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Tessa Ross and Rufus Norris announce plans for National Theatre

Chief Executive Designate Tessa Ross and Director Designate Rufus NorrisChief Executive Designate Tessa Ross and Director Designate Rufus Norris, announcing plans for their opening year at the National Theatre, said today: ‘It’s with great pleasure and excitement that we present our first season at the National. We want to make the very best theatre and share it with as many people as possible. So we’ve started by putting together a group of extraordinary performers, writers and theatre-makers, led by our new team of Associates: Paule Constable, Dominic Cooke, Marianne Elliott, Tom Morris, Ben Power and Lyndsey Turner.

The work we make over the coming years will strive to be as open, as diverse, as collaborative and as national as possible. We want to inspire artists and audiences to think in new ways, to constantly re-imagine the act of making theatre. This first season is just a beginning, but it contains the seeds of what is to come. ‘Thanks to our continuing partnership with Travelex, we’ll have over 100,000 tickets available at £15, and our building is more open and inviting than ever before. We hope there is something here for everyone, whether they’ve been to the National many times or are thinking about their first visit. We look forward to welcoming them all.’

In summary:

  • New plays by Alice Birch, Caryl Churchill, Patrick Marber, Duncan Macmillan and Wallace Shawn
  • Re-imagined classics: A new version of Everyman by Carol Ann Duffy with Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role
  • A new musical, wonder.land by Damon Albarn and Moira Buffini
  • New adaptations of Turgenev and DH Lawrence
  • New productions of Shakespeare, Farquhar and Granville Barker
  • Sally Cookson’s staging of Jane Eyre
  • Modern masterpieces by Caryl Churchill, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Timberlake Wertenbaker and August Wilson
  • A commitment to regional relationships, beginning with co-productions with Bristol Old Vic, Headlong, Manchester International Festival and the Royal Exchange Theatre
  • In the Temporary Theatre, work by RashDash, Alexander Zeldin, Tim Crouch and Islington Community Theatre
  • Travelex’s sponsorship of £15 Tickets continues with almost half the tickets for four productions still at £15; Friday Rush £20 tickets introduced for all shows
  • Paule Constable, Dominic Cooke, Marianne Elliott, Tom Morris, Ben Power and Lyndsey Turner to be NT Associate Directors; also directing at the NT this year are Sally Cookson, Nadia Fall, Polly Findlay, Simon Godwin, Jeremy Herrin, Roger Michell, Ian Rickson and Indhu Rubasingham
  • National Theatre: On Demand in Schools launches with Frankenstein, King Lear and Othello available free in every secondary school in the UK
  • National Theatre Live broadcasts Everyman from the NT and the Young Vic’s A View from the Bridge from the West End; the film of London Road will be released later in the year
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and One Man, Two Guvnors continue their UK tours

EVERYMAN adapted by Carol Ann Duffy
Previews from 22 April, press night 29 April, continuing in repertoire
NT Live broadcast on 16th July
Rufus Norris will direct EVERYMAN, adapted by Carol Ann Duffy, with Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role, opening in the Olivier Theatre as part of the Travelex £15 Tickets season on 29th April. EVERYMAN will have set designs by Ian MacNeil, costumes by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Paul Anderson, choreography by Javier De Frutos, music by William Lyons and sound by Paul Arditti. It will be broadcast to cinemas by NT Live on 16 July.

Everyman is successful, popular and riding high when Death comes calling. He is forced to abandon the life he has built and embark on a last, frantic search to recruit a friend, anyone, to speak in his defence. But Death is close behind, and time is running out. One of the great primal, spiritual myths, EVERYMAN asks whether it is only in death that we can understand our lives. A cornerstone of English drama since the 15th century, this new production has words by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, and movement by Javier De Frutos.

Carol Ann Duffy is Professor and Creative Director of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. She was appointed Poet Laureate in 2009. Her poetry has received many awards, including the Signal Prize for Children’s Verse, the Whitbread, Forward and T. S. Eliot Prizes, and the Lannan and E. M. Forster Prize in America. In 2011The Bees won the Costa Poetry Award, and in 2012 she won the PEN Pinter Prize. Chiwetel Ejiofor returns to the National – where he last appeared in 2000 as Romeo, Peer Gynt, and in Blue/Orange, receiving the Evening Standard Best Newcomer Award – to play the title role. His many film and TV performances since then include 12 Years A Slave for which he won the BAFTA Award for Leading Actor and received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations; A Season in the Congo, Half of a Yellow Sun, 2012, The Shadow Line, Dancing on the Edge, Tsunami: the Aftermath, Kinky Boots and Dirty Pretty Things (Independent Film Award for Best Actor). Theatre includes The Seagull (Royal Court) and the title role in Othello at the Donmar, for which he won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor. Rufus Norris’ productions for the National include Behind the Beautiful Forevers, The Amen Corner, Table, London Road, Death and the King’s Horseman and Market Boy. His other work includes Feast, Vernon God Little and Tintin for the Young Vic; the Olivier Award-winning Cabaret in the West End and on tour; Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway; and Festen at the Almeida, West End and New York. Screen work includes Broken, which won the British Independent Film Award for Best Film, and the film of London Road which will be released later this year.
Press night: Wednesday 29 April

LIGHT SHINING IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE Lyttelton Theatre by Caryl Churchill Previews from 15 April, press night 23 April, in repertoire until 22 June LIGHT SHINING IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE by Caryl Churchill will be directed by Lyndsey Turner, opening in the Lyttelton Theatre on 23 April. The production will have set designs by Es Devlin, costumes by Soutra Gilmour, lighting by Bruno Poet, movement by Joseph Alford, music by Helen Chadwick, and sound by Christopher Shutt. The cast will include Trystan Gravelle, Joshua James, Amanda Lawrence, Ashley McGuire, Simon Manyonda and Alan Williams.

In the aftermath of a bloody and brutal civil war, England stands at a crossroads. Food shortages, economic instability, and a corrupt political system threaten to plunge the country into darkness and despair. The Parliament men who fought against the tyranny of the King now argue for stability and compromise, but the people are hungry for change. For a brief moment, a group of rebels, preachers, soldiers and dissenters dare to imagine an age of hope, a new Jerusalem in which freedom will be restored to the land.

LIGHT SHINING IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE tells the story of the men and women who went into battle for the soul of England. It speaks of the revolution we never had and the legacy it left behind. Caryl Churchill’s seminal plays include Cloud Nine, Top Girls, Serious Money, The Skriker (NT 1994), A Number and Love and Information. Her new version of Strindberg’s A Dream Play was seen here in 2005. Caryl Churchill’s new play, Here We Go, will open in the Dorfman Theatre in December (see page 10).

Lyndsey Turner’s directing credits include Fathers and Sons and Philadelphia, Here I Come! (Donmar Warehouse); Machinal (Roundabout, New York); Chimerica (Almeida and West End); Posh (Royal Court and West End); There Is A War and Edgar and Annabel (National Theatre); Alice and The Way Of The World (Sheffield Theatres); and Our Private Life, Contractions and A Miracle (Royal Court). Press night: Thursday 23 April

THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM Olivier Theatre by George Farquhar
Previews from 19 May, press night 26 May, continuing in repertoire
Simon Godwin will direct Farquhar’s THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM, production opening in the Olivier on 26 May; with designs by Lizzie Clachan, lighting by Jon Clark, movement by Jonathan Goddard, music by Michael Bruce and sound by Christopher Shutt. The ‘Beaux’: Mr Aimwell and Mr Archer, two charming, dissolute young men who have blown their fortunes in giddy London. Shamed and debt-ridden, they flee to provincial Lichfield. Their ‘Stratagem’: to marry for money.

Lodged at the local inn, posing as master and servant, they encounter a teeming variety of human obstacles: a crooked landlord, a fearsome highwayman, a fervent French Count, a maid on the make, a drunken husband, a furious butler, a natural healer and a strange, turbulent priest. But their greatest obstacle is love. When the Beaux meet their match in Dorinda and Mrs Sullen they are most at risk, for in love they might be truly discovered.

For the National, Simon Godwin has directed Strange Interlude and Man and Superman (opening in February); he is an Associate Director of the Royal Court, where his productions include Routes, NSFW, The Witness, Goodbye to All That, The Acid Test, and Wanderlust. His work elsewhere includes Two Gentlemen of Verona for the RSC, Regeneration (Royal and Derngate Theatres, Northampton/UK tour) and The Winter’s Tale (Headlong/Nuffield Theatres); and for Bristol Old Vic, where he is an Associate Artist,The Little Mermaid, Krapp’s Last Tape/A Kind Of Alaska, The Faith Healer and Far Away. Press night: Tuesday 26 May

wonder.land Manchester International Festival, 2 – 12 July by Damon Albarn and Moira Buffini Olivier Theatre, from November wonder.land, a new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, with music by Damon Albarn and book and lyrics by Moira Buffini, will be directed by Rufus Norris in a co-production with Manchester International Festival; commissioned by Manchester International Festival, the National Theatre and the Théâtre du Châtelet. It will open at MIF with performances from 2 – 12 July (previews from 29 June), and come to the Olivier Theatre in November for the winter season; in 2016, wonder.land will visit the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The production will have set designs by Rae Smith, with projections by 59 Productions, costumes by Katrina Lindsay, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Paul Arditti, choreography by Javier De Frutos and musical direction by David Shrubsole.

Welcome to wonder.land, where you can be exactly who you want to be. Aly, 12, loves this extraordinary virtual world. Bullied at school and unhappy at home, wonder.land lets her escape from her parents, from teachers, from herself. Online, Aly becomes Alice: brave, beautiful and in control. But some of the people she meets – the weird Dum and Dee, the creepy Cheshire Cat, the terrifying Red Queen – seem strangely familiar. As hard as Aly tries to keep them apart, real life and wonder.land begin to collide in ever more curious and dangerous ways.

Damon Albarn is a Grammy and Brit Award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and composer. His first full-length opera composition, Monkey: Journey to the West, created in collaboration with Jamie Hewlett and Chen Shi Zheng, premiered at Manchester International Festival in 2007. His second opera Dr Dee, co-created with Rufus Norris, premiered at MIF in 2011. Albarn has written music for film soundtracks to 101 Reykjavik, Ravenous and Broken. Releases outside of Blur and Gorillaz also include: Mali Music, The Good The Bad and The Queen, Rocket Juice & The Moon, Africa Express Presents: Maison Des Jeunes and, most recently, his Mercury-nominated debut solo album Everyday Robots.

Moira Buffini’s plays include Welcome to Thebes and Dinner for the National Theatre and A Vampire Story for NT Connections; Handbagged for the Tricycle Theatre/Vaudeville (Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre); Dying For It (adapted from Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide) and Marianne Dreams (adapted from Catherine Storr’s book) for the Almeida Theatre; Loveplay for the RSC; and Silence for Birmingham Rep (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize). Her screenplays include Tamara Drewe, Jane Eyre and Byzantium. She recently directed her first short film, Father. Rufus Norris directed Dr Dee at Manchester International Festival in 2011 and at ENO in 2012.

THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT Lyttelton Theatre by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Previews from 10 June, press night 17 June, continuing in repertoire
THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT by Stephen Adly Guirgis will receive its UK premiere, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, opening on 17 June in the Lyttelton. The designer will be Robert Jones, with lighting by Oliver Fenwick and sound by Carolyn Downing.

Things are looking up for Jackie. He’s out of jail and staying clean thanks to his sponsor. He might even have found a job. And of course there’s Veronica, who he’s loved since 8th grade. Nothing could come between them – except a hat. Steven Adly Guirgis’ play received six Tony nominations on Broadway, where it premiered in 2011. Poetic, profane and hilarious, this whip-smart look at love and addiction finds light even in the darkest corners of New York City.

A playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, Stephen Adly Guirgis is a member and former co-artistic director of New York City’s LAByrinth Theater Company. His stage plays include Between Riverside and Crazy, Our Lady of 121st Street, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and The Little Flower of East Orange.

Indhu Rubasingham is Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre, where her work includes the forthcoming Multitudes; Red Velvet (also New York), Handbagged (also West End: Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre), Paper Dolls, The House That Will Not Stand; and before becoming Director, Women Power and Politics, Stones in his Pockets (also UK tour), Detaining Justice and The Great Game: Afghanistan (also US tour).

Recent work elsewhere also includes Ruined (Almeida); at the NT she has directed Tanika Gupta’s The Waiting Room and the Birmingham REP production of The Ramayana. Press night: Wednesday 17 June

THE RED LION Dorfman Theatre a new play by Patrick Marber
Previews from 3 June, press night 10 June, continuing in repertoire

Patrick Marber returns to premiere a fifth play at the National Theatre, THE RED LION, opening at the Dorfman Theatre on 10 June. Directed by Ian Rickson, the cast is Calvin Demba, Daniel Mays and Peter Wight. It will be designed by Anthony Ward, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone, music by Stephen Warbeck and sound by Ian Dickinson.

Small time semi-pro football, the non-league. A world away from the wealth and the television cameras. A young player touched with brilliance arrives from nowhere. An ambitious manager determines to make him his own. And the old soul of the club still has dreams of glory.

A new play about the dying romance of the great English game – and the tender, savage love that powers it. Patrick Marber’s previous plays for the National are Dealer’s Choice (Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy); Closer (Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy, Laurence Olivier and Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Play), for which he also wrote the screenplay; Howard Katz; and The Musicians for Connections. Three Days in the Country, his new version of Turgenev’s ‘A Month in the Country’, will open in the Lyttelton in July. His other plays include Don Juan in Soho, After Miss Julie and an adaptation of Trelawny of the Wells, all premiered at the Donmar Warehouse; and the screenplay Notes on a Scandal.

Calvin Demba’s TV credits include Hollyoaks and Youngers; and on stage, Routes at the Royal Court. Daniel Mays’ theatre work includes Mojo (West End), The Same Deep Water as Me, Trelawny of the Wells, Moonlight (Donmar Warehouse), Scarborough, Motortown and The Winterling (Royal Court). Screen work includes Ashes to Ashes, Outcasts, Public Enemies, Mrs Biggs, The Great Fire, Red Riding, Vera Drake, Made in Dagenham and Dad’s Army.

Peter Wight’s film and TV credits include Mr Turner, Hot Fuzz, Vera Drake, Pride and Prejudice, The Paradise, Case Sensitive and Public Enemies; his theatre work includes Ivanov (NT), In the Republic of Happiness (Royal Court), Trelawny of the Wells (Donmar) and Electra (Young Vic).

Ian Rickson has previously directed The Hothouse and The Day I Stood Still for the National. He was Artistic Director of the Royal Court from 1998 – 2006; recent productions include Electra and The Cherry Orchard (Old Vic), The River (Royal Court and Broadway), Old Times, Mojo (West End), Hamlet (Young Vic) and Jerusalem (Royal Court, West End & Broadway). Press night: Wednesday 10 June

BEYOND CARING Temporary Theatre by Alexander Zeldin 28 April – 16 May
Alexander Zeldin’s BEYOND CARING, presented by The Yard Theatre where it premiered last year, will play in the Temporary Theatre from 28 April – 16 May, with a press night on 1st May.

Four people arrive to work. They meet for the first time. They are employed as cleaners, by a temp agency. All are on zero-hours contracts. Through investigation and first hand experience, Alexander Zeldin’s brutally honest play exposes stories of an invisible class.

Following Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum Dreams, this is the second show developed and produced by The Yard Theatre to come to the NT. Alexander Zeldin’s UK work includes Black Battles with Dogs (Southwark Playhouse), his own play Glimpses (Edinburgh Festival) and The Constant Prince (Arcola Theatre/Oxford Playhouse/Cairo). He is a recipient of the Quercus Trust Award 2015, through which he will direct a main-stage production at Birmingham REP.

WE WANT YOU TO WATCH Temporary Theatre a new play by RashDash and Alice Birch 11 June – 11 July
RashDash and the National Theatre present WE WANT YOU TO WATCH, directed by Caroline Steinbeis, playing from 11 June – 11 July with a press night on 15 June.

This is about pornography. This is an interview. This is an intervention. This is an interrogation. We’re recording now. We want to pull its plug out. We want to stop its heartbeat. We want to blow its brains out and begin again. We know exactly what we’re doing. We’re not stupid. RashDash is Artistic Directors Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland and Producer Charlotte Bennett. Past productions include: Oh, I Can’t Be Bothered, The Ugly Sisters, Scary Gorgeous (Scotsman Fringe First Award 2011), and Another Someone (Scotsman Fringe First Award 2010); and the outdoor shows SET FIRE TO EVERYTHING!!! and The Frenzy.

RashDash is an associate company of West Yorkshire Playhouse. Alice Birch’s writing includes Little Light at the Orange Tree Theatre, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again for the RSC and Little on the Inside for the Almeida and Clean Break.

AN OAK TREE Temporary Theatre by Tim Crouch 23 June – 11 July
Tim Crouch’s ground-breaking and Obie Award-winning production AN OAK TREE receives a 10th anniversary revival, playing from 23 June – 11 July. An intricate story of loss and suggestion performed by two people: the playwright himself and a different second actor at each performance – an actor who will have neither seen nor read a word of the play they’re in until they’re in it.

Tim Crouch’s work as an actor, director and writer includes Adler and Gibb and The Author for the Royal Court; what happens to the hope at the end of the evening (with Andy Smith) for the Almeida Theatre, My Arm for the Traverse Theatre and, for younger audiences, plays including I, Malvolio.

BRAINSTORM Temporary Theatre by Ned Glasier, Emily Lim and the company 21 – 25 July
Islington Community Theatre presents BRAINSTORM by Ned Glasier, Emily Lim and the company, for six performances from 21 – 25 July, with a press night on 22 July.

A fearless company of young people explore the workings of the adolescent brain, in a new piece from one of the UK’s leading companies making theatre with young people. Created with leading cognitive neuroscientist Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and drawing upon the life experiences of the cast, Brainstorm is an exploration of the most frustrating, chaotic and exhilarating changes that will ever happen to us.

Islington Community Theatre trains and supports a permanent ensemble of theatre-makers aged 11-19, all of whom are referred by teachers, youth workers or social workers as someone who will benefit from long-term involvement in the programme. Brainstorm was originally presented at Park Theatre and supported by the Wellcome Trust.

For summer 2015 and beyond visit http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

Wednesday 21st January 2015


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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