NEWS: National Theatre’s new season features Andrea Levy’s Small Island, Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls & Lenny Henry as Richard Pryor

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Rufus Norris has unveiled the National Theatre’s plans for 2019 and beyond. Highlights of the upcoming season include:

  • World premiere of Small Island adapted by Helen Edmundson from Andrea Levy’s novel, directed by Rufus Norris
  • Jonathan Kent directs Peter Gynt by David Hare after Ibsen, with James McArdle in the title role
  • Blanche McIntyre makes her NT debut directing a new version of Molière’s masterpiece Tartuffe by John Donnelly who also makes his NT debut
  • NT Associate Lyndsey Turner directs a new production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls
  • Polly Findlay directs Rutherford and Son by Githa Sowerby in the Lyttelton Theatre, with Roger Allam as Rutherford
  • World premiere of Simon Woods’ debut play Hansard, directed by NT Associate Simon Godwin, featuring Alex Jennings and Lindsay Duncan
  • Andy Stanton makes his NT debut with Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear – The Musical!, directed by Amy Hodge
  • A new play written and performed by Lenny HenryRichard Pryor on Fire, directed by Paulette Randall

Olivier Theatre

Small Island

A new play, adapted by Helen Edmundson from Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning bestselling novel, will open in the Olivier Theatre in May. Directed by Rufus Norris, the play journeys from Jamaica to Britain through the Second World War to 1948, the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury.

Peer Gynt

Written by David Hare after Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt will open in the Olivier Theatre in July in a co-production with Edinburgh International Festival, directed by Jonathan Kent, with set and costume design by Richard HudsonJames McArdle takes the title role in this new production following his acclaimed performances in Platonov and Angels in AmericaPeter Gynt will transfer to Edinburgh for the International Festival in August 2019.

Lyttelton Theatre


9 February to 30 April 2018 (Press night is 21 February)
A new version of Molière’s comic masterpiece by John Donnelly will open in February. Directing this classic European comedy, Blanche McIntyre makes her NT debut.

Top Girls

26 March to 22 April 2019, further performances to be announced (Press night is 3 April)
For the first time, the NT stages Top GirlsCaryl Churchill’s innovative play about a country divided by its own ambitions. Collaborating for the first time since Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, NT Associate Lyndsey Turner directs.

Rutherford and Son

Last performed at the NT 25 years ago, Githa Sowerby’s revolutionary Rutherford and Sondirected by Polly Findlay, opens in May. Set against the backdrop of the industrial north east, the piece features Roger Allam as the bullish Rutherford.


Hansard, the debut play from actor Simon Woods which opens in September, tells the story of Robin and Diana, a married couple reckoning with a fundamental difference they cannot resolve. Directed by NT Associate Simon Godwin, the play stars Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings as Diana and Robin.

Three Sisters

Inua Ellams returns to the NT in the autumn with a new play, Three Sistersafter Chekhov, in a co-production with Fuel. Directed by Theatre Royal Stratford East artistic director Nadia Fall, the piece transports the play to 1960s Nigeria, before, during and after the Biafran Civil War.

Dorfman Theatre

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other…

16 January to 2 March 2019 (Press night is 23 January)
Martin Crimp’s play When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other… Twelve Variations on Samuel Richardson’s Pamela uses Richardson’s novel as a provocation with six characters acting out a dangerous game of sexual domination and resistance. Directed by Katie MitchellCate Blanchett makes her National Theatre debut alongside Stephen Dillane. The cast also includes Babirye Bukilwa, Jessica Gunning, Emma Hindle and Craig Miller.


12 March to 27 April 2019 (Press night is 20 March)
In a co-production with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris’ new play Downstate, comes to the NT direct from its debut at Steppenwolf, Chicago. Directed by Tony Award winner Pam MacKinnon, the American and British cast includes Steppenwolf ensemble members Glenn Davis, K. Todd Freeman, Francis Guinan and Tim Hopper, together with Aimee Lou Wood, Cecilia Noble, Eddie Torres and Matilda Ziegler.


ANNA, a new sonic collaboration created by Ella Hickson and Ben and Max Ringham, opens in the Dorfman Theatre in May. This headphone-based sound thriller will give the audience intimate access to communist East Berlin. Set over one night in 1968, a promising young couple has their love tested by increasing pressure from the state. ANNA is directed by Natalie Abrahami.

Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear – the Musical!

Based on the hilariously anarchic ‘Mr Gum’ children’s book, Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear – the Musical! opens in the summer. With book and lyrics by the author, Andy Stanton, music by Jim Fortune, and directed by Amy Hodge, it promises an all-singing, all-dancing, occasionally-burping extravaganza for children and adults alike.

The Antipodes

Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker returns to the Dorfman Theatre in October with the European premiere of her play The Antipodes, directed by Lila Neugebauer, making her NT debut.

Richard Pryor on Fire

A one-man play written by and featuring Lenny Henry as the legendary American comedian, directed by Paulette Randall, will open in the Dorfman Theatre in 2020.

Public Acts – As You Like It

24 to 27 August 2019 – Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
Following the success of Pericles in the Olivier Theatre this summer, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch artistic director Douglas Rintoul will direct next year’s Public Acts production As You Like It, in a musical adaptation first seen at the Delacorte Theater, New York in 2017 as part of The Public Theater’s Public Works programme.

This version of As You Like It is by director of Public Works Laurie Woolery and Shaina Taub, featuring music and lyrics by Taub, and set and costume design by Hayley Grindle. Collaborating with Rintoul on this production will be Pericles director Emily Lim who assumes the role of Public Acts Director for the National Theatre.

The NT has also launched smart caption glasses, which will transform access to theatre for audiences with hearing loss. This ground-breaking new service has been developed with the NT’s Partner for Innovation, Accenture. Audience members will be able to view captions at any performance in all three of the NT theatres, seated in any seat, thanks to revolutionary Open Access Smart Capture technology. The glasses display a synchronised transcript of dialogue and sound from the production directly onto the lenses of the glasses, giving service users the freedom to experience performances how and when they want to.


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Press Releases on Twitter
Press Releases
MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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