Blood and Gifts will begin performances in September. Described in press materials as an epic political thriller shot through with mad humour that sweeps from refugee camps to mountainous tribal regions to the corridors of power in Washington, DC, it is directed by Howard Davies, with a cast that includes Lloyd Owen, Philip Arditti, Danny Ashok, Nick Barber, Kammy Darweish, Ian Drysdale, Robert Gilbert, Mark Healy, Adam James, Simon Kunz, Gerald Kyd, Katie Lightfoot, Matthew Marsh, Jessica Regan and Nabil Stuart. The production will be designed by Ultz, with lighting by Paul Anderson, music by Marc Teitler and sound by Paul Arditti. Set in 1981 as the Soviet army burns its way through Afghanistan and toward the critical Pakistani border, it revolves around CIA operative Jim Warnock (Owen) who is sent to try to halt its bloody progress. Joining forces with a larger than life Afghan warlord, and with the Pakistani and British secret services, Jim spearheads the covert struggle.The ferociously dedicated group of men are tied together by a common enemy but, as the brutal chaos escalates, clear political action becomes impossible in the face of mutual suspicion and shifting loyalties. J T Rogers' The Overwhelming premiered at the Cottesloe in 2006 and was subsequently produced at the Roundabout Theatre, New York. His other plays include Madagascar (recently produced at Theatre 503) and White People (recently produced Off-Broadway). Part of Blood and Gifts was seen at the Tricycle Theatre in 2009 as part of the 12-play cycle The Great Game: Afghanistan.
Or You Could Kiss Me, a new play by Neil Bartlett and Handspring Puppet Company (who created the puppets for the National Theatre's War Horse), begins performances in the Cottesloe Sept. 28, prior to an official opening Oct. 5. Directed by Neil Bartlett and designed by Rae Smith, with puppet design and fabrication by Adrian Kohler, lighting design by Chris Davey, sound by Christopher Shutt and music by Adrian Tilt, the production is presented in association with Handspring Puppet Company. The cast comprises Adjoa Andoh, Finn Caldwell, Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler, Craig Leo, Tommy Luther and Mervyn Millar. The play is set in the winter of 2036 in a shabby apartment in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where two old men search for a way to say goodbye after a lifetime spent together. In the perfect summer of 1971, in a very different South Africa, their handsome younger selves search for the courage to fall in love. And poised halfway between these two stories – one imagined, one remembered – their real-life counterparts bear witness to both the beginning and ending of an incredible journey.
Hamlet, featuring Rory Kinnear in the title role, will begin performances in the Olivier as part of the Travelex £10 season Sept. 30, prior to an official opening Oct. 7. Nicholas Hytner directs a cast that also includes David Calder as Polonius, Clare Higgins as Gertrude, James Laurenson as the Ghost and Player King, Patrick Malahide as Claudius and Ruth Negga as Ophelia. Also in the cast are Matthew Barker, Jake Fairbrother, Ferdinand Kingsley, Alex Lanipekun, James Pearse, Saskia Portway, Victor Power, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Nick Sampson, Michael Sheldon, Leo Staar, Zara Tempest-Walters, Giles Terera and Ellie Turner.The production will be designed by Vicki Mortimer, with lighting by Jon Clark, sound by Paul Groothuis and fight direction by Kate Waters. Hamlet will be broadcast to cinemas across the UK and worldwide Dec. 9 as part of the second season of NT Live.
Men Should Weep will begin performances Oct. 18 in the Lyttelton Theatre, prior to an official opening Oct. 26. Josie Rourke, currently artistic director of the Bush Theatre, makes her National Theatre directorial debut to direct a cast that includes Karen Dunbar and Sharon Small. The production will be designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting design by James Farncombe. The play, set in impoverished 1930s Glasgow, was written in 1947 and was voted one of the top hundred plays of the 20th century in the NT2000 millennium poll. Despite cramped tenement living and the turmoil of seven children, there is laughter and strength in the Morrison family. Tough and tender mother Maggie (Small), just about holds together her unruly brood against wretched poverty. But sniping neighbors, the flight of daughter Jenny, and the unexpected return to their overcrowded quarters of Maggie’s son and his sexually restless wife erode her spirit. And then, just as temporary employment for beloved husband John affords a decent Christmas, wayward Jenny returns with new-found wealth, offering them the chance of escape and one big moral dilemma.
Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art returns to the National's Lyttelton July 15 with a new cast led by Desmond Barrit as WH Auden, Malcolm Sinclair as Benjamin Britten and Selina Cadell as Kay; they are joined by Tom Attwood, Simon Bubb, Danny Burns, Martin Chamberlain, Philip Childs, Matthew Cottle, Barbara Kirby, Joss Littler, Luke Norris, Leighton Pugh, Matthew Shilling and Aaron Wetheridge. It will subsequently tour to Birmingham, beginning Sept. 28, then Salford, Llandudno, Milton Keynes, Belfast, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow. Finally, Bill T. Jones' production of Fela!, opening in the Olivier Theatre Nov. 16, will see Broadway's Sahr Ngaujah reprising his performance as Fela Aninkulapo-Kuti, newly joined by a cast that features Paulette Ivory and Melanie Marshall, and an ensemble that comprises Lydie Alberto, Cindy Belliot, Nandi Bhebhe, Ricardo Coke Thomas, Scarlette Douglas, Jacqui Dubois, Poundo Gomis, Jazmine Jarret Thorpe, Aisha Jawando, Wanjiru Kamuyu, Nyron Levy, Ira Mandela Siobhan, Shelley-Ann Maxwell, Tamara McKoy Patterson, Catia Moto da Cruz, Pamela Okoroafor, Jermaine Rowe and Craig Stein.
Public phone/online booking for new productions in the July-October season opens July 20. To book tickets, conact the box office on 020 7452 3000, or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk