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National Theatre Blog

2018 and Beyond

NT from the North East

Today, Rufus Norris announced a whole host of new productions coming up next year, including new writing, UK premieres and reimagined classics.

Casts include Sophie Okonedo, Ralph Fiennes, Rhys Ifans, Cecilia Noble, Katherine Parkinson, Colin Morgan, Vanessa Kirby and Indira Varma, while directors include Carrie Cracknell, Sam Mendes, Patrick Marber and Simon Godwin. David Hare’s I’m not Running is his 18th play at the National Theatre, while Natasha Gordon’s Nine Night is her first.

There’s a brand new participatory theatre programme called Public Acts – the first production, Pericles, will see Emily Lim direct a community ensemble in the Olivier.

We’ve also announced two new pieces of technology. The first, Open Access Smart Capture, will allow D/deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences to attend any National Theatre performance by introducing an always-on closed-captioning service in pairs of smart glasses. The second, ProFile, is a resource for theatre, TV and film casting directors to address the underrepresentation of D/deaf and disabled actors.

Full details below.


Olivier Theatre


Translations by Brian Friel
From May 2018
Ian Rickson directs a cast which includes Colin Morgan in Brian Friel’s powerful account of language and nationhood. Rae Smith designs. Part of the Travelex £15 Season.

Exit the King by Eugène Ionesco, adapted by Patrick Marber
From July 2018
Patrick Marber directs his own adaptation of Ionesco’s dark comedy, designed by Anthony Ward. Cast includes Rhys Ifans (King) and Indira Varma (Queen). Part of the Travelex £15 Season.

Pericles by William Shakespeare, adapted by Chris Bush
August 2018
Emily Lim directs a large community ensemble and small cast of professional actors in the first Public Acts production.

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
From September 2018
Simon Godwin follows the success of Twelfth Night with another Shakespeare production in the Olivier. Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo play the lovers, with design by Hildegard Bechtler.

Follies, book by James Goldman, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
In 2019, Dominic Cooke's five-star production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies returns to the Olivier.



Lyttelton Theatre


Absolute Hell by Rodney Ackland
From April 2018
Joe Hill-Gibbins directs Ackland’s plunge into post-war Soho, 30 years after its rediscovery. Set design by Lizzie Clachan. Cast includes Charles Edwards, Kate Fleetwood, Sinéad Matthews and Danny Webb. 

Julie by Polly Stenham
From June 2018
Carrie Cracknell directs this reimagining of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, designed by Tom Scutt, with cast including Vanessa Kirby and Eric Kofi Abrefa. Part of the Travelex £15 Season.

The Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power
A co-production with Neal Street Productions

From July 2018
Sam Mendes directs the epic story of Lehman Brothers from its inception in 1844 to the financial crash 163 years later. Ben Power adapts Stefano Massini’s play, which has been a success across Europe. Cast includes Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles.

I’m Not Running by David Hare
From autumn 2018
I’m Not Running, David Hare’s 18th play at the National Theatre, is directed by Neil Armfield. It tells the story of two friends and their involvement, or lack of it, in British party politics.


Dorfman Theatre


The Great Wave by Francis Turnly
A co-production with the Tricycle Theatre

From March 2018
Indhu Rubasingham, Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre, returns to the National Theatre to direct The Great Wave by Francis Turnly, who wrote it while on a Channel 4 playwriting bursary at the Kilburn theatre.

Nine Night by Natasha Gordon
From April 2018
Natasha Gordon’s debut play is a funny and touching exploration of the rituals of family. Nine Night is directed by Roy Alexander Weise, with design by Rajha Shakiry. Cast includes Cecilia Noble 

An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
A co-production with Orange Tree Theatre

From June 2018
Ned Bennett’s production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ satire was highly praised at Orange Tree Theatre. It’s coming to the Dorfman from June.

Home, I’m Darling by Laura Wade
A co-production with Theatr Clwyd

From July 2018
Theatr Clwyd’s Artistic Director Tamara Harvey directs Laura Wade’s NT and Theatr Clwyd debut, a new comedy with cast which includes Katherine Parkinson. Anna Fleischle designs. It will open at Theatr Clwyd in June.


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 in the Olivier Theatre 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 appearances from a diverse range of local performance groups.




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.


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.

Over the next year, the pilot phase will rigorously test this unique system, starting in the Dorfman and moving on to our two larger spaces, the Olivier and Lyttelton.


Other venues, tours and transfers


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will tour to selected secondary schools in areas of the country with lower access to theatre. Mark Haddon’s novel, from which the play is adapted, has won more than 17 literary awards and now features on the national curriculum.

UK tours of War Horse and Hedda Gabler both open this week, with new tours of People, Places and Things and This House set to follow. In total, the NT will tour the UK for a total of 115 playing weeks between now and March 2019.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tours internationally, visiting the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, with more dates to be announced.

People, Places and Things will transfer to St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York later this month and Angels in America transfers to the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway in February 2018.


National Theatre Live


Hamlet returns to cinemas on 5 October. Lyndsey Turner’s production starring Benedict Cumberbatch was originally staged at the Barbican Theatre in August 2015 and broadcast live to cinemas later the same year.

Stephen Sondheim’s Follies directed by Dominic Cooke features a cast of 37 including Imelda Staunton, Janie Dee and Tracie Bennett. Broadcast live on 16 November.

Rory Kinnear plays Marx and Oliver Chris plays Engels in Young Marx directed by Nicholas Hytner and broadcast live from the Bridge Theatre on 7 December.

Benedict Andrews directs Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell in the Young Vic production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Captured during its West End run and broadcast on 22 February 2018.

Nicholas Hytner directs Ben Whishaw, Michelle Fairley, David Calder and David Morrissey in Julius Caesar. Broadcast from the Bridge Theatre on 22 March 2018.

Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff appear in a new production of Macbeth, directed by Rufus Norris. Broadcast live on 10 May.

Simon Godwin’s production of Antony and Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo will be broadcast live. Date tbc.