Hot on the heels of the news that Shakespeare’s Globe is returning this spring with live performances, the National Theatre has just announced that it too will be back IRL in 2021.
The huge South Bank complex reopens in June, with some intriguing-sounding productions. Michael Sheen – who had a bit of a lockdown smash himself with his TV show ‘Staged’ is leading an acting company in a new stage adaptation of Dylan Thomas’s lyrical masterpiece ‘Under Milk Wood’. The production, which will be performed in the round in the NT’s Olivier Theatre, will be directed by Lyndsey Turner and also star Karl Johnson and Siân Phillips.
Meanwhile, the Dorfman space will reopen with a new collaboration with innovative theatre-makers Headlong. Inspired by Hirokazu Kore-eda’s award-winning film, ‘After Life’ is described by the NT as ‘a beautiful work that asks its audiences: if you could spend eternity with just one precious memory, what would it be?’
Sounds like a lot of fun and/or brain ache, which is, after all, what we want, expect and demand from our national stage. The National Theatre has been a stalwart of lockdown, and definitely one of the positive things that we will all remember about the cultural desert of 2020. Its NT at Home series was a lifeline – a weekly window into other worlds and minds that gave lockdown a momentary magical quality. Director Rufus Norris said of the reopening to live audiences: ‘Sharing our work online and on television over the last year has enabled us to reach millions of people and continue to keep culture alive, but the magic of live theatre is what we can now begin to look towards.’
The NT reassures audiences on its site that all appropriate safety measures are in place, so it looks like we’re all set to experience the magic once again.