Everything is new for 2015 at London's National Theatre. New Chief Executive Tessa Ross and Director Rufus Norris announce their plans for their first year leading the National Theatre, plans that include a new production of William Shakespeare's As You Like It, stagings of works by Charlotte Brontë, George Farquhar, Granville Barker, DH Lawrence, Ivan Turgenev, Carol Ann Duffy, Caryl Churchill, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Timberlake Wertenbaker, and August Wilson plus five new plays, including one from Caryl Churchill, and a new musical, wonder.land by Damon Albarn and Moira Buffini.
"The work we make over the coming years will strive to be as open, as diverse, as collaborative, and as national as possible," Ross and Norris said in a statement. "We want to inspire artists and audiences to think in new ways, to constantly reimagine the act of making theater. This first season is just a beginning, but it contains the seeds of what is to come."
The NT's partnership with Travelex continues, making more than 100,000 tickets available at £15 and expanding this year to include Friday Rush £20 tickets for all shows. The leaders announced several other initiatives, too:
As You Like It will open in November in the Olivier Theatre with Polly Findlay directing. This will be the play's first main stage production at the NT since 1980. Findlay's productions for the NT include Treasure Island, Protest Song, Antigone, The Swan, and Nightwatchman. She also directed Arden of Faversham for the Royal Shakespeare Company and a German-language production of NT's War Horse in Berlin.
Other classics on tap are Farquhar's The Beaux' Stratagem directed by Simon Godwin at the Olivier beginning in May and Barker's Waste at the Lyttleton Theatre opening in November with Roger Michell directing.
Four other classic works are being reimagined on NT's stages this year. Chiwetel Ejiofor will play the title role in a new production of Everyman adapted by Carol Ann Duffy. Directed by Norris, it opens in the Olivier at the end of April. Patrick Marber is doing "an unfaithful version of A Month in the Country by Turgenev he calls Three Days in the Country in the Lyttelton beginning in July. DH Lawrence's trilogy of mining dramas—The Daughter-in-Law, A Collier's Friday Night, and The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd—will be adapted by Ben Power into a single play, Husbands and Sons, opening in the Dorfman Theatre in October before moving to co-producer Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester in February 2016. Bristol Old Vic's staging of Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece Jane Eyre, originally presented in two parts, will come to the National as a single evening co-production, again directed by Sally Cookson. It will play in the Lyttelton beginning in September before returning to Bristol in January 2016.
Wonder.land, a new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, with music by Albarn and book and lyrics by Buffini, will be directed by Norris in a co-production with Manchester International Festival. Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, the National Theatre, and the Théâtre du Châtelet, it will play at the festival in July before moving to the Oliver in November. In 2016, wonder.land will visit the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
Churchill will have two plays produced by the NT this year. Her Light Shining in Buckinghamshire will begin a run in the Lyttelton beginning in April while her new play Here We Go opens in the Dorfman in December. That will cap off a slate of new works that include The Red Lion by Patrick Marber in the Dorfman beginning in June; We Want You to Watch by RashDash and Alice Birch at the Temporary Theatre in June; Duncan Macmillan's People, Places and Things at the Dorfman starting in August; and Wallace Shawn's Evening at the Talk House in the Dorfman in November.
Other modern playwrights are represented by Stephen Adly Guirgis's The Motherf**Ker with the Hat making its U.K. premiere in the Lyttelton in June; Alexander Zeldin's Beyond Caring, which premiered at The Yard Theatre last year, in the Temporary Theatre in May; a 10th anniversary revival of Tim Crouch's An Oak Tree at the Temporary Theatre beginning in June; Islington Community Theatre's Brainstorm by Ned Glasier, Emily Lim, and the company, for six performances in the Temporary Theatre in July; Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good at the Olivier opening in August; and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson in the Lyttleton next January.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is touring the UK until November while War Horse at the New London Theatre is now booking until October 2015, and is currently completing its U.K. tour in Bristol. A Dutch-language production is touring the Netherlands, with a visit to Belgium in May. A Chinese-language production will open in August 2015 in Beijing, followed by a tour of China as part of the NT's new partnership with the National Theatre of China. Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors is entering the last leg of its 37-city U.K. tour, which will end in March.
Forthcoming National Theatre Live screenings include David Hare's Behind the Beautiful Forevers on March 12; the Young Vic's production of A View from the Bridge from the West End on March 26; Tom Stoppard's The Hard Problem on April 16; Man and Superman with Ralph Fiennes on May 14; and Norris' production of Everyman on July 16.
In the education department, the Clore Learning Centre, the new dedicated space for Learning, is now open and has transformed the NT's approach to education, offering events and courses for all ages, exploring theater-making from playwriting to technical skills, often led by the NT's own artists and staff. Connections, the National Theatre's annual festival of new plays for youth theaters and schools, will this year feature new commissions from Jamie Brittain, Katherine Chandler, Elinor Cook, Ayub Khan Din, Katie Douglas, Cush Jumbo, Ben Ockrent, Eugene O'Hare, Stef Smith, and Sarah Solemani, performed by 262 school and youth theatres at 27 partner theater festivals all over the U.K., prior to the NT festival in July.
Following a successful trial during Here Lies Love, the Friday Rush ticketing scheme will be extended to all productions in the Olivier, Lyttelton, Dorfman, and temporary theatre. Beginning April 10, every Friday at 1 pm, an allocation of £20 tickets for the following week's performances will be released to buy online. A limited number of £15 Day Tickets will continue to be available in person on the day of the performance (excluding the temporary theatre).
Public booking for Everyman, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, The Beaux' Stratagem, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Beyond Caring, We Want You to Watch, An Oak Tree, and Brainstorm opens on Feb. 12, and for The Red Lion on Feb. 26. Public booking for the Manchester International Festival performances of wonder.land is now open at www.mif.co.uk. Further details and press nights for later productions will be announced with each new booking period. Book tickets online at nationaltheatre.org.uk or call the Box Office at 020 7452 3000.
Visit Shakespeareances.com's Bard on the Boards for the dates of each production.
February 3, 2015