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Public Acts

Pericles company on stage as part of Public Acts

Public Acts is the National Theatre’s nationwide initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community. 

The programme creates ambitious new works of participatory theatre and is built on sustained partnerships with theatres and community organisations across the UK who share our vision of theatre as a force for change. 

The first Public Acts production was Pericles in August 2018, at the National Theatre, in the Olivier Theatre. The second production was As You Like It performed in August 2019 at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch.  

Since 2019 Public Acts has been working on our third production in Doncaster in partnership with Cast and six local community partners. Our new adaptation of The Doncastrian Chalk Circle was originally planned for 2020 but has been postponed to August 2022, due to Covid-19. 

Throughout the pandemic we continued to connect with our community members through online workshops, reunions, postal activities, a storytelling project called Stories To Get Us Through, screenings of our previous shows, and the creation of a new musical film, We Begin Again, created in partnership with The Guardian. The film highlights the first time our Doncaster and London communities have collaborated to create a piece of work together.  

To mark the fifth anniversary of Public Acts, a new multi-venue nationwide production of The Odyssey will begin in April 2023. The Odyssey will be told in five episodes. Each episode of Odysseus' journey will be created and performed by artists and communities from four partner organisations: Cast in Doncaster, Sunderland Culture in partnership with Sunderland Empire Theatre in Sunderland, Restoke in Stoke-on-Trent and Trowbridge Town Hall in Trowbridge. The fifth and final episode will be staged on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre in August 2023. 

Show your support

If would like to support the National Theatre's work in and with communities around the UK, including projects like Public Acts, contact the Development Team by email at [email protected] or make a donation below. 

Click here to make a donation

Our Community Partners

We work in partnership with organisations delivering visionary work in their communities across the country.  

As part of our company, members take part in bespoke programmes designed in collaboration with each community partner, including weekly workshops, theatre trips and opportunities for socialising and creating together. At the end of each year, everyone is invited to come together to perform in our flagship productions. 

Throughout the next year we will continue to work with our six Doncaster partners on remote projects until we are able to meet in person again and begin preparations for our 2022 production of The Doncastrian Chalk Circle.  

Public Acts: A Story of Hope

We're thrilled to give you an exclusive first look at a joyous new documentary about Public Acts, where you can learn more about how your support is encouraging theatre participation around the UK. Together, we can unite communities across the nation.

More info

Stories To Get Us Through

A new podcast series featuring stories written and performed by the people of Doncaster.

Listen now

Stories To Get Us Through

“We Begin Again”:

A new online musical from the National Theatre and the Guardian


The Doncastrian Chalk Circle

The Doncastrian Chalk Circle is a heartrending and gripping tale of the families we choose, filled with passion, hope and plenty of Yorkshire grit and humour.

Originally planned for August 2020, this production will now take place on 27 - 29 August 2022.

Find out more about The Doncastrian Chalk Circe

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The Odyssey

The adventures of Odysseus will be reimagined for today in this epic retelling with hundreds of community members across the country as a universal story of resilience, loss, healing, and hope. 

The Odyssey will be told in four episodes taking place across the country in Spring 2023, culminating with a fifth and final episode on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre in August 2023.

Find out more about The Odyssey

The Odyssey title treatment, white font on yellow/gold background

Public Acts | Pericles

Find out about creating the first Public Acts production, Pericles, in 2018.

More info

As You Like It

In August 2019, the second Public Acts production, a musical adaptation of As You Like It, played at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch.

Forced from their homes, Orlando, Duke Senior, his daughter Rosalind, and niece Ceila escape to the Forest of Arden, a fantastical place where all are welcomed and embraced. Lost amidst the trees, they find community and acceptance under the stars…

Explore the production

As You Like It at Hornchurch


Our first Public Acts production was a new musical adaptation of Pericles performed on the Olivier stage by a company of over 200 people of all ages.

Prince Pericles has everything but understands little. When a reckless act threatens his safety, he must flee his home and take to sea. Only by reaching the ends of the earth may he finally understand what it means to come home.

Explore the production

Pericles - Graphic of a sailboat tossed upon waves made of the outline of hands

The Public Acts Team

Director - Emily Lim
Senior Producer - Ros Terry
Producer - Lara Taylor
Associate Producer - Cynthia DuBerry
Project Manager - Hollie Smith 
Associate Director - James Blakey
Coordinator - Amy Sutters

Public Acts is inspired by Public Works, the Public Theater’s ground-breaking programme of participatory theatre in New York.


         Arts Council & National Lottery logo




Supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The CareTech Charitable Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Mosawi Foundation and 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust.