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National Theatre Blog

National Theatre reopening with remodelled Olivier theatre to stage live performances in-the-round

National Theatre at Night, illuminated with different coloured light, with teh Thames in front.

The National Theatre reopens on 21 October 2020. We are significantly remodelling our Olivier theatre in order to stage a season of performances in-the-round. This will mean we can seat almost 500 people, while maintaining social distancing to welcome you back safely to our building.


We’re thrilled to be reopening our doors to audiences on the 21 October 2020, for the first time since closing in March, with Death of England: Delroy, a new play written by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, directed by Clint and performed by Giles Terrera. The production is the first in a season of productions we will stage in our transformed Olivier theatre. Tickets will go on sale to everyone from 2 October, with over 200 tickets available at £20 for every performance.

This new, standalone production has been written by Roy and Clint in response to Death of England, which The Guardian described as, 'a punkish state-of-the-nation address – truly a play for today.' It explores a Black working class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain.

Computer rendering of the transformed Olivier Theatr in-the-round

In a time when theatres across the country have been forced to postpone their pantomimes by Coronavirus, for one year only, pantomime is coming to the National Theatre. The second production as part of the Olivier in-the-round season will be Dick Whittington, which will celebrate and honour what Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre describes as, ‘an essential part of the living fabric of our nation.

Rufus Norris: ‘We’ll do all we can to keep the flame alive: brilliant theatre artists will serve up a slice of joy to families on the South Bank, and we’ll be asking everyone to support their local theatres by booking ahead for their 2021 pantomimes.

Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd’s hilarious and heartfelt version of the famous story was first staged at Lyric Hammersmith in 2018. Freshly updated for 2020, Ned Bennett directs this wild and inventive new production which promises fun for everyone and will open on the South Bank in December.

Speaking about Dick Whittington, Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd said: ‘In 2018 we set out to celebrate the heart of the Dick Whittington story - that London has always been, and will always be, enriched by the brilliant brains and invigorating spirit of those who come from all over the world and call it home. That's a story we want to tell now more than ever, and in quintessentially British fashion: with irreverent jokes, talking animals, awesome songs, and wholesale destructive silliness.

Ned Bennett continued: ‘We are inordinately excited to be talking about a show, never mind having the privilege of being able to stage one right now. We are facing such challenging times, as artists and as an industry, so we feel so lucky to have the NT able to provide this opportunity. We cannot wait to bring audiences (safely) into the Olivier and allow them to remember the joy of theatre for a night.’

We’re excited to make the most of the newly transformed Olivier theatre with set and costume designs by Georgia Lowe, lighting design by Jessica Hung Han Yun and Denzel Westley-Sanderson as Associate Director.

Find out more about how we’re following UK Government guidelines and full information on safety measures for audiences. See you soon!

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