Latest news  and updates from National Theatre

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Finally Some Good News: Indhu Rubasingham appointed new director of National Theatre

I remember asking Indhu Rubasingham what she wished somebody had told her when she was starting out in theatre. She replied that she wished someone had told her that she had a right to be part of this industry, and that her voice was important. “One of the skillsets that you need is tenacity and to keep going,” she said.

This week, Rubasingham, 53, has been announced as the first woman and first person from an ethnic minority to be appointed director of the National. She will succeed Rufus Norris, who will leave in spring 2025, and joins the organisation as director designate in spring. Important stuff.

Born in Sheffield and with Sri-Lankan heritage, she will be the seventh director since the National was founded by Sir Laurence Olivier in 1963. In the six decades since it was founded, all the artistic directors have been white men. 

“For me, this is the best job in the world,” Rubasingham said of her new appointment, in a statement.

She added: “The National has played an important part in my life – from tentative steps as a teenage theatregoer, to later as a theatre-maker, and to have the opportunity to play a role in its history is an incredible privilege and responsibility.”

Rubasingham landed her first theatre job at the age of 18, when she directed a production of Roy Williams’s Starstruck at The Kiln – then known as the Tricycle Theatre. As artistic director of the Kiln, her credits include The Wife of WillesdenPass OverWhite TeethRed Velvet and Handbagged. She steered the North London theatre through some of the most difficult years in living memory.

The NT may be 60 years old. It remains, however, an enduring, advancing, uncompleted project whose future will be determined by a unique variety of headwinds: by the quality of the team around her, by the perils of the British economy and, not least, by the impending General Election that the country so desperately needs.  

Inevitably, the gig had taken a toll on her predecessors. Peter Hall wrote in his diaries of his suicidal feelings. In his National Service, Richard Eyre, the director from 1987 to 1997, admits to “melancholia, a shrinking of the spirit”, along with, yes, “recurrent thoughts of suicide”. Yikes.

In 2022 Arts Council England, the funding body, slashed the National’s subsidy by 5 percent, to £16.1 million , as part of a drive to reallocate grants to institutions outside London. From next Autumn, the NT will face further budgetary hell when it must start repaying a covid loan worth £19.7 million. 

Rubasingham – who has directed a number of plays at the NT over the past 25 years – was among panellists discussing arts provision in schools as part of The Big Arts and Education Debate that I organised, held at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 2018. Industry professionals gathered to discuss the fact that diversity would suffer because of the cuts to arts in schools.

She said at the time: “It’s so frustrating that the creative industries are worth £91.8 billion to the UK economy and [the government] is not valuing them We’re world-class [at the arts], and if we keep going this way, we’re not going to keep the pipeline, we’re not going to be able to get a diversity of voices, in terms of class and race.”

One of the reasons, then, I am thrilled about this landmark appointment is because Indhu cares. She cares about stuff that matters. I believe that she will flourish in this role, because to run the UK’s flagship theatre you must find the opposite of schadenfreude: you must take joy in other people’s successes.

In fact, Indhu is an expert in enabling others to do their best. This is brilliant news – the sort of news about theatre leadership that happens in a country that deserves better, but that no longer expects it.

So, onwards.

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Suzie Miller: “Don’t give up. If you feel passionate, just keep doing it. There will be knocks and hardships and it is easy to give up along the road. But keep going, you will see it all come together.” 

When Prima Facie hits our cinemas next month cinemas as part of NT Live to see Jodie Comer’s sell-out West End debut the play’s writer Suzie Miller will be watching intently to see how it translates from stage to screen. Prima Facie shines a light on the Australian legal system. Around 60,000 people shared in Tessa’s story at the Harold Pinter Theatre – from 21st July the conversation continues with the rest of the world.

Suzie Miller © by Helen Murray

We are talking on the telephone, a couple of weeks after Opening Night, in which Comer received rave reviews. “I just think that NT Live is such a wonderful thing, it makes theatre accessible to everyone and is an astonishing leveller and the ultimate invite to experience theatre filmed,” Miller says.

An Australian-British criminal defence lawyer working in the human rights sector, writer Miller witnessed first-hand how the Legal System fails most sexual assault victims. She studied while working as a lawyer and left the bar to be a full-time playwright in 2010.  

“The play began when I was studying criminal law and how it is structures and thinking there’s something about the way sexual assault that is doesn’t feel right – as went through my practice in law it continued to come through to me that it just wasn’t working for victims,” Miller tells me.

Due process is everything: “I was and still am committed to the concept of innocence until proven guilty. I also think that sexual assault is a special area that is not necessarily being catered to by a very male focussed legal system.”  

At almost 2 hours long and with no interval, the play packs a lot in. Essentially, a play about a lawyer who specialises in defending men accused of sexual assault, until she is assaulted herself: the insecurities she’s faced, heartbreak, sexism, misogyny, being told to look and behave a certain way. 

I mention that Comer owned the courtroom; a theatre animal. “Jodie is such an incredible screen actress,” she says with some admiration. “It is astonishing how she stepped out on the stage (Comer had only been in one play before, in Scarborough, when she was 16) and become a theatre actor. I just think that she’s born to do theatre. She is incredible.” 

Suzie Miller with Jodie Comer © by Helen Murray

The play, it is fair to say, recieved a mixed reception here; some critics were not enthusiastic about the text itself. In a four-star review, the Evening Standard said: “Suzie Miller’s script is a great vehicle rather than a truly great play, however – shrewd and economical in its analysis of how the system treats assault survivors, but schematic in its plotting.”

The Guardian’s review stated that “[Comer] roars through Suzie Miller’s script. The play roars, too, sometimes too loudly in its polemic, but Comer works overtime to elevate these moments,” and that the script “ falls into a loudly lecturing tone at the end.” 

I ask her how the critical and audience responses varied here to the Australia run. She responds pragmatically. “Somehow having a woman stand on stage and make a direct political address within the confines of her story, it is bordering on being a lecture,” she says. “Look at Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird or Mark Rylance’s final speech in Jerusalem. Hailed as mesmerising. It seems to be something that some critics here are not used to. You know you’ve made a difference when the play is not just in the arts pages,” Miller says. 

Still, quibbles about polemic do not matter, Prima Facie was one of the hottest tickets in Europe; with Killing Eve star Comer attracting the mythical kind of post West End show frenzy not seen in years – and her legions of teenage fans love her. Truly.

Jodie Comer in Prima Facie

For Miller, though, the idea that someone is consenting unless they tell you that they are not “doesn’t fit with women’s lived experience” and she thinks that “something in the legal system is fundamentally broken.” It is hard to disagree. It becomes clear as we talk that this is a universal issue. 

In fact, figures released earlier this year showed that in the 12 months to September 2021, only 1.3% of the 63,136 rape offences recorded by police resulted in a suspect being charged.

“I think what consent runs through everyone’s relationship and what sexual entitlement is and when it should be called out. It can also happen to anyone. So, it’s about a huge change and a group of Barrister’s are going out to schools to talk about consent which is fantastic,” Miller says.

Prima Facie has partnered with The Schools Consent Project and has given away free tickets to 10 partner school groups so that teachers can bring students to see the show and access further ancillary support. Funds have also been donated to support the essential work the charity does to educate young people in the UK about consent.

Set up in 2014 by barrister Kate Parker, The Schools Consent Project is a charity that sends lawyers into schools to teach young people (11–18-year-olds) the legal definition of consent. Their aim is to normalise these sorts of conversations; to empower young people to identify and communicate boundaries, and to respect them in others. To date, they have worked with over 20,000 young people across the country.

Jodie Comer in Prima Facie © by Helen Murray

Miler believes a rich cultural education is key to changing the world: “It’s fundamental,” she tells me. “Theatre is the town square. It is so important – people can pretend to be other things, whilst an audience breathes in the same emotional mist. I feel like it offers a way of interpreting the world. A writer’s job is to show the paradox of being human. I went to law to change the world and now in theatre I still want to do that and make a difference.” 

So which writers inspire her? “Well, growing up I read a lot of Shakespeare. I was mentored by Edward Albee early in my career. All hail mighty Edward. Dennis Kelly, Mike Bartlett, Caryl Churchill and Maria Irene Fornes,”

Looking to the future, Comer will reprise her role in Prima Facie on Broadway. It will have a limited engagement at one of New York’s Shubert theaters, with the exact venue and dates to be announced. “It has been an absolute privilege to tell Tessa’s story here in London over the past few months and to now have the opportunity to take Prima Facie to New York is a dream come true,” said Comer in a recent statement.

With Prima Facie playwright Suzie Miller on Opening Night

In conversation Miller is as tranquil and delightful as she is compellingly eloquent. You’re relatively productive, I add. What’s your secret? “Don’t give up,’ she says quickly. “If you feel passionate, just keep doing it. There will be knocks and hardships and it is easy to give up along the road. But keep going, you will see it all come together.”  

Prima Facie is released to cinemas around the world via NT Live and in association with Sky Arts on Thursday 21 July 2022.

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The Olivier theatre to be transformed for live performances in-the-round for socially distanced audiences from October

National Theatre

The Olivier theatre is to be significantly remodelled in order to stage a season of performances in-the-round, which will achieve an audience capacity of almost 500 while maintaining social distancing for audiences.

The National Theatre will reopen to audiences on the 21 October, for the first time since closing in March, with DEATH OF ENGLAND: DELROY, a new play written by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, directed by Dyer and performed by Giles Terera. The production is the first in a season of productions to be staged in the transformed Olivier theatre. Tickets will go on sale to the public from 2 October with over 200 tickets available at £20 for every performance.

Death of England: Delroy follows on from Death of England that was performed by Rafe Spall and closed just before lockdown. This new work explores a Black working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain. Set and costume designers are Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and ULTZ, with lighting design by Jackie Shemesh, sound design by Pete Malkin and Benjamin Grant.

In a season when theatres across the country have been forced to postpone their pantomimes by Coronavirus, for one year only, pantomime is coming to the National Theatre. The second production the NT will stage as part of the Olivier in-the-round season will be DICK WHITTINGTON, originally commissioned by the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, which will celebrate and honour panto’s place at the heart of British theatre.

Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd’s hilarious and heartfelt version of the famous story was first staged at Lyric Hammersmith in 2018. Freshly updated for 2020, Ned Bennett directs this exciting new production which promises fun for everyone and will open on the South Bank in December.

This wild and inventive production explores what it is like to come from a small town and arrive in a big city today, exploring the ideas of community and togetherness which feel even more prescient in 2020. Making the most of the newly transformed Olivier theatre with set and costume designs by Georgia Lowe, and lighting designed by Jessica Hung Han Yun. Denzel Westley-Sanderson is Associate Director.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said: ‘We’re both delighted and relieved to be reopening the National Theatre with the Olivier in-the-round season, which will allow us to present live work to as many people as possible while social distancing remains in place. It is dynamically appropriate to begin the season with DEATH OF ENGLAND: DELROYan extraordinarily important and timely piece of work by the hugely talented Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, and we are also proud and privileged to be presenting DICK WHITTINGTON this Christmas, helmed by the inspirational Jude Christian, Cariad Lloyd and Ned Bennett. Pantomime is an essential part of the living fabric of our nation, and it is devastating that so many theatres across the country have had no choice but to postpone their pantos this year because of the unprecedented financial impact of Coronavirus. We’ll do all we can to keep the flame alive: brilliant theatre artists will serve up a slice of joy to families on the South Bank, and we’ll be asking everyone to support their local theatres by booking ahead for their 2021 pantomimes. Of course, we hope that it will be possible for theatres to perform safely to fuller audiences long before then.’

Speaking about Dick WhittingtonJude Christian and Cariad Lloyd said: “In 2018 we set out to celebrate the heart of the Dick Whittington story – that London has always been, and will always be, enriched by the brilliant brains and invigorating spirit of those who come from all over the world and call it home. That’s a story we want to tell now more than ever, and in quintessentially British fashion: with irreverent jokes, talking animals, awesome songs, and wholesale destructive silliness.”

Ned Bennett continued: “We are inordinately excited to be talking about a show, never mind having the privilege of being able to stage one right now. We are facing such challenging times, as artists and as an industry, so we feel so lucky to have the NT able to provide this opportunity. We cannot wait to bring audiences (safely) into the Olivier and allow them to remember the joy of theatre for a night.”

Following UK Government guidelines, social distancing measures have been put in place for those attending performances at the NT. These include staggered arrival times, paperless tickets, pre-ordered drinks, enhanced cleaning, and sanitisation stations throughout the theatre. Tickets are available to be purchased as single tickets, as pairs or in threes or fours for audiences to attend with others from their social bubbles. Face coverings will be required at all times, aside from when audience members are eating or drinking. Full information on the safety measures for audiences can be found here.

Further information, including performance dates for DICK WHITTINGTON will be released at a later date. Tickets will go on sale in October.

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National Theatre to reopen with Death of England sequel Delroy starring Giles Terera


Today the National Theatre announces its commitment to begin creating new work again, with plans to resume socially-distanced live performances in the Olivier Theatre in late October.

A new one-person play, DEATH OF ENGLAND: DELROY, by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, will be directed by Dyer, and performed by Giles Terera. This follows on from Dyer and Williams’ play Death of England, which Dyer also directed, and which was performed by Rafe Spall to critical acclaim in the Dorfman Theatre, closing only weeks before lockdown.

The production team, together with Giles Terera, have been back at the National Theatre this week working on the play: the first artists to return to work in the building since it closed. The new play was commissioned by the NT’s New Work Department at the start of lockdown and written over the subsequent five months. It explores a different side of the Death of England story as it focuses on the character of Delroy, the best friend of Michael, the protagonist of the first piece.

London, 2020. Delroy is arrested on his way to the hospital. Filled with anger and grief, he recalls the moments and relationships that gave him hope before his life was irrevocably changed. This new work explores a Black working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain.

Delroy: Roy Williams, Giles Terera and Clint Dyer at the National Theatre ( Helen Murray )

Delroy: Roy Williams, Giles Terera and Clint Dyer at the National Theatre ( Helen Murray )

Government have now confirmed that indoor, socially-distanced performances can resume from this Saturday. Death of England: Delroy will begin performances in late October. Tickets will go on sale in September, when full details of the performance schedule, ticketing, and safety measures for audiences will also be available.

Speaking about the play Clint Dyer and Roy Williams said: “There’s a moment in Death of England at his father’s funeral where Michael tells Delroy, ‘you may act like us and talk like us, but you will never be one of us’. In telling Delroy’s story, we hope to take audiences on an illuminating journey into the Black British psyche and realities of a ‘tolerant’ England in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said: “This week Death of England: Delroy will have its first workshop as we finally, carefully open the doors of the theatre to artists and put in place plans to start live performance again this Autumn.  Clint Dyer and Roy Williams have delivered another explosive piece of work; set during lockdown and charting its own fearless and provocative course through the same subjects as its prequel, and a very English reflection of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is so important for us to be welcoming artists back into the building again, and planning for doing the same for our much-missed audiences. The moment the incomparable Giles Terera steps out on the Olivier stage at that first performance will be an incredible one, and I’m thrilled to be reopening our theatre with such an important and timely piece of work.”

 

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NT announces Madame Kalamazoo, magical daily stories for children

Earlier this year, children across the UK found themselves suddenly unable to go out or see their friends and family as the world went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Once in a blue moon something unexpected happens.

Around the same time, another very surprising thing took place: some children started getting a daily email, from a rarely seen storyteller called Madame Kalamazoo. These children report that the mysterious visitor from the Blue Moon knows their names, makes them laugh, and takes them on daily imaginative adventures. But best of all, she has a special way to connect her readers with other children stuck in their houses.   

 Starting from today,  Madame Kalamazoo’s Magical Mail  will now be available to children across the whole country; delivered via email by the National Theatre.

As National Theatre at Home concludes with the final streaming day of Amadeus (Thurs until 7pm) and school summer holidays start, the National Theatre is excited to be sharing Madame Kalamazoo’s Magical Mail for free from today.   

The special thing about these daily, interactive stories is that they are set in children’s own homes, and feature the children themselves as the main characters. If they choose to, children can go a step further than simply reading their magical mail and can contribute artwork to help move the stories along in an act of collective storytelling with other children across the country. 

Families already receiving Madame Kalamazoo’s Magical Mail love their daily stories and one parent said: “Madame Kalamazoo has been such a welcome distraction and breath of fresh air during lockdown. Every day my son wakes up asking if Madame Kalamazoo has sent a letter and he’s really thrilled when it arrives. Thank you, Madame Kalamazoo.”  

 Parents/ guardians can send a message to Madame Kalamazoo inviting her to write to their children at madamekalamazoo.com or can find out more by visiting nationaltheatre.org.uk. Madame Kalamazoo will start sending her Magical Mail the next day and will send 19 email stories in total. Parents can choose whether to receive stories from her daily or at weekends.

   

   

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The National Theatre Announces Further Programming For National Theatre At Home Including Productions

National Theatre

The National Theatre has today announced further productions that will be streamed live on YouTube every Thursday at 7PM BST via the National Theatre’s YouTube channel as part of National Theatre at Home; the new initiative to bring content to the public in their homes during the Coronavirus outbreak. The titles announced today include productions from partner theatres which were previously broadcast to cinemas by National Theatre Live.

On 14 May the NT will stream the never-before-seen archive recording of Inua Ellams’ smash-hit play Barber Shop Chronicles, a co-production with Fuel and Leeds Playhouse. Captured at the National Theatre in January 2018 during its second sold-out run at the Dorfman theatre, the production went on to tour internationally including performances at BAM in New York with a return to London’s Roundhouse last Summer. The play tells the interwoven tales of black men from across the globe who, for generations, have gathered in barber shops where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling. Directed by Bijan Sheibani the cast includes Fisayo AkinadeHammed AnimashaunCyril Nri and Sule Rimi.

The 2014 NT Live broadcast of the Young Vic and Joshua Andrews co-production of the Tennessee Williamstimeless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire will be streamed on the 21 May. As Blanche’s fragile world crumbles, she turns to her sister Stella for solace – but her downward spiral brings her face to face with the brutal, unforgiving Stanley Kowalski. The cast includes Gillian Anderson as Blanche, Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella. The production, directed by Benedict Andrews, remains the fastest-selling production in Young Vic history.

The National Theatre production of This House by James Graham (Quiz, West End and ITV) will be streamed on 28 May. Filmed live in 2013, This House is a timely, moving and funny insight into the workings of British politics.  It’s 1974, and Britain has a hung Parliament.  The corridors of Westminster ring with the sound of infighting and backstabbing as the political parties battle to change the future of the nation. Jeremy Herrin directs a cast including Phil DanielsReece Dinsdale, Charles Edwards and Vincent Franklin.

The Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus staged by former Artistic Director Josie Rourke will be streamed on the 4 June.  When an old adversary threatens Rome, the city calls once more on her hero and defender: Coriolanus. But he has enemies at home too. In one of the Donmar’s most popular ever productions, Tom Hiddlestonplays the title role in Shakespeare’s searing tragedy of political manipulation and revenge. Cast also includes Alfred EnochDeborah Findlay and Mark Gatiss.

All productions will be free and screened live at 7.00PM BST and will then be available on demand for seven days.

The next National Theatre at Home Quiz will be available from 7pm on Monday 25 May, introduced by James Graham, and featuring Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter, Lucian MsamatiMeera SyalSimon CallowTamsin Greig, and Jessie Buckley posing the questions on topics including Science and Nature, Literature and Theatre. The Quiz is available via the NT’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

National Theatre at Home launched in April in response to theatre and cinema closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Over the past month, five productions have been streamed for free via YouTube to an audience of 8 million. With the closure of theatres set to continue for some time, the future of the industry for artists and organisations remains uncertain. The National Theatre has, in agreement with Equity, committed to pay all artists and creatives involved with productions streamed as part of National Theatre at Home.

Lisa Burger, Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive said – “I’m delighted that in this next collection of titles to be streamed as part of National Theatre at Home we are including productions from our NT Live partner theatres. When we launched National Theatre at Home last month, we wanted to offer audiences the opportunity to engage with theatre during this time of isolation while we were unable to welcome them to the South Bank or into cinemas. This initiative wouldn’t have been possible without the support of a great number of artists for which we are incredibly grateful. We have been absolutely thrilled by the response from viewers enjoying the productions from right across the globe, and we have also been surprised and delighted at the generous donations we’ve received since closure. Whilst the National Theatre continues to face a precarious financial future, we now feel able to make a payment to all artists involved, as we recognise a great many are also experiencing a particularly challenging time at this moment. While theatres across the world remain closed, we’re pleased that we can continue to bring the best of British theatre directly into people’s homes every Thursday evening.”

The National Theatre is currently closed to audiences and like theatres all around the world is facing a devastating impact from Coronavirus.  NATIONAL THEATRE AT HOME is free of charge but should viewers wish to make a donation to support the National Theatre, we have launched a public appeal on our home page: nationaltheatre.org.uk

Money donated via YouTube will be shared with the co-producing theatre organisations of each stream, including the Donmar Warehouse, Fuel, Leeds Playhouse and the Young Vic, helping to also support them through this period of closure and uncertainty.

For more information on NATIONAL THEATRE AT HOME go to https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/at-home

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Bristol Old Vic and National Theatre’s Jane Eyre to be broadcast on YouTube

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

  • Innovative reimagining was a collaboration between the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic
  • Broadcast as part of National Theatre at Home – the National’s new initiative to screen a selection of much-loved National Theatre Live productions on YouTube for free over the next two months
  • NT Live has been broadcasting for ten years and screens to over 2,500 cinemas in 60 countries

Bristol Old Vic and The National Theatre’s smash-hit collaboration of Jane Eyre will be shown on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel on Thursday 9 April at 7pm BST as part of NATIONAL THEATRE AT HOME.

Almost 170 years on, Charlotte Brontë’s story of the trailblazing Jane is as inspiring as ever. This bold and dynamic production uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms.

From her beginnings as a destitute orphanJane Eyre’s spirited heroine faces life’s obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.

This acclaimed re-imagining of Brontë’s masterpiece was directed by Bristol-based Sally Cookson. It was first staged by Bristol Old Vic in 2015 and transferred to the National in the same year with a revival in 2017.

Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director Tom Morris said:
“This production marked the moment when Sally Cookson and her extraordinary team of collaborators caught the attention of the national and international theatre world for the first time. Celebrated with a string of 5 star reviews, the show placed the imagination of the audience at the centre of the theatrical experience. Celebrating the power of our imaginations to take us beyond our own four walls is even more important in these uncertain times.

We are thrilled to take our ongoing collaboration with the National Theatre into the digital realm with this premier and will announce further details of Bristol Old Vic’s own online theatre, partly curated in partnership with Bristol’s remarkable creative sector across artforms, on the night of the digital launch of Jane Eyre.”

During this unprecedented time which has seen the closure of theatres, cinemas and schools, NATIONAL THEATRE AT HOME is providing access to content online to serve audiences in their homes. Audiences around the world can stream NT Live productions for free via YouTube every Thursday at 7.00pm BST and it will then be available on demand for seven days.

Following Jane Eyre, Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island will be screened on 16th April, and Twelfth Night on the 23 April featuring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia in Shakespeare’s classic comedy, with further titles to be announced.

Alongside the streamed productions, NATIONAL THEATRE AT HOME will also feature accompanying interactive content such as Q&As with cast and creative teams and post-stream talks, with further details of this programme to be announced.

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Neil Gaiman in conversation with Lenny Henry at the National Theatre

Neil Gaiman and The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the bestselling magical novel from the brilliant imagination of Neil Gaiman. Join Gaiman as he chats to Lenny Henry about writing this modern myth, where his inspiration came from, and what it’s like to have his novel adapted for the stage.

Neil Gaiman is the author of over 30 books and graphic novels for adults and children, including American Gods, Stardust, Coraline and The Graveyard BookThe Ocean at the End of the Lane has won several awards, including being voted Book of the Year in the National Book Awards 2013. Neil Gaiman’s work has been adapted for film, television and radio. He has written scripts for Doctor Who, worked with authors and illustrators including Terry Pratchett, Dave McKean and Chris Riddell, and The Sandman is established as one of the classic graphic novels.

Tickets for this event are £15 (£10 for students and under-18s) and will be available via the National Theatre website. Public booking opens at 1pm on Tuesday 15 October.

Add a pre-signed copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane illustrated edition (Headline Publishing) to your order for the reduced price of £16 (RRP £20). Offer only available at time of ticket booking.

Further The Ocean at the End of the Lane Talks and Events include:

Childhood Memories: Recall and Imagination Mon 16 Dec, 6pm
Making the Show: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Tue 21 Jan, 2pm
Director Katy Rudd and Adapter Joel Horwood Fri 24 Jan, 6pm
Creating the Puppets for The Ocean at the End of the Lane Sat 25 Jan, 11.30am


THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

based on the novel by Neil Gaiman

adapted by Joel Horwood.

Previews in the Dorfman Theatre from 3 December, press night 11 December, playing until 25 January

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman, bestselling author of American GodsCoralineStardust and the Sandman series, will play in the Dorfman over Christmas.

A modern myth about the childhood truths that swim beneath our adult selves, adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, this adventure will excite, unsettle and thrill those brave enough to face its hidden depths.

Returning to his childhood home, Alex finds himself standing beside the duck pond of the old Sussex farmhouse where he used to play. He’s transported to his eleventh birthday, when his dad was struggling to make ends meet and his friend Lettie claimed it wasn’t a pond, but an ocean… Plunged into a magical world, Alex and Lettie’s survival depends on their ability to reckon with dark, ancient forces that threaten to destroy everything around them.

Adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, the set designer is Fly Davis, with costume and puppet design by Samuel Wyer, movement direction by Steven Hoggett, composition by Jherek Bischoff, lighting design by Paule Constable, sound design by Ian Dickinson and puppetry by Finn Caldwell.

Cast includes: Samuel Blenkin, Jade Croot, Fred Davis, Owain Gwynn, Pippa Nixon, Justin Salinger, Jeffrey Sangalang, Marli Siu, Josie Walker, and Jess Williams.

Suitable for ages 12+, with half price tickets available for under-18s. In previews from Tuesday 3 December, with a press night on Wednesday 11 December, playing until Saturday 25 January.

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New digital streaming service National Theatre Collection launches worldwide today

National Theatre

The National Theatre Collection goes live today with 19 titles available worldwide in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing and ProQuest.

This new streaming service draws on ten years of NT Live broadcasts, alongside high quality archive recordings never previously seen outside of the NT’s Archive. The National Theatre Collection will make the best of British theatre available to libraries, schools, universities and the education sector around the world.

The National Theatre Collection is available through Bloomsbury’s award-winning digital library Drama Online and as a stand-alone resource from renowned EdTech leader ProQuest. ProQuest will also integrate the collection in its popular Theatre and Drama Premium. It will transform the current landscape of theatre studies and digital learning by connecting students, researchers and teachers across the globe to world-class productions, archive materials and learning resources. The National Theatre Collection is available via two models: a one-time payment for the full collection, or via an annual subscription.

The National Theatre Collection launches with 19 titles and will grow to 30 titles by March 2020. It features a wide range of works regularly studied at secondary/high school and degree level. Unique in its scope, the collection encompasses:

  • Greek classics such as Medea by Euripides, in a contemporary adaptation by Ben Power, directed by Carrie Cracknell with Helen McCrory in the title role
  • Vibrant modern stagings of Shakespeare, such as Twelfth Night, directed by Simon Godwin, with Tamsin Greig in the role of ‘Malvolia’ and Coriolanus directed by Josie Rourke with Tom Hiddleston in the title role
  • 20th century classics such as Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs and the Young Vic’s production of Lorca’s Yerma, adapted and directed by Simon Stone with Billie Piper in the title role
  • Literary adaptations, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein adapted by Nick Dear and directed by Danny Boyle, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller
  • Comedies such as She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith, directed by Jamie Lloyd with a cast including Cush Jumbo and Katherine Kelly and One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, directed by Nicholas Hytner, and featuring James Corden‘s Tony Award-winning performance

UK schools will also be able to access a greater range of productions through the National Theatre Schools Collection on Drama Online. Launching in January 2020, the productions available as part of the Schools Collection will complement the curriculum and be free for UK state-funded schools to access, together with learning resources, ensuring access to the arts as part of a rich and broad education for young people.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said, “We are delighted to announce that National Theatre Collection goes live today in partnerships with Bloomsbury and ProQuest. This collection of iconic plays reflects the rich and diverse spectrum of British theatre over the past decades and will now be accessible to students and teachers worldwide for the first time ever. We hope that this new platform will open up the National Theatre to students, teachers and theatre-makers across the globe, whilst also ensuring that drama remains an integral part of a broad education. We would like to extend our thanks to the rightsholders of these materials who have made this service possible”.

Jenny Ridout, Global Head of Academic Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC said,

“It is exciting to be taking our longstanding publishing relationship with the National Theatre forward in this landmark digital collaboration. The National Theatre Collection on our educational platform Drama Online gives students and scholars the world over the opportunity to study and enjoy a wealth of plays alongside the playtexts and works of scholarship in one expertly curated digital space. Drama Online exemplifies Bloomsbury’s investment in creating dynamic and authoritative digital resources for universities and schools around the world. The National Theatre Collection will ensure that world-class theatre has a lasting impact, inspiring the theatre makers and performers of the future.”

Katie Birch, Director of Product Management at ProQuest said, “Students and faculty increasingly rely on multimedia content to enrich learning and classroom experiences. ProQuest’s collaboration with National Theatre makes it easy to stream spectacular, dramatic performances on-demand alongside unique archival content to study the performing arts from every angle both in front of and behind the curtain”.

The National Theatre Collection is supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), Fondation Hoffmann, the Sidney E. Frank Foundation and The Attwood Education Foundation.

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The National Theatre’s production of A Taste of Honey will transfer to the West End

National Theatre

The National Theatre today announced that Bijan Sheibani’s (Barber Shop ChroniclesDance Nation) production of A Taste of Honey, the remarkable taboo-breaking 1950s play written by Shelagh Delaney when she was just 19, will transfer to the West End immediately following a nine-week UK tour. A Taste of Honey will play a limited 12-week run at Trafalgar Studios from 5 December in a co-production with Trafalgar Theatre Productions, with an opening night on Monday 9 December. Tickets will go on sale to the general public from 11 October.

Jodie Prenger (Oliver!Shirley Valentine, Annie, Abigail’s Party UK tour), leads the cast as Helen, with Gemma Dobson as Jo, Durone Stokes as Jimmie, Stuart Thompson as Geoffrey, and Tom Varey as Peter. They are joined by understudies Liam BessellKaty Clayton, and Claire Eden.

A Taste of Honey, which returns to the West End for the first time in 60 years, is designed by Hildegard Bechtler, who collaborated with Sheibani on the NT’s 2014 Lyttelton Theatre production. This production is reimagined in an exciting new staging featuring original compositions – influenced by blues and soul music – by Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, and rearranged songs from the jazz era, performed live by an on stage three-piece band.

A Taste of Honey offers an explosive celebration of the vulnerabilities and strengths of the female spirit in a deprived and restless world, against the backdrop of working-class life in post-war Salford.

When her mother Helen runs off with a car salesman, feisty teenager Jo takes up with Jimmie, a sailor who promises to marry her, before he heads for the seas. Art student Geof moves in and assumes the role of surrogate parent until, misguidedly, he sends for Helen and their unconventional setup unravels.

The lighting designer is Paul Anderson, the movement director is Aline David, the sound designer is Ian Dickinson for Autograph, and Company Voice Work is by Joel Trill.

Shelagh Delaney wrote her first play, A Taste of Honey in ten days after seeing Rattigan’s Variation of a Theme in Manchester. She sent the script to Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and the play opened at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in 1958 before transferring to the West End in 1959. It was later made into a BAFTA-winning feature film with Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan and Murray Melvin. The play’s Broadway transfer featured a cast including Joan Plowright and Angela Lansbury. Delaney’s other work includes The Lion in Love. For television she wrote The House That Jack Built and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Lisa Burger, Executive Director of the NT said, ‘We opened the NT tour of A Taste of Honey at The Lowry in Salford last week and it was very special to be able to take Shelagh Delaney’s beloved play home. It now feels very fitting to return this important play to the West End for the first time in 60 years, following its tour around the UK. After the success of Nine Night at Trafalgar Studios, we look forward to partnering with Trafalgar Theatre Productions to introduce new audiences in London to this classic.’

A Taste of Honey opened at The Lowry, Salford and is playing at the Kings Theatre, Edinburgh this week before visiting the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (1 – 5 October); Richmond Theatre (7 – 12 October); Grand Opera House, Belfast (15 – 19 October); Leicester Curve (22 – 26 October); Theatre Royal, Bath (28 October – 2 November); Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton (5 – 9 November); and the Norwich Theatre Royal (12 – 16 November) before arriving in the West End.

Bijan Sheibani is an award winning theatre and opera director. His work for the National Theatre includes Barber Shop ChroniclesA Taste of HoneyEmil and the DetectivesThe Kitchen, and Our Class (Olivier Nomination for Best Director). Other theatre includes Dance Nation and The House of Bernarda Alba (Almeida Theatre); Circle Mirror Transformation (Home, Manchester); The Brothers Size (Young Vic, Olivier Nomination); Giving (Hampstead Theatre); Moonlight (Donmar Warehouse); Gone Too Far (Royal Court Theatre, Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre). He was artistic director of Actors Touring Company from 2007 to 2010, and an associate director at the National Theatre from 2010 to 2015.

Hildegard Bechtler is an Olivier Award-winning theatre and opera designer whose designs for the NT include ConsentSunset at the Villa ThaliaWasteA Taste of HoneyScenes from an ExecutionAfter the DanceHarper ReganThe Hour We Knew Nothing of Each OtherThe HothouseThérèse RaquinExilesPrimoIphigenia at AulisThe Merchant of VeniceRichard II, and King Lear. For the RSC she has designed The Crucible and Electra. In London’s West End her designs include Oresteia (also Almeida Theatre), Top HatPassion PlayOld TimesThe Sunshine BoysArcadiaThe Lady from DubuqueBy the Bog of CatsThe Master BuilderFootfallsHedda GablerThe MisanthropeThe Goat or Who is Sylvia?The Crucible. On Broadway she has designed PrimoArcadia, and The Seagull.

A Taste of Honey is produced in the West End by the National Theatre and Trafalgar Theatre Productions.

A Taste of Honey is supported by American Express, the NT’s preferred card partner.

Booking information

A Taste of Honey
5 December 2019 – 29 February 2020
Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2DY

Tickets from £18
Book via nationaltheatre.org.uk / 020 7452 3000 or http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/trafalgar-studios / 0844 871 7632 from 11 October.

Social media

Twitter: @TasteofHoneyNT
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