Yesterday was the National Theatre’s annual press conference, at which artistic director Rufus Norris launched a host of thrilling new initiatives, ranging from a community production of ‘Pericles’ to some frankly pretty amazing augmented reality glasses offering live captioning to hearing impaired audiences.
There were a decent chunk of new theatre productions announced, with the highest profile probably Sam Mendes returning to direct ‘The Lehman Trilogy’, an epic three-part-play about the Lehman brothers, from arrival in American to financial crash.
Big names will also be in attendance in two big Shakespeare productions: Norris will direct Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff in ‘Macbeth’ at the start of the year, and later on there’ll be Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. Rhys Ifans will also star in a production of Ionesco’s ‘Exit the King’ and Vanessa Kirby appears in the title role of Polly Stenham’s ‘Julie’, an adaptation of Strindberg’s ‘Miss Julie’. Colin Morgan will star in Ian Rickson’s revival of Brian Friel’s ‘Translations’. And there’s also a new play from David Hare about the Corbyn-era Labour Party called ‘I’m Not Running’, which should be worth a look.
Those are all in the big Olivier and Lyttelton theatres. A lot of the interesting stuff - including all-but-one of the plays by women and both of the plays by writers of colour - will be in the smaller Dorfman. It’s important not to mistake the annual press conference for a full itinerary of everything that’ll be staged in 2018, but the NT’s stayed aim of gender parity across it staged by 2021 looks relatively distant at present. Nonetheless, the Dorfman isn’t a booby prize but a prestigious 450-seat theatre; the most obviously anticipated highlight of the new year programming is Annie Baker’s ‘John’, the follow up to her deliriously-received ‘The Flick’.
The first set of productions - which will likely include ‘Macbeth’ and ‘John’ - will go on sale in the next few weeks.
See here for all current National Theatre shows