Today, Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre, has announced what is coming up in the new season: Four world premieres, two European premieres and co-productions with Headlong, Fuel, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Out of Joint, and Improbable, featuring new work by Inua Ellams, Yaёl Farber, DC Moore, Lindsey Ferrentino and Nina Raine.
As previously announced, the Olivier will start off with Twelfth Night in February with Tamsin Greig as ‘Malvolia’ in Twelfth Night, the first of two Shakespeare plays being directed by Simon Godwin, who will also direct Ralph Fiennes in Antony and Cleopatra in 2018. In May Yaёl Farber will return to the National for the European premiere of Salomé, featuring an international cast including Olwen Fouéré. D. C. Moore’s new play Common, directed by Jeremy Herrin, is set in the early days of the Industrial Revolution, an epic new history play co-produced with Headlong. Later in 2017, Imelda Staunton, Janie Dee and Philip Quast will star in Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman‘s classic musical Follies.
Indhu Rubasingham will direct the European premiere of Lindsey Ferrentino’s Ugly Lies the Bone at the Lyttelton Theatre, which deals with an injured American soldier who goes through virtual reality video game therapy to escape her pain. Andrew Garfield will return to the National for Marianne Elliott‘s production of Tony Kushner‘s Angels in America, also Nathan Lane, James McArdle, Denise Gough and Russell Tovey.
The Dorfman Theatre will start the new season with Us/Them by BRONKS after a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe dealing with a terrorist siege at a school in Beslan, followed by Dublin Oldschool, a play about brothers, Dublin and dance music. Lost Without Words, a co-production with Improbable, is experimental theatre, seeing actors in their 70s and 80s improvise on stage without a script. My Country: a work in progress is the NT’s reaction to the Brexit vote – verbatim theatre, directed by Rufus Norris in collaboration with Carol Ann Duffy. Nina Raine‘s new play Consent is a co-production with Out of Joint and will be directed by Roger Mitchell. Barber Shop Chronicles by Inua Ellams will have its world premiere at the Dorfman in June before transferring to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, a co-production with Fuel and West Yorkshire Playhouse. Olivia Colman will star in Lucy Kirkwood‘s new play Mosquitoes about two sisters and particle physics, directed by Rufus Norris.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will continue its run at the Gielgud Theatre until June 2017. A North American tour 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. A second major tour of the UK and Ireland will begin at The Lowry in Salford in January 2017, finishing in Milton Keynes on 16 September 2017. Sally Cookson’s adaptation of 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, finishing at the Theatre Royal in Bath on 30 September 2017. War Horse will begin its second major tour of the UK on 15 September 2017 at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.
The following four productions will be broadcast by NT Live this year and in 2017: No Man’s Land live from the stage of the Wyndham’s Theatre, with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, featuring live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia, broadcast direct from the NT. Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, directed by Josie Rourke and broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse, and Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, directed by Ivo van Hove, broadcast live from the NT.
Rufus Norris confirmed that the National Theatre had to find ways to get leaner, which is one of the main reasons for cancelling the unprofitable Sunday performances and dismantling the Shed after the Dorfman Theatre became fully functional. The National Theatre could not depend on commercial money and had to look for other options.
One of Norris’ long-term goals is making the theatre more accessible for the deaf and disabled communities, artists and audiences alike, which have been invisible. There is currently an NT program that involves working with deaf actors.
Questioned on the consequences of the “Leave” vote, Rufus Norris responded that it was basically a waiting game, there were different predictions every single week. Even though the weaker pound might bring in more tourists, the restriction of movement was a major concern, especially for orchestras and musicians. International collaborations required freedom of movement.
Norris was also concerned about the response of the Arts Council, pointing out the value of the creative industries for the economy and the importance of the NT for regional theatres, e.g. 20% of the box office in Salford is generated by NT tours. The NT currently works with 63 regional theatres.
NT seems to be succeeding in fulfilling its educational targets. 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.
However, the audience of the NT is not getting much younger. Although it is a mixed audience and Norris has been trying to attract younger audiences with artists such as Bryony Kimmings, the average age of the NT theatregoer has dropped only slightly – from an average age of 55 to 51.
Written by Carolin Kopplin
To find out more about the National Theatre’s new season, visit here…