National to resume distanced live performances

Published: 17 August 2020
Reporter: David Chadderton

National Theatre Roy Williams, Giles Terera, Clint Dyer Credit: Helen Murray

London's National Theatre plans to reopen the Olivier Theatre with a new one-person play, Death of England: Delroy, by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, performed by Giles Terera and directed by Dyer, in late October. The play follows on from Death of England from the same writers and director, which was performed in the Dorfman Theatre before lockdown by Rafe Spall.

London, 2020. Delroy is arrested on his way to the hospital. Filled with anger and grief, he recalls the moments and relationships that gave him hope before his life was irrevocably changed. This new work explores a black, working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain.

The new play was commissioned by the NT’s New Work Department at the start of lockdown and written over the subsequent five months. It explores a different side of the Death of England story as it focuses on the character of Delroy, the best friend of Michael, the protagonist of the first piece.

Dyer and Williams said, “there’s a moment in Death of England at his father’s funeral where Michael tells Delroy, ‘you may act like us and talk like us, but you will never be one of us’. In telling Delroy’s story, we hope to take audiences on an illuminating journey into the Black British psyche and realities of a ‘tolerant’ England in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, said, “this week, Death of England: Delroy will have its first workshop as we finally, carefully open the doors of the theatre to artists and put in place plans to start live performance again this autumn. Clint Dyer and Roy Williams have delivered another explosive piece of work; set during lockdown and charting its own fearless and provocative course through the same subjects as its prequel, and a very English reflection of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is so important for us to be welcoming artists back into the building again, and planning for doing the same for our much-missed audiences. The moment the incomparable Giles Terera steps out on the Olivier stage at that first performance will be an incredible one, and I’m thrilled to be reopening our theatre with such an important and timely piece of work.”

Set and costume designers are Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and ULTZ, with lighting design by Jackie Shemesh, sound design by Pete Malkin and Ben Grant.