Executive Directors Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger invited press to hear about recent progress and new work for 2020–21.
As a curtain-raiser, a 12-strong Welsh male voice choir opened proceedings to introduce the first major London revival in 30 years of Emlyn Williams’s The Corn is Green.
Rufus Norris confirmed that the National’s diversity goals set in 2016 will be met within the original five-year target period and confirmed that the theatre will continue to major on diversity.
Norris also confirmed that he has signed a five-year extension to his original contract, while Burger (indefinite contract) and board chair Sir Damon Buffini (four years) will also continue in their roles.
The three theatre spaces continue to be as full as ever, while the touring regime has been breaking records, with no fewer than 10 million live viewers across the last five years, as well as 330,000 children benefiting from school visits.
The National is also concentrating on ensuring that it expands to benefit the whole nation along with its six partner theatres.
In order to promote accessibility, it will provide even more tickets at low prices covering every production and all auditoria, with 50,000 at £10 through the Friday Rush scheme and another 200,000 at £20.
The adaptation by Helen Edmundson of Andrea Levy’s popular novel about the Windrush generation, Small Island, will return from late October.
Standing at the Sky’s Edge, a co-production with Sheffield Theatres in association with Various Productions, will transfer to the Olivier in January 2021. This is a musical directed by Robert Hastie and co-written by Chris Bush and Richard Hawley telling the story of three families living in Sheffield.
Dominic Cooke will direct The Corn Is Green starring Nicola Walker from mid-June.
In October, Katie Mitchell returns to the National with an adaptation by Alice Birch of Rachel Cusk’s acclaimed trilogy Outline. Transit. Kudos. using the director’s characteristic mingling of film and audio to recount the stories and encounters of writer and divorced mother of two, Faye.
Towards the end of the year, Australian director Simon Stone will make his National Theatre debut with his own modern adaptation of Phaedra starring another NT debutant Kristin Scott Thomas.
In February 2021, the Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, Lynette Linton, will make her own NT debut with a new production of American writer Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky. This production starring Giles Terera is described as a startling play set in 1930 during the Harlem renaissance about four friends whose lives and passions collide when a newcomer from Alabama arrives.
18 years after its debut at the venue, in September, Roy Williams’s Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads makes a welcome return directed by Nicole Charles to coincide with the European Football Championships.
The smallest space will also welcome the world première of April de Angelis’s new play Kerry Jackson directed by Indhu Rubasingham, opening in November. Set in a Hackney restaurant on the front line of the gentrification wars, this comedy casts a shrewd eye on a city and country in the grip of profound change.
In January 2021, Headlong and the National Theatre co-produce After Life, a new play written by Jack Thorne and created by Jack Thorne, Jeremy Herrin and Bunny Christie. Adapted from the film by Hirokazu Kore-eda, After Life takes place somewhere between life and death and asks the people passing through it to pick one memory that they will live in for eternity.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, first seen in the Dorfman, transfers to the Duke of York’s Theatre from 31 October.