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Nicholas Hytner unveils plans for his final season at the National Theatre

Nicholas Hytner. Photo: Charlotte MacMillan
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Nicholas Hytner has revealed plans for his final season at the National Theatre, including new plays by Tom Stoppard and Richard Bean.

Both plays are as yet untitled. Stoppard’s play will premiere in the re-opened Dorfman Theatre (formerly the Cottesloe) in January, while Bean’s will be staged in the Lyttelton in the summer.

“The appetite for theatre seems to me be growing,” Hytner said as he announced his final season. “This whole business is booming and will continue to boom.”

He revealed that the total UK audience for National Theatre productions for 2013-14 will be 2.67 million, including 374,000 on tour and 698,000 on cinema screens via NT Live, meaning that more people now see their productions outside of London than on the South Bank.

Though the West End run of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has been temporarily suspended owing to the ceiling collapse at the Apollo Theatre before it re-opens at the Gielgud in June, this has not affected what executive director Nick Starr has called “a balanced budget” for the next year.

The theatre is also currently making a £3 million insurance claim against the losses incurred.

The Dorfman, which is part of the £80m NT Future refurbishment, is to open in September, with a British premiere Hytner was unable to name.

The National’s 12th Travelex-sponsored season, which Hytner introduced in his first year at the helm of the theatre, will see 100,000 tickets (almost half of those available for every performance) offered for £15 for six productions.

It will start with Helen McCrory in the title role of Carrie Cracknell’s production of Medea to open in July, and continue with the previously announced trilogy of Rona Munro’s The James Plays, co-produced with the National Theatre of Scotland, opening in September following their world premiere as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

This will be followed with the return of Lloyd Newson’s DV8 Physical Theatre company with their new show John in October, before the Travelex season concludes with the world premiere of David Hare’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on the book by Katherine Boo, that is to be directed by Hytner’s successor Rufus Norris.

The whole NT season will include ten world premieres, with eight of the 14 original plays being produced by the theatre this season written by women.

These will include Sam Holcroft’s Rules for Living (in the Dorman in March) and a new play by the Croatian-born Tena Štivičić in the Lyttelton in December.

David Henry Hwang’s Yellow Face, which originally received its British premiere at North London’s Park Theatre, will be revived in the Shed in May.

Both Ralph Fiennes and Cillian Murphy will return to star at the National, in Shaw’s Man and Superman and Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk respectively, both in the Lyttelton.

Speaking of the buoyancy of the theatre beyond the National, Hytner added: “Look at what is happening in Bristol, Sheffield, Manchester– there are some great, great theatre cities outside London that are thriving because of the drive and imagination of the people running those theatres. The [success of] London theatre is also phenomenal – 22 million tickets are being sold every year. After a very rocky start, I detect that the current government recognise that this is a golden egg and they know that this situation is something that they would prefer not to undermine.”

He said the tax breaks [announced March 19) by the government are “unequivocally a good thing”.

“They’re an imaginative and considered response to the challenges of theatre production,” he added.

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