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National Theatre Blog

The National Theatre in 2019 and 2020

The NT Building

We’re excited to be announcing 15 new productions of new plays and fresh adaptations by leading writers.

My Brilliant Friend, Three Sisters, Faith, Hope and Charity, The Antipodes and The Ocean at the End of the Lane will go on sale to the public on 5 July.

OLIVIER: My Brilliant Friend | The Visit | Jack Absolute Flies Again | Paradise

LYTTELTON: Three Sisters | The Welkin | Manor | Seven Streams of the River Ota

DORFMAN: Faith, Hope and Charity | The Antipodes | The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Death of England | All of Us | Welcome to Iran


AROUND THE COUNTRY: Public Acts in Doncaster | A Taste of Honey tour | Barber Shop Chronicles | War Horse

SCHOOLS: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time schools’ tour


In the Olivier Theatre… 

Epic stories from Ancient Greece to 1950s America find a home in the Olivier Theatre this year.

Following a sell-out run at the Rose Theatre Kingston, we bring you My Brilliant Friend, based on the celebrated novels by Elena Ferrante, adapted by April De Angelis and directed by Melly Still. First meeting on the dangerous streets of post-war Naples, friends Lila and Lenu experience turbulent social and political change, from the rise of the Camorra to the sexual revolution and the transformation of their neighbourhood, city and nation. My Brilliant Friend will be presented in two parts. Previews from 12 November.

Tony Kushner, writer of Angels in America and Caroline, Or Change relocates Friedrich Durrenmatt’s The Visit to New York State, 1959. Jeremy Herrin will direct a cast including Lesley Manville in this dark comic masterpiece, opening in January 2020. 

In April, Richard Bean and Oliver Chris take you to the Battle of Britain in Jack Absolute Flies Again, their adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals. By night pilot Jack Absolute flies out against the Luftwaffe, by day he tries to win the heart of Air Transport Auxiliary Pilot Lydia Languish. Not an easy task, as principled Lydia demands to be loved on her own terms. The play will mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and will be directed by Thea Sharrock.

Finally, we are very excited to announce that lyricist, novelist, poet and playwright Kate Tempest will make her National Theatre debut in June with Paradise, a potent and dynamic reimagining of Philoctetes by Sophocles. Once comrades, now enemies after Odysseus abandoned Philoctetes to suffer a terrible wound alone, Odysseus is prepared to use any means necessary to get the shell-shocked Philoctetes back to the front and win the Trojan war. Directed by Ian Rickson with Lesley Sharp leading a large ensemble cast.


In the Lyttelton Theatre…

The packed programme continues next door in the Lyttelton, with a crop of new plays from acclaimed theatre-makers.

This December Inua Ellams and Nadia Fall bring you a new version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, set in 1960s Nigeria on the eve of the Biafran Civil War. It’s a co-production with Fuel, and hundreds of tickets across all performances will be available for £15.  

In January we’ll go from Nigeria to a barn in rural Suffolk. Lucy Kirkwood’s new play The Welkin takes place in 1759. As the country waits of Halley’s comet, Sally Poppy is sentenced to hang for a heinous murder. When she claims to be pregnant, a jury of twelve matrons are taken from their housework to decide whether she’s telling the truth, or simply trying to escape the noose. Only midwife Lizzy Luke is prepared to defend her. James Macdonald directs a cast including Maxine Peake and Cecilia Noble.

From a storm in a barn to manor house in a storm. Moira Buffini brings us Manor, a new play directed by Fiona Buffini. Diana Stuckley and her daughter are struggling to keep the roof on their run down manor house. As a violent storm sweeps the coast, neighbours and strangers begin to appear, seeking shelter from the floods. Stranded together, this explosive mix of people must survive the weather and each other. Nancy Carroll plays Diana, with further cast to be announced. 

The Seven Streams of the River Ota will return to the National Theatre where it first played in 1996, to mark 75 years since the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. This new edition of the acclaimed seven-hour saga by Ex Machina, directed by Robert Lepage, is a giant theatrical journey through time and space. It plays at the NT for just 9 performances as part of a world tour. 


In the Dorfman Theatre…

Last but not least, the Dorfman Theatre brings you more razor-sharp new writing. We start in September with Faith, Hope and Charity, written and directed by our Artist in Residence Alexander Zeldin. This will be the third piece in his trilogy of plays that tell the stories of people forced to the margins, following Beyond Caring and LOVE.

If you enjoyed The Flick and John you’ll be pleased to know Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker is back in April with her latest play The Antipodes. Part satire, part sacred rite, The Antipodes asks what value stories have for a world in crisis. It will be directed by Annie Baker and Chloe Lamford and, fresh from Game of Thrones, Conleth Hill returns to the NT.

Your Christmas present from us this year will be Joel Horwood’s adaptation of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, bestselling author of American Gods, Coraline, Stardust and the Sandman series. Katy Rudd will direct an adventure that excites, unsettles and thrills those brave enough to face its hidden depths. A magical world suitable for ages 12+ with half price tickets available for under-18s.

In February Clint Dyer and Roy Williams bring you Death of England, a new play which began life as a short film created by the Royal Court and the Guardian. Featuring Rafe Spall, the play explores the world through the lens of a working-class man searching for truth after his father dies. This will be Clint Dyer’s writing and directing debut for the National Theatre.

Francesca Martinez will also make her NT debut in March with All of Us, directed by Ian Rickson. Exploring life and love during a time of austerity, Martinez herself plays the lead role of Jess in this powerful, timely and characterful comedy drama.

Also in March 2020, Nadia Fall takes us to the Middle East in Welcome to Iran. A new play based on real-life testimonials which offers a tender and witty snapshot of modern life in Iran. It will open at Theatre Royal Stratford East before playing a strictly limited run at the NT.



In our Wolfson Gallery we have a very special VR experience brought to you by the Immersive Storytelling Studio and inspired by Small Island. Nubiya Brandon and the NuShape Orchestra with Raffy Bushman explore the historic influence of West Indian and black culture on the UK music scene in All Kinds of Limbo: From Calypso to Grime. Developed with the NT’s Partner for Innovation, Accenture.


Around the country… 

In August 2020 Cast Doncaster will host the third Public Acts Production, a new version of The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht adapted for this project by Chris Bush and directed by James Blakey. The creative team will work alongside local community partners in Doncaster on this new interpretation of Brecht’s classic. And don’t miss the Public Acts production of As You Like It  at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch this August.

We’ll also be taking Shelia Delaney’s A Taste of Honey around the country from September with a cast led by Jodie Prenger.

Peter Pan, first seen at Bristol Old Vic and reconceived at the National Theatre in 2016, opens at Troubadour White City this Summer for a limited run. Barber Shop Chronicles is currently on tour and will play at the Roundhouse in London this summer before visiting Birmingham, Oxford, Inverness, Edinburgh, Southampton and Leeds. And you can catch War Horse at Wembley Park in July and at venues around the UK from August, including Liverpool Empire Theatre, New Theatre Oxford and Curve Leicester.


In schools

Last year’s schools tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a huge success, with over 13,000 young people seeing a specially staged 90-minute version of the award-winning show. We’re taking it to another 60 schools in our six Theatre Nation partner areas: Outer East London, Wakefield, Doncaster, Sunderland, Wolverhampton and Greater Manchester. 


National Theatre Live

National Theatre Live celebrates its 10th birthday this year and we’re celebrating with new broadcasts, encores and some special outdoor screenings. 

We’ll be screening Small Island on 27 June, The Lehman Trilogy on 25 July, Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Bridge Theatre on 17 October, Hansard on 7 November and Present Laughter from The Old Vic on 18 November. Find your nearest cinema.

You can also see us outside at a special screening of War Horse at Latitude Festival (complete with special equine guest) and on Brighton Beach with the Luna Cinema on 16 August, where we’ll be screening One Man, Two Guvnors. 



Small Island

Rutherford and Son

Peter Gynt


Top Girls


Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear - The Musical!

The Secret River;

‘Master Harold’… and the boys;



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