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National Theatre unveils 15 new productions by writers including Lucy Kirkwood, Tony Kushner and Moira Buffini

Lesley Sharp will feature in the new programme of work from the National Theatre. Photo: Sven Arnstein.
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New plays by Lucy Kirkwood, Moira Buffini and Kate Tempest have been announced by the National Theatre, as part of a programme of work that will feature actors including Maxine Peake, Lesley Sharp and Lesley Manville.

The new line-up also features plays by Francesca Martinez, Tony Kushner, Richard Bean and Oliver Chris, alongside work by Alexander Zeldin, Roy Williams and Clint Dyer.

Kirkwood’s The Welkin will be directed by James Macdonald and will star Peake and Cecilia Noble. It will run in the Lyttelton Theatre, where a new version of Three Sisters by Inua Ellams will also be staged.

Three Sisters will be directed by Nadia Fall and has a cast including Ronke Adekoluejo, Jade Akuwudike and Ken Nwosu.

Buffini’s Manor will also run in the Lyttelton, starring Nancy Carroll and directed by Fiona Buffini.

Theatre company Ex Machina will bring The Seven Streams of the River Ota to the theatre, directed by Robert Lepage.

The Olivier will stage Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, by April De Angelis. It has been reworked for the NT by Melly Still, following a run at Rose Theatre Kingston. The original cast return to perform in the play, including Niamh Cusack and Catherine McCormack.

Kushner’s The Visit, or The Old Lady Comes to Call, a new version of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play, will star Manville and is directed by Jeremy Herrin.

Jack Absolute Flies Again is a new play by Bean and Chris and is based on Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals. It will be directed by Thea Sharrock.

Tempest makes her NT debut with Paradise, a reimagining of Philoctetes by Sophocles. It stars Sharp and is directed by Ian Rickson.

In the Dorfman Theatre, Zeldin returns to the NT with Faith, Hope and Charity, the third in a trilogy that includes Beyond Caring and Love. The cast includes Nick Holder, Cecilia Noble and Alan Williams.

Annie Baker’s latest play, The Antipodes, will also run in the Dorfman, with a cast including Arthur Darvill and Hadley Fraser. It is directed by Baker and Chloe Lamford.

A new adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Joel Horwood, will be directed by Katy Rudd and will star Josie Walker, while Death of England, a new play by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, will star Rafe Spall.  The play marks Dyer’s directing and writing debut at the NT and he becomes the first black British artist to have written, acted and directed at the NT.

Martinez’s All of Us will also run in the Dorfman, directed by Ian Rickson. It marks her NT debut.

Welcome to Iran, written and directed by Nadia Fall, will have a limited run in the Dorfman, in a co-production with the NT and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

The season is the NT’s first since it came under fire earlier this year for announcing a programme of work that featured no female playwrights.

At a press conference announcing the season, NT director Norris reinforced his commitment to gender parity, but said the theatre should have recognised the importance of a singular announcement rather than assessing representation over a longer timescale.

He said: “I think the real learning from this is that season announcements are strong gestures and it’s important for us to understand that, and realise that every time we make an announcement, that can be read on its own.

“So rather than just thinking about the year, we have been thinking about each announcement as its own thing, and the representation within that.”

National Theatre responds to playwrights’ letter criticising all-male programme announcement



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