Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
All three theatres to reopen on the Southbank
Theatre-goers are in for a treat this summer. Not only are many theatres re-opening, but government regulations have changed to allow full houses to be sold rather than people sitting in small groups while social distancing. While not all theatre lovers will feel ready to return under these new – actually old – conditions, for those who do there is much to be excited about at The National Theatre over the next months. All three of the theatres on London’s Southbank will be open for the first time since March 2020.
In the Olivier, Kae Tempest’s Paradise will open in August. This production was previously announced but had to be postponed when theatres were shut. It is a new version of Philoctetes by Sophocles and will be directed by Ian Rickson. It has an all-female cast with Philoctetes played by Lesley Sharp. September sees Larry Kramer’s The Normal heart open on the Olivier stage. It will be directed by Dominic Cooke in a co-production with Fictionhouse. The role of ned Weeks will be performed by Ben Daniels and others in the cast include Liz Carr, Luke Norris, Daniel Monks and Danny Lee Wynter. Come December, National Theatre Director, Rufus Norris, will direct Hex which is due to engage audiences in the run-up to Christmas. This new musical takes audiences beyond the kiss that woke Sleeping Beauty and tells the fairy’s tale. The book is written by Tanya Ronder, music by Jim Fortune and lyrics by Rufus Norris and is based on the 17th Century folk-tale.
The Dorfman is currently showing After Life which runs until 7 August. In September the theatre hosts Rockets and Blue Lights, a play by Winsome Pinnock which is directed by Miranda Cromwell. The play is a co-production with the Royal Exchange Theatre where it opened in March 2020 and closed after only three previews. It is set across multiple time frames with the action moving between the story of an actor making a new film about artist JMW Turner and two Londoners coming to terms with the meaning of freedom. Come December, Alice Childress’ play Trouble in Mind will be directed by Nancy Medina. Tanya Moodie will play the part of Wiletta Mayer, an African-American actress and singer who hopes to make her mark on history as part of an acting company that faces prejudice both on stage and off.
Finally, the Lyttleton will host the filming of a new feature film Death of England: Face to Face which will be screened on Sky Arts in the autumn. The film has been written by Clint Dyer (Deputy Artistic Director of the National Theatre) and Roy Williams – check our review of the original Death of England on stage and don’t miss the chance to see the film. The Lyttleton will re-open for live performances in October with Birmingham Reps’ production of East is East. Witten by Ayub Khan Din, the paly will be directed by Iqbal Khan in the 25th anniversary year of its premiere at the Rep. In November a new darkly comic play will open. Manor is written by Moira Buffini and will be directed by Fiona Buffini, almost 18 months after it was first scheduled. Nancy Carroll will play the owner of the manor house, a rundown establishment that shelters an explosive mix of people during a storm.
The National Theatre at Home, the streaming platform, now has 23 productions available to view. Two new productions are being added – Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Bridge Theatre and All My Son’s from The Old Vic. Each month new productions are added.
In addition to all these productions, the National Theatre will be re-opening productions on Broadway, touring productions in the UK and involved in a multitude of collaborations with schools, youth theatre companies and co-productions to kickstart a huge revitalisation of an industry that has seen hordes of creatives leave the profession since March 2020. Audiences can enjoy the renaissance of theatrical life and support and celebrate the talent that the National Theatre seeks to promote.
For more information do check the National Theatre website