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Blood, Men and Puppets in National Theatre autumn

Published 2 July 2010

JT Rogers’s Blood And Gifts, Ena Lamont Stewart’s Men Should Weep and Neil Bartlett’s collaboration with Handspring Puppet Company, Or You Could Kiss Me, have joined the National Theatre’s autumn schedule.

Blood And Gifts, which is to be directed by Howard Davies, originated as part of the Tricycle theatre’s The Great Game: Afghanistan season, which ran at the Kilburn venue last summer and is revived later this month. The political thriller, which features a covert operation to stop the Soviet army making its way through Afghanistan towards the Pakistan border, runs in the Lyttelton theatre from September.

Men Should Weep joins the Lyttelton’s schedule in October. Directed by the Bush theatre’s Artistic Director Josie Rourke, who makes her National Theatre debut with this production, Stewart’s play is a moving and funny portrayal of an impoverished 1930s Glasgow. The piece, which stars The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Mistresses actress Sharon Small, was voted among the top hundred plays of the 20th century in a National Theatre poll conducted at the turn of the millennium.

A tale of a lifetime of friendship – part memory, part imagination – Or You Could Kiss Me reunites Handspring Puppet Company with designer Rae Smith, who worked together on the hugely successful War Horse. This new piece, created in collaboration with former Lyric Hammersmith Artistic Director Bartlett, uses the bare Cottesloe stage, a handful of props and Handspring’s world renowned puppetry to tell its story of two private lives lived in extraordinary times. Or You Could Kiss Me begins its run at the Cottesloe at the end of September.

Blood And Gifts, Men Should Weep and Or You Could Kiss Me join a National Theatre autumn schedule which also includes Earthquakes In London, Danton’s Death, Fela!, Welcome To Thebes, Frankenstein and Hamlet.

The National Theatre has also confirmed the full cast for its production of Hamlet, which is directed by Nicholas Hytner. Joining Rory Kinnear in the title role and Clare Higgins as Gertrude are David Calder (Polonius), Patrick Malahide (Claudius) and Ruth Negga (Ophelia).

Hamlet is among the productions that will be broadcast as part of the 2010/11 NT Live season. Hamlet will be shown on big screens countrywide on 9 December 2010, with new musical Fela! (13 January 2011), Frankenstein (17 March 2011) and The Cherry Orchard, starring Zoe Wanamaker, later in the year.

The first successful season of NT Live began in June 2009 and broadcast National Theatre productions to 320 screens in 22 countries, allowing 150,000 more people to enjoy the National Theatre’s work. The new season will include the addition of a production from beyond the South Bank walls of the NT; Complicite’s Laurence Olivier Award-winning production A Disappearing Number will be screened from Theatre Royal Plymouth on 14 October.

MA

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