National Theatre

New 2019 season at the National Theatre announced, featuring Cate Blanchett and Lenny Henry

Will Longman
Will Longman

The National Theatre has announced twelve new shows as part of its 2019 season, featuring new plays by Lenny Henry and Annie Baker, as well NT debuts by actor Cate Blanchett and director Blanche McIntyre.

It will also feature David Hare's adaptation of Ibsen's Peter Gynt, a new production of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, and an Inua Ellam's adaptation of Chekhov's Three Sisters.

Olivier Theatre

In the Olivier, Andrea Levy's award-winning novel Small Island will be adapted by Helen Edmundson. Opening in May, Rufus Norris will direct the play, set in 1948 (the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked in the UK) which follows the stories of Hortense, who has newly arrived in London from Jamaica, a landlady Queenie and two servicemen, and plans to uncover the shared history of Jamaica and Britain.  

In July, David Hare's interpretation of Peter Gynt by Henrik Ibsen will be directed by Jonathan Kent. James McArdle will play the title role, and Hare's adaptation will see the play set in the 21st century, placing the character in a world of 'music, dance, poetry, weddings, coronations, trolls and two-headed children'.

Lyttelton Theatre

In the Lyttelton, Blanche McIntyre will make her National Theatre debut as she directed John Donnelly's take on Moliere's Tartuffe. It will have set and costume design by Robert Jones, lighting by Oliver Fenwick, and music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham when it begins previews on 9th February.

Caryl Churchill's Top Girls will run in the Lyttelton from 26th March, directed by Lyndsey Turner. The play is about Marlene, who is the first woman to head the Top Girls employment agency. The piece will have set designs by Ian MacNeil, costumes by Merle Hensel, lighting by Jack Knowles and sound by Christopher Shutt.  

Githa Sowerby's Rutherford and Son will be seen at the National Theatre for the first time in 25 years in May, directed by Polly Findlay. Roger Allam will star as Rutherford, whose control over his children clashes with their ambition. It will have set and costume design by Izzie Clachan and sound design by Paul Arditti.

Actor Simon Woods will have his debut play Hansard staged in the Lyttelton in September. It tells the story of a couple, Robin and Diana, whose marital differences descend into chaos. Simon Godwin will direct Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings as the couple in a play which 'looks at personal and political responsibility and our collective accountability for the lives changed by the votes we make'.

Chekhov's Three Sisters will be staged in the Lyttelton in the autumn, in a new version by Inua Ellams. Nadia Fall, whose inaugural season as artistic director at the Theatre Royal Stratford East recently commenced, will direct the piece, which has been transported to 1960s Nigeria.

Dorfman Theatre

Cate Blanchett will make her National debut in January as she stars in Martin Crimp's play, When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, Twelve Variations on Samuel Richardson's Pamela. Directed by Katie Mitchell, the play will explore gender roles, and the nature of desire. Using Simon Richardson's novel, six characters will 'act out a dangerous game of sexual domination and resistance'. It will also star Stephen Dillane, Babirye Bukilwa, Jessica Gunning, Emma Hindle and Craig Miller when it begins previews on 23rd January.

As previously announced, Bruce Norris' Downstate will open in March. The play sees four men convicted of sex crimes share a group home, when a man shows up to confront his childhood abuser. Directed by Pam MacKinnon, it will star Glenn Davis, K. Todd Freeman, Francis Guinan and Tim Hopper, Aimee Lou Wood, Cecilia Noble, Eddie Torres and Matilda Ziegler from 12th March.

In May, a headphone-based thriller created by Ella Hickson and Ben and Max Ringham will open. Directed by Natalie Abrahami, ANNA will transport audiences to 1968 East Berlin as a young couple's love is put to the test.

In the summer, Andy Stanton's Mr Gum books will be brought to life in Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear - the Musical! With book and lyrics by Stanton, music by Jim Fortune and directed by Amy Hodge, the piece will be full of weird and wonderful characters, surreal songs, and fun for adults and children alike.

Following her recent play John, Annie Baker will return to the Dorfman with The Antipodes, a play about stories and the people who tell them. Directed by Lila Neugebauer, and with designs by Chloe Lamford, it will get its European premiere in October.

Richard Pyror on Fire is a one-man play written by and starring comedian Lenny Henry, which will open in the Dorfman in 2020. Directed by Paulette Randall, Henry will star as the American stand-up comedian.  

Originally published on

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