Trevor Nunn hosted a lunch and briefing for the theatre press Aug. 8, to launch the new National Theatre season and the proposed changes to the Lyttleton.
There was a very positive atmosphere at the National Theatre launch for the new season, at which Trevor Nunn fronted a panel of three speakers.
The primary change will be a (temporary but repeatable) division of the current proscenium Lyttleton theatre into two performance spaces—a 650-seat Lyttleton Arena and a 100-seat Lyttleton Loft.
Audiences at the Arena will be seated on what is currently the Lyttelton stage, and will symbolically cross from the current auditorium under the proscenium arch and on to the stage to take their seats.
The idea behind the Loft is to offer the sort of intimate performance space best suited to experimental work, whether from the National studio or elsewhere. Both areas would be operational for some five and a half months a year, allowing—the rest of the time—proscenium-based shows, on which the National's touring strategy is based (given that most theatres they tour have proscenium arches).
Nunn and his colleagues made their commitment to widening and deepening the audience base at the National, in particular targeting young people and those who haven't ever visited the theatre in general or the National in particular.
Nunn spoke of his experience with smaller theatres in the past—such as The Other Place at Stratford and The Pit at the Barbican— and looked forward to creating the new spaces at the National. He refused to be drawn on the continuing question of his successor, insisting that was a matter for the board.
He did however let slip—rather than announce—that Tom Stoppard has been commissioned to write a trilogy of plays set in 19th century Russia; something that he preferred not to discuss in greater detail but clearly saw as an important commission and proof that for all its experimental and outreach work the National was still a venue where the best of mainstream modern British plays could be seen.
The season will continue to feature various platform performances, while among the main attractions on the National's stages are Rufus Sewell in John Osborne's Luther and Mark Ravenhill's Mother Clap's Molly House, directed by Nicholas Hytner, who has been frequently mooted as a possible successor to Nunn. The play's subject matter—a gay brothel in the 18th century—is likely to arouse a certain amount of controversy, but has been scheduled to tour as well as appear at the Lyttleton. Other touring National Theatre productions will be The Good Hope, Copenhagen, Lifex3 and An Inspector Calls.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow