National Theatre 2018 and beyond

Headlines from the National’s Autumn press conference:
  • not great news if you were hoping for better female writing and directing representation
  • amazing news in terms of advances with the D/deaf community, both as actors and audiences 
  • equally admirable new efforts to reach out into local communities
  • and Indira Varma, Cecilia Noble and Katharine Parkinson 

Olivier Theatre

Ian Rickson directs Brian Friel’s Translations, a powerful account of language and nationhood. Set in rural Donegal, the turbulent relationship between England and Ireland plays out in one quiet community. Cast includes Colin Morgan with designs by Rae Smith, lighting by Neil Austin and music by Stephen WarbeckTranslations is a Travelex show with hundreds of tickets available at £15 for every performance, opening in May 2018.
 
Patrick Marber adapts and directs Ionesco’s glorious dark comedy Exit the King. Surrounded by his court, an unpredictable, belligerent and magnetic king – once all powerful – rages against the inevitability of his own decline. Designed by Anthony Ward, lighting Hugh Vanstone and music and sound Adam Cork. Cast includes Rhys Ifans as the King and Indira Varma as his Queen. Exit the King is a Travelex show with hundreds of tickets available at £15 for every performance, opening in July 2018.
 
Simon Godwin directs Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo as the iconic lovers in a new production of Antony and Cleopatra opening in September 2018. Set design by Hildegard Bechtler, costume design by Wojciech Dziedzic, lighting by Tim Lutkin, music by Michael Bruce and sound by Christopher Shutt. The production will be broadcast worldwide as part of the NT Live season. 
 

Shakespeare’s late romance Pericles is remixed in Chris Bush’s vivid new adaptation. Directed by Emily Lim, choreographed by Imogen Knight with music composed by James Fortune, Pericles marks the first Public Acts production featuring a large community ensemble and small cast of professional actors who will bring this epic story of love, loss, family and community to the Olivier theatre in August 2018.
 

 

Lyttelton Theatre

30 years after the rediscovery of Absolute Hell Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the NT to direct Rodney Ackland’s plunge into post-war Soho, full of despair, longing and a need to escape. Set design is by Lizzie Clachan with costumes designed by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Jon Clark and sound by Paul Arditti. Opening in April 2018, cast to be announced.
 
In Julie Polly Stenham updates Strindberg’s tragedy Miss Julie to contemporary London. Upstairs, the party is dying but still Julie dances. Downstairs, Jean and Kristin listen and wait. Carrie Cracknell directs Vanessa Kirby in this new version designed by Tom Scutt, opening in June 2018. Julie is a Travelex show with hundreds of tickets available for every performance at £15.
 
The Lehman Trilogy, by Stefano Massini a hit across Europe, is staged at the NT in a new English adaptation by Ben Power, directed by Sam Mendes, a co-production with Neal Street Productions. 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 soon joined by his two brothers and an American epic begins. 163 years later the firm they establish, Lehman Brothers, spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy, and triggers the largest financial crisis in history. This is the story of a family and a company that changed the world. Stefano Massini’s vast and poetic play unfolds over three parts in a single evening, opening in July 2018, cast to be announced. 
 
David Hare’s new play I’m not Running, directed by Neil Armfield opening in autumn 2018. Pauline Gibson has unintentionally become a national treasure by staying out of party politics, while one of her close friends from university, Jack Gould, is making his way to the top of the Labour Party. The 20 year span of their adult lives and their contrasting fortunes raise sharp questions about how to do good in the new century. After the world wide success of his production of Cloudstreet which visited the National in 1999 and 2001, Neil Armfield directs his first NT production, cast to be announced.

 

Dorfman Theatre

Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre Indhu Rubasingham returns to the National Theatre to direct The Great Wave – in a co-production with the Tricycle, an epic play by Francis Turnly. Developed, while on a Channel 4 playwriting bursary at the Tricycle, the play is set in Japan and North Korea and tells the story of two sisters, Hanako and Reiko, who are struck by a gigantic wave. Reiko survives while Hanako is, seemingly, lost to the sea. Their mother, however, can’t shake the feeling her daughter is still alive. Designed by Tom Piper, video projection by Luke Halls, lighting design by Oliver Fenwick, movement direction by Polly Bennett, music by David Shrubsole, and sound design by Alex Caplen. Opening at the NT in March 2018, cast to be announced.
 
Natasha Gordon’s debut play Nine Night is a funny and touching exploration of the rituals of family. The nine nights extended wake is an important custom in West Indian families. But for Gloria’s children and grandchildren, marking her death with a party that lasts a week and a half is a test that forces them to confront themselves and each other. Roy Alexander Weise directs, designed by Rajha Shakiry. Cast includes Cecilia Noble, opening in April 2018.
 
Ned Bennett’s highly praised production for the Orange Tree Theatre of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ provocative and hilarious satire An Octoroon transfers to the National Theatre in June 2018 in a co-production. Cast to be announced.
 
Laura Wade makes her NT and Theatr Clwyd debuts with Home, I’m Darling, a new comedy about sex, cake and the quest to be a perfect 50s housewife. Cast includes Katherine Parkinson with further cast to be announced. A National Theatre co-production with Theatr Clwyd, directed by Clwyd artistic director Tamara Harvey, also making her NT debut, and designed by Anna Fleischle. The production opens at Theatr Clwyd in June and in the Dorfman theatre the following month.
 
Justin Audibert directs a new production of The Winter’s Tale for primary schools, opening in the Dorfman theatre in February 2018. This exciting new version of the play, adapted by Justin and the company, is the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for younger audiences, designed by Lucy Sierra with music by Jonathan Girling.

 

Public Acts

Public Acts: a nationwide initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community. The programme builds on our experience of creating the award-winning we’re here because we’re here with volunteer performers and theatres across the UK.
 
Public Acts is inspired by Public Works, The Public Theater’s ground-breaking programme of participatory theatre in New York.
 
Public Acts will be built on sustained partnerships with organisations that share our vision for theatre as a force for change. Over the next two years we will work with the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch and a number of community organisations across Greater London. Through these partnerships we will invite members of London’s diverse communities to take part in regular creative activity and join us in the creation of theatre productions.
 
The first of these will be a new production of Pericles on the Olivier stage in August 2018. It will feature a small cast of professional actors together with a large number of non-professional actors who will be cast through their connection with our community partner organisations. The NT has commissioned Chris Bush, a writer with extensive experience working with large community ensembles, to adapt Shakespeare’s Pericles which will be directed by NT resident director Emily Lim. The production will also feature cameo performances from a diverse range of local performance groups.
 
Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch will be the first theatre partner for Public Acts. The Queen’s Theatre is a vibrant regional theatre working in Outer East London, Essex and beyond. Over 200,000 people enjoy the programme each year, including the best in home grown theatre, visiting live entertainment and inspiring Learning and Participation projects including a wide range of life enhancing workshops and classes for people of all ages. Queen’s Theatre staff will work alongside NT staff on Pericles.
 
Our community partners for Public Acts over the next two years will include: Body & Soul, a charity dedicated to transforming the impact of childhood adversity; Open Age, a charity that works with older Londoners to create opportunities for them to connect, learn new skills and combat isolation; Thames Reach a London-based charity helping homeless and vulnerable people to find decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives; The Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (HASWA) works with all sections of the local Havering community, particularly of Asian origin with specific emphasis on isolated and disadvantaged individuals; Bromley by Bow Centre supports vulnerable young people, adults and families to help create a cohesive, healthy, successful and vibrant east London community, Coram, the UK children’s charity that helps children and young people develop their skills and emotional health, finds adoptive parents and upholds children’s rights, creating a change that lasts a lifetime and Three Faiths Forum (3FF) who work to build good relations between people of all different faiths, beliefs and identities.
 
Future Public Acts productions will be developed in partnership with theatres and community groups outside London.
 
Generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Sackler Trust, founding supporters of Public Acts. The first 3 years of Public Acts is also supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

 

ProFile

D/deaf and disabled actors are currently under-represented on stage and screen in the UK. The National Theatre and Spotlight have created a new resource to champion this talent pool by offering industry professionals the opportunity to watch these actors in action on an online video database. It is a free service, both for performers and industry users, and is available for the use of film, theatre and television professionals across the UK. Its aim is to widen the pool from which casting directors and other industry professionals draw their talent, with a view to creating a more inclusive industry in the long term, and one that better represents the diversity of the nation.
 
ProFile was created as part of the National Theatre’s Creative Diversity Project, a pilot project focusing on diversity and inclusion at the NT, one strand of which aims to address the under-representation of D/deaf and disabled actors on our stages.
 
The NT is committed to establishing a target to increase the representation of D/deaf and disabled actors on our stages. To do this, we are working with a range of artists from the D/deaf and disabled community, casting directors and some of the UK’s leading drama schools to ensure the target is meaningful and realistic.

 

Open Access Smart Capture

The National Theatre today announces the pilot launch of a brand new technological innovation, Open Access Smart Capture.
 
The NT and its partner for innovation, Accenture, have developed new technology, which will mean for the first-time access service users will be able to attend any performance thanks to a transformative, always-on closed captioning and audio-description service. 
 
The smart glasses support the NT’s vision to ensure theatre access for all and have been designed and manufactured by Epson, with ease-of-use, durability and accessibility in mind. The glasses enable the user to discreetly see the captions for theatre performances on a screen directly in front of their eyes from any seat in the auditorium. At the heart of this advanced system is new technology which aims to achieve 97% accuracy of the timing of the captions and descriptions. 
 
Captioned performances are currently restricted to selected performances at the National Theatre with the NT programming up to four captioned performances and up to three audio-described performances per production with captions and audio-description delivered live. Since its inception in 2014, the vision for Open Access Smart Capture has been to have always-on smart captioning systems in all three of the NT’s theatres by October 2018 with always-on audio description by April 2019, ensuring all performances will be fully accessible via this new technology. Action on Hearing Loss estimated that by 2035, 1 in 5 people will be affected by hearing loss. This equates to 11 million potential customers who could benefit from an always-on service, with the freedom to attend any performance, seated anywhere in the auditorium, and have their access needs met.
 
Over the next year the pilot phase will rigorously test this unique access system and during this time the NT will evaluate the Open Access Smart Capture technology, initially in the Dorfman theatre, with the system being further developed on large scale shows in the Lyttelton and Olivier theatres to understand the scale and scope of the technology and ensure the system is adaptable for all service users. The National Theatre has had a close working relationship with StageText and VocalEyes throughout and will continue to work alongside them on this transformative project.

 

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