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The National Theatre Podcast

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

The National Theatre Podcast explores how theatre connects to the big issues of our time: sex, death, politics, and everything in between. We take you behind the scenes to investigate the artists and the ideas behind some of today’s most interesting 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 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.


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.