National Theatre launches new interview series Life in Stages

Life in Stages

The National Theatre today announced a new interview series Life in Stages, profiling some of the biggest names in British theatre. The series, which will be free to watch, will launch on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel on Thursday 22 April at 7pm BST with each new episode added at the same time every Thursday.  

 The first episode is a conversation between Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman and Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre Rufus Norris, who last worked together at the National Theatre in 2017 on Lucy Kirkwood’s play Mosquitoes.  

 The second episode on Thursday 29 April will feature co-stars of the NT’s critically acclaimed film Romeo & Juliet – filmed in the Lyttelton theatre over 17 days during lockdown – Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley. On Thursday 6 May the third episode of the series will see a discussion between actor and director Adrian Lester and writer, comedian and actor Meera Syal. Details of further episodes from this series will be announced later this month.  

 Filmed on the empty Lyttelton stage each pre-recorded episode sees the artists reflect on their theatre careers, and reveal the funny, personal and poignant stories behind everything from their earliest theatre memory to their biggest professional highs and lows. 

 Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, says: “We are thrilled that as we look ahead to our reopening in June, we are able to launch Life in Stages. The interview series has been a fantastic way to take a moment and reflect; to explore the careers of some of the leading figures within our industry, and to consider how the world around us will shape the work we create as we move forwards.  We are so grateful for the time generously given by the artists involved and to Charles Stanley for their support.” 

 The series is supported by Charles Stanley Wealth Management. Speaking about Life in Stages Paul Abberley, Chief Executive at Charles Stanley said: “At Charles Stanley we understand the significance of conversation. We spend time getting to know our clients at every stage of life’s journey to help them achieve their personal and financial goals. Much like Life in Stages, we discuss everything from careers to retirement, lifestyle to responsibilities, family and the wider community. After a tumultuous year for the arts, we are delighted to partner with the National Theatre to celebrate the art of conversation and to have had so many wonderful British Artists join this fantastic and timely series.” 

  National Theatre announces new associates and Peter Hall Bursary Recipients 

National Theatre

The National Theatre announced today that Rufus Norris, NT Director and Joint Chief Executive, has invited Ola Animashawun and Clint Dyer to join as Associates of the National Theatre.  

 In addition, The Peter Hall Bursary has been expanded to support three new artists. The directors who have been invited to receive this fund are Ned Bennett, Ola Ince and Nancy Medina and they will be supported by the NT for the next two years.   

 Ola Animashawun, was previously the founder and Head of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme, where he was also an Associate. Ola will work at Associate level in both Learning and the New Work Department at the NT, as well as continuing in his role as Connections Dramaturg which he has held since 2018.  In this new position he will work cross organisationally towards racial equity and increased representation both in the work presented on stage and at all levels in the NT’s workforce.   

 Ola is joined by Clint Dyer who becomes an NT Associate following playing ‘Cutler’ in the NTs Olivier winning production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the success of Death of England and the programming of Death of England: Delroy, which will open in the Olivier theatre later this monthIn this role Clint will work closely with Rufus Norris and the Senior Artistic team and together with the Associates will advise on programming decisions. He will also continue to act and write and direct his own work. Clint Dyer’s Associate role is supported by the NT Foundation as a Peter Hall Bursary.    

 The NT Associates are a group of leading artists, creatives and theatre makers who provide thought leadership and advisory input across all areas of the National Theatre’s artistic mission, galvanising change and providing fresh incisive perspectives on the decisions of the Director and Senior Managers. They take on special projects that they both initiate and at the request of the Director, as well as make their own work. 

 The National Theatre is committed to supporting freelance artists and continuing to expand the pool of directors making work at the NT. Every two years The Peter Hall Bursary is awarded to an exceptionally talented director, providing them with the opportunity to develop their experience through an attachment at the NT. Previous recipients of this bursary include Emily Lim and Alexander Zeldin.  

 This year the bursary has been expanded to support three directors, Ned Bennett, Ola Ince and Nancy Medina. These three new Bursaries are in recognition of these directors’ artistic merit and outstanding achievement in their body of work over the last five years, with the long-term aim of bringing their great talent onto the National Theatre’s stages for the benefit of our audiences.    

 Each director will use the financial and artistic support to gain a greater understanding of the workings of the NT and be empowered and supported to develop work to direct at scale for the National Theatre’s stages.  NT Associate Lyndsey Turner will be working closely with all three directors in a mentor capacity and the two-year Bursary will support a period of artistic development and research, create a space for enquiry and the development of their own creative practice. 

 Speaking about the bursaries Rufus Norris said, “At a pivotal moment in my career I was hugely fortunate in being awarded an Arts Foundation fellowship which gave me some crucial breathing space within a period where my artistic development was being hampered by an inability to simply pay my rent, a situation most freelancers will be very familiar with. That breathing space allowed me, for a year, to focus solely on my artistic work, and I am incredibly grateful to the National Theatre Foundation for their support in delivering something similar to these three exceptional directors. We will be making demands of them but with the sole aim to keep them growing creatively through this most challenging of times.” 

Rufus Norris announces new work for the National Theatre in 2017 

Rufus Norris
Rufus Norris

Rufus Norris

New work by Inua Ellams, Yaёl Farber, DC Moore, Lindsey Ferrentino and Nina Raine is announced today by Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre. Four world premieres and two European premieres are further announced as forthcoming productions for the National Theatre in 2017.

Acclaimed writer and director Yaёl Farber returns to the National with the European premiere of Salomé and co-productions with Headlong, Fuel, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Out of Joint and Improbable are among the collaborations with theatre companies from across the UK.

Leading actors will include Imelda Staunton, Olivia Colman, Philip Quast, Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield, Denise Gough, Russell Tovey, James McArdle, Susan Brown, Janie Dee, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Daniel Rigby, Tamara Lawrence, Doon Mackichan, Daniel Ezra and Olwen Fouere.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time continues its West End run at the Gielgud Theatre and begins a second major tour of the UK and Ireland from January 2017. Sally Cookson’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece Jane Eyre, a co-production between the NT and Bristol Old Vic, begins a tour of the UK in April 2017 and War Horse begins its second major tour of the UK on 15 September 2017.

NT Live announcements include Amadeus, with Lucian Msamati, broadcast live from the NT on 2 February 2017Saint Joan, with Gemma Arterton, broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse on 16 February 2017 and Hedda Gabler, with Ruth Wilson, broadcast live from the NT on 9 March 2017.

Olivier Theatre 

Follies, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman, comes to the NT for the first time in 2017. NT Associate Director Dominic Cooke directs a cast including Imelda Staunton as Sally Durant Plummer, Janie Dee as Phyllis Rogers Stone and Philip Quast as Benjamin Stone. Director Dominic Cooke; Choreographer  Bill Deamer; Music Supervisor  Nicholas Skilbeck; Music Director Nigel Lilley; Lighting Designer Paule Constable; Sound Designer Paul Groothuis and Associate Choreographer Kylie Cruikshanks.

There are few stories that have more of a vexed relationship to the western canon than that of Salomé. This radical revision of the biblical tale, in which a figure buried by history gains her voice, marks Yaёl Farber’s return to the Olivier following her acclaimed production of Les Blancs in 2016. The world premiere of Salomé was produced by Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington DC, the NT production marks its European premiere and will be on stage in May 2017. This new production is part of the 2017 Travelex £15 ticket season. Cast includes Olwen Fouere. Director Yaёl Farber; Designer Susan Hilferty; Lighting Designer Tim Lutkin; Music and Sound Adam Cork; Movement Director Ami Shulman and Dramaturg Drew Lichtenberg.

Common, a world premiere by DC Moore, will be directed by Jeremy Herrin in the Olivier Theatre. Set in the early days of the Industrial Revolution, the common land of England is under threat. An epic new history play co-produced with Headlong, this new production is part of the 2017 Travelex £15 ticket season.

As previously announced, Tamsin Greig will return to the National to play ‘Malvolia’ in Twelfth Night, opening in the Olivier in February 2017: the first of two Shakespearean productions being directed by Simon Godwin, who will later direct Ralph Fiennes in Antony and Cleopatra in 2018. Further casting for Twelfth Night includes Daniel Rigby as Aguecheek, Tamara Lawrence as Viola, Doon Mackichan as Feste and Daniel Ezra as Sebastian. Director Simon Godwin; Designer Soutra Gilmour; Lighting Designer James Farncombe; Movement Director Shelley Maxwell; Music Michael Bruce; Sound Designer Christopher Shutt and Fight Director Kev McCurdy.

Lyttelton Theatre

Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino makes its European premiere at the NT in March 2017.  An American soldier is injured on tour in Afghanistan and returns to her family home. Through the use of virtual reality video game therapy, she builds a new world to escape her pain. Lindsey Ferrentino won the National Arts Club’s 2016 Kesselring Prize for Ugly Lies the Bone. Directed by Indhu Rubasingham, Set Designer  Es Devlin; Video Designer Luke Halls; Costume Designer Johanna Coe; Lighting Designer Oliver Fenwick; Music and Sound Ben & Max Ringham; Fight Directors, Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-Annie Ltd.

In May 2017, Marianne Elliott will direct Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, with Andrew Garfield returning to the National as Prior Walter. The company also includes Susan Brown, Nathan Lane, James McArdle, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Denise Gough and Russell Tovey. Millennium Approaches, the first of the two plays which form Angels in America, received its British premiere at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre in 1992, and was joined by Perestroika in a double-bill the following year. Director Marianne Elliott; Set  Designer Ian MacNeil; Costume Designer Nicky Gillibrand; Lighting Designer Paule Constable; Movement Director Robby GrahamPuppets and movement Finn Caldwell; Music Adrian Sutton; Sound Designer Ian Dickinson and Illusions Chris Fisher.

Dorfman Theatre

My Country; A Work in Progress – In the days after the European Referendum in June 2016, the National Theatre began a national listening project. From Londonderry to Leicester and Merthyr Tydfil to Glasgow, the National Theatre has created a verbatim archive of conversations from across the UK. Rufus Norris will collaborate with Carol Ann Duffy as he directs a performance based on the first round of material.

Consent by Nina Raine will receive its world premiere in a co-production with Out of Joint in the Dorfman Theatre in April 2017. The play explores questions of law, justice and forgiveness. Directed by Roger Michell.

Mosquitoes by Lucy Kirkwood will have its world premiere in the Dorfman Theatre in July 2017. Rufus Norris will direct this new play about families and particle physics, with a cast that includes Olivia Colman. Mosquitoes is presented by special arrangement with Manhattan Theatre Club, which commissioned the play with funds provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Designer Katrina Lindsay; Lighting Designer Paule Constable; Music Adam Cork and Sound Designer Paul Arditti. A recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Plays Award.

Improbable and the National Theatre present: Lost Without Words, a theatrical experiment in the Dorfman Theatre in March 2017. Improbable have been improvising on stage all their lives then one day they had a mischievous fantasy: What would happen if they took older actors in their seventies and eighties, actors who had spent their lives on stage bringing life to a writer’s words, actors who now they are old appear in our theatres less and less – what would happen if we put those actors on stage without a script? What scenes would they create? What stories would unfold? What might they tell us about what awaits us all at the other end of life? Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson will direct with Colin Grenfell as Lighting Designer and music by Steve Edis. Lost Without Words is a co-production with Improbable.

Inua Ellams’ Barber Shop Chronicles will have its world premiere at the National Theatre in June 2017, before moving to West Yorkshire Playhouse in July. This new play unfolds in a succession of barber shops across Africa and the UK. The play is directed by Bijan Sheibani and is a co-production with Fuel and West Yorkshire Playhouse. Director Bijan Sheibani; Designer Rae Smith.

On stage in the Dorfman Theatre in January 2017, Project Arts Centre presents Dublin Oldschool, a new play by Emmet Kirwan. A play about brothers, Dublin and dance music, Dublin Oldschool snaps, crackles, raps and rhymes, with high octane performances by Emmet Kirwan and Ian Lloyd Anderson, directed by Phillip McMahon. Project Arts Centre in association with Soho Theatre, supported by Culture Ireland.

Brussels-based BRONKS is one of Belgium’s leading theatres for young audiences and in January 2017, following its acclaimed and sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe, BRONKS brings Us/Them to the NT. During a hostage drama at a school in Beslan terrorists chose a group of children as their victims. Us/Them is not a straightforward account, it is about the individual way that children cope with extreme situations. With humour and a matter-of-fact approach, it contrasts the views of children with those of adults. On stage in the Dorfman from 16 January – 18 February 2017. BRONKS and Richard Jordan Productions in association with Theatre Royal Plymouth, Big in Belgium and Summerhall.

The Dorfman Partner is Neptune Investment Management.

National Theatre throughout the UK, in the West End and internationally 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book and directed by Marianne Elliott enters its fifth year in London, continuing its run at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.  Joseph Ayre leads the West End cast as Christopher Boone, with tickets currently on sale until 22 April 2017.  Its official card partner is American Express.

A North American tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time began at Rochester’s Auditorium Theater in September 2016, and will go on to play more than 30 cities, including Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time begins a second major tour of the UK and Ireland at The Lowry in Salford in January 2017 (with its national press night at the Lowry on Wednesday 25 January at 7.30pm), continuing its journey to Aylesbury, Edinburgh, Leeds, Canterbury, Bath, Southampton, Nottingham, Belfast, Dublin, Cardiff, Sheffield, Oxford, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bristol, Plymouth, Birmingham, Southend, Llandudno, Liverpool, Bradford, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Norwich and finishing in Milton Keynes on 16 September 2017.

Sally Cookson’s energetic and imaginative new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece Jane Eyre,  a co-production between the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic,  begins a tour of the UK at the Lowry in Salford on 8 April (with its press night on 12 April at 7.30pm), continuing to Sheffield, Aylesbury, Plymouth, Southampton, Edinburgh, York, Woking, Glasgow, Canterbury, Cardiff, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Brighton, Leeds, Aberdeen, Birmingham  and finishing at the Theatre Royal in  Bath on 30 September 2017.

The National Theatre’s acclaimed production of War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel, and directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris begins its second major tour of the UK on 15 September 2017 at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, where it will run until 14 October 2017.   It continues to the Bristol Hippodrome (18 October – 11 November 2017), the Empire Theatre, Liverpool (15 November – 2 December 2017), New Theatre, Oxford (13 December 2017 – 6 January 2018), Brighton Centre (25 January – 10 February 2018), Bradford Alhambra Theatre  (14 February – 10 March 2018), the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (14 March – 7 April 2018) and the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (18 April – 12 May 2018), The Lowry, Salford (11-30 June 2018), the Milton Keynes Theatre (17 September-6 October 2018) and Plymouth Theatre Royal (29 August to 15 September 2018).   Further dates and venues will be announced.

The National Theatre’s Learning Programme goes from strength to strength in 2017, and one year on from the launch of On Demand in Schools, 2,200 schools are now signed up to the free service, with two-thirds of schools located outside of London and the South East. This includes schools in Derby, Dumfries, Derry, Morecambe, Machynlleth, Truro, Antrim, Ullswater, Poole, Cirencester and Northampton, alongside many more, representing a third of all state secondary schools in the UK.  The plays are supported by curriculum-linked learning resources to help teachers incorporate the productions into their teaching practice.

Schools can now watch recordings of six National Theatre productions in their classroom: Frankenstein, Hamlet, Othello, She Stoops to Conquer, The Comedy of Errors and the NT’s first title aimed at primary schools, Treasure Island. National Theatre On Demand In Schools is supported by Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Sidney E. Frank Foundation. Productions for primary schools are supported by Goldsmiths’ Company Charity.

From February 2017, the NT will stage two contemporary re-tellings of Shakespeare for younger audiences. Romeo and Juliet, in a version by Ben Power for primary school audiences aged 8 – 11 years, is a remount of the successful 2013 production, directed by Bijan Sheibani, and accompanied by a creative learning programme.  Macbeth will be adapted and directed by Justin Audibert for secondary school audiences aged 13 – 16 years. Both productions will tour to state schools across London and play in the Dorfman. Cast includes Tripti Tripuraneni, Nana Amoo-Gottfried, Jay Saighal, Madeleine Appiah, Ronak Pattani, Kayla Meikle and Ashley Gurlach.

Romeo and Juliet will also play at Stratford Circus as part of the London Borough of Newham’s Every Child a Theatregoer programme. Macbeth will tour to schools in Thurrock as part of the Royal Opera House’s Thurrock Trailblazers scheme. The productions are expected to be seen by over 12,000 young people across the tour. Booking for schools is now open via the website. Schools touring is supported by The Ingram Trust, Archie Sherman Charitable Trust, Behrens Foundation, The Ernest Cook Trust, Jill and David Leuw.

270 schools and youth theatre companies across the country have signed up in 2017 for Connections, the NT’s long standing youth theatre initiative. Each company will produce one of 10 newly commissioned plays and take their production to one of 28 major producing theatres partnering with the NT.

The plays are FOMO by Suhayla El-Bushra, Extremism by Anders Lustgarten, Musical Differences by Robin French, Status Update by Tim Etchells, The School Film by Patrick Marber, The Monstrum by Kellie Smith, The Snow Dragons by Lizzie Nunnery, Three by Harriet Braun, #YOLO by Matthew Bulgo, Zero For The Young Dudes! by Alistair McDowall. NT Connections is supported by Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Jacqueline and Richard Worswick, Susan Miller and Byron Grote, Hays Travel Foundation, Faithorn Farrell Timms, and supporters of the Connections Appeal.

The National Theatre’s New Work Department has announced Anupama Chandrasekar as Writer in Residence, succeeding Suhayla El-Bushra. Anupama took up the position in September 2016 and is the NT’s first international writer in residence, she joins the organisation from Chennai, India. The Writer in Residence programme is supported by Lookout Point.

National Theatre Live is the National Theatre’s ground-breaking initiative to bring theatre to cinemas. Recently celebrating our 50th broadcast, National Theatre Live has given 6 million people worldwide the chance to see quality theatre. The current season features productions from partner theatres and the National Theatre itself:

  • 15 December sees NT Live broadcast the acclaimed No Man’s Land live from the stage of the Wyndham’s Theatre, with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Harold Pinter’s classic play, produced by Playful Productions.
  • On 2 February 2017 Lucian Msamati takes on the role of Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, featuring live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia, broadcast direct from the NT.
  • Josie Rourke directs Gemma Arterton as Joan of Arc in Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse on 16 February 2017.
  • Ruth Wilson plays the titular role in a new version of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, directed by Ivo van Hove, broadcast live from the NT on 9 March 2017.

NT Live broadcasts in 2017 will also include Twelfth Night, Salomé and Angels in America with dates to be announced soon.

Find your nearest venue at  


Travelex £15 Tickets sponsored by 

Amadeus is generously supported by the Amadeus Production Syndicate

Hedda Gabler is generously supported by the Williams Charitable Trust

The National Theatre is working in partnership with American Express 

NT Future is supported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch 

The National Theatre’s Partner for Connectivity is Cisco 

The National Theatre’s Outdoor Media Partner is Clear Channel 

The National Theatre’s Workshops Partner is Flints Theatrical Chandlers 

The National Theatre’s International Hotel Partner is Intercontinental Hotels Group

New writing at the National Theatre is supported by ITV plc

The Dorfman Partner is Neptune Investment Management 

The National Theatre’s Pouring Partner is Nyetimber 

The National Theatre’s partner for Lighting and Energy is Philips 

The official hotel partner of the National Theatre is Edwardian Hotels London

The National Theatre wishes to acknowledge its partner National Angels Limited 

The National Theatre is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.


David Eldridge, Playwright Interview: “If you don’t want to change people, even a tiny bit, through the experience of your writing then don’t write.”

 Playwright David Eldridge

David Eldridge ( Picture credit – Keith Pattison/Royal Court Theatre 2012)

Questions: Carl Woodward
Answers: David Eldridge (Obviously)
David Eldridge is a prolific playwright. His work has been seen on our country’s biggest stages (The National, Donmar Warehouse, Hampstead theatre and The Royal Court to name a few.
He was busy marking essays but agreed to talk to me for a few minutes.
Just don’t get him started on cooking…

Hello! Where are you and what are you up to? 
Right now it’s 8.30am and I’m at home in north London. I’ve just had a bowl of porridge and I’m catching up on a few emails before I head to my office to crack on for the day. Not a writing day today though. I’ve a pile of plays to grade as I teach part-time at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Your work has been commissioned by the National, The Royal Court, Bush, Hampstead, Almeida theatres and many more. Do you ever pinch yourself? 
All the time. I always remember vividly a time in my early twenties when I was living at my mum and dad’s after Uni and working in the evening in the hotchpotch old extension at home. As I was writing I could hear the sound of my dad outside in the garden shed tapping heels in to women’s shoes at 10p or 20p a pair a time to earn a bit more extra money for him and mum and by extension me. I always think about that when I’m struggling with what I’m writing. I never want to be that writer that signs a card to a friend “David Eldridge”. In a sense Dominic Dromgoole is right about me in his book. I’m incredibly serious about what I do and totally committed. But there’s another part of me that could not give a fuck. Having a play on at one of those theatres is great but it’s always the audience that makes the play, wherever it’s on and much of a writer’s life is quite lonely and boring. I’d be quite happy cooking full time (I write now on a laptop on the kitchen table) and the best days are days spent cooking and writing. Last May I spent a Sunday when my girlfriend was away making a Dal Makhani (which has to be cooked very slowly and with real care) and writing. It was perfect. Being a parent is the most important and fulfilling thing in my life. What’s making a play compared to raising a child and trying to be a good dad?

 I was chatting to a writer recently and she said that a lot of the writing process is about when the planets align, when that perfect moment comes along. Do you work to that principal or do you have a knack to force the planets into alignment?
I can see a bit of truth in that. Just this autumn I had an unexpected gap partly because a film company couldn’t get together a meeting for a few weeks to give notes on a draft of a screenplay I’ve written. My fingers were itchy and I couldn’t sit still and I wrote a play I’d been wanting to write for ten years, but never found the right moment until then. On the other hand I think when we talk about planets aligning it makes me cringe a bit. No disrespect to the other writer but I believe more in screenwriter William Goldman’s approach “Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.” Its work, writing. I think you get the first draft out. And then you rewrite until its ready to share. Managements never see anything less than my third draft. I think a lot of young and new writers are crazy to show managements their first drafts. Your third or fourth draft should be the managements first draft. It’s play-WRIGHT. Do the graft. That’s not to say you don’t collaborate and often you rewrite a lot more. But do your job first.

Which other writers would you recommend at the moment?
Oh God. There are so many brilliant playwrights, we’re very lucky in the UK. I think Penelope Skinner, debbie tucker green and Annie Baker are the bees knees. Anna Jordan and Chris Urch both wrote wonderful Bruntwood Award winning plays. Gary Owen has had a great year as has Jack Thorne, both of whom I admire hugely. How does Caryl Churchill still do it? I said to someone recently she’s “our Picasso, our Pankhurst, our Bowie, our Orbach” and I believe that. Robert Holman is a great playwright and fortunately not such a secret pleasure any more after the last few years. But my mind is full this morning of Leo Butler’s “Boy” which I saw last night. It’s fantastic and brave and true and unlike anything else. He’s not always had a great luck (his Royal Court downstairs debut premiered on 9/11) but this play is a reminder he’s one of our best and most thoughtful playwrights painting on a big canvass. Really Rufus Norris should commission him to write for one of the big spaces at the NT. While Rufus is at it he should try and persuade screenwriter Sarah Phelps to write for theatre again. She’s ace.

What would be the worst way to die?
My paternal great-grandmother was burned alive in a house fire. I don’t want to go that way and I don’t want any of my nearest and dearest to go that way.

Easy question: what’s the best play ever written?
Yeah, right do one mate. Seriously you’ve got to be kidding. I’m a play geek. You could get a dissertation length answer. For me, this morning it’s Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. I don’t think that can ever change for me because it’s the play that turned me on to theatre aged 17.
What word do people incorrectly use to describe your work?
It seems that you’re quite ambitious in terms of wanting your work to make an impression. 
If you don’t want to change people, even a tiny bit, through the experience of your writing then don’t write. If I was running a theatre I would not programme or commission writers that are merely wanking or getting the next play on the shelf.
If for some reason I had to ban you from making theatre is there something else you’d like to do?
Well I’d write for TV or film (as I am already) or write a novel which I want to write, or I might get to spend enough time on some of my poems so they’re good enough to actually show someone one day. But as I say I’d be happy cooking. I’d be happy being a full time dad.
Anything you’d like to add? 
Writing for performance is an odd endeavour as its all collaboration in the end. But you have to be independent (and absolutely not dependent on others) and do your job and know yourself and your work as much as possible to be the best you can be in that collaboration. A collaboration that often starts with you alone one morning, wasting time on social media in your PJ’s and ends several years later in a little theatre above a pub in W12 with an audience. You don’t make the best work if the writer gets lost along the way.