Benjamin Britten, sailing uncomfortably close to the wind with his new opera, Death in Venice, seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend, W H Auden. During this imagined meeting, their first for twenty-five years, they are observed and interrupted by, amongst others, their future biographer and a young man from the local bus station.
Alan Bennett’s new play is as much about the theatre as it is about poetry or music. It looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men, and at the ethics of biography. It reflects on growing old, on creativity and inspiration, and on persisting when all passion’s spent: ultimately, on the habit of art.
The Habit Of Art is Alan Bennett’s fifth play for the National Theatre. His last play, The History Boys, opened at the Lyttelton in 2004, toured nationally (including a sell-out run at The REP) and internationally, and played for two seasons in the West End and on Broadway. Among its many awards were the Laurence Olivier, Tony and Critics Circle Awards for Best Play and the South Bank Show Award for Theatre.
Desmond Barrit and Malcolm Sinclair lead the cast of The Habit Of Art as W H Auden and Benjamin Britten respectively. The production is directed by Nicholas Hytner and is designed by Bob Crowley, with lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Matthew Scott and sound by Paul Groothuis.