As expected, Mike Leigh will deliver his first new stage play since 1993’s It’s a Great Big Shame!. The new play is still untitled (Leigh always develops characters and situations with his casts, only firming up the play itself towards the later stages of his 18-week process), but will open in the Cottesloe on Sept. 15. Other NT plans include new work from Howard Brenton, rare Ibsen and a visit from DV8.
The Leigh play, which begins previews Sept. 8, will be designed by Alison Chitty, with lighting by Paul Pyant, music by Gary Gershon and sound by John Leonard. The cast includes John Burgess, Ben Caplan, Allan Corduner, Adam Godley, Caroline Gruber, Nitzan Sharron, Samantha Spiro and Alexis Zegerman. Leigh’s last film, “Vera Drake,” won the Golden Lion at the 2004 Venice Film Festival, and bagged Imelda Staunton (its leading lady) a BAFTA, as well as Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.
Howard Brenton’s new play Paul will preview in the Cottesloe beginning Sept. 30, opening on Oct. 6. Directed by Howard Davies, it explores the phenomenon of religious faith through the story of Jesus’ disciple, Paul. Previous Brenton plays at the National have included Weapons of Happiness, The Romans in Britain, Bloody Poetry and Pravda (co-written with David Hare). Vicki Mortimer will design Paul, with lighting by Paule Constable, music by Dominic Muldowney and sound by John Leonard. Casting has yet to be announced.
The Lyttleton will house Ibsen’s rarely-seen Pillars of the Community, opening Nov. 1 (previews begin Oct. 21). Samuel Adamson provides a new version of the play, and the production marks the centenary of Ibsen’s death. Pillars tells of a man whose business and reputation are threatened by a long-buried secret and the escape plan he devises that puts in danger the one life he holds dear. Royal Court Associate Marianne Elliott directs.
At the Olivier, Coram Boy — adapted by Helen Edmundson from Jamila Gavin’s Whitbread Award-winning children’s novel — begins previews Nov. 2, opening Nov. 15. It’s a story, set in eighteenth-century England, of two orphans at the Coram Hospital for Deserted Children: Toby, saved from a slave ship, and Aaron, the abandoned heir to a great estate. A press release described it as “an epic adventure filled with danger and excitement.” Melly Still directs and co-designs, with co-designer Ti Green. Lighting will be by Paule Constable, music by Adrian Sutton, fight direction by Alison de Burgh and sound by Christopher Shutt. And there’ll be a rare NT outing for a Kaufman and Hart comedy. Once in a Lifetime, beginning previews Dec. 5 and opening Dec. 15, will be directed by Edward Hall, designed by Mark Thompson, lit by Mark Henderson with sound by Paul Groothuis. Set in the early days of talking pictures, three New York actors abandon their vaudeville act to make it in Hollywood. Their plan? To start a voice school for the idiot stars of the silent films. But all doesn’t go as they envisaged.
The physical theatre troupe DV8 bring their new production (co-produced by the NT) to the Lyttleton for only nine performances between Nov. 10 and 19. Just for Show is about showing off in a world where looking good has become more important than being good. Virtual projection, visual illusion and word play are used to create a world of physicality and dark humor. The show, which contains nudity and strong language, will be directed by DV8’s founder and artistic director, Lloyd Newson. The cast includes Mikel Aristegui, Joanne Fong, David Hughes, Tanja Liedtke, Alessandra Mattana, Matthew Morris, Miguel Munoz, Celine Perroud, Kylie Walters and Paul White. The show is on an international and UK tour that includes Rome, Paris, Berlin and Brighton.
There’ll be a National Theatre tour of Brian Friel’s Translations, which will stop off at the Cottesloe for a limited run beginning Nov. 16. Sean Holmes directs a cast including Billy Carter, Simon Coates, David Ganly, Kenny Ireland, Aislinn Mangan, Mairead McKinley, Jane Murphy, Tony Rohr and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. U.K. tour destinations include Tunbridge Wells, Brighton, Kendal, Mold, Liverpool, Huddersfield, Cardiff, Powys and Southampton. The tour begins at Tunbridge Wells’ Trinity Theatre Sept. 13.
Elsewhere, the Shunt Collective group will follow their NT co-production Tropicana with their new show AMATO SALTONE Starring Kittens and Wade. The production will take place at their temporary home, The Shunt Vaults under London Bridge Station. Performances are scheduled Wednesdays through Sundays beginning Oct, 18 at 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM.
There are some casting updates. David Edgar’s new play Playing With Fire, opening in the Olivier Sept. 21 and directed by Michael Attenborough, will star Emma Fielding and also feature Paul Bhattacharjee, Susan Brown, Trevor Cooper, Oliver Ford Davies, Rudi Dharmalingham, Aaron Neil, Bhasker Patel, Alistair Petrie, Helen Rutter, Rebekah Staton, Ewan Stewart, Caroline Strong, David Troughton and Deka Walmsley. Friel’s Aristocrats, set to open at the Lyttleton on July 12, will feature David Baron, Sam Beazley, Stephen Boxer, Noella Brennan, Brian Doherty, Brendan Foster, Dervla Kirwan,. Peter McDonald, Terence McGuinness, Gina McKee, T.P. McKenna, Ita O’Brien, Ted Pleasance, Marcella Plunkett and Andrew Scott.
And, fresh from his NT double of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Stuff Happens, Demond Barrit will take over the part of Hector from Richard Griffiths in the U.K. tour of The History Boys. Griffiths and the original cast of Alan Bennett’s play are preparing to shoot the film, and the new stage cast also includes Bruce Alexander and Diane Fletcher. Simon Cox will take over directing duties from Nicholas Hytner. The show will return to the Lyttleton in December 2005.
Platforms beginning in September include:-
Tom Cairns – Sept. 13
David Edgar – Sept. 29
Alan Bennett – Oct. 3
David Hare – Oct. 4
Prunella Scales and Timothy West – Oct. 6
Howard Brenton – Oct. 19
Stephen Unwin – Oct. 21
Declan Donnellan – Nov. 9
Sean Holmes – Nov. 18
Melly Still – Nov. 22
Edward Hall – Jan. 16
There will be play readings of Schiller’s The Robbers (Oct. 7) and William Tell (Oct. 13), both followed by discussions. And on Dec. 21 the annual theatre quiz returns, as two NT teams battle for the prize of kings of the South Bank.
For more information, visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk, or call (0)20 7452 3000.