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The Boy with Two Hearts to open at the National Theatre this October

The Boy with Two Hearts

Wales Millennium Centre’s widely acclaimed adaptation of Hamed and Hessam Amiri’s The Boy with Two Hearts will open for performances in the Dorfman theatre this October, with press night on 5 October.

Directed by Amit Sharma and adapted for the stage by Phil Porter, the play is based on the book of the same name by Hamed and Hessam Amiri. Drawing on extraordinary real-life experiences, it is a powerful story of hope, courage, and humanity – and a heartfelt tribute to the NHS.

Hamed and Hessam Amiri said: “When this production was first staged at Wales Millennium Centre, it was emotional to see our family’s journey come to life on stage and to relive those many precious moments we had along the way. We were amazed by the reaction from audiences and critics as they lived those moments with us, and are so excited to be reaching an even wider audience as the play comes to the NT.

We can’t wait to share our story again with as many as people as possible. Our hope is to simply give the audience a chance to see our family’s journey through a different lens, and the human experiences behind the word refugee.”

Herat, Afghanistan, 2000. When a young mother speaks out against the Taliban, she and her husband are forced to flee their home and country with their three sons.

Embarking on a long and terrifying journey across Russia and through Europe, they seek final refuge in the UK.

But, as their eldest son’s life-threatening heart condition worsens and requires urgent surgery, their escape soon becomes a race against time.

The cast is Shamail Ali, Houda Echouafni, Dana Haqjoo, Farshid Rokey, Ahmad Sakhi and Lisa Zahra, performing alongside the award-winning Afghan vocalist and composer, Elaha Soroor.

Set and costume designer is Hayley Grindle, lighting designer is Amy Mae, sound designer and co-composer is Tic Ashfield, movement director is Jess Williams and Hayley Egan is video designer. Casting is by Sarah Hughes CDG and associate director is Sepy Baghaei.

Tickets are on sale now and available to book via the NT website.

The Lehman Trilogy will play at the Gillian Lynne Theatre from 24 January 2023

The Lehman Trilogy

Producers the National Theatre and Neal Street Productions announced today that the London return of the critically acclaimed, highly lauded, five-time Tony Award® winning epic THE LEHMAN TRILOGY will play for a limited 17-week season at the Gillian Lynne Theatre from 24 January 2023, with an opening night set for 8 February.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Thursday 21 July 2022 at 12 noon at TheLehmanTrilogy.com.10,000 tickets across the run will be available for £20.

American Express® Cardmembers have access to exclusive presale tickets beginning Tuesday 19 July at 10am at nationaltheatre.org.uk.

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 joined by his two brothers, and an American epic begins. 163 years later, the firm they establish – Lehman Brothers – spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy, triggering the largest financial crisis in history. Weaving together nearly two centuries of family history, this New York Times Critics’ pick charts the humble beginnings, outrageous successes, and devastating failure of the financial institution that would ultimately bring the global economy to its knees.

The 2022 Tony Award® winning Best Play is written by Stefano Massini and adapted by Ben Power. Directed by multi-Academy Award®, Tony Award® and Golden Globe winner Sam MendesThe Lehman Trilogy features a cast of three playing the Lehman brothers, their sons, and grandsons, in an extraordinary feat of storytelling told in three parts on a single evening. The decades unfold within the cinematic sweep of designer Es Devlin‘s Tony Award ® winning set. Casting to be announced.

The Lehman Trilogy was the most awarded play this season on Broadway, where alongside Best Play, Best Director and Best Set Design, it also picked up Best Lighting Design and Best Actor. It was also awarded this season’s Drama League Award for Best Play and six Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Play.

First commissioned by Neal Street Productions and developed and co-produced with the National Theatre at the Lyttelton theatre in 2018, followed by an acclaimed sold-out run at the Park Avenue Armory in the Spring of 2019, The Lehman Trilogy returned to London for a 16-week sold-out run at the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End from May to August 2019. Following Broadway’s 18-month shutdown, The Lehman Trilogy was the first British play to return to Broadway — where it had previously played four performances in March 2020 — for a much-lauded limited engagement at the Nederlander Theatre from September 2021 – January 2022. A Los Angeles transfer to Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre followed from March – April 2022.

Prior to this, the world premiere of Stefano Massini’s The Lehman Trilogy opened at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan in 2015. It turned out to be Artistic Director Luca Ronconi’s final production before his death. A long-term admirer of Ronconi’s, Sam Mendes was inspired to begin planning an English adaptation for Neal Street Productions. Ben Power was commissioned by Neal Street Productions to create a new version of this epic play, using a literal English translation by Mirella Cheeseman.

Costume design is by Katrina Lindsay, video design by Luke Halls, and lighting design by Jon Clark. The Composer & Sound Designer is Nick Powell, the Co-Sound Designer is Dominic Bilkey, with music direction by Candida Caldicot, and movement by Polly Bennett. The West End Director is Zoé Ford Burnett. Casting is by Jessica Ronane CDG CSA.

The Lehman Trilogy in the West End is supported by American Express, the National Theatre’s Preferred Card Partner.

National Theatre summer season with leading actors from stage and screen

National Theatre
  • NT Associate Simon Godwin returns to the NT to direct Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in the Lyttelton theatre with John Heffernan as Benedick and Katherine Parkinson as Beatrice 
  • Laurie Davidson, Kelvin Fletcher, Caroline Quentin and Natalie Simpson lead the cast of Jack Absolute Flies Again a new comedy by Richard Bean and Oliver Chris, directed by Emily Burns in the Olivier theatre 
  • Writer and comedian Francesca Martinez brings her debut play All of Us to the Dorfman theatre, directed by Ian Rickson  
  • Samira Wiley makes her NT debut as Angel Allen alongside Giles Terera as Guy Jacobs in Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky directed by Lynette Linton opening in the Lyttelton theatre in September

The National Theatre today announces new productions for all three South Bank stages this summer: Jack Absolute Flies Again in the Olivier theatre, Much Ado About Nothing in the Lyttelton theatre and All of Us in the Dorfman theatre with tickets on sale to the public from Thursday 10 March.  

Jack Absolute Flies Again a riotous and comedic new version of Sheridan’s The Rivals, co-written by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris (Emma), will play in the Olivier theatre in July. Originally due to open in April 2020, Emily Burns (The Comeback) will direct Laurie Davidson (Cats) as Jack Absolute alongside Caroline Quentin (Jonathan Creek) as Mrs Malaprop, Natalie Simpson (Three Sisters) as Lydia Languish, Kelvin Fletcher (Emmerdale) as Dudley Scunthorpe and Kerry Howard (Him & Her) as Lucy, James Corrigan, Theo Cowan, Jordan Metcalfe, George Kemp, Akshay Sharan, Tim Steed, Geoffrey Towers, Shona White and Helena Wilson also join the company.  

Set and costume design is by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Tim Lutkin, composer is Paul Englishby, sound design by Paul Arditti and video and projection design by Jeff Sugg. Physical comedy director is Toby Park and choreography is by Lizzi Gee. Staff director is Cara Nolan.  

Simon Godwin (Romeo & Juliet) will return to the Lyttelton theatre to direct Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in July. Set in the Italian Riviera at the fictional Hotel Messina, Katherine Parkinson (Home, I’m Darling) will play Beatrice with John Heffernan (The Pursuit of Love) as Benedick in Shakespeare’s timeless romantic comedy. With set design by Anna Fleischle, costume design by Evie Gurney and lighting design by Lucy Carter. Composer is Michael Bruce and sound design by Christopher Shutt. Staff Director is Hannah Joss.  

Award-winning writer and comedian Francesca Martinez will make her NT debut with her new play All of Us, directed by Ian Rickson. A powerful and timely drama that explores the human cost of abandoning those who struggle to fit in, the play was postponed due to Covid-19 and will now open in the Dorfman this July.  

The cast is led by Francesca Martinez alongside Chris Anderson, Oliver Alvin-Wilson, Bryan Dick, Kevin Hely, Christopher-John Slater, Francesca Mills and Wanda Opalinska. Set and costume design is by Georgia Lowe, lighting design by Anna Watson, movement direction by Lucy Cullingford. The composer is Stephen Warbeck, sound design by Gregory Clarke and fight director is Terry King. Staff Director is Hana Pascal Keegan

Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, Lynette Linton makes her National Theatre debut with a new production of Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky in the Lyttelton theatre from September. This startling play set in 1930 during the Harlem renaissance, is about four friends whose lives and passions collide when a newcomer from Alabama arrives. Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale, Orange is the New Black) performs the role of Angel Allen with Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo (Three Sisters) as Delia Patterson, Osy Ikhile (Sweat) as Leland Cunningham, Sule Rimi (Barber Shop Chronicles) as Sam Thomas and Giles Terera (Death of England: Face to Face) performing the role of Guy Jacobs.  

Set and costume design by Frankie Bradshaw, lighting designer is Oli Fenwick, movement director is Kane Husbands, composer is Ben Kwasi Burrell, sound designer is George Dennis and Staff Director TD Moyo. Tickets for Blues for an Alabama Sky will go on sale in May. 

National Theatre Live 

Following the success of Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt broadcast to 40,000 people around the world on 27 January, NT Live continues with Henry V broadcast from the Donmar Warehouse on 21 April and Straight Line Crazy, a new play by David Hare, from the Bridge Theatre on 26 May.  

National Theatre Collection 

With 75% of all UK state secondary schools now signed up to the National Theatre Collection, ten additional productions will be available to schools, colleges and educational establishments from 24th February in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing and ProQuest. These ten new productions will complete the second Collection, making a total of 50 titles available to the education sector worldwide.  

The new titles include the multi-award-winning new staging of Tony Kushner’s two-part play Angels in America starring Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Denise Gough, Russell Tovey and James McArdle, award-winning one-woman play Chewing Gum Dreams written and performed by Michaela Coel and award-winning original film Romeo & Juliet directed by Simon Godwin with Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor as the star-crossed lovers.  

Free for UK state-funded schools and FE colleges, the NT Collection celebrates the best of British theatre and provides access to high-quality recordings of world-class productions from the NT and other leading UK theatres. The NT Collection is also available via subscription to education providers worldwide and is used in schools and colleges in 57 countries.   

West End and On Tour 

The National Theatre’s acclaimed production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane continues in London’s West End until 14 May. The first major stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s work, this fantasy novel is brought to life in an adaptation by Joel Horwood, directed by Katy Rudd.  

The internationally acclaimed production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, continues on a 10th anniversary tour of the UK and Ireland this spring. 

International

Following an acclaimed Broadway run, The Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini and adapted by Ben Power, tours to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles this spring.  Sam Mendes directs Simon Russell BealeAdam Godley and Howard W. Overshown who play the Lehman Brothers, their sons and grandsons. A co-production with Neal Street Productions.

Cast announced for Small Island as rehearsals begin

Small Island

Casting for the revival of the critically acclaimed production Small Island is announced today as the company begin rehearsals. Adapted by Helen Edmundson from Andrea Levy’s prize-winning novel and directed by Rufus Norris, the production will open on 24 February in the Olivier theatre.  

Small Island brings to life the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK. Following the intricately connected stories of Hortense, newly arrived in London, landlady Queenie and servicemen Gilbert and Bernard, hope and humanity meet stubborn reality in their epic revival. 

The role of Hortense will be played by Leonie Elliott, Bernard will be performed by Martin Hutson, Queenie by Mirren Mack and Leemore Marrett Jr is Gilbert.  

The company also includes Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Chereen Buckley, Cavan Clarke, Adam Ewan, David Fielder, Amy Forrest, Andrew Frame, Stephanie Jacob, Sandra James-Young, CJ Johnson, Rebecca Lee, Rachel Lumberg, Alicia McKenzie, Daniel Norford, Tom Page, David Webber, Marcel White, and Flo Wilson.   

The role of Little Michael will be performed by Asad-Shareef Muhammad, Theo-Oliver Townsend and Nasri Thompson and the role of Little Hortense by Ta’lia Harvey, Hosanna-Reine Grimwade and Renee Hart.  

Set and costume design by Katrina Lindsay, projection design by Jon Driscoll and associate projection designer Gino Ricardo Green, lighting design by Paul Anderson, composer and rehearsal music direction by Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, sound design by Ian Dickinson for Autograph, sound associate Jonas Roebuck, movement direction by Coral Messam and fight direction by Kate Waters. Associate Director Denzel Wesley-Sanderson with casting by Isabella Odoffin CDG. 

National Theatre November 2021 – May 2022

National Theatre Together

David Eldridge and Polly Findlay reunite with new play Middle, the second of three plays by David Eldridge to explore love and relationships. Claire Rushbrook and Daniel Ryan play husband and wife

– Dominic Cooke directs The Corn is Green by Emlyn Williams with Nicola Walker playing Miss Lily Moffat

– Alecky Blythe’s new verbatim play Our Generation, a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre, directed by Daniel Evans, opens in the Dorfman theatre in February

– Anupama Chandrasekhar’s new play The Father and The Assassin, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, will open in the Olivier theatre in May. Shubham Saraf performs the role of Nathuram Godse.

– Jude Christian adapts Shakespeare’s Hamlet for young audiences with direction by Tinuke Craig. The production will embark on a 4-week schools tour and performs in the Dorfman theatre in March.

– Kirsty Housley directs Evan Placey’s reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde reaching over 10,500 secondary school students as part of an 8-week tour.

The National Theatre today announces the on-sale dates of upcoming productions Middle, Our Generation, The Corn is Green and The Father and The Assassin. Tickets go on sale to the public on 2 December 2021.

Following their five-star production of Beginning, which played to sold-out runs at the National Theatre and in the West End, writer David Eldridge and director Polly Findlay reunite with new play Middle, a raw, touching and funny portrait of a 21st-century marriage.

Middle is the second of three plays by David Eldridge to explore love and relationships and will open in the Dorfman theatre in April 2022.  Claire Rushbrook and Daniel Ryan will perform the roles of Gary and Maggie. Set and costume design by Fly Davis, and sound design by Donato Wharton.

Alecky Blythe returns to the National Theatre with her panoramic new verbatim play that tells the stories of a generation. Opening in the Dorfman theatre in February and created from five years of interviews with 12 young people from across the UK, Our Generation is a captivating portrait of their journey into adulthood. Making his NT directorial debut, Daniel Evans leads the team in this co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre.

The cast is Dee Ahluwalia, Joe Bolland, Anna Burnett, Anushka Chakravarti, Debbie Chazen, Gavi Singh Chera, Rachelle Diedericks, Hasan Dixon, Hélder Fernandes, Sarita Gabony, Conor Gormally, Alex Jarrett, Callum Mardy, Poppy Shepherd and Stephanie Street.

Set design is by Vicki Mortimer, costume design by Kinnetia Isidore, video design by Akhila Krishnan, lighting design by Zoe Spurr, sound design by Paul Arditti, movement direction by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, music composition, production & direction by DJ Walde, dramaturgy by Sebastian Born and casting by Charlotte Sutton.

Opening in the Lyttelton theatre in April 2022 is the rescheduled production of The Corn is GreenEmlyn Williams’ semi-autobiographical play is given a bold new staging by director Dominic Cooke in its first London revival for over 35 years. Nicola Walker will lead the company playing the role of Miss Lily Moffat, a teacher newly arrived in rural North Wales, determined to help young local miners out of poverty by teaching them to read and write.

Further casting includes Adam Baker, Saffron Coomber, Gareth David-Lloyd, Iwan Davies, Ben Alyn Francis, Megan Grech, Jonathan Hawkins, Matthew Hargreaves, Steffan Hughes, Gareth Kennerley, Richard Lynch, Jo McInnesAlice Orr-Ewing, Steffan Rizzi, Rebecca Todd, Garyn Williams, Peter Willcock and Rufus Wright.

Set and Costume Design is by ULTZ, lighting design by Charles Balfour, sound design by Christopher Shutt, music arrangements and direction by Will Stuart.

Opening in May 2022 in the Olivier theatre is The Father and The Assassin, a gripping new play by Anupama Chandrasekhar, one of India’s most exciting playwrights, directed by Indhu Rubasingham. The play traces Nathuram Godse’s life over 30 years during India’s fight for independence: from devout follower of Mahatma Gandhi, through to his radicalisation and their tragic final encounter. Shubham Saraf is cast as Godse alongside Sagar Arya, Ayesha Dharker and Peter Singh.

Set and costume design is by Rajha Shakiry, lighting design is by Oliver Fenwick and sound design is by Alex Caplen. Music composed by Siddhartha Khosla.

Digital

The National Theatre has added Kae Tempest’s ParadiseWinsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue Lights and James Graham’s This House to the NT’s streaming service National Theatre at Home. New productions are added each month and there are now 40 productions available to stream on the platform, including newly filmed shows from the NT’s stages and classics from the archives. Available to watch online anywhere in the world at any time. All are available with captions and 23 have audio description.

NT Learning for young people

Live performances for young people and nationwide schools touring returns in January 2022, beginning with a new version of Jekyll & Hyde touring into secondary schools, followed by the previously announced retelling of Hamlet. Both tours will reach over 15,500 primary and secondary pupils nationwide, these initiatives will support pupils’ creative learning following disruption caused by the pandemic.

The radical re-imagining by playwright Evan Placey of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s classic tale and directed by Kirsty Housley, will tour to over 10,500 students in secondary school halls nationwide from January 2022 on an 8-week schools tour which forms part of the NT’s Theatre Nation Partnerships to grow and sustain new audiences for live theatre. With support from our partner theatres, the production will visit outer East London (with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch), Wakefield (with Theatre Royal Wakefield), Doncaster (with Cast), Sunderland (with Sunderland Culture and Sunderland Empire), Wolverhampton (with The Grand), and Greater Manchester (with The Lowry). The production is designed by Amanda Stoodley with sound design by Ben Grant and LX design by Joshua Pharo

Opening in the Dorfman theatre in March 2022 is an energetic retelling of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy, Hamlet aimed at children aged 8 – 12. Adapted by Jude Christian, and directed by Tinuke Craig, the production will be a perfect introduction for young audiences to the world of Shakespeare. The production will also tour into schools in four partner areas reaching over 5,000 pupils across four weeks. The production is designed by Frankie Bradshaw.

West End

The National Theatre’s acclaimed production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane announced a three-week extension, with performances running at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 14 May. The first major stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s work, this fantasy novel is brought to life in an adaptation by Joel Horwood, directed by Katy Rudd. A modern myth, where the power of imagination and storytelling transports audiences on a spellbinding and spectacular adventure

On Tour

The internationally acclaimed production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time embarks on a third UK and Ireland tour this month. Adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel, and directed by Marianne Elliott, the production will celebrate its 10th year in 2022. Opening at London’s Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre on 20 November for a seven-week run, the tour will then play will then play at 19 venues across the UK. Visit curiousonstage.com for tour dates, with more venues to be announced.

National Theatre Together

The ongoing National Theatre Together campaign continues to raise vital funds for the theatre’s ambitious recovery post-pandemic. Together, with the support of thousands of people from around the world, we are shaping a bright, creative future. With theatre-makers and communities. For audiences and young people.

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane is incredible and scary as hell

What a triumph for the National Theatre to make a riveting nightmare out of this long-anticipated transfer.

Two years after The Ocean at the End of the Lane’s first staging, Neil Gaiman’s dark fairy-tale has returned, this time to the West End. 

The story from Gaiman’s award-winning book is about the escape a lonely child finds in fantasy worlds. In one of many extraordinary moments during Katy Rudd’s haunting production, the stage becomes a playground for the imagination. Anything can come to life; anything can be transformed. It is also occasionally unbearably chilling and poignant.

Leading the production, James Bamford as the Boy is commanding – at times heart-rending – as the distressed, gawky 12-year-old hero who is plunged into a confrontation with a wicked witch in his own home, screeching monsters and flapping creatures. Nia Towle is dynamic as Lettie, the farm girl who becomes his guiding friend. The magical realism is a pure spectacle. 

Nia Towle (Lettie Hempstock) and James Bamford (the Boy) / Manuel Harlan

Elsewhere, Nicolas Tennant as the Dad movingly portrays the messily human emotions of a family bereavement and subsequent trauma. The 16-strong cast work effortlessly to realise a slick and polished ensemble performance. Extraordinary moments abound. 

How do you stage unfurling forests, tunnels, witches, snapping demons, and action-packed drama so effortlessly? With the help of Joel Horwood’s nimble adaptation, a terrific team has found the way.  

Every small thing is beautiful; the creative team are chef’s kiss. Ian Dixon’s sound design turns innocent noises into explosions. In a triumph of theatricality, movement director Steven Hoggett, composer Jherek Bischoff and lighting designer Paule Constable pull out all the stops to ensure that the production soars; the dreamlike storytelling becomes the arena that the Boy makes his own. All this ensures that The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a triumphant theatre event. 

The disparate and menacing electric 80s music by composer Jherek Bischoff deftly underscores the journey of a man returning to his childhood home, and is a work of art. Taken as a suite of music on its own merits, The Ocean at the End of the Lane‘s official soundtrack flows rather seamlessly—no small achievement.  Perhaps the most deft and frightening as hell touch is the use of synths to mimic a vaguely inhuman howling. 

Photo: Manuel Harlan

Sometimes a show comes along that is so inventive that you just can’t help but be in awe of everyone involved. Separating the very good from the excellent moments in Rudd’s dreamlike production is almost impossible. Fly Davis’s set has benches, doorways and props popping amongst a beautiful series of tunnels and abstract backdrops.

I should also say that I am delighted that west end theatre is waking up to the notion that it should take advantage of the great blossoming of children’s literature in the last few years – and by doing so luring in a new generation of theatre-goers.

If you have the chance, make sure you get along to the show because it is visually thrilling, moving and extremely special.  

The Ocean at the End of the Lane runs at the Duke of York’s theatre, London, until 14 May 2022. 

National Theatre November 2021 – February 2022

Wuthering Heights

National Theatre reopens for daytime visitors launching a new food and drink offer in partnership with street food pioneers KERB

– Tickets go on-sale for the previously announced production of Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind directed by Nancy Medina. Tanya Moodie plays Wiletta Mayer alongside Daniel Adeosun, Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Joe Bannister, Emma Canning, John Hollingworth, Rory Keenan, Gary Lilburn and Cyril Nri.

– Wuthering Heights, a co-production with Wise Children, opens in the Lyttelton theatre in February as part of a UK wide tour. Lucy McCormick and Ash Hunter play Cathy and Heathcliffe

– Critically acclaimed production of Andrea Levy’s prize winning novel Small Island returns to the Olivier in early 2022, to be followed by Anupama Chandrasekhar’s The Father & the Assassin

The National Theatre today announces the on-sale dates of upcoming productions Trouble in Mind, Wuthering Heights and Small Islandas well as the return of daytime opening for visitors. Tickets go on sale to the public on 7 October.

For the first time since March 2020, the public spaces at the National Theatre will be open during the day for visitors and audiences alike. The National Theatre has partnered with independent street food pioneers KERB on a completely refreshed food and drink experience. With a focus on locally-sourced produce, KERB will curate an outstanding food offering throughout the 11 spaces and restaurants with their renowned network of street food start-ups and independent restaurateurs. The first phase of this transformation will begin from today with KERB at The Understudy and the opening of the Atrium Café on the ground floor. Further restaurant and bar redevelopments will follow this year and next.

On the stages, Alice Childress’ play Trouble in Mind will be performed in the Dorfman theatre from the 2 December. In 1950s America, protests for racial equality erupt in the face of voter suppression. On Broadway, Wiletta Mayer, a talented black actress, begins rehearsals for a new play about racism – written and directed by two white men. When Wiletta finds that her arguments to tell the truth of the story are dismissed, she decides to take action. First staged over 60 years ago, Trouble in Mind is widely considered the masterpiece of actress and playwright Alice Childress.

Nancy Medina directs Tanya Moodie in this wry and radical satire of racism in theatre, alongside Daniel Adeosun, Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Joe Bannister, Emma Canning, John Hollingworth, Rory Keenan, Gary Lilburn and Cyril Nri.

Set and costume design by Rajha Shakiry, lighting design by Nao Nagai, music by Nubiya Brandon and Raffy Bushman, sound design by Elena Peña and Rachael Nanyonjo as movement director.

In the Lyttelton theatre Emma Rice directs a new version of Wuthering Heights with performances from Thursday 3 February. A co-production with Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic and York Theatre Royal, this adaptation of Emily Brontë’s classic, opens at Bristol Old Vic next month before a UK wide tour through 2022.

Lucy McCormick is cast as Cathy, Ash Hunter as Heathcliff and Sam Archer, Nandi Bhebhe, Mirabelle Gremaud, TJ Holmes, Craig Johnson, Jordan Laviniere, Kandaka Moore, Katy Owen, Tama Phethean and Witney White complete the company.

Set and costume design by Vicki Mortimer, compositions by Ian Ross, sound and video by Simon Baker, lighting design by Jai Morjaria, movement and choreography by Etta Murfitt and music performed by Sid Goldsmith, Nadine Lee and Renell Shaw.

On the Olivier stage, the critically acclaimed production of Andrea Levy’s prize-winning novel, Small Island, returns opening on 24 February 2022 having been postponed by Covid from its planned revival. Adapted by Helen Edmundson and directed by Rufus NorrisSmall Island brings to life the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK. Following the intricately connected stories of Hortense, newly arrived in London, landlady Queenie and servicemen Gilbert and Bernard, hope and humanity meet stubborn reality in their epic revival.

Set and costume design by Katrina Lindsay, projection design by Jon Driscoll and associate projection designer Gino Ricardo Green, lighting design by Paul Anderson, composer and rehearsal music direction by Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, sound design by Ian Dickinson for Autograph, movement direction by Coral Messam and fight direction by Kate Waters. Associate Director Denzel Wesley-Sanderson with casting by Isabella Odoffin CDG.

The previously announced production The Father and the Assassin by Anupama Chandrasekhar, to be directed by Indhu Rubasingham, will be performed later in 2022.

NT Learning for Young People

Supporting our work with young people and schools across the UK, a second collection of 10 productions has been added to the National Theatre Collection in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing and ProQuest. The new titles added include Inua Ellams’ acclaimed Barber Shop Chronicles, Polly Stenham’s version of August Strindberg’s Julie and Ivo van Hove’s production of A View from the Bridge from the Young Vic.

Free for state schools and colleges across the UK, 71% of state secondary schools are now signed up to access this digital resource with a total of 2.4 million streams worldwide since its launch. To sign up visit the NT website.

Films of 10 performances from youth theatre companies nationwide are also now available to watch on the NT’s website. They showcase the brilliant work of over 3,000 young people taking part in this year’s Connections youth theatre festival, including plays by Vivienne FranzmannMojisola Adebayo and John Donnelly, and feature companies from Shetland to Plymouth.

Digital

As announced earlier this month, Under Milk Wood, Home and the Young Vic’s A Streetcar Named Desire have been added to the NT’s streaming service National Theatre at Home and are available to watch online anywhere in the world at any time. New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 31 productions available to stream on the platform. All productions are available with captions and 19 are also available with audio description.

The National Theatre’s acclaimed original film Romeo & Juliet, directed by Simon Godwin, will be screened in cinemas for one night only on Tuesday 28 September. The film stars Josh O’Connor (The CrownGod’s Own Country) as Romeo and Jessie Buckley (ChernobylJudy) as Juliet, and will be available to screen across the UK and Ireland.

West End

The West End transfer of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, based on the best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman, will extend its run at the Duke of York’s Theatre by 10 weeks to 23 April 2022, due to popular demand. Adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, The Ocean at the End of the Lane begins previews at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 23 October. The first major stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s work, this fantasy novel is  brought to life in a modern myth, where the power of imagination and storytelling transports audiences on a spellbinding and spectacular adventure. Tickets for the final weeks on sale from 7 October.

International

Previewing from Saturday, The Lehman Trilogy returns to Broadway for a limited engagement at the Nederlander Theatre, with an opening set for 14 October. Written by Stefano Massini and adapted by Ben Power with direction by Sam MendesThe Lehman Trilogy sees Simon Russell Beale and Adam Godley return to their celebrated roles with Adrian Lester joining the cast in his Broadway debut. Following a 14-week run on Broadway, The Lehman Trilogy will visit Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles (3 March – 10 April 2022) and American Conservatory Theater’s Geary Theater in San Francisco (20 April – 22 May 2022), with casting to be announced for the West Coast dates.

On tour

The internationally acclaimed production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time embarks on a third UK and Ireland tour in November 2021. Adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel, and directed by Marianne Elliott, the production will celebrate its 10th year in 2022. Opening at London’s Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre on 20 November for a seven-week run, the tour will then play will then play at venues across the UK. Visit curiousonstage.com for tour dates, with more venues to be announced.

National Theatre Together

The ongoing National Theatre Together campaign continues to raise vital funds for the theatre’s ambitious recovery post-pandemic. Together, with the support of thousands of people from around the world, we are shaping a bright, creative future. With theatre-makers and communities. For audiences and young people.

The National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home

A Streetcar Named Desire, Under Milk Wood and Home

The National Theatre has today announced the latest productions to be made available on its National Theatre at Home streaming platform. Launching today, the Young Vic and Joshua Andrews’ production of Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire featuring Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella, the NT’s recent production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood with Michael Sheen and Nadia Fall’s verbatim play Home that explores homelessness in the UK featuring Michaela Coel. New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 31 productions available to stream on the platform.

It is also announced today some of the productions that audiences can expect to see on the platform in the coming months. Those productions are confirmed to include Antony & Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the title roles; Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson in the title role; Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls in the Lyttelton theatre from 2019Sally Cookson’s 2017 production of Peter Pan; Yaël Farber’s Salomé and James Graham’s political drama This House, alongside current NT productions; Kae Tempest’s Paradise with Lesley Sharp and Winsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue LightsIan McKellen on Stage will also join the platform this autumn for audiences outside the UK and Ireland. It is currently available in the UK and Ireland for Amazon Prime subscribers.

Under Milk Wood and A Streetcar Named Desirewill also be available from today with audio-description to support blind and partially sighted audiences worldwide. There are now 19 National Theatre at Home titles available with audio-description. All productions on National Theatre at Home are available with captions.

National Theatre at Home is available at ntathome.com, with single titles available from £5.99 – £8.99, a monthly subscription for £9.99 or a yearly subscription for £99.99. 

National Theatre at Home is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

National Theatre at Home is also supported by The Linbury Trust. 

#NationalTheatreatHome       

A Streetcar Named Desire
by Tennessee Williams

A Young Vic and Joshua Andrews Co-production                                 

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.

Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece features Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella.

Filmed by National Theatre Live at the Young Vic in 2014, Benedict Andrews (Three Sisters, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) directs with design by Magda Willi, costumes by Victoria Behr, light by Jon Clark, sound by Paul Arditti, music by Alex Baranowski, dialect by Rick Lipton, voice by Richard Ryder, fight by Bret Yount and assistant direction by Natasha Nixon, with UK casting by Maggie Lunn CDG and Camilla Evans CDG and US casting by Jim Carnahan CSA.

The cast also includes Clare Burt, Lachele Carl, Branwell Donaghey, Otto Farrant, Nicholas Gecks, Troy Glasgow, Stephanie Jacob, Corey Johnson and Claire Prempeh.

Filmed by National Theatre Live, a production from the Young Vic and Joshua Andrews.

Available until at least 8 September 2022.

Under Milk Wood
by Dylan Thomas
additional material by Sian Owen

The retired sea captain yearning for his lost love. The landlady living in terror of her guests. A father who can no longer access his memories. A son in search of redemption.

As they awake to boiled eggs and the postman, the residents of a small Welsh village juggle old secrets and new realities.

Michael Sheen, Karl Johnson and Siân Phillips feature in the acting company breathing new life into Dylan Thomas’ poetic masterpiece. NT Associate Lyndsey Turner directs.

The cast also includes Susan Brown, Ifan Huw Dafydd, Alan David, Michael Elwyn, Kezrena James, Gaynor Morgan Rees, Anthony O’Donnell and Cleo Sylvestre.

Set and costume design is by Merle Hensel, lighting design by Tim Lutkin, movement by Imogen Knight, songs composed by Edward-Rhys Harry, and sound design and additional compositions by Donato Wharton.

Under Milk Wood opened in the reconfigured Olivier-in-the-round theatre on 16 June 2021, reopening the Olivier after closures due to lockdown.

This is an enhanced recording from the National Theatre, available until at least 8 September 2022.

Home
by Nadia Fall

Bullet doesn’t want to call a hostel home. Eritrean Girl was smuggled here in a lorry. Singing Boy dreams of seeing his name in lights and Garden Boy just wants to feel safe.

Homelessness amongst young people in the UK is at a record high, so when the big society doesn’t work – where do you go? An inner-city high-rise hostel, TargetEast, offers a roof.

Nadia Fall’s verbatim play features performances from Michaela Coel, Antonia Thomas and Kadiff Kirwan.

The cast also includes Jonathan Coote, Trevor Michael Georges, Ashley McGuire, Grace Savage, Shakka and Toby Wharton.

Home is directed by Nadia Fall with designs by Ruth Sutcliffe, lighting by Ciaran Bagnall, movement by Jack Murphy, music by Tom Green and Shakka, music direction by Gareth Valentine, fight direction by Kate Waters, sound design by Mike Walker and company voice work by Richard Ryder.

Filmed in the Temporary Theatre at the NT in 2013, this is a recording from the National Theatre Archive and it’s available until at least 8 September 2022.

The National Theatre adds Hansard and Treasure Island to streaming platform National Theatre at Home

National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced the latest productions to be made available on its streaming platform, National Theatre at Home. Launching today are two National Theatre productions: Hansard, Simon Woods’ witty and devastating play, directed by Simon Godwin (Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night); and Treasure Island, adapted by Bryony Lavery (Frozen, Kursk) from the iconic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and directed by Polly Findlay (Antigone, Beginning). New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 28 productions available to stream on the platform.  

Simon Woods’ thrilling debut playHansard features two-time Olivier Award winners, Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings, as Tory politician Robin Hesketh and his wife of 30 years, Diana, on one summer’s morning in 1988. Hansard premiered in the NT’s Lyttelton theatre in August 2019 and was broadcast to cinemas that November. This is the first time it will be available on demand for audiences worldwide.  

Treasure Island features Olivier Award-winner Patsy Ferran (Summer and Smoke) as Jim and Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) as Long John Silver in this rip-roaring adventure for the whole family. Treasure Island premiered in the NT’s Olivier theatre in December 2014 and was broadcast to cinemas in February 2015. The production was available to watch as part of the National Theatre at Home’s YouTube streams in April 2020.  

Also launching today: Chewing Gum Dreamsthe semi-autobiographical one-woman play by Michaela Coel, and The Old Vic and Headlong’s production of All My Sons with Sally Field and Bill Pullman, will now be streaming on the platform with audio-description to support blind and partially sighted audiences worldwide. There are now 17 National Theatre at Home titles available with audio-description. All productions on National Theatre at Home are available with captions.  

National Theatre at Home is available at ntathome.com, with single titles available from £5.99 – £8.99, a monthly subscription for £9.99 or a yearly subscription for £99.99.  

Bloomberg Philanthropies is Headline Sponsor of National Theatre at Home.  

National Theatre at Home is also supported by The Linbury Trust.  

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My 2020 Theatre Heroes & Villains

Theatre Heroes and Villains of 2020

AH, dear old 2020.

In mid-March Covid-19 prompted all British theatres and arts centres to close their doors.

From that moment onwards, the carnage, pandemonium, weirdness and misery barely let up; our world-beating £7 billion cultural sector, so savaged by lockdowns that it remains at risk of permanent decimation.

A socially distanced Watermill Theatre in Newbury, with select seats wrapped as presents for the future.

For the first time in its 70 year history, the Edinburgh Fringe was cancelled. Broadway shows are expected to remain closed through to at least May 2021.

There was, though, many great acts of heroism; not all heroes wear capes.

Let’s begin with the National Theatre. The NT at Home initiative was one of the biggest virtual triumphs of lockdown; it broadcast 16 productions for free on YouTube, clocked up 15 million views and reached 173 countries.

The one-off free streaming of Roy Williams and Clint Dyer’s potent monologue Death of England: Delroy – which had its live run cut short – was sensational.

The NT has today launched a brand new streaming platform National Theatre at Home – featuring a range of NT Live productions and, for the first time, some treasured plays from the NT archive.

For unlimited access to the catalogue on National Theatre at Home, a subscription will be £9.98 per month or £99.98 per year. For access to a single play in a 72 hour window, it will be £5.99 for an NT Archive title and National Theatre Live titles are available from £7.99.

I thought ITV’s three-part drama Quiz, written by James Graham – based on his stage play that began at Chichester Festival Theatre- was a masterstroke.

The dark irony was, though, that the ‘coughing major’ comedy was one of the few TV shows that was good enough to make us all forget the ongoing medical crisis for its duration. Graham donated his full commission to funds for freelancers.

Looking back now, one of my personal favourite moments involved a last-minute decision to throw open my Zoom on Friday evenings to anyone who wanted to take part in a theatre quiz. It was unexpectedly popular and rewarding and, in the chaos of lockdown, very moving.

ITV Quiz

During that first lockdown I came to a crossroads when I realised that the secret truth at the heart of almost all theatre is: Everyone’s Doing Their Best.

It’s hard to say why this revelation impacted me so deeply. Had I previously been under the impression that people were deliberately making terrible theatre, or simply being terrible at their jobs, just to annoy me? I came to realise that most things are simply bad by accident.

Anyway, this year, she closed 18 shows. Paused 10.

Sonia Friedman Productions continued its success at the 2020 Olivier Awards, scooping the coveted Best New Play Award for the fourth consecutive year with the intimate and epic Tom Stoppard play Leopoldstadt.

Incredibly, SFP was also responsible for a superb filmed stage version of Uncle Vanya starring Toby Jones. It was a hit in UK cinemas and will be screened on BBC Four this Christmas. This woman has been my idol all of my professional life, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Toby Jones and Richard Armitage, Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre

All year, producer Friedman used her clout to lobby government. Announcing comedy play The Comeback in the West End, she said: “Medicine saves lives, but culture makes life worth living.”

Looking back now, many of UK theatre’s producers and artistic directors rose to the challenges of the pandemic – combining laser-focus and decision making-authority with a real emotional feel for the creative workforce.

Of course, there are plenty of people in the industry who are simply phoning it in.

But so many took exciting digital work to audiences or streamed archive productions. Under Elizabeth Newman’s leadership, just one of a number of bright ideas, Pitlochry Festival Theatre set up a Telephone Club for vulnerable members of the community, Alan Lane and Slung Low continue to meet local needs distributing food and books to the people in south Leeds.

Artistic director Alan Lane, left, and The Slung Low team at the Holbeck.

The Unicorn theatre presented Anansi the Spider Re-Spun: fun virtual performances, created in lockdown, for children. Cultural organisations like this remain vital to communities, enabling young people’s creativity, whilst fighting for survival.

Throughout those initial long Covid months, there were modest acts of heroism from producer David Pugh and his touring production of Educating Rita at the open-air Minack Theatre in Cornwall. I loved it.

Pugh later made light of the fact that profits for investors were enough for ‘a meal at KFC’. The show has a week-long run at the Mayflower in Southampton in February.

To her credit, Nica Burns reopened the first West End theatres post lockdown – welcoming audiences back to the Apollo – for Adam Kay’s show about the NHS, This Is Going To Hurt. Burns will reopen the first West End musicals Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Six and hopes this return will prove the sector is safe and ready to resume.

Staying with the heroes, film and theatre director Sam Mendes called on Netflix — who profited from the acting, writing and directing talent nurtured on stage during lockdown— to pour some of their COVID-19 cash into British theatre. Netflix obliged, with the Theatre Artists Fund for freelancers. Mendes’ practical suggestions included: increasing the theatre’s tax relief scheme from 20% to 50%, and inviting the government to become “theatrical angels”, by investing in productions.

Moreover, performers deserve huge credit for keeping us all entertained online: Rob Madge and Oscar Conlon-Morrey lift our spirits on Twitter during these difficult times.

Pick of the bunch, for me, is Kieran C Hodgson impersonating characters from The Crown – Season 4. Genius.

10-year-old ‘#CheerUpCharlie’ Kristensen released a charity single with some of his West End favourites to raise money for the Diana Award. Little legend.

The Bush theatre commissioned six black British artists to respond to the killing of George Floyd, the results, The Protest, were astonishing, disturbing, vital and offered urgent perspectives on Floyd’s death.

Wise Children’s Emma Rice and Bristol Old Vic’s Tom Morris on stage at Bristol Old Vic in September

Elsewhere, Black Broadway and West End stars performed an ambitious online charity concert, organised by Nicole Raquel Dennis and Ryan Carter, this event supported the Black Lives Matter movement: Turn Up! Live at Cadogan Hall , raised nearly £13,000 for four charities and picked up a Black British Theatre Award.

One of my biggest treats was visiting Bristol to see the Romantics Anonymous one-night only performance, with a live socially distanced audience.

In September, Emma Rice’s Wise Children and Bristol Old Vic’s Tom Morris were dazzlingly inventive, partnering with venues to present a “digital tour” of the musical – allowing individual regional theatres to sell tickets across specific nights.

The shows will go on – in some tiers. The government’s post-lockdown plans give the green light to productions fortunate enough to find themselves in Tiers 1 and 2. Boris Johnson has announced that theatres in Tier 3 will remain closed.

Oracle Cameron Mackintosh

Villains? (Deep breath)

It was the year when theatre vanished from our lives. And Cameron Mackintosh didn’t.

Disappointingly, the West End producer got rid of 850 staff early on in the crisis, said theatres that received financial aid were ones that “were going to fail”, allegedly mistreats his staff, declared himself an “oracle” for predicting disaster and has been snow-ploughing his way through the darker recesses of the pandemic ever since.

Mind you, compensation came in the form of Andrew Lloyd Webber – who took part in the Oxford Coid-19 vaccine trial – joining TikTok.

Take a moment. I know I just did.

Perhaps most importantly, Arts Council England did a good job of turning around the government’s Culture Recovery Fund and rescued struggling organisations of all shapes and sizes.

Overall, that £1.57bn rescue fund has protected our theatres, concert halls, arts centres and opera houses.

Slytherin culture secretary Oliver Dowden’s intervention was not enough to save every institution and although we were all thankful for the money, financial models are bust.

Indeed, the government continue to do the bare minimum for an estimated three million self-employed workers. At one point, Pantomime dames marched to Parliament Square.

Slytherin Oliver Dowden and Rishi Sunak

Find another job, said the surefooted chancellor Rishi Sunak. By forgetting our workforce and dismissing an entire sector, the chancellor has begun to reveal his true ideological colours. But our sector is key to our national identity, provides hope – and billions for the Treasury.

On top of that idiocy, the suggestion from the government seems to be that arts jobs aren’t viable. They are, Mr Sunak, and when the time comes, the powerhouse theatre industry will play a crucial part in the nation’s recovery.

Above all, I was appalled by The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) who failed to inform customers how they could obtain cash refunds instead of hopeless credit vouchers. With countless shows axed or postponed, many found it impossible to get money back – not only that, ATG were not automatically refunding transaction fees, claiming this was in line with the industry’s Code of Practice (newsflash: it definitely wasn’t).

Birmingham Rep, The #LightItInRed campaign involved more than 500 buildings

At least, though, there has been some last-minute redemption for ATG; the operator has now furloughed its 2,500 casual staff and is gifting tickets for pantomimes to NHS workers this Winter, which is a Christmas miracle.

If we’re really looking for the individuals who’ll push theatre forward through the sheer force of their own imagination, in my opinion, they are more than likely to be creative freelancers. We must protect them.

And the self employed may be more widely visible through the Freelancers Make Theatre Work group, #thescenechangeproject and The Freelance Task Force. But they must never be taken for granted again.

The Theatre Artists Fund was set up to support UK theatre workers and freelancers falling into financial difficulty while theatres remain largely closed. Many freelancers have lost everything and we are losing thousands of highly skilled theatre-makers.

Saving buildings is pointless without protecting the people who make art. For now, I have financial security. That is why I plan to donate 50% of my December salary to Theatre Artists Fund.  If you are able to, so should you.

As I say, everyone has been doing their best. Stay present, thanks for reading this year, and Merry Christmas.