New National Theatre Season to Include David Hare Triple Plus Sondheim

News   New National Theatre Season to Include David Hare Triple Plus Sondheim Two announcements dominate the 2004 National Theatre season, detailed to the press on Feb. 5 by NT boss Nicholas Hytner. One is the resumption of the immensely popular Travelex £10 tickets season, the other is a triple whammy from playwright David Hare.

Hare fare appears both in the Lyttleton, with a second stop for his 2003 play about Britain’s railways, The Permanent Way, as well as a new version of Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House Of Bernarda Alba. But the big news is a brand new play called Stuff Happens about the war on Iraq — to premiere in the Olivier in September. The play is still being written, so Hytner was somewhat hazy on the details, thought he did say that it would take its plot from a Donald Rumsfeld/Dick Cheney letter to President Clinton in 1998 which urged America to adopt a new global strategy that should include the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime. However, Hytner denied that the play would be explicitly against the war, saying, “It would be a very poor play that didn’t eloquently and passionately occupy both positions.” Hytner himself is slated to direct and, unlike the documentary-based The Permanent Way, Stuff Happens will be fictional, though based on factual events.

The title Stuff Happens is taken from a Rumsfeld comment on the looting in Iraq. Acknowledging that Hare was very much happening at the NT in 2004, Hytner rejected the notion that he had become the house dramatist. “I ask myself questions about where are the new, young writers,” he added, concluding that within three years he hopes to have brought in a group of new writers. One of the new faces Hytner has already commissioned is his former administrative assistant Lucy Prebble, whose Royal Court play The Sugar Syndrome won her the 2004 Critics’ Circle most promising newcomer award.

Hytner’s proudest achievement remains the Travelex season, which in 2004 will be extended from the Olivier auditorium to the Lyttleton for The Permanent Way. Not only is it supplying full houses, says Hytner, it’s also delivering new, often first-time theatregoers hungry for drama. And artists are coming to him to work in the season — as happened with Kenneth Branagh for 2003’s Edmond, and in 2004 director Howard Davies has scrapped his “full works” production of Cyrano De Bergerac in favor of a pared-down staging in the Travelex season.

There are plenty of other highlights, including new plays from Alan Bennett and Mike Leigh, Shakespeare directed by Complicite ace Simon McBurney and a major production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Details for the 2004 season are follow:

Spring 2004:
Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. New version by Derek Mahon, directed by Howard Davies. Stars Stephen Rea, alongside Claire Price, Zubin Varla and Malcolm Storry. Previews from April 10, opens April 19. Olivier Theatre. Measure For Measure, by William Shakespeare. Directed by Simon McBurney (whom Hytner called “one of the few geniuses in British theatre”) in a co-production with Complicite. Stars Naomi Frederick, Paul Rhys, Toby Jones and Angus Wright. Opens May 27. Olivier Theatre.

The Permanent Way, by David Hare. Directed by Max Stafford-Clark. Cast includes Nigel Cooke and Kika Markham. Runs between April 3 and May 1. Lyttleton Theatre.

The History Boys, a new play by Alan Bennett — set in a school, about the way students are taught, and controlled. Directed by Nicholas Hytner. Stars Frances de la Tour. Previews from May 8, opens May 18. Lyttleton Theatre.

Iphigenia at Aulis, by Euripides. Translation by Don Taylor, directed by Katie Mitchell. Opens June 22. Lyttleton Theatre.

Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, by Roy Williams (revived from the NT’s 2002 Transformation season). Directed by Paul Miller. Previews from April 23, opens April 30. Cottesloe Theatre.

Lifegame, by Keith Johnstone, presented by Improbable Theatre. Directed by Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson. Cast includes Niall Ashdown, Angela Clerkin, Julian Crouch, Guy Dartnell, Stella Duffy, Phelim McDermott, Nick Powell, Lee Simpson and guests (every night a different guest is interviewed about his or her life, which is transformed into a one-off piece of theatre). Opens May 6. Cottesloe Theatre.

The False Servant, by Pierre Marivaux. New version by Martin Crimp, directed by Jonathan Kent. Stars David Collings and Adrian Scarborough. Previews from May 26, opens June 1. Cottesloe Theatre.

The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh — current run extended to April 17. Cottesloe Theatre.

Summer 2004 and beyond:
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, by Stephen Sondheim, Larry Gelbart and Burt Shevelove. Directed by Edward Hall. Stars Desmond Barrit. Opens in July. Olivier Theatre.

Stuff Happens, a new play by David Hare. Directed by Nicholas Hytner. Opens in September. Olivier Theatre.

His Dark Materials, by Nicholas Wright (adapted from the books by Philip Pullman). Revival of 2003 production, will run from December 2004 to March 2005. Olivier Theatre.

The House Of Bernarda Alba, by Federico Garcia Lorca. New version by David Hare, directed by Howard Davies. Lyttleton Theatre.

The Night Season, a new play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. Cottesloe Theatre.

If This Is a Man, a one-man show by and starring Antony Sher, from Primo Levi’s book. Directed by Richard Wilson. Cottesloe Theatre.

The Mandate, by Nikolai Erdman. New version by Declan Donnellan, who also directs. Cottesloe Theatre.

Also scheduled is anew play by Mike Leigh. Hytner says that, as is Leigh’s usual habit, he hasn’t divulged either the title or subject matter.

There will also be, as usual, a series of "Platforms," which will in 2004 include a debate between the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams and Philip Pullman, a reading of John Gielgud’s letters, and appearances by Alan Ayckbourn, Dominic Cooper and Anna Maxwell Martin, Julian Fellowes, Michael Gambon, Peter Hall, Simon Gray, Michael Pennington, Stephen Unwin, Alan Bennett, Joan Bakewell and more.