The National Theatre will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013 while continuing to stage a varied lineup of plays old and new, from Edward II by Christopher Marlowe to the premiere of Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson's musical The Light Princess, and including William Shakespeare's Othello, a touring school production of Romeo and Juliet, and a Sam Mendes–directed King Lear starring Simon Russell Beale. Meantime, the company is embarking on upgrades and expansions to its London complex.
The 50th anniversary of the National Theatre company's first performance at the Old Vic in October 1963 will be marked in the autumn by a unique performance broadcast from the National's Olivier Theatre on BBC 2 and two Arena documentaries on BBC 4, as well as the publication of a book, The National Theatre Story by Daniel Rosenthal.
The first phase of construction work for the NT Future redevelopment project—a new production centre, the refurbishment of the Cottesloe (which will close in February and reopen in April 2014 as the Dorfman), and the creation of the Clore Learning Centre—has begun. With £9 million remaining to be raised for the project's successful completion, an audience appeal has been launched.
The Shed, a temporary venue in front of the theater, will present new work by theater- makers familiar to the NT as well as emerging voices. Artists working in The Shed include Carrie Cracknell, Rob Drummond, Marianne Elliott, Nadia Fall, Polly Findlay, Matthew Herbert, Rufus Norris, Nick Payne, Tim Price, Tanya Ronder, The TEAM, and debbie tucker green. A Visitors' Festival in September will celebrate the breadth of talent outside London.
Away from the NT's South Bank complex, the NT productions of War Horse and Alan Bennett's People will spend a record 38 weeks on tour in the UK in 2013–2014. War Horse is now running in Australia and on a North American tour and opens in Berlin in the autumn, while One Man, Two Guvnors visits Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong this spring. Four NT productions will be playing simultaneously in the West End this spring: Alan Bennett's Untold Stories, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse, and One Man, Two Guvnors. National Theatre Live broadcasts have, to date, been seen by more than one million people in 23 countries, with 250 venues in the UK; forthcoming screenings include This House, People, and Othello.
Ben Power and Bijan Sheibani will collaborate on a new production of Romeo and Juliet, which will tour London primary schools and visit The Shed. Connections has commissioned ten new plays for performance by 230 school and youth theatres around the UK.
In 2012, the National's audience reached 3.2 million globally, and in London represented 35 percent of total play-goers.
The company looks to keep the numbers growing with its 2013 playbill. Nicholas Hytner directs Shakespeare's Othello at the Olivier, with Adrian Lester in the title role and Rory Kinnear as Iago, opening on April 23. The cast also includes Jonathan Bailey as Cassio, Lyndsey Marshal as Emilia, and Olivia Vinall as Desdemona. Marlowe's Edward II will open in September, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins with John Heffernan tabbed for the title role. It is part of the Travelex £12 Tickets season, which also will include James Baldwin's The Amen Corner opening in June, directed by Rufus Norris with Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Sharon D Clarke leading the cast.
James Graham's play This House transfers to the Olivier in February following its sell-out Cottesloe run; Jeremy Herrin's production opens on Feb. 28 with Reece Dinsdale joining members of the original cast including Phil Daniels, Charles Edwards, Vincent Franklin, and Julian Wadham. Also in the Olivier, Adrian Noble's production of Carl Zuckmayer's The Captain of Köpenick, in a new English version by Ron Hutchinson, opens Feb. 5 with Antony Sher in the title role, and Bijan Sheibani in November will stage a new production of the classic children's adventure Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner, adapted by Carl Miller.
King Lear is scheduled to open in January 2014.
In the Lyttelton Theatre, Howard Davies's production of Children of the Sun by Maxim Gorky, in a new version by Andrew Upton, will be the first Travelex £12 Tickets show of 2013, opening on April 16; the cast includes Lucy Black, Paul Higgins, Gerald Kyd, Emma Lowndes, Justine Mitchell and Geoffrey Streatfeild. Simon Godwin makes his NT directorial debut in June with Strange Interlude by Eugene O'Neill; the cast will include Anne-Marie Duff and Charles Edwards. Former NT Director Richard Eyre will direct Liolà by Luigi Pirandello, in a new version by Tanya Ronder; it willopen in August as the second of this year's Travelex £12 Tickets productions in the Lyttelton. The Light Princess, music and lyrics by Tori Amos, book and lyrics by Samuel Adamson, suggested by a story by George MacDonald, will open in October, directed by Marianne Elliott. The cast will include Rosalie Craigand Clive Rowe. In November, Melly Still will direct From Morning to Midnight by Georg Kaiser, in a new version by Dennis Kelly.
The Shed is a temporary space in Theatre Square, with 225 tickets at £12 and £20. The programme will include the following:
The Shed Partner is Neptune Investment Management.
The 2013 Connections Festival will again put young people center stage with 10 specially commissioned plays by Howard Brenton, Jim Cartwright, Lucinda Coxon, Ryan Craig, Stacey Gregg, Jonathan Harvey, Lenny Henry, Jemma Kennedy, Morna Pearson, and Anya Reiss. An example of each will be performed at the NT festival in The Shed and Olivier Theatre in July, after 230 young theater companies have mounted productions in their home venues and at 20 youth theater festivals around the UK. In addition, Bristol Old Vic Young Company will return with its 2012 Connections production, Rory Mullarkey's The Grandfathers, directed by Jesse Jones, for seven performances in The Shed.
A Primary Theatre production of Romeo And Juliet, adapted and directed by NT Associate Directors Ben Power and Bijan Sheibani and supported by an extensive education program, will tour London schools in the summer term and visit Derry-Londonderry for the UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations, before coming to The Shed in July, reaching a total audience of 8.000 children.
The winning entry from New Views, the NT's national playwriting programme for 15-to-19–year-olds, will also be performed in The Shed in July.
The National Theatre is supported by Arts Council England.
January 31, 2013