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NT sets dates for spring/summer; Shed launches, Propstore returns

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Further dates and casting have now been announced for previously announced new productions in the National Theatre’s next booking period. Running from April to August 2013, the period includes the inauguration of new 225-seat temporary venue The Shed, which opens its doors this month in the National’s riverside main square.

Part of the ongoing NT Future redevelopment of the South Bank complex, The Shed replaces programming in the NT Cottesloe, which is now being renovated and will be reopened, and rebranded, next year as the Dorfman Theatre in honour of Travelex benefactor Lloyd Dorfman. As a result of The Shed, the NT’s usual summertime outdoor theatre festival held in the square, Watch This Space, will not take place this year, but last summer’s popular riverfront café, Propstore, constructed from NT sets and props, will be rebuilt on the east side of the building.

Programming in The Shed is aimed at “encouraging risk” and attracting younger audiences, with tickets priced at just £12 and £20. In addition to the schedule of already announced productions, many forged collaboratively in the NT Studio, The Shed will host a young person’s version of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Bijan Sheibani and touring London schools ahead of its NT stint July/August, as well as several of the plays in this year’s NT Connections festival.

In addition to the Dorfman Theatre, the NT Future redevelopment encompasses the creation of the new Clore Learning Centre. Construction has now begun and is scheduled for completion at the end of 2014. Fundraising for the work has now passed £65 million, following the launch of an audience appeal and a £2.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Foundation.

In the NT Olivier

James Baldwin's The Amen Corner, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Sharon D Clarke, will run in rep at the from 11 June to 14 August 2013 (previews from 4 June). Directed by Rufus Norris, the cast will also feature Eric Kofi Abrefa and Lucian Msamati, while the creative team will include the Rev Bazil Meade arranging and supervising the music. As the gospel singing soars, Sister Margaret, uncompromising pastor of her Harlem church, has a congregation already in revolt against her hardline leadership.

The Amen Corner will be followed in the NT Olivier by family Christmas offering Emil and the Detectives, which will run from November (exact dates still tbc). Directed by Bijan Sheibani, the classic children's story, written by Erich Kastner and dadapted by Carl Miller, follows young Emil as he says goodbye to his mother, leaves his small town and sets off on a journey to 1920s Berlin that will change his life.

In the NT Lyttelton

Simon Godwin’s previously announced revival of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude, starring Anne-Marie Duff (returning to the NT for the first time since her multi award-winning 2007 title turn in Saint Joan) and Charles Edwards, kicks off the schedule in the NT Lyttelton on 4 June 2013 (previews from 28 May).

First written in 1923 and usually running over four hours (though the NT promises that its version will be under that) O’Neill’s epic tells the story of Nina, daughter of an Ivy League professor, who, shattered by the death of the love of her life embarks on a series of tawdry sexual escapades. Having married a lover and fallen pregnant, she learns a horrifying secret.

The cast will also include Geraldine Alexander, Patrick Drury, Darren Pettie, Wilf Scolding and Jason Watkins. With designs by Soutra Gilmour, lighting by Guy Hoare, music by Michael Bruce and sound by Christopher Shutt, Strange Interlude plays in repertoire until August.

Former NT artistic director Richard Eyre then returns to direct another early 20th century drama, Pirandello's 1916 play Liola, in a new version by Tanya Ronder, which runs from 7 August 2013 (previews from 31 July). Originally written in the Sicilian dialect and rarely performed in English, Liola tells the story of Liolà, a young man untroubled by tradition, who takes the part of nature all the way. Ronder’s version is performed by an Irish cast - led by Rory Keenan in the title role and also including Lisa Dwyer Hogg, James Hayes, Carla Langley, Niamh McGowan, Roxanna Nic Liam and Jessica Regan – and gypsy musicians. It runs in rep until autumn.

Further shows announced for The Shed

More shows announced for The Shed include: Rory Mullarkey's The Grandfathers (9-13 July), which was first seen in NT Connections in 2012 and follows eight boys from training camp to the battlefields of an unknown war; The Hush (17 July-3 August 2013), a 'unique aural adventure' commissioned especially for The Shed and created by Matthew Herbert and Ben Power; and Nadia Fall’s documentary piece Home (7 August-7 September), which use beatboxing, R&B and choreography to tell the stories of Londoners who don’t get heard. Sheibani’s young people’s Romeo and Juliet runs in The Shed from 24 July to 2 August 2013 and will also visit Derry-Londonderry.

- Terri Paddock & Rosie Bannister


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