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National Theatre extends network of partner venues and tours Sucker Punch

Rufus Norris says the move will "deepen roots within communities"

The Landmark in Ilfracombe

The National Theatre has extended its Theatre Nation Partnerships (TNP) network of venues and community organisations to include "every region in England".

The NT has also announced today that a new production of Roy Williams' play Sucker Punch will tour to ten venues from March next year.

New partner organisations joining the network are: Restoke, Regent Theatre & Victoria Hall (Ambassador Theatre Group) in Stoke-on-Trent, Peterborough New Theatre with Selladoor Venues, Queen's Theatre Barnstaple and The Landmark in Ilfracombe, North Devon with Selladoor Venues, Curve in Leicester, and Trowbridge Town Hall.

The NT says the 14 partner organisations will "engage over half a million people over three years, more than doubling the existing reach of the network."

As part of this work the NT will take three productions directly into schools, starting with Shut Up, I'm Dreaming, a new play that will visit 55 secondary schools from January. Devised by The PappyShow, it "explores the ambitions, hopes and feelings of the next generation in an uncertain world."

Roy Williams' award-winning play Sucker Punch, produced by Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, will be touring nationally to nine TNP organisations as well as New Wolsey Theatre from March 2023. Directed by Nathan Powell, it explores being young and black in the 80s.

The acclaimed NT production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane will also visit five TNP venues, opening at The Lowry in Salford in December 2022 and visiting Leicester Curve, Sunderland Empire, Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton Grand Theatre in 2023. Further tours of "landmark productions" will take place in 2024 and 2025.

As already announced, an epic multi-version production of The Odyssey will be created and performed by artists and communities in Stoke-on-Trent, Doncaster, Trowbridge, Sunderland and at the National as part of its 60th anniversary season next year.

Speak Up, which sees young people working in collaboration with local artists and teachers to lead creative projects, will also extend to 55 schools including new areas of Leicester, Stoke-on-Trent and North Devon in January 2023.

TNP is supported by a £1.25million award from Arts Council England, made possible by National Lottery players. The NT says it will triple this investment through further fundraising and commercial activity, and "almost 90% of the total will be spent directly in partner areas".

Rufus Norris, director of the NT, said: "TNP has shown how effectively a network of theatres can work together to inspire new audiences for theatre, deepen roots within communities and create more opportunities for the next generation to engage in the arts."

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