FEATURED: National Theatre Announces 2019/20 Season

National Theatre Announces 2019/20 Season

  The National Theatre have announced 15 new productions of new plays and fresh adaptations by leading writers for their 2019/20 season.

  Productions will include ‘My Brilliant Friend‘, ‘The Visit‘, ‘Jack Absolute Flies Again‘ and ‘Paradise‘ for the Olivier Theatre, ‘Three Sisters‘, ‘The Welkin‘, ‘Manor‘ and ‘Seven Streams of the River Ota‘ for the Lyttleton Theatre, and ‘Faith, Hope and Charity‘, ‘The Antipodes‘, ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane‘, ‘Death of England‘, ‘All of Us‘ and ‘Welcome to Iran‘ for the Dorfman Theatre, with ‘All Kinds of Limbo‘ in the immersive storytelling studio.


  Epic stories from Ancient Greece to 1950s America find a home in the Olivier Theatre this year.


  Following a sell-out run at the Rose Theatre Kingston, the National Theatre brings you ‘My Brilliant Friend‘, based on the celebrated novels by Elena Ferrante, adapted by April De Angelis and directed by Melly Still.

‘When the most important person in her life goes missing without a trace, Lenu Greco, now a celebrated author, begins to recall a relationship of more than 60 years.

First meeting on the dangerous streets of postwar Naples, friends Lila and Lenu experience turbulent social and political change, from the rise of the Camorra to the sexual revolution and the transformation of their neighbourhood, city and nation. Even as life repeatedly tries to pull them in separate directions, they remain inextricably bound to one another’.

  Niamh Cusack and Catherine McCormack return to play Lenu and Lila in this epic story of love, violence, ambition and self-destruction. 

  ‘My Brilliant Friend’ will be presented in two parts. Previews will run from 12th November.



  Tony Kushner, writer of ‘Angels in America’ and ‘Caroline, Or Change’ relocates Friedrich Durrenmatt’s ‘The Visit (or, The Old Lady Comes To Call)‘, to New York State, 1959, offering a post-war American context for his version of the blackly comic masterpiece. 

  Jeremy Herrin will direct a cast including Lesley Manville, last seen at the National Theatre in Mike Leigh‘s ‘Grief‘. The production will open in February 2020.


  In April 2020, Richard Bean and Oliver Chris take you to the Battle of Britain in ‘Jack Absolute Flies Again‘, their adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals‘.

‘By night pilot Jack Absolute flies out against the Luftwaffe, by day he tries to win the heart of Air Transport Auxiliary Pilot Lydia Languish. Not an easy task, as principled Lydia demands to be loved on her own terms’.

  The play will mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and will be directed by Thea Sharrock.


  Finally, the National Theatre are very excited to announce that lyricist, novelist, poet and playwright Kate Tempest will make her National Theatre debut in June with ‘Paradise‘, a potent and dynamic reimagining of ‘Philoctetes‘ by Sophocles.

‘Once comrades, now enemies after Odysseus abandoned Philoctetes to suffer a terrible wound alone, Odysseus is prepared to use any means necessary to get the shell-shocked Philoctetes back to the front and win the Trojan war’.

  ‘Paradise’ is directed by Ian Rickson, with Lesley Sharp leading a large ensemble cast, opening in June 2020.


  The packed programme continues next door in the Lyttelton Theatre, with a crop of new plays from acclaimed theatre-makers.


  This December, following his smash-hit ‘Barber Shop Chronicles’, Inua Ellams returns to the National Theatre with this heartbreaking retelling of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters‘, set in 1960s Nigeria on the eve of the Biafran Civil War.

‘Owerri, 1967, on the brink of the Biafran Civil War. Lolo, Nne Chukwu and Udo are grieving the loss of their father. Months before, two ruthless military coups plunged the country into chaos. Fuelled by foreign intervention, the conflict encroaches on their provincial village, and the sisters long to return to their former home in Lagos’.

  Directed by Nadia Fall in a co-production with Fuel, hundreds of tickets across all performances will be available for £15.  



  In January we go from Nigeria to a barn in rural Suffolk. Lucy Kirkwood’s new play ‘The Welkin‘ takes place in 1759.

‘As the country waits of Halley’s comet, Sally Poppy is sentenced to hang for a heinous murder. When she claims to be pregnant, a jury of twelve matrons are taken from their housework to decide whether she’s telling the truth, or simply trying to escape the noose. Only midwife Lizzy Luke is prepared to defend her’.

  James Macdonald directs a cast including Maxine Peake, who returns to the National Theatre for the first time since 2002, and Cecilia Noble. The play will open in January 2020.


  From a storm in a barn to manor house in a storm, Moira Buffini brings us ‘Manor‘, a new play directed by Fiona Buffini, opening in March 2020.

‘Diana Stuckley and her daughter are struggling to keep the roof on their run down manor house. As a violent storm sweeps the coast, neighbours and strangers begin to appear, seeking shelter from the floods. Stranded together, this explosive mix of people must survive the weather and each other’. 

  Nancy Carroll plays Diana, with further casting to be announced. 


  ‘The Seven Streams of the River Ota‘ will return to the National Theatre where it first played in 1996, to mark 75 years since the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. This new edition of the acclaimed seven-hour saga by Ex Machina, directed by Robert Lepage, is a giant theatrical journey through time and space. It plays at the National Theatre for just 9 performances as part of a world tour, opening in March 2020.


  Last but not least, the Dorfman Theatre brings us more razor-sharp new writing. We start in September with ‘Faith, Hope and Charity‘. 

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‘In a run-down community hall on the edge of town, a woman has been cooking lunch for those in need.

A choir is starting up, run by a volunteer who’s looking for a new beginning. A mother is seeking help in her fight to keep her young daughter from being taken into care. An older man sits silently in the corner, the first to arrive, the last to leave. Outside the rain is falling’.

  Written and directed by National Theatre Artist in Residence Alexander Zeldin, this will be the third piece in his trilogy of plays that tell the stories of people forced to the margins, following ’Beyond Caring’ (“Unforgettable” – The Times) and ’LOVE’ (“The National’s play of the year, and then some” – Evening Standard).

  ‘Faith, Hope and Charity’ promises to be another uncompromising theatrical experience that goes to the heart of our uncertain time.



  Following acclaimed runs of ‘The Flick’ and ‘John’, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker is back at the National Theatre in April with her latest extraordinary play ‘The Antipodes‘. 

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‘Their phones switched off, a group of people sit around a table telling, categorising and theorising stories.

This is a world that is both familiar and fantastical. Their real purpose is never quite clear, but they continue on, searching for the monstrous’.

  Part satire, part sacred rite, ’The Antipodes’ asks what value stories have for a world in crisis. It will be directed by Annie Baker and Chloe Lamford. Fresh from ‘Game of Thrones’, Conleth Hill stars.



  Your Christmas present from the National Theatre this year will be Joel Horwood’s adaptation of ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane‘, a modern myth from the brilliant imagination of Neil Gaiman, creator of ‘Good Omens’ and bestselling author of ‘American Gods’ and ‘Stardust’.


‘Returning to his childhood home, Alex finds himself standing beside the duck pond of the old Sussex farmhouse where he used to play. He’s transported to his 11th birthday, spring half term. When his dad was struggling to make ends meet and his friend Lettie claimed it wasn’t a pond, but an ocean…

Plunged into a magical world, Alex and Lettie’s survival depends on their ability to reckon with dark, ancient forces that threaten to destroy everything around them’.

  Katy Rudd will direct this adventure that excites, unsettles and thrills those brave enough to face its hidden depths. A magical world suitable for ages 12+, with half price tickets available for under 18s.



  In February 2020, Clint Dyer and Roy Williams bring us ‘Death of England‘, a new play which began life as a short film created by the Royal Court and The Guardian.

  Featuring Rafe Spall, the play explores the world through the lens of a working-class man searching for truth after his father dies. This will be Clint Dyer’s writing and directing debut for the National Theatre.


  Francesca Martinez will also make her National Theatre debut in March with ‘All of Us‘, directed by Ian Rickson. Exploring life and love during a time of austerity, Martinez herself plays the lead role of Jess in this powerful, timely and characterful comedy drama, which opens at the National in March 2020.


  In May 2020, Nadia Fall takes us to the Middle East in ‘Welcome to Iran‘, a new play based on real-life testimonials offering a tender and witty snapshot of modern life in Iran. It will open at Theatre Royal Stratford East before playing a strictly limited run at the National Theatre.

  In the National Theatre’s Wolfson Gallery is a very special VR experience brought to you by the Immersive Storytelling Studio and inspired by ‘Small Island‘. 

‘Experience an intimate, immersive performance using cutting-edge virtual reality and holographic technology.

Inspired by the influence of West Indian culture on UK music, singer Nubiya Brandon takes us on a new journey through classical, grime, reggae and calypso’.

  Nubiya Brandon and the NuShape Orchestra with Raffy Bushman explore the historic influence of West Indian and black culture on the UK music scene in ‘All Kinds of Limbo: From Calypso to Grime‘, developed with the National Theatre’s Partner for Innovation, Accenture.



  The National Theatre will also be taking Shelia Delaney’s ‘A Taste of Honey‘ around the country from September with a cast led by Jodie Prenger.

  ‘Peter Pan‘, first seen at Bristol Old Vic and reconceived at the National Theatre in 2016, opens at Troubadour White City this Summer for a limited run. ‘Barber Shop Chronicles‘ is currently on tour and will play at the Roundhouse in London this summer before visiting Birmingham, Oxford, Inverness, Edinburgh, Southampton and Leeds. You can catch ‘War Horse‘ at Wembley Park in July and at venues around the UK from August, including Liverpool Empire Theatre, New Theatre Oxford and Curve Leicester.

  National Theatre Live celebrates its 10th birthday this year, and the National Theatre are celebrating with new broadcasts, encores and some special outdoor screenings. 

  ‘Small Island‘ will be screened on 27th June, ‘The Lehman Trilogy‘ on 25th July, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘ from the Bridge Theatre on 17th October, ‘Hansard‘ on 7th November and ‘Present Laughter‘ from The Old Vic on 18th November.

  ‘My Brilliant Friend‘, ‘Three Sisters‘, ‘Faith, Hope and Charity‘, ‘The Antipodes‘ and ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane‘ will go on sale to the public on 5th July.


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