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National Theatre announces new productions for 2019

Posted by Theo Bosanquet on 3 Oct, 2018

Highlights of the National Theatre's new season include plays by Lenny Henry, Caryl Churchill and Inua Ellams, as well as Cate Blanchett's NT debut

National Theatre

National artistic director Rufus Norris has announced programming for 2019 and beyond.

In the Olivier Theatre, Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Andrea Levy's bestselling novel Small Island will open in May. Directed by Norris, the play journeys from Jamaica to Britain through the Second World War to 1948, the year the Windrush arrived.

It's followed by Peter Gynt, by David Hare after Ibsen, which will open in the Olivier in July directed by Jonathan Kent, with design by Richard Hudson. The production stars James McArdle (Angels in America), and will transfer to the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019.

Meanwhile in the Lyttelton Theatre, a new version of Molière's Tartuffe by John Donnelly will open in February.

Director Blanche McIntyre makes her NT debut, with set and costume design by Robert Jones, lighting design by Oliver Fenwick and music and sound design by Ben and Max Ringham. Tartuffe previews from 9 February, with a press night on 21 February.

Caryl Churchill's modern classic Top Girls is revived in April, with Lyndsey Turner directing. It features set design by Ian MacNeil, costume design by Merle Hensel, lighting design by Jack Knowles and sound design by Christopher Shutt.

Also revived is Githa Sowerby's Rutherford and Son, directed by Polly Findlay, which opens in May. Set against the backdrop of the industrial north east, it stars Roger Allam in the title role. Set and costume design is by Lizzie Clachan, with sound by Paul Arditti.

Hansard, the debut play from actor Simon Woods, opens in September. Directed by NT Associate Simon Godwin, it stars Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings as Diana and Robin, a married couple with differences they cannot resolve.

Inua Ellams returns to the NT in the autumn with a new play, Three Sisters, after Chekhov, in a co-production with Fuel. Directed by Theatre Royal Stratford East Artistic Director, Nadia Fall, Three Sisters transports the play to 1960s Nigeria.

Cate Blanchett

In the Dorfman Theatre Martin Crimp's When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, Twelve Variations on Samuel Richardson's Pamela, will preview from 16 January, with a press night on 23 January. Directed by Katie Mitchell, the play sees Cate Blanchett (pictured) make her National debut alongside Stephen Dillane.

The cast also includes Babirye Bukilwa, Jessica Gunning, Emma Hindle and Craig Miller. Set design is by Vicki Mortimer, costume design by Sussie Juhlin-Wallén, lighting design by James Farncombe, sound design by Melanie Wilson and movement direction by Joseph Alford. Tickets will go on sale via a ballot which opens on 22 November at 12pm. 

In a co-production with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Bruce Norris' new play Downstate comes to the NT direct from in Chicago. Directed by Pam MacKinnon, the American and British cast includes Steppenwolf ensemble members Glenn Davis, K. Todd Freeman, Francis Guinan and Tim Hopper, together with Aimee Lou Wood, Cecilia Noble, Eddie Torres and Matilda Ziegler. Downstate previews from 12 March, with a press night on 20 March.

Lenny Henry in Comedy of Errors

ANNA, a "ground-breaking new sonic collaboration" by Ella Hickson and Ben and Max Ringham, opens in the Dorfman in May. The headphone-based show will give the audience "intimate access to communist East Berlin". ANNA is directed by Natalie Abrahami, with set and costume designed by Vicki Mortimer and movement by Anna Morrissey.

Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear - the Musical!, based on the children's book, opens in the summer. With book and lyrics by the author, Andy Stanton, music by Jim Fortune, directed by Amy Hodge, and set and costume design by Georgia Lowe, it promises an "all-singing, all-dancing, occasionally-burping extravaganza for children and adults alike".

Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker (The Flick) returns to the Dorfman Theatre in October with the European premiere of her play The Antipodes, directed by Lila Neugebauer, making her NT debut. It features set and costume design by Chloe Lamford.

Also announced today was Richard Pryor on Fire, a one-man play written by and featuring Lenny Henry (pictured above) as the legendary American comedian. Directed by Paulette Randall, it will open in the Dorfman Theatre in 2020.


See Also:

National's smart caption glasses a huge step forward

Curious Incident returns to West End

Blog: Why I love shooting backstage

How to survive as an actor

Top tips for learning lines

The golden rules of auditions

Top tips for resting actors

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