Natio​nal Theatre’s Public Acts initiative launches with Shakespeare’s Pericles in the Olivier Theatre

Members of the Pericles company

Members of the Pericles company joined by NT Artistic Director Rufus Norris and the Pericles creative team © James Bellorini

A company of over 200 people of all ages from across London join together with professional artists to breathe new life into this classic tale in a musical version on the National Theatre’s Olivier stage from 26 – 28 August 2018.

Pericles launches Public Acts, the National Theatre’s new initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community. The production marks the centre point of a two-year partnership, building in-depth relationships with eight organisations who deliver visionary work in their communities, together with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.  The community partners are Bromley by Bow Centre, Body & Soul, Coram, DABD, Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (HASWA), Open Age, Thames Reach and The Faith & Belief Forum.

Prince Pericles has everything but understands little. When a reckless act threatens his safety, he must flee his home and take to sea. Reliant on the whims of the fates and the kindness of strangers, Pericles is driven from shore to shore. Only by reaching the ends of the earth may he finally understand what it means to come home.

The cast includes Ashley Zhangazha, Audrey Brisson, Ayesha Dharker, Garry Robson, Naana Agyei-Ampadu, performers recruited through our community partners and seven cameo performance groups who represent the cultural diversity of London: Ascension Eagles, Faithworks Gospel Choir, London Bulgarian Choir, Manifest Nation, The Archetype Dance Team, The Bhavan and The Youthsayers.

The NT has commissioned Chris Bush, a writer with extensive experience working with large community companies, to adapt Shakespeare’s Pericles which will be directed by NT Resident Director Emily Lim. Music for the production is by James Fortune. The production is designed by Fly Davis and choreographed by Robby Graham.  Lighting design is by Paule Constable, sound design by Paul Arditti and Tarek Merchant is Music Director.

Emily Lim said, “Public Acts is founded on the belief that theatre can be a force for change, bringing communities together to experience the power of collective purpose and imagination. We are so excited to be celebrating our first year of community partnerships this Summer with Pericles, our first Public Acts production, under the National Theatre’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris.”  

Public Acts is inspired by Public Works, the Public Theater’s ground-breaking programme in New York and by the visionary participatory work of other theatres across the UK over the past decades.

Supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Hertz, The Sackler Trust and Garfield Weston Foundation.

The National Theatre’s Partner for Learning is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.