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National Theatre Podcasts

If all the world’s a stage, we’re the programme notes.

The National Theatre Podcast explored how theatre connects to the big issues of our time: sex, death, politics, and everything in between. Go behind the scenes to investigate the artists and the ideas behind some of the most interesting, recent productions, and go out into the world to find theatre at play in our everyday lives.

It’s a show about theatre, without the drama.

Episode Ten - Epic Fail

We’ve all failed at something, but rarely on stage in front of hundreds of people. We ask our favourite guests to share their hilarious stories of on-stage mishaps and malfunctions, and professional embarrassment in its most public form. All to answer the simple question - how do we deal with failure? And why are we are so obsessed with it?

Episode Eight - In Public

How does culture shape the character of a neighbourhood, a city, a country? We speak to visual artist Jeremy Deller, DJ Dave Haslam and celebrate the NT’s River Stage festival by looking at art in public spaces, and the impact it’s had on the people who pass through them.


Episode Six - New Work

Cush Jumbo explains how writing a play changed the fortunes of her acting career, and we talk to dramaturgs, directors and a 17-year-old playwright to learn the untold story of how plays really come to life.



Episode Four - Old Lear

Simon Russell Beale and Don Warrington talk to us about playing one of the greatest roles of all time, to help us unpick the complex relationship between acting and ageing. Plus, we talk to theatre company Improbable about teaching actors in their 80s to improvise for the first time. Please note this episode contains strong language.

Episode Two - Prisons

‘Denmark’s a prison’, says Hamlet – but how does Hamlet go down in an actual prison? Chukwudi Iwuji tells us about playing the Dane for inmates in New York. We investigate the Synergy Theatre Project, who use theatre to rehabilitate prisoners and ex-offenders, and speak to people with experience of the criminal justice system about the role theatre has played in their lives, including writer Michael Ashton, whose play The Archbishop and the Antichrist has been turned into a feature film, The Forgiven, produced by KS productions and due to be released later this year.

Episode Nine - Edinburgh

It’s the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, so we go on the road to Scotland to ask people from all over the country if it’s still the beating heart of new theatre-making. How has the Fringe shaped the last seven decades of UK culture, and has it become a victim of its own success? 

Episode Seven - The Majority

Does our vote matter? We follow the development of our new interactive show The Majority, which lets the audience cast votes to change the outcome of the performance. But what happens when you give an audience control? We talk to experts in polling and audience behaviour to address the slippery idea of how large groups make decisions, and confront complicated moral choices with real-life consequences. Please note this episode contains strong language.

Episode Five - Masculinity

‘Moonlight’ writer Tarell Alvin McCraney tells us how growing up in Liberty City, and discovering the drag ball scene, shaped his understanding of what it means to be a man. Poet and playwright Inua Ellams tells us why the barber shop is a safe space for black men to be themselves, and we ask a dressing room of male actors to share their stories of the many kinds of men they’ve been asked to be for their careers.

Episode Three - Performing Gender

Dame Harriet Walter has performed some of Shakespeare’s most iconic male roles – she tells us what it taught her about gender and power, and how it made her a better actor. We speak to body language expert India Ford to analyse how our female politicians represent themselves as powerful women, and we talk about breaking down gender barriers with drag queen John Sizzle. 

Episode One - Brexit

Ed Miliband talks to us about politics and performance, and gives us his reaction to My Country: A Work in Progress, a verbatim theatre piece exploring the aftermath of the EU referendum. Rufus Norris, Director of the play and the National Theatre itself, speaks about making plays in response to current events, and we talk with theatre makers from different corners of the UK about attitudes to Brexit, and to theatre, where they work.