James Joyce’s only stage play, Exiles, will receive its first London airing in more than 30 years this summer at the National Theatre. Directed by James Macdonald, the new production joins the rep in the NT Cottesloe on 2 August 2006 (previews from 26 July).

During his long self-imposed exile from his native Ireland, Joyce wrote Exiles in 1914, between his classic novels Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. It’s based in part on the author’s own relationship with Nora Barnacle. Back in Dublin after nine years abroad, Richard and Bertha have to confront two other people who love them and ask themselves questions about guilt and responsibility. Will infidelity hold them together?

James McDonald’s directing credits include Cleansed, Blasted, 4.48 Psychosis and Fewer Emergencies at the Royal Court. Exiles marks his NT debut. The production is designed by Hildegard Bechtler, with lighting by Peter Mumford. No casting has yet been announced.

Dates have also been set for two other, already announced productions which join the NT repertoire this summer (See News, 15 Feb 2006).

In the NT Olivier, The Life of Galileo - the third production in this year’s Travelex £10 Season, following Trevor Nunn’s revival of Peter Shaffer’s The Royal Hunt of the Sun and Rufus Norris’ premiere of David Eldridge’s Market Boy - opens on 6 July 2006 (previews from 28 June). Simon Russell Beale takes the title role as the 17th-century mathematician and astronomer whose discovery that the earth revolves around the sun brings him into dangerous conflict with the Church. Howard Davies directs Bertolt Brecht’s 1938 classic, in a version by David Hare first seen at the Almeida in 1994. Russell Beale is joined in the cast by Duncan Bell and Elisabeth Dermot Walsh.

In the NT Lyttelton, Chekhov’s The Seagull, directed by Katie Mitchell who had a critical hit on the same stage in 2003 with Chekhov’s Three Sisters), opens on 27 June 2006 (previews from 17 June). In Martin Crimp’s new pared-down version, Juliet Stevenson and Ben Whishaw star as Arkadina and Konstantin respectively, in a cast that also features Hattie Morahan (as Nina), Angus Wright, Mark Bazeley, Sandy McDade and Justin Salinger as well as Michael Gould, Sean Jackson, Liz Kettle (See News, 11 Apr 2006).

In addition, Shell Connections – the annual youth theatre programme, this year showcasing eight new plays and two new musicals for and about teenagers – will run in the NT Olivier and Cottesloe theatres from 13 to 18 July 2006. Also returning this summer, the National’s free outdoor “Watch This Space” festival will take place over eight weeks from 7 July to 2 September 2006 in the square at the riverbank entrance of the NT. The programme – published in early May - will feature the best in street theatre, bands, circus, installations, cabaret, dance and late-night cinema.

- by Terri Paddock