36 towns and cities across the UK, for a total of 115 playing weeks, until March 2019

The UK tour of War Horse and a UK and Ireland tour of Hedda Gabler both open this week. The War Horse 10th Anniversary tour opens tonight (3 October) at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, andHedda Gabler opens on Friday (6 October) at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Due to demand War Horse will return to the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury from 27 February – 16 March 2019, following its 17 venue UK tour, which coincides with the Centenary commemorations of the end of the First World War. The tour will also visit the Sunderland Empire from 6 – 23 February 2019. Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places and Things (a Headlong Production) and James Graham’sThis House (co-produced by Jonathan Church Productions and Headlong), which both originated at the NT, will also visit numerous theatres across the country.

A 10th Anniversary tour of War Horse begins tonight at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. Nick Stafford’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s remarkable story of courage, loyalty and friendship features ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing, galloping horses to live on stage. War Horse is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, designed by Rae Smith, with puppet direction, design and fabrication by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler for Handspring Puppet Company, lighting by Paule Constable, and movement and horse choreography by Toby Sedgwick, with video design by Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer for 59 Productions, songmaker John Tams, music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Christopher ShuttKatie Henry is the revival director and Craig Leo is the associate puppetry director.  The resident puppetry director is Matthew Forbes and resident director, Charlotte Peters. For tour venues and dates, visitwarhorseonstage.co.uk.

Following a sold-out run at the National Theatre earlier this year, Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, in a new version by Patrick Marber, directed by Ivo van Hove, begins a UK and Irelona tour this week at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, continuing its journey across the UK to Edinburgh, Leicester, Salford, Norwich, Hull, Aberdeen, Northampton, Glasgow, Wolverhampton, Woking, Nottingham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York, Milton Keynes and Dublin. Set and lighting design for Hedda Gabler is by Jan Versweyveld, with costume design by An D’Huys and sound by Tom Gibbons.  The Associate Directors are Jeff James and Rachel Lincoln. For tour venues and dates, visit heddagableronstage.com.

Following a critically-acclaimed, sold-out season at the National Theatre and in London’s West End, People, Places & Things embarks on a major UK tour this autumn for Headlong in a co-production with the National Theatre, HOME and Exeter Northcott Theatre. People, Places & Things is written by Duncan Macmillan, and directed by Jeremy Herrin with Holly Race Roughan. The play features set designs by Bunny Christie, costumes by Christina Cunningham, lighting by James Farncombe, music by Matthew Herbert, sound by Tom Gibbons and video design by Andrzej Goulding. For tour venues and dates, visit the website.

Jonathan Church Productions and Headlong present The National Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre production of This House, produced in the West End by Nica Burns, Neal Street Productions and Headlong. James Graham’s smash-hit political drama examining the 1974 hung parliament tours the UK for the first time. Directed by Jeremy Herrin, the production is designed by Rae Smith with lighting design by Paule Constable, music by Stephen Warbeck, choreography by Scott Ambler and sound by Ian Dickinson. For tour venues and dates, visit the website.

NT international touring

The NT’s Olivier and Tony Award®-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tours the world, visiting the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong, with further international dates to be announced.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time recently completed a North American tour which took in 30 cities across the USA.

The play is adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book, and directed by Marianne Elliott. The production is designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting design by Paule Constable and video design by Finn Ross.  Movement is by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, music by Adrian Sutton (who also composed music for Angels in America andWar Horse) and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph. For more information visit http://www.curiousonstage.com/global/

NT transfers

Internationally, People, Places & Things will transfer to St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York later this month and Angels in America transfers to the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway in February 2018.

Following a sold-out season at the National Theatre and in London’s West End, Denise Gough reprises her Olivier award-winning role in the American Premiere of People, Places & Things at St. Ann’s Warehouse — a raw, heartbreaking and truthful performance about life spinning recklessly out of control. This American Premiere marks the first collaboration between St. Ann’s Warehouse and the National Theatre. People, Places & Things is produced in New York by the National Theatre, St Ann’s Warehouse, Bryan Singer Productions and Headlong. For more information visit the website.

The great work returns to Broadway from February 2018. Angels in America will open at the Neil Simon Theater on 21 March. The NT Production of Tony Kushner’s epic masterwork, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, returns to Broadway for the first time since its now-legendary original production opened in 1993. Starring two-time Tony Award® winner Nathan Laneand Academy Award® and Tony Award nominee Andrew Garfield, the cast of Angels in America will feature fellow original National Theatre cast members Susan BrownDenise GoughAmanda Lawrence, James McArdle, and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. Angels in America is directed by Marianne ElliottIan MacNeil is the Scenic Designer, Nicky Gillibrand is the Costume Designer, Paule Constable is the Lighting Designer, Adrian Sutton is the composer , Ian Dickinson is the Sound Designer. The Puppetry design is by Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell (also Puppetry Director and Movement), Robby Graham is the Movement Director, and Illusions are by Chris Fisher. Angels in America is NT America, Jujamcyn Theaters and Elliott & Harper Productions. For more information visit angelsbroadway.com/

American Express is the preferred card partner for Angels in America Broadway

National Theatre Live

NT Live currently screens to 60 countries across the globe.

Hamlet returns to cinemas on Thursday 5th October. Lyndsey Turner’s production starring Benedict Cumberbatch was originally staged at the Barbican Theatre in August 2015 and broadcast live to cinemas later the same year.

Stephen Sondheim’s Follies directed by Dominic Cooke features a cast of 37 including Imelda StauntonJanie Dee and Tracie Bennett. Broadcast live on 16 November.

Rory Kinnear plays Marx and Oliver Chris plays Engels in Young Marx directed by Nicholas Hytner and broadcast live from the Bridge Theatre on 7 December.

Benedict Andrews directs Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell in The Young Vic production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Captured during its West End run and broadcast on 22 February 2018.

Nicholas Hytner directs Ben Whishaw, Michelle Fairley, David Calder and David Morrissey in Julius Caesar. Broadcast from the Bridge Theatre on 22 March 2018.

Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff appear in a new production of Macbeth, directed by Rufus Norris. Broadcast live on 10 May.

Simon Godwin’s production of Antony and Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo will be broadcast live. Date tbc.

Sky Arts is the sponsor of NT Live in the UK

The National Theatre
At the National Theatre, we make world-class theatre that is entertaining, challenging and inspiring, and we make it for everyone. In 2016-2017, the NT staged 26 productions and gave 2,585 performances at our home on the South Bank. The NT’s award-winning programme had a UK paying audience of 1.8 million, 400,000 of which were NT Live audiences.

The work the National Theatre produces appeals to the widest possible audiences with new plays, musicals, re-imagined classics and new work for young audiences. The NT’s work is seen in the West End, on tour throughout the UK and internationally, and in collaborations and co-productions with partners across the country. Through NT Live, we broadcast some of the best of British theatre to over 2,500 venues in 60 countries around the world.

Our extensive Learning programme offers talks, events and workshops for people of all ages, and reaches nationwide through programmes such as Connections, our annual festival of new plays for schools and youth theatres. In 2016-2017 there were 196,826 participations through the NT Learning events programme. Over 3,000 schools have signed up to the free streaming service, On Demand. In Schools, since its launch in September 2015.

The National Theatre is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

The Public Theater – Public Works

Launched in 2013, PUBLIC WORKS is a major initiative of New York’s Public Theater that seeks to engage the people of New York by making them creators and not just spectators. Working with community partner organizations in all five boroughs, Public Works invites members of diverse communities to participate in theatre workshops, to attend classes, to attend productions, and to become involved in the daily life of The Public. Founded by Resident Director Lear deBessonet, Public Works deliberately blurs the line between professional artists and community members, creating theatre that is not only for the people, but by and of the people as well.

Public Works exemplifies The Public Theater’s long-standing commitment to community engagement that is at the core of the award-winning theater’s mission. It is animated by the idea that theater is a place of possibility, where the boundaries that separate us from each other in the rest of life can fall away. It seeks to create a space where we can not only reflect on the world as is, but where we can actually propose new possibilities for what our society might be.



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