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London Extends, NT Opens Backstage to Double

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The National Theatre will open up its backstage “Paintframe” scenic studio to public performance for the first time ever this summer to house the Double Feature season of double bills by emerging playwrights. The season, as just announced last week, had been scheduled for the NT Cottesloe, which it will now leave clear for an extended run of London Road, Alecky Blythe’s acclaimed documentary musical about the affect of the 2006 series of prostitute murders on the Suffolk town of Ipswich.

London Road, with music by Adam Cork and direction by directed by Rufus Norris, premiered on 14 April 2011 (previews from 7 April) at the Cottesloe, where it finishes its original sell-out dates – running in rep with Ryan Craig’s play The Holy Rosenbergs - on 18 June. After four performances of the annual NT Connections festival, from 30 June to 2 July, the musical will resume for a straight eight weeks from 5 July to 27 August 2011.

In the temporary Paintframe space, dates have been postponed by a fortnight for Double Feature, which will now preview from the week commencing 18 July 2011, opening on 3 and 4 August and continuing until 10 September.

The season comprises double bills - Sam Holcroft's Edgar and Annabel with DC Moore's The Swan and Prasanna Puwanarajah's Nightwatchman with There Is a War by Tom Basden - directed by Polly Findlay and Lyndsey Turner and performed by an ensemble including Pippa Bennett-Warner, Karina Fernandez, Trystan Gravelle, Nitin Kundra and Stephanie Street, accompanied by a live band.

A spokeswoman told Whatsonstage.com that the National had originally “wanted to do something completely different” with the Cottesloe for Double Feature, and concluded the team create “an even more exciting space” in the Paintframe, which is normally only accessed by the public during backstage tours of the National. The vast room is part of the NT’s scenic studios and is where large set canvases are usually hung and decorated. The spokeswoman said this would be the “first and only time” the Paintframe will be used as a performance environment.


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