Thea Sharrock - who last month stepped down as artistic director of west London’s Gate Theatre (See News, 17 Nov 2006) – will remount her critically acclaimed 2005 Gate hit The Emperor Jones at the National Theatre this summer as the final production in this year’s Travelex £10 Season.

The revival of Eugene O'Neill’s rarely staged 1921 drama will be reconceived for the transfer from the intimate 70-seat Gate to the NT’s expansive 1,100-seat Olivier auditorium, where Paterson Joseph (pictured) will reprise his title performance as an American ex-convict who connives his way into a dictatorship over a remote West Indies island. Faced with revolt, the delusional ‘Emperor’ escapes to the dark forest where the searing heat and ominous pulse of his trackers’ drums take their toll. The Emperor Jones joins the NT Olivier rep from 28 August 2007 (previews from 22 August).

Since announcing her resignation from the Gate, Sharrock has scored a hit with the West End revival of Equus, which will transfer to Broadway next year with its stars Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) and Richard Griffiths (See News, 20 Apr 2007). Joseph’s previous NT credits include Elmina’s Kitchen and last year’s Travelex production of Shaffer’s The Royal Hunt of the Sun, for which he received a Award nomination.

Joseph also appears, alongside Anne-Marie Duff and Oliver Ford Davies (See News, 17 Apr 2007), in Marianne Elliott’s Travelex production of Saint Joan, which precedes The Emperor Jones in the NT Olivier, opening 11 July 2007 (previews from 5 July). Also in the cast of the Bernard Shaw revival are Jamie Ballard, James Barriscale, Simon Bubb, Finn Caldwell, Jonathan Jaynces, Gareth Kennerly, William Osborne, Michael Thomas, Luke Treadaway, Ross Waiton and, as previously reported, Paul Ready and Angus Wright.

Dates and further casting have also been confirmed for the other, previously announced (See News, 15 Feb 2007), new productions in the National’s summer season, covering the period from June to September.

In the NT Cottesloe, Matt Charman’s The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder, which takes a provocative look at married life and its alternatives, will receive its world premiere on 20 June 2007 (previews from 13 June). The full cast is: Sorcha Cusack, Adam Gillen, Carla Henry, Clare Holman, Martina Laird, Larry Lamb, Tessa Peake-Jones and Steve John Shepherd. Sarah Frankcom directs.

Five Wives is joined in the Cottesloe rep, from 1 August 2007 (previews from 24 July), by Clare Bayley’s new version of 19th-century Swedish play The Enchantment, directed by Paul Miller. One sunny day in Paris, famous artist and philanderer Gustave Allan visits Louise Strindberg, convalescing in her brother’s studio, and casts her under his spell. Author Victoria Benedictsson, the inspiration for Strindberg’s Miss Julie, had a scandalous affair which led to her suicide after completing the play in 1988.

In the NT Lyttelton, Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter’s rarely performed play The Hothouse, written in 1958 just before The Caretaker, will be revived from 18 July 2007 (previews from 11 July), directed by Ian Rickson, who stepped down as Royal Court artistic director in January after the Sloane Square theatre’s year-long 50th anniversary season. The cast includes Lia Williams (opening next week in My Child at the Court), Stephen Moore (just seen in The History Boys in the West End), Finbar Lynch, Paul Ritter, Leo Bill and Henry Woolf.

The National’s annual NT Connections - which commissions new plays for and about young people from leading playwrights for performance by schools and youth theatres across the UK and Ireland - will have showcase performances in the Olivier and Cottesloe from 12 to 17 July. The 2007 portfolio features nine new plays, written by: David Farr, Judith Johnson, Dennis Kelly, Bryony Lavery, Laline Paull, Glyn Maxwell, Christina Reid, Henning Mankell (adapted by John Retallack) and Roy Williams.

Outside the building, the National’s open-air “Watch This Space” summer festival returns with its mix of street theatre, world music, circus, art installations, dance shows, cabaret, club nights and other events, running in Theatre Square, the NT’s riverside forecourt, from 6 July to 16 September 2007.

And away from London’s South Bank, the NT launches its third UK tour of Alan Bennett’s multi award-winning play The History Boys, which last month completed a season in the West End. Desmond Barrit, who played English teacher Hector in 2005 on tour and at the NT, will return to the role. NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner’s production will be recreated for the tour by Paul Miller, opening at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal on 6 September 2007 before continuing to Truro, Cheltenham, Bath, Dublin, Blackpool, Leeds, Cambridge, Eastbourne and Newcastle, where it concludes on 17 November.

- by Terri Paddock