By Mark Shenton
05 Sep 2013
The performance, National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage, will feature live performances and archive from actors who've appeared on the National's stages in the last five decades. Nicholas Hytner will direct a company that includes Simon Russell Beale, Frances de la Tour, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Alex Jennings, Rory Kinnear, Adrian Lester, Anna Maxwell Martin, Andrew Scott, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton.
Also as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, the BBC will broadcast a two-part Arena documentary in October, telling the story of the theatre from the appointment of Laurence Olivier as its first director and its productions at the Old Vic to its move to its current South Bank home. Contributors include Alan Bennett, James Corden, Judi Dench, Marianne Elliott, Peter Hall, Derek Jacobi, Adrian Lester, Ian McKellen, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and many more.
The National will also present encore screenings of its National Theatre Live performances, including Hamlet (Oct. 22), Frankenstein (Oct. 31) and The Habit of Art (Nov. 7). A series of platforms will also look at a broad range of topics, under the headings Scene Changes (looking at the sweeping changes that have taken place across the theatre sector over the last 50 years, both onstage and off), National Histories (telling very personal stories about the National by some of the leading artists who have been part of the company) and Future Questions (looking ahead at the challenges facing theatre over the next 50 years).
New productions over the next few months will also see Melly Still return to the National, where she has previously been represented by Coram Boy (subsequently on Broadway), The Revenger's Tragedy and Nation, to direct Goerg Kaiser's From Morning to Midnight, in a new version by the Tony-winning Dennis Kelly (Matilda). It begins performances Nov. 19 prior to an official opening Nov. 26, with a cast led by Adam Godley as an ordinary man who steps outside his humdrum life and, over the course of one crazy, alienating day, destroys himself.
New productions in the Shed will include Ross Collins' The Elephantom in a version by Ben Power, beginning performances Dec. 9 prior to an official opening Dec. 13, for a run through Jan. 11, 2014. Co-directed by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, Marianne Elliott will be consultant director. The cast is Audrey Brisson, Laura Cubitt, David Emmings, Julia Innocenti, Avye Leventis and Tim Lewis.
Also in the Shed, Polly Findlay will direct Rhys Ifans in Protest Song, a new monologue by Tim Price that's based on a true story concerning the Occupy Movement. It begins performances Dec. 16 prior to an official opening Dec. 19, for a run through Jan. 11. Ifans has previously appeared at the National in Volpone and Under the Milk Wood.
Also in the Shed, there will be a new, as yet untitled, play created by Carrie Cracknell and Nick Payne that the latter is writing, opening in January. According to press materials, it will provide a blistering journey through the minefield of contemporary gender politics.
Public booking for From Morning to Midnight and further performances of Emil and the Detectives, The Light Princess and Edward II opens Sept. 27, with public booking for new productions in The Shed from Oct. 21. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7452 3000, or visit nationaltheatre.org.uk.