Hytner to Extend National Theatre Contract

News   Hytner to Extend National Theatre Contract
The Royal National Theatre’s Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner has said he intends to extend his contract for a further five years after his current contract runs out in 2008.
Nicholas Hytner
Nicholas Hytner Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Speaking to Playbill.com as his forthcoming production of The Alchemist nears its official opening night on Sept. 14, Hytner said "I'm going to on. I've done three-and-a-half years, if I were going to stop I’d make an announcement now."

The Alchemist is Hytner’s eighth production at the National Theatre (or ninth if you count both parts of His Dark Materials) since he took over as artistic director from Trevor Nunn in April 2003.

Of those, His Dark Materials, based on the Philip Pullman novels, and Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, were particularly successful at the box office.

The History Boys later transferred to Broadway winning six Tonys, including Best Play for Bennett and Best Director for Hytner. The film version of the play, also directed by Hytner, will go on general release Oct 13.

"Most of my predecessors have basically done about ten years," said Hytner. "That seems about right — unless I bankrupt the place or something." That is unlikely. Hytner’s regime enjoyed an exceptionally long period of successes, starting with Owen McCafferty’s Scenes From The Big Picture and Jerry Springer – The Opera and including Michael Frayn’s Democracy and David Hare’s Stuff Happens, both of which also transferred to New York.

The highly anticipated pairing of Alex Jennings and Simon Russell Beale in Hytner’s modern-dress production of The Alchemist is another milestone for the Hytner regime. It’s the first time the two award-winning actors have shared a stage.

Ben Jonson’s Jacobean comedy is set in a merchant’s house where the trio of Face (Beale), Subtle (Jennings) and Doll Common (Lesley Manville) cheat the lovelorn and the greedy with promises of love and limitless gold.

Beale is making a huge contribution to the National’s current season. As The Alchemist opens at the Olivier theatre, Beale continues in the title role of Howard Davies' production of Brecht's The Life of Galileo, which runs in repertoire on the same stage.

Jennings' long list of National credits include such diverse roles as George Bush in David Hare’s Stuff Happens and Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady for which he won an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

For more on The Alchemist, which is booking until Nov. 21, call (0)20 7452 3000.

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