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National Theatre Smart Captioning Glasses (Photo: James Bellorini)

National unveils 2019 season & smart captioning glasses

Published 4 October 2018

The National Theatre has unveiled the line-up for its 2019 season and opened bookings for its smart caption glasses system, which will transform access to theatre for audiences with hearing loss.

Audience members will be able to view captions at any performance in all three of the NT theatres, seated in any seat, thanks to revolutionary Open Access Smart Capture technology, the result of an ongoing collaboration between the NT’s technical team and speech and language experts led by Professor Andrew Lambourne.

The glasses display a synchronised transcript of dialogue and sound from the production directly onto the lenses of the glasses, giving service users the freedom to experience performances how and when they want to. The glasses are bookable from today for Hadestown and War Horse, and from later this month for all shows in the new season.

National Theatre Smart Captioning Glasses (Photo: James Bellorini, Design: Alex Bell)

National Theatre Smart Captioning Glasses (Photo: James Bellorini, Design: Alex Bell)

In the National’s largest venue, the Olivier Theatre, the season will include Small Island – a new play by Helen Edmundson from Andrea Levy’s bestselling novel about the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK, directed by Rufus Norris – and Peter Gynt by David Hare after Henrik Ibsen, with James McArdle starring in the title role, placed into the 21st century.

In the Lyttelton Theatre, new productions include a ferocious new version of Molière’s comic masterpiece, Tartuffe, by John Donnelly (directed by Blanche McIntyre); a restaging of Caryl Churchill’s innovative play Top Girls (directed by Lyndsey Turner) about a country divided by its own ambitions; and a revival of Gita Sowerby’s revolutionary Rutherford And Son, directed by Polly Findlay and starring Roger Allam as the bullish title character, whose tyranny over his children collides with their hopes for the future.

The Lyttelton will also play host to Hansard by Simon Woods, about a married couple with a fundamental difference they cannot overcome, and Chekhov’s Three Sisters, adapted by Inua Ellams and directed by Nadia Fall.

And the Dorfman Theatre will host the previously announced When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, Twelve Variations On Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, starring Cate Blanchett in the title role alongside Stephen Dillane.

Bruce Norris’ fiery new play Downstate, about the desire for redemption, will come to the Dorfman, along with Anna, a headphone-based sound thriller. In a ground-breaking new sonic collaboration created by Ella Hickson and Ben and Max Ringham, audiences will be transported to communist East Berlin in 1968, where a promising young couple have their love tested in a place where everyone is listening.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker (The Flick, John) returns to the Dorfman with the European premiere of her new play The Antipodes in October 2019, while a one-man play written by and starring Lenny Henry, Richard Pryor On Fire, will open in 2020.

Families can look forward to Mr Gum And The Dancing Bear – The Musical!, based on the hilarious anarchic ‘Mr Gum’ children’s book, also arriving at the Dorfman in Summer 2019.

More information about the new season is available on the National Theatre website.

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annie baker ben ringham blanche mcintyre bruce norris cate blanchett david hare ella hickson helen edmundson henrik ibsen inua ellams james mcardle john donnelly lenny henry lyndsey turner max ringham national theatre polly findlay roger allam rufus norris season announcement simon woods stephen dillane