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National Theatre Annual Review 2016–17

National Theatre

National Theatre Annual Review 2016–17: In summary

  • On the Southbank the NT played to 93% capacity – the best-attended programme in 12 years

In the six months since April 2017 they have played to 89% capacity

  • There was a broad programme of new and classic work speaking to the present moment

New work included The Flick, The Suicide, LOVE, Another World and My Country

Classic work with contemporary resonance included The Threepenny Opera, Amadeus, Hedda Gabler and Twelfth Night

  • In less than two years, 50% of all state secondary schools have signed up to the NT’s free service, On Demand In Schools

Two-thirds of subscribed schools are outside London and the South East

  • Thanks to plans put in place last year, by the end of 2017-18 the NT will have toured six productions to 36 towns and cities across the UK for a total of 115 touring weeks
  • we’re here because we’re here touched millions of people across the UK, and demonstrated theatre’s power and potential to engage a diverse, nationwide audience – winning 15 awards
  • we’re here because we’re here inspired us to create a bold touring and participation programme to reach new audiences and support theatre-making around the country

 Lisa Burger, Executive Director of the National Theatre said:

“2016-17 was a vintage year for the National Theatre. It was wonderful to see large and enthusiastic audiences come to see shows that ranged from Mike Longhurst’s magnificent Amadeus, to Alexander Zeldin’s powerful and moving LOVE. We embarked on a period of intense touring of live theatre – by the end of this year six productions will have visited 36 cities for a total of 115 weeks. On top of that we expanded our nationwide Learning programme and developed a bold new touring and participation project. It’s been quite a year, with more yet to come.”

Click here to access the National Theatre’s 2016-17 annual report in full.


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Playwright, David Eldridge interview: “There’s less procrastination when you’re a dad.”

As David Eldridge’s new play Beginning opens at the National Theatre’s Dorfman, he talks about his son, ticket prices, inspirations and success.

We meet in his office at Birkbeck University, London, where he lectures in Creative Writing. Chatting with Eldridge about his career opens up other windows on his experience. For instance: he’s a dad (“I always think about my son Bertie when I write, and he spurs me on”) For instance: despite having written landmark plays like Under The Blue Sky, Market Boy and In Basildon, he remains very grounded. (His best mate is a fireman in Essex, where he grew up). For instance: his new play Beginning was written unsolicited, but with the National Theatre in mind (“I wrote the play and then decided the NT would be a good home for it and sent it to Rufus Norris. Luckily for me he agreed”.)

His new play explores what it means to be lonely in a big city, features two actors and has no interval. “Beginning is a real actors’ piece,” says Eldridge emphatically. “The two characters in the play are on stage for the whole evening without a break. We were looking for people who didn’t just feel absolutely right in terms of the casting but who had the technical ability, personality and guts to do it. On-and-off that casting process took seven months, much of that due to director Polly Findlay’s availability, but we wanted to be absolutely sure.”

What are the particular pressures of writing for the National Theatre? “I’m not sure that applies to Beginning because it’s the first play I’ve written in ages that wasn’t a commission for a particular management,” he says. “I think opening a play in any of the major playhouses is incredibly stressful. On the Olivier stage at the National (where Market Boy was produced in 2006) just selling the 1,150 seats for every show used to give me nightmares. I think animating the larger stages at the NT is a craft in itself and both the Olivier and the Lyttleton eat story, so you need lots of narrative red meat and actors who are on the front foot.”

I wonder how he will measure success with Beginning. “I just want to feel happy that the play has gone as well as it possibly can and that audiences have got something out of it,” he states.

“It’s nice when you can see an audience laughing and crying and reflecting upon the action of a play. But it’s also very rewarding when audiences get in touch.” He references his play The Knot of the Heart, which premiered at the Almeida in 2011. “I kid you not, every day an audience member communicated with me in person, by letter, card, email or via social media to tell me how in some way their life had been touched by addiction. It was exhausting. But beautiful and humbling,” he recalls. “Everyone wants to have nice reviews for posterity and to help encourage audiences to see the show. But I’m much less neurotic about them than I was in my twenties.”

Which fellow writers inspire him, I ask? “Robert Holman has been one of the most inspiring playwrights in my writing life,” he replies, “Robert taught me how to be a playwright in many ways; but his own work, his sense of place, theatricality and commitment to the truth of his characters is always inspiring. Caryl Churchill, as Sarah Daniels says, is “our Picasso” and she seems to reinvent the wheel with every play. Her work always pushes me to try new things and to be bold. Edward Albee inspires me to fulfil John Osborne’s aspiration to give audiences “lessons in feeling”. And I learned a lot from adapting Ibsen. I think the work I did on three of his plays helped strengthen the storytelling in my own plays.”

He reckons that the economics of theatre tickets are out of line. “Theatre going has become too expensive. There’s also a part of me that’s still the slightly chip-on-shoulder, scholarship-and-assisted-place Romford kid at the posh school; who resents how much of British theatre is still occupied by privileged white middle-class men. I think the theatre has got a bit better on that score over my writing life, but it’s still a world that can be too dominated by clever posh white people and far too preoccupied with who’s in and who’s out,” he says bluntly. “It’s why I’ve always preferred to make most of my friends outside the theatre.”

We talk about the differences in writing for television. “On screen you’re cutting away to the next scene all the time and often the cut tells the story”, he explains. “On stage you’re trying to sustain the action. Too many scene changes, inelegantly done, make for a tiresome evening in the theatre. I think TV writing, like writing for a large theatre space, eats story and you really have to pique an audience’s interest the whole time. Otherwise people just switch off and look at their smartphone or change channel.”

On the bookshelf there are various framed photographs of his little boy. How has being a dad changed his writing? “You know,” he smiles. “It’s made me more uncompromising.”

But Eldridge is acutely aware of the legacy of putting pen to paper. “I always have this gut feeling that I never want him to read or see my work when he’s older and feel his dad could have done better. I push myself. Although he doesn’t live with me, we spend a lot of time together, and that means like most writers who are parents, I organise when I write accordingly and use the time much more efficiently. There’s less procrastination when you’re a dad.”

Beginning is at the National Theatre’s Dorfman stage, London, until 14 November. Box office: 020-7452 3000.

Polly Findlay and David Eldridge will take part in NT Platform on Thursday 19 Oct, 6pm.

Now you know. 

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First footage of the National Theatre’s Follies released ahead of Live November Cinema Broadcast


National Theatre 2018: Female directors take centre stage, Shakespeare in vogue, classics revived, diverse & inclusive. Basically, leading the pack, as you’d expect.

The National Theatre has announced details of several productions in 2018.

Sam Mendes directs the UK premiere of Stefano Massini’s The Lehman Trilogy adapted by Ben Power.

There’s no dereliction of duty here, folks. 

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 2018and 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

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 ofAntony and Cleopatra opening in September 2018. Set design by Hildegard Bechtler, costume design byWojciech 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 FortunePericles marks the firstPublic 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 by Lizzie 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 Cracknell directsVanessa 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

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 by Rajha Shakiry. Castincludes 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 directorTamara 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 byJonathan 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 by Stephen Daldryand 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.

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 thatCurious 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, and Hedda 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’s This 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 andCraig Leo is the associate puppetry director.  The resident puppetry director is Matthew Forbes and resident director, Charlotte Peters. For tour venues and dates, visit

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 RoyalPlymouth, 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, withcostume design by An D’Huys and sound by Tom Gibbons.  The Associate Directors are Jeff James andRachel Lincoln. For tour venues and dates, visit

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 byBunny 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 byMarianne Elliott. The production is designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting design by Paule Constableand 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 and War Horse) and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph. For more information visit

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 Lane and 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 Barnesand 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

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 OctoberLyndsey 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 Staunton,Janie 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

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First Look: Rehearsal Images: Saint George and the Dragon

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Five Things You Should Know About Follies


1.    Let’s cut to the chase: Follies contains some of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen in a musical.

It features Stephen Sondheim veterans Philip Quast, Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee. Most incredible of all, the way this sparkly ensemble revisit their former lives from 30 years ago to when they first met while working as Follies dancers. The ghosts of the past send shivers up your spine. Also, Tracie Bennett in particular steals the show on a few occasions in a hall of mirrors for all shades of misery

2.    With a near 30-year history and a world-class reputation, Sondheim shows are no strangers to the National Theatre (Judi Dench appeared in ‘A Little Night Music’ in the Olivier, 1995 and Philip Quast in ‘Sunday in the Park With George’ in the Lyttelton Theatre, 1990 etc, etc and so on).

It’s hard to avoid the fact that most of Follies’ action takes place on a stage revolve resembling a merry-go-round in West Side Story. The beauty of this show lies in the precision that draws the multi-layered elements together.

3.    There are incredibly few directors who could carry off at least three quarters of this show. Dominic Cooke’s production for the National Theatre has kept the songs in the faithful style – the orchestra are sublime – but when Imelda delivers a refreshingly devastating low-key version of ‘Losing My Mind’, it’s the night’s highlight. A haunting exploration of character.

This is an inventively staged production with a cast and the arrangements are of a phenomenally high standard. As well as being expertly written the majority of these songs are also skilfully structured and only serve to reaffirm Sondheim’s Godlike genius.


4.    The choreography itself is beautiful, reflecting the sorrow, torment and human resilience in both the music and the performances. Everything slots perfectly into place in this magnificent evocation of showbiz. Sweeping across the stage are buckets of Swarovski crystals, sashes, sequined frocks and outfits that reel you in from start to finish.

This is the first time Dominic Cooke has directed a musical. Luckily, there’s a clarity of vision that’s practically unrivalled in the current musical theatre scene. Follies feels effortlessly enchanting.

5.    Vicky Mortimer’s show-making set and costume design uses a crumbling theatre on a revolving set to remind us how the characters’ lives are confined and ravaged by theatre; Bill Dreamer’s vivid choreography, deserves a mention again, his work with ‘Loveland’ pays hymn to the showbiz past; and the orchestra has a glorious, brassy ring.

The production’s centrepiece – to these eyes, anyway – is ‘I’m Still Here’, a track for which Apple Music single song repeat function could well have been invented. A dazzle to watch. 

But the show is not perfect and I can see people’s concerns about Imelda’s suitability as a ‘Showgirl’ or that her vocals may be underpowered. They are missing the point; these things add to the charm of the production. The no interval thing is a bit crap….

Nevertheless, nothing is left to chance here, folks.

I make that a considered, authoritative and concrete 9/10. Also: Looks like my work here is done. Time to go to the pub.

Follies runs in the Olivier Theatre at the National until 3 January.

‘FYI’ Follies will be broadcast by NT Live to cinemas in the UK and internationally on Thursday 16 November.

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First Look: Production Images: FOLLIES at the National Theatre


Extra dates added and full cast confirmed for the return of Barber Shop Chronicles

Following the sell out run at the National Theatre this summer extra dates have now been added for the return of Inua Ellams’ play Barber Shop Chronicles to the Dorfman this autumn, now opening on 20 November and in repertoire until the 9 January. Tickets go on sale at midday on Thursday 31 August.

The autumn performances will see the same twelve actors returning to the production to reprise their roles; Fisayo AkinadeHammed AnimashaunPeter BankoléMaynard EziashiSimon ManyondaPatrice NaiambanaCyril NriKwami OdoomSule RimiAbdul SalisDavid Webber, and Anthony Welsh.

Ellams’ dynamic play features characters from across the globe as the action journeys from a barber shop in London, to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling. Newsroom, political platform, local hot-spot, confession box, preacher-pulpit and football stadium. For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world.

Speaking about the play’s return to the National Theatre Inua Ellams said ‘I’m delighted to see Barber Shop Chronicles returning to the Dorfman Theatre this autumn. Bijan’s production perfectly captures the mixture of comedy, intimacy and drama of the different characters from around the globe, bringing to life their intertwining stories as they explore the topic of black masculinity. To have the same cast returning for the autumn is really exciting, they brought so much energy and enthusiasm to the play in the summer I can’t wait to work with the whole team again.’

The play is directed by Bijan Sheibani, with design by Rae Smith, lighting design by Jack Knowles, movement direction by Aline David and sound design by Gareth Fry.

Barber Shop Chronicles is a co-production with Fuel and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Barber Shop Chronicles is co-commissioned by Fuel and the National Theatre.  Development funded by Arts Council England with the support of Fuel, National Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Binks Trust, British Council ZA, Òran Mór and A Play, a Pie and a Pint.

The Dorfman Partner is Neptune Investment Management.


National Theatre Posters – a new exhibition at the NT

A Taste of Honey Poster-design by Charlotte Wilkinson photograph by Phil Fisk

National Theatre Posters, curated by design critic and writer Rick Poynor, will open in the National Theatre’s Wolfson gallery in October, exploring poster design at the NT from 1963 to the present.

Curated by Rick Poynor, Professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University of Reading, this exhibition explores the evolution of poster design at the National Theatre, showcasing many classic examples. From 1963 to the present day, each art director led the theatre’s graphic design studio in creating images for posters, programmes and now digital artwork. The exhibition features posters designed by Ken Briggs, Richard Bird, Michael Mayhew, Charlotte Wilkinson and current Creative Director Ollie Winser and the Graphic Design Studio.

The exhibition will include original posters, interviews with past and current Art or Creative Directors and will trace the changes in process, design and function over the past 50 years.

Curator Rick Poynor said:

“An exciting theatre poster manages to capture the essence of a play. It grabs your attention with something surprising and draws you in. The National Theatre has a long tradition of producing adventurous poster designs that encapsulate the inventiveness and energy of its productions.”

“The NT’s first graphic designer, Ken Briggs, collaborated closely with the theatre for a decade. That set the pattern and the theatre went on to appoint a succession of designers – Richard Bird, Michael Mayhew, Charlotte Wilkinson and Ollie Winser – who have worked in-house on the posters and other graphics. Each designer has maintained a very high standard of creativity and the posters’ graphic styles have evolved to reflect the changing needs of the theatre and its audiences.”

There will be a book, National Theatre Posters: A Design History, published by Unit Editions, which will be launched to coincide with the exhibition.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of related events:

Exhibition Insight with curator Rick Poynor

27 October12-1pm, Wolfson Gallery, £3

A walk around the current exhibition with curator Rick Poynor, please meet in the Wolfson Gallery.

Talk: Where is the Poster Now?

8 November6-7pm, Cottesloe Room, £7/5

A talk on the art of poster design by Rick Poynor, design critic and Professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University of Reading, featuring his research for the exhibition currently running in the Wolfson Gallery, National Theatre.

Talk: Graphic Design at the National Theatre

21 November6 – 7pm, Cottesloe Room, £7/5

An exploration of the working design process by the Graphic Design Studio (GDS) at the National Theatre with Creative Director, Ollie Winser and members of his design team focussing on real campaigns for recent NT productions.

On Screen: Helvetica

27 November, 5.30pm, Cottesloe Room, £5/3

Gary Hustwit’s brilliantly designed feature-length documentary, Helvetica, explores typography. The film features contributions from National Theatre Posters exhibition curator, Rick Poynor.



National Theatre to take over River Stage for bank holiday weekend

National Theatre
National Theatre

National Theatre

This weekend The River Stage Festival comes to an end with a jam-packed bank holiday weekend of music, performance and workshops from the National Theatre all completely FREE.

The National Theatre’s River Stage Festival is in its second year and offers audiences five free weekends of the best and brightest entertainment from some of the UK’s leading arts and culture organisations. Following spectacular weekends hosted by The GloryHOME, ManchesterWOMAD and Rambert, this weekend the National Theatre take to the stage for three days, bringing the festival to a triumphant close.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said: “I am delighted that this range of partners from across the country have joined us this year for another exceptional River Stage Festival. The assortment of performance, music, dance and workshops free for all ages is a vibrant and vital part of the National Theatre programme this summer.”

London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, who will be appearing on Friday night, said: “In the summer months the South Bank really comes alive with Londoners and visitors enjoying fantastic restaurants, market stalls and street theatre. The return of the River Stage adds to the buzz with an incredible season of free outdoor entertainment. From world class dance and circus acts, to workshops and DJs, there’s something for everyone – so make the most of the summer nights and soak up some exciting new culture on the Thames as the sun goes down.”

The Full National Theatre River Stage line-up includes:

Friday 25 August

Concrete Disco

6pm –7pm

Brothers Dom & Joe put their sibling rivalry to good use and join forces behind the decks to get the August bank holiday started in style. Expect multiple sonic layers of disco and mashups galore!

Hackney Colliery Band

7.30pm – 9pm

Influenced as much by contemporary rock and electronica as they are by New Orleans brass bands or the traditional British brass to which their name pays homage, BBC Radio 2 described HCB as ‘one of the greatest live bands we have in this country’.

Amy Lamé

9pm – 10.45pm

Amy Lamé is a broadcaster, writer, performer and DJ. She is London’s first Night Czar, and co-founder and host of the Olivier Award-winning arts company and legendary club night Duckie. Amy’s debut book, ‘From Prejudice to Pride: A History of the LGBTQ+ Movement’ – the first of its kind for young people in the UK- was published by Hachette in May 2017.

Saturday 26 August

Beetle Boy and Beetle Queen; readings by M.G. Leonard

12pm – 1pm

Imaginative, funny and informative, M.G. Leonard brings her infectious enthusiasm for the world of beetles to the River Stage, entertaining both adults and children with facts and extracts from her books Beetle Boy and Beetle Queen. ‘Truly great storytelling’ Michael Morpurgo

Goblin’s Peter and the Wolf

1.30pm – 2.30pm

Goblin’s Peter and the Wolf is a brand new show with amazing music created live with a variety of instruments and objects, including real musical vegetables. Combined with imaginative puppetry, physical comedy and fun interaction, the show will have children aged 4+ jumping for joy. With new music lovingly inspired by Prokofiev’s classic, this is Peter and the Wolf as you’ve never seen it before.

Goblin’s River Stage workshop

2.45pm – 3.35pm

Create your own woodland characters as we explore the story of Peter and the Wolf. In this drama and music workshop we will be looking at how different animals are represented by different sounds, movement and music. Recommended age 4-6 years.

Little Bulb Theatre – Hot Club de Bulb

2.30pm – 3.30pm

Hot Club de Bulb are an 8 piece gypsy jazz band performing their own arrangements of Django Reinhardt and Edith Piaf classics. Originally formed in the making of ‘Orpheus’ (a co-production with Battersea Arts Centre) the band celebrate the genre by mixing raucous hot jazz with sweet French chanson.

Goblin’s Peter and the Wolf

4pm – 5pm

Goblin’s Peter and the Wolf is a brand new show with amazing music created live with a variety of instruments and objects, including real musical vegetables. Combined with imaginative puppetry, physical comedy and fun interaction, the show will have children aged 4+ jumping for joy. With new music lovingly inspired by Prokofiev’s classic, this is Peter and the Wolf as you’ve never seen it before.

Little Bulb Theatre – Hot Club de Bulb

5.15pm – 6.15pm

Hot Club de Bulb are an 8 piece gypsy jazz band performing their own arrangements of Django Reinhardt and Edith Piaf classics. Originally formed in the making of ‘Orpheus’ (a co-production with Battersea Arts Centre) the band celebrate the genre by mixing raucous hot jazz with sweet French chanson.

The Fontanelles

7.15pm – 9pm

True London afrobeat heavyweights renowned for their infectious live energy and shows, The Fontanelles stay true to their roots as purveyors of the music of Fela Kuti, while bringing in sounds from Ethiopia, Minimalist textures, sun-drenched dub and righteous horn-led dancefloor groove. Bring your dancing shoes!

Dom Search (The Next Men)

9pm – 10.45pm

Dom Search is a DJ and producer/songwriter, and is eclectic to say the least. Modern pop? It’s a nutriblend of musical abandon – dancehall, drum’n’bass, reggae, roots, instrumental and actual hip hop, soul and soulful low-end boomp, ambient…the perfect party mix!

Sunday 27 August

Mrs H and the Singalong Band

1pm – 2pm

Mrs H and the Sing-along band bring their unique family music to the River stage for the first time. Their aim is provide quality music for children, that adults will love too. Bring your voices, silly dances, a sprinkling of mischief and don’t hold back from joining in the fun!


2.15pm – 2.45pm

A sneak preview of IZINDAVA, a dynamic new work synthesising ballet, contemporary and African dance. Created by Zimbabwean-born Bawren Tavaziva, the work explores human fragility within our changing world and is a beautiful yet haunting work.

Mrs H and the Singalong Band

3pm – 4pm

Mrs H and the Sing-along band bring their unique family music to the River stage for the first time. Their aim is provide quality music for children, that adults will love too. Bring your voices, silly dances, a sprinkling of mischief and don’t hold back from joining in the fun!


4.30pm – 5pm

A sneak preview of IZINDAVA, a dynamic new work synthesising ballet, contemporary and African dance. Created by Zimbabwean-born Bawren Tavaziva, the work explores human fragility within our changing world and is a beautiful yet haunting work.

Phil King

17:15 – 18:15

As a singer songwriter Phil King has the whole trinity: a beautiful, soulful voice; deft skills at playing the guitar and the capacity to write elegantly worded and powerful songs. His new album The Wreckage has  caught excellent media attention, with Radio 2’s Bob Harris describing him as ”Absolutely Brilliant” and a “Song Weaver”.

NT Live – Twelfth Night

7.30pm – 10.30pm

For one night only, join us at the River Stage for a special, free outdoor screening of the National Theatre’sTwelfth Night. Tamsin Greig is Malvolia in a twist on Shakespeare’s classic whirlwind comedy of mistaken identity and unrequited love.

Monday 28 August

Tea Dance

1pm – 4pm

Spend the afternoon dancing to the joyous live Ballroom Dance Band, with lessons from a professional dance instructor in various styles: Latin, jive, salsa and much more! Whether you’re a newbie or more expert at tripping the light fantastic, release those inhibitions and join the fun.


5pm – 6pm

Nominated for Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year 2016, Nérija are a collective of up and coming musicians playing exciting music inspired by Jazz, Hip Hop, Afrobeat and South African Township. Together they have toured across Europe and the UK supporting jazz legends and performed at the renowned Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.

WhatsOnStage is NT River Stage Media Partner for 2017

Philips Lighting is partner of the NT’s River Stage Festival 2017