Theatre News

National Theatre to stage 'a musical-a-year going forward' as it plans for post-pandemic world

The venue’s artistic director Rufus Norris has revealed how the pandemic has shifted the venue’s programming

National Theatre
National Theatre
© Philip Vile

In an in-depth interview with The Telegraph, the National Theatre's artistic director Rufus Norris has revealed a small shift in the programming outlook for the venue as it recovers from a period of closure.

Speaking to Dominic Cavendish, Norris revealed that the venue has two programming plans for the coming months, one featuring social distancing, while another has audiences at full capacity.

Norris agreed with Cavendish's likening of the plans to a "new era of austerity" with fewer extravagant productions similar to 2017's Angels in America. He said: "There will be a period of distillation, but not in a bad way."

The artistic director was optimistic, saying: "I'd hope that by the end of the summer, we're selling all of the Olivier's 1,300 seats. I want all the auditoria full." The venue awaits further news on whether or not vaccine passports will be implemented.

Norris has promised "a musical-a-year going forward". Recent musicals staged at the venue include the award-winning Follies, directed by Dominic Cooke, as well as Hadestown, before it sailed to Broadway and won a bounteous raft of Tony Awards.

The venue had been set to present award-winning Sheffield Crucible musical Standing at the Sky's Edge in 2020, but these plans were disrupted by the pandemic.

Deputy artistic director Clint Dyer said that the National will be "wiser" and "tauter", likening the venue's return to a phoenix exiting the flames. One big comedy also set to appear as soon as the Olivier (currently reconfigured in-the-round) returns to its original form is Richard Bean's Jack Absolute Flies Again.

Norris summed it up best saying that by this time next year, the National will be firing with "possibly smaller, but hopefully equally powerful" cylinders.

The National will open in June – you can see what's planned here.

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