National Theatre sets 2023-24 season

The renowned institution has announced 12 new productions premiering in the next year, in addition to two previous productions transferring to the West End.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

The National Theatre has announced the productions in its 2023-24 season. The slate of shows include 12 new productions across the National's three theatres — the Dorfman, Olivier, and Lyttleton — and two productions from previous National Theatre seasons transferring to the West End.

This is the last full season that Rufus Norris will oversee as National Theatre director. The longtime leader of the theatre company will step down when his second, current term ends in mid-2025. At the close of his term, he will have led the National for 10 years.

"From the work on our stages, to the audiences all around the UK and beyond that engage with us on tour, in cinemas, in schools and at home, the NT entertains and inspires people through our creativity, expertise and unique reach," Norris said in a statement. "The magic of the National Theatre is that there is nowhere else like it; to have been a small part in its illustrious history, particularly through the challenges of the last few years, is a true honour."

The 2023-24 season begins with Death of England: Closing Time at the Dorfman from 13 September to 11 November. Clint Dyer directs Roy Williams's play about family dynamics, race, colonialism, and cancel culture, the final chapter in Williams's award-winning Death of England series. The cast is Jo Martin and Hayley Squires.

From 19 October to 4 November at the Lyttleton is The Confessions, written and directed by Alexander Zeldin. The show charts the course of one life from birth to death, underscored by original music by Yannis Philippakis.

Also at the Lyttleton, from 16 November to 6 January, is The House of Bernarda Alba starring Harriet Walter as Bernarda Alba and Isis Hainsworth as Adela. Olivier Award winner Rebecca Frecknall makes her National Theatre directorial debut with Alice Birch’s adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s family drama about a group of rural women.

Annie Baker's Infinite Life makes its U.K. premiere at the Dorfman next, fresh off its world-premiere run in New York. James Macdonald directs this play about suffering and what it means to desire a failing body. Performances run from 22 November to 13 January.

The theatre company Gecko's show Kin, created by Amit Lahav, comes to the Lyttleton from 12-27 January. This poetic show is inspired by the migration stories of Gecko's international performance troupe.

Till The Stars Come Down will play the Dorfman in January. Beth Steel's play takes place during a wedding, when one family is struggling to accept their changing world. Bijan Sheibani directs.

In February, Dodie Smith's Dear Octopus plays the Lyttleton. Lindsay Duncan leads the cast of this family drama set at the brink of World War II. Emily Burns directs the first revival of the play since the 1960s.

Also in February is Nye at the Olivier. This new "Welsh fantasia" by Tim Price traces the life of Aneurin "Nye" Bevan and his battle to create the NHS. Rufus Norris directs Michael Sheen as Nye Bevan.

Underdog: The Other Other Brontë will play the Dorfman in March 2024. The play is written by Sarah Gordon and directed by Natalie Ibu, and it takes an irreverent look at the power dynamics between the sisters Brontë and how they rose to varying degrees of fame. The play won the Nick Darke Writer's Award in 2022.

London Tide will play the Lyttleton from April. Based on Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, this play is adapted by Ben Power with original songs by PJ Harvey and Power and Ian Rickson. Bella Maclean and Ami Tredrea star in this story of murder, money, love, and redemption.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Hot Wing King will make its U.K. debut at the Dorfman in July 2024. Olivier-winning playwright Katori Hall's show is set among a group of Memphis men preparing for a hot wing contest. Roy Alexander Weise directs; he previously directed a sold-out production of Hall's The Mountaintop.

Finally, Lyndsey Turner will direct a new production of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, with David Oyelowo in the title role of a power-hungry, vengeful Roman leader. The production plays the Olivier from September 2024.

In addition to these productions, the National will present two of its previous productions in the West End. Jack Thorne's The Motive and the Cue will play the Noël Coward Theatre from 9 December to 23 March. Sam Mendes directs the play inspired by the making of John Gielgud’s Hamlet starring Richard Burton. Johnny Flynn, Mark Gatiss, and Tuppence Middleton return to star as Burton, Gielgud, and Elizabeth Taylor.

The 2023 Olivier Award-winning Best New Musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge will play the Gillian Lynne Theatre from 8 February. The show features direction by Robert Hastie, songs by Richard Hawley, and a book by Chris Bush. The show is named for Hawley's 2012 album and follows three families living in Park Hill over the course of 60 years.

Photo credit: The National Theatre.

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