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National Theatre Blog

The National Theatre in 2020

The NT Building

We’ve got a brilliant first half of 2020 lined up for you.

All of UsHamlet for younger audiencesJack Absolute Flies AgainManorSea Sick available for the public to book from 6 December.

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

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

DORFMAN: The Antipodes | The Ocean at the End of the Lane | Death of England | All of Us | Sea Sick | Hamlet for younger audiences | Welcome to Iran

AROUND THE COUNTRY: Public Acts in Doncaster | War Horse | Romeo and Julie

SCHOOLS: Hamlet for Primary Schools


In the Olivier Theatre… 

The Visit
Following the run of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend, adapted by April de Angelis, we have the return of Tony Kushner, writer of Angels in America and Caroline, Or Change. He relocates Friedrich Durrenmatt’s dark comic masterpiece The Visit, to New York State in 1959. Jeremy Herrin will direct a cast including Lesley Manville and Hugo Weaving in this new production opening in January 2020.

Jack Absolute Flies Again
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.

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.

Romeo & Juliet
Following the success of Antony and Cleopatra (2018) and Twelfth Night (2017), Simon Godwin returns to the Olivier Theatre with Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet in August 2020. Set in modern Italy in a world where Catholic and secular values clash, Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, Judy) and Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country) play the two young lovers who strive to transcend a world of violence and corruption. Fisayo Akinade (The Antipodes, Barber Shop Chronicles) is cast as Mercutio. 


In the Lyttelton Theatre…

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

The Welkin
We start the year with Lucy Kirkwood's new play The Welkin. 1759, Rural Suffolk, England. As the country waits for 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 and Ben Daniels plays Ted.

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. 

Wuthering Heights
Later in the year Emma Rice adapts and directs Emily Brontë’s iconic masterpiece Wuthering Heights, in a new co-production with Wise Children in association with York Theatre Royal.
Opening in the Lyttelton Theatre in Autumn 2020 before touring across the UK. 


In the Dorfman Theatre…

Death of England
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.

All of Us
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.

Welcome to Iran
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.

Romeo and Julie 
In Summer Romeo and Julie comes to the Dorfman Theatre. A powerful, funny and poignant new play about hope and heartbreak. Written by Gary Owen and directed by Rachel O'Riordan, inspired by Shakespeare's romantic tragedy, Romeo is a teenage single dad hanging on tight. Julie is fighting to follow her dream of studying at Cambridge. Raised a few streets apart, but from entirely different worlds, the pair crash headlong into first love, physics and dirty nappies. A co-production with Sherman Theatre.


Around the country… 

Romeo and Julie will open at The Lowry, Salford (1-13 June), before touring to Cast, Doncaster (15 – 20 June); Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch (22 –27 June); Theatre Royal, Wakefield (29 June – 4 July); Dorfman, National Theatre (13 July – 29 August) and closing at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff (14 September – 3 October). Romeo and Julie tours as part of Theatre Nation Partnerships, a multi-year collaboration between the National Theatre and six partner organisations which aims to broaden and grow local audiences for drama through touring, working with schools, and creating theatre with local communities.

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. 


In schools

Have you ever seen a ghost? Jude Christian brings us a new version of Hamlet in March, directed by Tinuke Craig. This version will be aimed at younger audiences (aged 8 -12) and will tour to state primary schools across Greater London from 10 February, collectively reaching over 6,000 pupils during the run as part of the NT’s commitment to introducing children and young people to theatre. It will then come to the Dorfman Theatre on 30 March, so some grown-ups can see it too.


National Theatre Live

This year National Theatre Live will bring you Cyrano de Bergerac from the Playhouse Theatre in the West End, with James McAvoy as Cyrano on 20 February.
The Welkin will be broadcast live from the National Theatre on 21 May.
We're also excited to announce that we'll be bringing you Jack Absolute Flies Again and Simon Godwin's Romeo & Juliet later in the year.




‘Master Harold’… and the boys;

My Brilliant Friend

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Three Sisters