Boyle, Grandage and Hall line-up for new National season

Published January 21, 2010

Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle is to return to his theatrical roots when he directs a new play based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the National Theatre next winter.

National Theatre Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner, who announced the new season this morning, said Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire director Boyle, who began his directorial career at the Royal Court and Royal Shakespeare Company, was keen to make his National Theatre debut after having been “distracted by movies” for 15 years.

Boyle’s debut comes in a 2010 season that also features the directorial talents of Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Michael Grandage, former NT heads Peter Hall – who returns to celebrate his 80th birthday – and Richard Eyre, plus Howard Davies, Thea Sharrock and Rupert Goold.

The Travelex £10 season, which offers tickets in the Olivier theatre for £10, returns for its eighth year in 2010, having just renewed its sponsorship for a further three years. The season opens with Marianne Elliott directing Harriet Walter and Samuel Barnett in Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean tragedy Women Beware Women in April.

Eyre will direct a new play by Moira Buffini, Welcome To Thebes, in June, followed by Grandage’s production of Georg Buchner’s Danton’s Death, in a new version by Howard Brenton. Grandage was due to direct the play last year but had to postpone when he took over directing Jude Law in Hamlet from Kenneth Branagh. Toby Stephens, who is soon to appear in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing at the Old Vic, will make his NT debut in the title role of Danton’s Death, which premieres in July.

Clare Higgins will join Rory Kinnear in the final, and previously announced, production in the Travelex season, Hamlet. Hytner is to direct this new production of Shakespeare’s tragedy which will tour the UK in 2011 following its September 2010 premiere at the National Theatre.

In the Lyttelton, Conleth Hill, Anthony Calf, Pip Carter, Paul Higgins and Justine Mitchell are to appear in the previously announced The White Guard from March, with Davies directing.

Davies returns later in the season to direct a new play by JT Rogers, whose The Overwhelming played in the Cottesloe in 2006. Before that, Sharrock (The Misanthrope, Equus, Happy Now?) returns to the National to direct Terence Rattigan’s After The Dance in June. Alan Bennett’s new play The Habit Of Art, which is currently playing at the venue, returns to the repertoire in July with a new cast.

In the Cottesloe, Headlong Artistic Director Goold, whose hugely successful production of Enron is about to transfer to the West End, returns to the National Theatre following last year’s production of Time And The Conways to direct a new play by Mike Bartlett, Earthquakes In London. Hytner said the play, by the author of last year’s Cock at the Royal Court, is “a passionate response from a writer not yet 30” to older, “debauched” generations who have contributed to global warming.

The Cottesloe season also includes a new play by Drew Pautz, Love The Sinner, which addresses the debate about the ordinance of gay priests, and a new devised piece written by Neil Bartlett and Handspring Puppet Company, whose work on the National’s production of War Horse contributed to its Laurence Olivier Award-winning success.

Two transfers from the Royal & Derngate in Northampton – Eugene O’Neill’s Beyond The Horizon and Tennessee Williams’s Spring Storm – start the new season in April.

In addition to Boyle’s debut, winter at the National Theatre will see the return of former NT and RSC director Hall, who will celebrate his 80th birthday by directing a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with his daughter, film and stage actress Rebecca Hall, as Viola. Recognising Hall’s huge contribution to British theatre, Hytner said “I’ve felt that none of my generation would be here without Peter.”

Plans are also in progress for the National to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible with a series of readings given by NT actors.

The National’s innovative NT Live scheme, which sees stage performances broadcast live into cinemas around the UK and abroad, continues for a second season, though the participating productions have not yet been finalised. Although the initiative was “still not at a place where it pays for itself”, Hytner said 11 cinemas due to screen The Habit Of Art on 22 April had already sold out.

CB