Those productions include the previously announced Helen Mirren playing the title role in Nicholas Hytner's new production of Phedre; Richard Eyre directing Matt Charman's new play The Observer; and Marianne Elliott directing All's Well That Ends Well.
The New Connections season – that annually commissions new plays for and about teenagers from contemporary playwrights for performances by schools and youth theatres from across the U.K. and Ireland — will this year feature new work from writers that include David Mamet, William Boyd and Anthony Horowitz, with performances in the Olivier and Cottesloe showcasing a production of each play. The theatre has also announced the return of the annual free outdoor Watch this Space season in July, and the resumption of year-round Sunday performances, also from July.
Phedre will begin performances in the Lyttelton Theatre June 4, prior to an official opening June 11, with Helen Mirren in the title role and a cast that will also include Dominic Cooper as Hippolytus and Margaret Tyzack as Oenone. Mirren, a NT associate, has previously appeared at the theatre in Mourning Becomes Electra and Antony and Celopatra; other stage appearances include Dance of Death on Broadway and A Month in the Country (West End and New York). Amongst her film and TV roles, she won the Oscar for playing the title role in "The Queen," the Golden Globe for "Elizabeth I" and three BAFTA and two Emmy Awards for Best Actress for "Prime Suspect." Tyzack has previously appeared at the National in Southwark Fair, His Girl Friday, Tartuffe and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; she was most recently seen in the Donmar Warehouse production of The Chalk Garden, winning the Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Best Actress (sharing the latter with co-star Penelope Wilton). Cooper last appeared at the National in The History Boys (also on Broadway, international tour and on screen) and in His Dark Materials. Recent film credits include "Sense and Sensibility," "The Duchess" and "Mamma Mia!" The production is directed by National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner, designed by Bob Crowley, with lighting by Paule Constable and music by Adam Cork. It will tour to Epidaurus in Greece on July 10 to 11, and will also launch NT Live, a new initiative to broadcast live performances of plays onto cinema screens worldwide. The June 25 performance will be filmed live in high definition and broadcast via satellite to approximately 50 cinemas in the Picturehouse, Odeon and Cineworld chains and a range of independent cinemas and arts centres (a list of participating cinemas can be found on www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/ntlive). Over 100 venues around the world will also screen the performance on the same day.
Matt Charman's The Observer will begin performances May 13, prior to an official opening May 20, in the Cottesloe. Directed by Richard Eyre (former artistic director at the National from 1988 to 1997), designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Neil Austin, projection design by Jon Driscoll, music by Richard Hartley and sound by Rich Walsh, the cast includes Anna Chancellor (Never So Good and Stanley at the National, Creditors at the Donmar), James Fleet (Three Sisters and Art in the West End, "The Vicar of Dibley" on TV) and Chuk Iwuji (the title role in Henry VI Parts 1, 2 & 3 for the RSC). Also in the cast are Leo Bill, Daon Broni, Peter Forbes, Lloyd Hutchinson, Aïcha Kossoko, Louis Mahoney, Cyril Nri, Isabel Pollen and Joy Richardson. Charman's previous plays include The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder (also seen at the National) and A Night at the Dogs (Soho Theatre).
All's Well That Ends Well will begin performances in the Olivier Theatre May 19, prior to an official opening May 28, as part of the Travelex £10 ticket season (in which half the available tickets are £10; the rest are £15 or £30). It is directed by Marianne Elliott, associate director at the National, where her productions include Harper Regan, Saint Joan, Pillars of the Community (for which she won the Evening Standard Award for Best Director), Mrs. Affleck and War Horse (co-directed with Tom Morris). Designs are by Rae Smith, lighting by Peter Mumsford, music by Adam Cork and sound by Ian Dickinson. The cast is led by Clare Higgins as the Countess of Rossillion (seen at the National in Oedipus, the Pinter double bill Landscape and A Slight Ache, Major Barbara and Vincent in Brixton, subsequently transferring to the West End and Broadway), with Conleth Hill as Parolles (seen at the National in Philistines, The Seafarer and Democracy, and in Stones in his Pockets in the West End and on Broadway and The Producers in the West End, winning Olivier Awards for both) and Michelle Terry as Helena (currently appearing in England People Very Nice at the National, also seen in The Crucible, The Winter's Tale, Pericles and Days of Signficance for the RSC). Also in the company are Oliver Ford Davies, Janet Henfrey, Sioned Jones, Elliot Levey, Brendan O'Hea, George Rainsford and Michael Thomas. The New Connections season will run July 1-7 in the Olivier and Cottesloe Theatres, featuring plays by David Mamet, Anthony Horowitz, Anthony Neilson, William Boyd, Ben Power, Christopher William Hill, Conor Mitchell, Davey Anderson, Georgia Fitch, Lisa McGee, Michael Lesslie and Nick Drake. According to press materials, "tales of attraction, rejection, loyalty, loss, magic, mischief – plus the familiar ups and downs of first friendships – are at the heart of this year's plays." New Connections is one of the world's largest celebrations of youth theatre, and as in past years, the plays will be published in an anthology by Faber & Faber, and a copy sent to every secondary school in the country.
Watch this Space, the National's annual free festival of al fresco theatre, will return July 1-Sept. 27, offering a rich variety of theatre, circus, dance, music and spectacle under a (hopefully) sunny sky. The full schedule will be released in early May. Also returning this year is Square2, which will host the return of Polish company Teatr Biuro Podròzy's production of Macbeth: Who is That Bloodied Man?, and the premiere of their latest production.
Beyond the National, The Pitmen Painters, co-produced by Live Theatre Newcastle and the National Theatre, will embark on a nine-week U.K. tour this autumn, visiting Newcastle's Theatre Royal (Sept. 29-Oct. 3), Cardiff's New Theatre (Oct. 13-17), Milton Keynes Theatre (Oct. 19-24), Salford's Lyric Theatre (Oct. 27-31), Sheffield's Lyceum (Nov. 3-7), Norwich's Theatre Royal (Nov. 10-14) and Plymouth Theatre Royal (Nov. 24-28).
Public phone/online booking for new productions in the May-July season opens March 13. To book tickets contact the box office at 020 7452 3000 or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.