National Theatre Season to Include Fiennes, Binoche, Higgins and More

News   National Theatre Season to Include Fiennes, Binoche, Higgins and More
Additional details have been announced for the August-November 2008 season at London's National Theatre.
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

The season will include productions of Oedipus, starring Ralph Fiennes in the title role; the collaboration of actress Juliette Binoche, dancer/choreographer Akram Khan and Turner Prize winning artist Anish Kapoor in a major new work of dance theatre entitled in-i; and the scheduled return of DV8 to the National with their latest show, To Be Straight with You. The theatre will also see the returns of Katie Mitchell's 2006 production of Waves, prior to a national and international tour; last year's Christmas hit War Horse; and this year's production of The Pitman Painters, which will move from the Cottesloe to the larger Lyttelton Theatre. Enda Walsh's The Walworth Farce will also receive its London premiere in the Cottesloe, following its recent New York run at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn.

Oedipus, which begins performances on Oct. 8 prior to an official opening on Oct. 15, reunites Fiennes and director Jonathan Kent from their collaborations that include Brian Friel's Faith Healer (Gate Theatre, Dublin and Broadway), Hamlet (Hackney Empire, London and Broadway), Ivanov (Almeida) and Richard II and Coriolanus (Almeida at the Gainsborough Studios, and subsequently BAM and Tokyo). Fiennes was most recently seen in the West End in God of Carnage at the Gielgud, and Kent was artistic director of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket season that included productions of The Country Wife, The Sea and currently Marguerite. Also in the cast will be Clare Higgins (currently at the National in Major Barbara) as Jocasta, Patrick Brennan, Sam Cox, Steven Page, Christopher Saul, David Shaw-Parker and Malcolm Storry.

In-i, created, directed and performed by Binoche and Khan, with visual design by Kapoor, begins performances in the Lyttelton Theatre Sept. 6, prior to an official opening Sept. 18. After its London run, it will tour internationally. According to press materials, the play marks the latest in Khan and Binoche's "surprising and daring collaborations." The release adds, "Khan has always taken an inter-disciplinary approach to dance and his collaborators have included Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney (zero degrees), Sylvie Guillem (Sacred Monsters), and Hanif Kureishi. A new work, bahok, a collaboration with the National Ballet of China, is currently touring worldwide. Similarly, Juliette Binoche has made artistically challenging choices with directors such as Michael Haneke ('Hidden') and Louis Malle ('Damage'), and has starred in award-winning films including 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being,' 'Les Amants du Pont Neuf,' 'Blue,' 'The English Patient' (for which she was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) and 'Chocolat.'" Binoche has also previously appeared on the London stage in Pirandello's Naked that premiered at the Almeida before transferring to the West End's Playhouse Theatre in 1998. A retrospective of Binoche's film career and an exhibition of her paintings will be shown at BFI Southbank Sept. 1-Oct. 15.

Another dance-based piece, DV8’s To Be Straight with You, will run in the Lyttelton Oct. 29 (also the press night) to Nov. 15. Conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson, whose Just for Show visited the Lyttelton in 2005, it is described in press materials as a poetic but unflinching exploration of tolerance, intolerance, religion and sexuality. It incorporates dance, text, documentary, film and animated projections to create a unique piece of theatre. It is co-produced by spielzeit'europa Berliner Festspiele, National Theatre, London, Maison des Arts de Créteil and Festival d'Automne, Paris.

Waves, a work devised by Katie Mitchell and the Company from the text of Virginia Woolf's novel "The Waves," returns to the Cottesloe Theatre for a run of 17 performances only, Aug. 20-Sept. 9, following a sell-out run in 2006. Original cast members Kate Duchêne, Anastasia Hille, Kristin Hutchinson, Sean Jackson, Liz Kettle, Paul Ready and Jonah Russell return to the production, joined by Stephen Kennedy. Described in press materials as "a tale of friendship, loss, identity and love, Waves is an exploration of human consciousness, tracing a band of friends from childhood to old age and death. The fragmented and dreamlike narrative of Virginia Woolf's novel is exquisitely evoked using live film, sound and musicians." Following its season here, it will begin a national and international tour Sept. 16 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, before going on to Salford, Bath, Dublin, The Hague, Luxembourg and New York's The Duke on 42nd Street, where it will end its tour with a run from Nov. 12-22. Also returning is War Horse, which begins performances in the Olivier Sept. 10. Based on Michael Morpurgo's novel and adapted by Nick Stafford, the production is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, and presented in association with Handspring Puppet Company. Returning from the original cast are James Barriscale, Finn Caldwell, Paul Chequer, Tim van Eyken, Thomas Goodridge, Stephen Harper, Gareth Kennerley, Craig Leo, Tim Lewis (now playing Nicholls), Tommy Luther, Mervyn Millar, Emily Mytton, Toby Olié, Howard Ward and Alan Williams; they are joined by Conor Doyle, Kit Harington (as Albert), Bronagh Gallagher, Curtis Flowers, Bryony Hannah, Pieter Lawman, Jane Leaney, Colin Mace, Al Nedjari, Patrick O'Kane (as Friedrich) and Roger Wilson.

Lee Hall's The Pitman Painters will also return for performances in the Lyttelton Theatre beginning Jan. 27, 2009. Originally seen in London in the Cottesloe, after its premiere last year at Newcastle's Live Theatre — who is co-producing it here — the production is directed by Max Roberts. Inspired by a book by William Feaver, the play is described in press materials as "a humorous, deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics." The cast comprises Christopher Connel, Michael Hodgson, Ian Kelly, Brian Lonsdale, Lisa McGrillis, Deka Walmsley, David Whitaker and Phillippa Wilson.

Finally, receiving its London premiere is Enda Walsh's The Walworth Farce, beginning performances in the Cottesloe Sept. 18 prior to an official opening Sept. 24, in Druid Theatre's production directed by Mikel Murfi. The cast includes Denis Conway, Garrett Lombard, Tadhg Murphy and Mercy Ojelade. According to press materials, the play is set at 11 o'clock in the morning in a council flat on the Walworth Road. In two hours' time, as is normal, three Irish men will have consumed six cans of Harp, fifteen crackers with spreadable cheese and one oven-cooked chicken with a strange blue sauce. In two hours' time, as is normal, five people will have been killed.

Public booking by phone or online opens July 23. For tickets contact the box office at 020 7452 3000 or visit

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