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Roy Williams, Giles Terera and Clint Dyer. (Photo by Helen Murray)

National Theatre to reopen in October with Death Of England sequel

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 14 August 2020, Last Updated 14 August 2020

The National Theatre (NT) today announced that it will begin creating new work again and will plan to resume socially distanced live performances in the Olivier Theatre in late October.

The iconic London venue will be reopening with Death Of England: Delroy – a brand new one-person play by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, performed by Giles Terera who won the 2018 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Aaron Burr in the original cast of Hamilton.

Giles Terera backstage at the 2018 Olivier AwardsGiles Terera backstage at the 2018 Olivier Awards after winning the Best Actor in a Musical

The play is the sequel to Clint and Roy’s Death of England, which Dyer also directed, and which was performed by Rafe Spall to critical acclaim in the Dorfman Theatre, closing only weeks before lockdown.

This week marks the first time artists have returned to work in the building since its closure, with the production team and Giles having returned to work on the new play.

Commissioned by the NT’s New Work Department at the start of lockdown and written over the following five months, Death Of England: Delroy explores a different side to its prequel, focusing more on the character of Delroy, the best friend of Michael, the protagonist of the first piece.

Set in London, 2020, Delroy is arrested on his way to the hospital. Filled with anger and grief, he recalls the moments and relationships that gave him hope before his life was irrevocably changed. This new work explores a Black working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain.

Rafe Spall in Death Of England at the National Theatre earlier this year

Speaking about the play Clint Dyer and Roy Williams said: “There’s a moment in Death of England at his father’s funeral where Michael tells Delroy, ‘you may act like us and talk like us, but you will never be one of us’. In telling Delroy’s story, we hope to take audiences on an illuminating journey into the Black British psyche and realities of a ‘tolerant’ England in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said: “This week Death of England: Delroy will have its first workshop as we finally, carefully open the doors of the theatre to artists and put in place plans to start live performance again this Autumn.  Clint Dyer and Roy Williams have delivered another explosive piece of work; set during lockdown and charting its own fearless and provocative course through the same subjects as its prequel, and a very English reflection of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is so important for us to be welcoming artists back into the building again, and planning for doing the same for our much-missed audiences. The moment the incomparable Giles Terera steps out on the Olivier stage at that first performance will be an incredible one, and I’m thrilled to be reopening our theatre with such an important and timely piece of work.”

Stay tuned as tickets will go on sale in September, when full details of the performance schedule, ticketing, and safety measures for audiences will also be available.

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