Director of the National Theatre Rufus Norris has unveiled 12 new productions and has also confirmed that he will step down after 10 years as director in mid-2025 when his current term comes to an end.
Under Norris’ leadership the National Theatre broadened both its program and audience and expanded its reach far beyond London. He had a key focus on widening the representation of voices and stories told on the National Theatre’s stages. Since 2015, the National Theatre stages have been on average 88% full – despite the disruption of COVID-19. Digital innovation under his stewardship has seen National Theater reach new audiences in over 180 countries, and the National Theatre at Home platform – born during the pandemic – has ensured that its work is shared with a wide audience. National Theatre Live, now in its 14th year, has reached over 11.8 million people in cinemas worldwide and broken the event cinema box office record for the U.K. and Ireland twice.
Norris said: “It has been and remains the greatest privilege of my career to lead the National Theatre. For the past eight years I have had the honour of shaping the programme of extraordinary work that sparks imagination, brings people together and illustrates the vital role theatre can play in all our lives. The daily highlight has been to work with the peerless theater-makers who work here, together with the incredible range of freelance artists upon whom the present and the future of the art form relies. I am enormously proud to be part of the diverse, thriving, creative hub the National Theatre is today and am fully committed to steering the course over the next two years.”
At the National Theatre’s Olivier Theatre from February 2024 is “Nye,” a new play by Tim Price charting the life of Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan and his battle to create the NHS, directed by Norris and with Michael Sheen playing Bevan. Later in the year is a new production of William Shakespeare’s Roman tragedy “Coriolanus,” directed by National Theatre Associate Lyndsey Turner and with David Oyelowo in the title role.
At the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre Associate Alexander Zeldin writes and directs “The Confessions,” which will play from October 2023. A love letter to life and theater, “The Confessions” charts the course of one life from birth to death, with music composed by Yannis Philippakis. Olivier Award-winner Rebecca Frecknall makes her National Theatre directorial debut with Alice Birch’s adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s masterpiece, “The House of Bernarda Alba.” Harriet Walter is cast as Bernarda Alba and Isis Hainsworth as Adela in this co-production with Playful Productions, playing from November 2023.
“Kin,” from physical theater company Gecko and created by Amit Lahav, opens in the Lyttelton theatre in January 2024 following a U.K. tour. The story is inspired by the migration stories of Gecko’s international performers. From February 2024, the Lyttleton will see “Dear Octopus” by Dodie Smith. Directed by Emily Burns in its first revival since the 1960s, this play is a portrayal of a family on the eve of WWII. Lindsay Duncan leads the cast. From April 2024, the venue will see the world premiere of “London Tide,” based on Charles Dickens’ “Our Mutual Friend,” adapted by Ben Power with original songs by P.J. Harvey and Power and directed by Ian Rickson. Cast includes Bella Maclean and Ami Tredrea.
Meanwhile at the National Theatre’s Dorfman Theatre, from September 2023, National Theatre deputy artistic director Clint Dyer reunites with Roy Williams for “Death of England: Closing Time.” Exploring family dynamics, race, colonialism and cancel culture, this is the final, standalone chapter of the “Death of England” series. The cast is Jo Martin and Hayley Squires.
Annie Baker returns to the National Theatre with “Infinite Life,” which has its U.K. premiere in the Dorfman from November 2023, following a run at Atlantic Theater Company in New York. Directed by James Macdonald, this new play is an inquiry into the complexity of suffering, and what it means to desire in a body that’s failing you.
Former National Theatre writer in residence Beth Steel will make her National Theatre debut with “Till the Stars Come Down, “directed by Bijan Sheibani which will play in the Dorfman from January 2024. Set over the course of a wedding, the play is a portrayal of a larger-than-life family who are struggling to come to terms with a changing world.
“Underdog: The Other Other Brontë” will then play from March 2024, written by Sarah Gordon and directed by Northern Stage artistic director Natalie Ibu, who both make their National Theatre debuts in this co-production with Northern Stage. The play is an irreverent retelling of the lives of the Brontës.
Olivier -winning playwright Katori Hall makes her National Theatre debut with “The Hot Wing King,” a story of love, family and masculinity directed by Roy Alexander Weise. It will play from July 2024. The play received the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Meanwhile, over at the West End, Jack Thorne’s new play, “The Motive and the Cue,” inspired by the making of Burton and Gielgud’s “Hamlet” and directed by Sam Mendes, will transfer into the Noël Coward Theatre from Dec. 9 until March 23, 2024. Co-produced with Neal Street Productions, Johnny Flynn, Mark Gatiss and Tuppence Middleton will return to play the roles of Richard Burton, John Gielgud and Elizabeth Taylor.
Sheffield Theatres’ production of “Standing at the Sky’s Edge” will play at the Gillian Lynne Theatre from Feb. 8, 2024. Co-produced by the National Theatre and Various Productions, the Olivier-winning British musical is directed by Sheffield Theatres’ artistic director, Robert Hastie, featuring songs by Richard Hawley with book by Chris Bush.