Last Updated on 4 June 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team
New work, from plays to a musical, plus some revivals are lined up to bring live performance back to the National Theatre’s three venues
The National Theatre has announced six new productions, and the return of five others halted by the pandemic, as part of its programme of shows in London and on tour.
In the Olivier, shows will include a new musical called Hex, based on Sleeping Beauty, a play about Gandhi’s assassin, and a verbatim play, Our Generation, with Chichester Festival Theatre, following the lives of 12 young people from across the UK.
The Lyttelton will reopen in October with Birmingham Rep’s co-production of Ayub Khan Din’s East Is East, directed by Iqbal Khan.
The National Theatre announced new tours across the UK and Ireland for two of its hit shows, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and a new touring production of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, adapted by Emma Rice, in a co-production with Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic and York Theatre Royal.
After Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood from 16 June to 24 July, the Olivier will stage Paradise, a new version of Philoctetes by Sophocles, from August – postponed from summer 2020. Written by Kae Tempest and directed by Ian Rickson, it will open in August with an all-female cast led by Lesley Sharp as Philoctetes.
A revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart will open in September, directed by Dominic Cooke in a co-production with Fictionhouse. The cast will include Ben Daniels and Liz Carr alongside the previously announced Daniel Monks and Danny Lee Wynter.
The new musical based on Sleeping Beauty, Hex, will be staged in the Olivier from December. Directed by the National’s artistic director Rufus Norris and written by his wife, Tanya Ronder, it goes “beyond the kiss” and tells the fairy’s tale. It features music by Jim Fortune with lyrics by Norris plus set and costumes designed by Katrina Lindsay.
The Father and the Assassin by Anupama Chandrasekhar will open in the Olivier in early 2022, telling the story of Nathuram Godse who was radicalised through the fight for Indian independence and went from being a follower of Gandhi to his assassin. It will be directed by Indhu Rubasingham.
Winsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue Lights will run in the Dorfman from September in a co-production with Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre where the play had to close in March 2020 after only three previews. Directed by Miranda Cromwell, it shifts across multiple time frames to tell the stories of Lou, an actor working on a new film about artist JMW Turner, and Lucy and Thomas, two Londoners in the 19th century coming to terms with the meaning of freedom.
Alice Childress’ ground-breaking 1957 play, Trouble in Mind, will run at the Dorfman in December, directed by Nancy Medina, recipient of the NT’s Peter Hall Bursary. Taking a satirical look at the white-dominated theatre scene of Broadway in the 1950s, the play follows the story of Wiletta Mayer, an African-American singer and actor, searching to make her mark on history as part of an acting company forced to face the prejudice of the times, on stage and off. Tanya Moodie will play Wiletta.
After the success of London Road, Alecky Blythe returns to the National Theatre in February 2022 with Our Generation, based on material gathered over five years, following the lives of 12 young people from across the UK. It is a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT), where it will play in the Minerva Theatre from April 2022, and is directed by CFT’s artistic director, Daniel Evans.
The Lyttelton will reopen for live performances in October, with Birmingham Rep’s revival of Ayub Khan Din’s play East Is East, directed by Iqbal Khan – marking 25 years since the play’s premiere at the Rep.
In November, a new darkly comic play, Manor, by Moira Buffini will open in the Dorfman nearly 18 months after it was first scheduled to do so. Directed by the playwright’s sister Fiona Buffini, it will star Nancy Carroll as the owner of a rundown manor house that shelters an explosive mix of people during a storm.
In April, Emlyn Williams’ semi-autobiographical drama The Corn is Green will receive its first London revival for 35 years with a new production by director Dominic Cooke. Originally due to open in April 2020, it will star Nicola Walker and Iwan Davies.
Emma Rice’s adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights will run at the National Theatre in 2022 after premiering at Bristol Old Vic from 20 October to 6 November and transferring to York Theatre Royal from 8 to 20 November. In spring 2022, it will embark on a tour to The Lowry, Theatre Royal Nottingham, Sunderland Empire and King’s Theatre, Edinburgh with further dates to be announced. It is a co-production between the National Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, York Theatre Royal and Emma Rice’s theatre company, Wise Children.
Before the Lyttelton reopens, the National Theatre will make a new feature film, Death of England: Face to Face, in the space. This is a follow-up to the acclaimed stage productions, Death of England and Death of England: Delroy by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams. They have worked on this new film which will star Giles Terrera, who was originally due to perform Death of England: Delroy before suffering an injury, as well as Neil Maskell as Michael and Phil Daniels as Michael’s father, Alan. It will build on the success of Simon Godwin’s film of Romeo & Juliet, starring Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor, which was filmed in the Lyttleton during lockdown last year and broadcast on Sky Arts.
Also postponed from last year, The Doncastrian Chalk Circle will open at Cast in Doncaster in August 2021 featuring members of the local Doncaster community. Part of the National Theatre’s Public Acts programme, this new version of Brecht’s classic The Caucasian Chalk Circle has been adapted by Chris Bush and is directed by James Blakey.
The National Theatre has also confirmed that its acclaimed production, The Lehman Trilogy written by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power and directed by Sam Mendes, will return to Broadway, starring Adrian Lester, Simon Russell Beale and Adam Godley. It will also visit San Francisco and Los Angeles, with casting to be announced.
Award-winning musical Hadestown, which was staged at the National Theatre in 2018, returns to Broadway from September with a North American tour in October. A South Korean production will open in Seoul in August.
Upcoming UK tours include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel and directed by Marianne Elliott, which in 2022 will celebrate 10 years since its premiere at the National Theatre.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, based on the best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman, adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, will tour in 2023.
David Eldridge’s Beginning, which opened at the National Theatre in 2017, will be revived at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch in east London in September followed by a UK tour. Casting is to be announced. Directed by Polly Findlay and Joe Lichenstein, it is presented by Lee Dean & Theatre Royal Bath Productions in association with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.
Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, which ran in the Olivier in 2017 and 2019, will return to cinemas in September for the first time since its original National Theatre Live broadcast in 2017.
On the National Theatre’s streaming platform, National Theatre at Home, two new titles have been added today: the Bridge Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Old Vic Theatre’s All My Sons. The film of Nina Raine’s Consent in the Dorfman in 2017 will now be available with audio-description. New productions are added each month and there are now 23 productions available on the platform.
Later this year, the National Theatre’s New Work Department will begin a new programme, Generate, which will see a significant increase in partnerships with artists, venues and producers across the UK. At least a third of the New Work Department’s capacity and resource each year will now be committed to developing work for producing outside London.
Lisa Burger, executive director and joint chief executive of the National Theatre, explained: “This year has seen us face a risk like no other as theatre-makers have left the industry in their droves following a year of little work. Our New Work Department has continued to provide vital support for artists over this challenging year, and as we look to the future, we commit to sharing our skills and expertise with the nation, with at least one third of our capacity dedicated to fuelling stages beyond the NT.”
As part of its work with young people, the National Theatre has today launched Story Seekers, a new nationwide creative literacy project in partnership with London’s Unicorn Theatre. Asking children to find, tell and share important stories for this time, it will culminate in them creating their own filmed storytelling performances to share with their school community and beyond. Available for free to state primary schools, the six-week programme includes filmed theatre performances directed by Justin Audibert, artistic director of the Unicorn.
Rufus Norris today also announced the public launch of National Theatre Together, a campaign highlighting the importance of creativity and collaboration with theatre-makers and communities, for young people and audiences. It will raise vital funds for the theatre’s ambitious recovery after the pandemic.