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In the days after the EU referendum last year, when 52% of British people voted for Brexit, the National Theatre began a nationwide listening project. A team of interviewers spoke to people around the country – from Leicester to Derry/Londonderry and Merthyr Tydfil to Glasgow – to hear their views of where and how they live: their opinions; their fears; their passions. Using exact words taken from the interviews, Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, collaborates with Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, to put the people of Britain centre stage.
'uncategorisable brilliance..., it's all done with good humour'
‘compassionate, funny and insightful’
This year several festival artists are looking at the problems faced by Western democracies. The French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville admired democracy for its social equality. He saw its dangers too. Director Romeo Castellucci is making Democracy in America, based on De Tocqueville’s eponymous book
(1835). In The Gabriels director Richard Nelson reflects on the recent American election year through the eyes of an ordinary family. Other artists focus on controversies in democracies, such as the issue of refugees in directors Dieudonné Niangouna and Thomas Bellinck’s performances. Others address the threat of violence (Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed), tyranny (Octavia), or shaping activism (The Tempest Society). In Manifesto the film director Julian Rosefeldt examines the relation between art and society.
We are presenting two national theatre production companies, each with its own state of the nation: My Country by the National Theatre in London, and The Nation by the Dutch National Theatre in The Hague. Both performances show divided countries in which no one, from politicians to citizens, seems to dare to take responsibility. We also believe that it is important to explore democracy of form. Members of the audience can get actively involved as a passer-by, participant, or activist, if they so wish. Our artists encourage you to question the old hierarchy between the audience and the artists.
The National Theatre stages up to 30 productions at their South Bank home each year, ranging from new productions of classics to new work. The National Theatre is committed to nurturing innovative work from new writers, directors, creative artists and performers.
The National's work is also seen on tour throughout the UK and internationally, and in collaborations and co-productions with regional theatres. Popular shows transfer to the West End and occasionally to Broadway; and through the National Theatre Live programme, performances are broadcast live to 2,000 cinemas in 50 countries around the world.
Rufus Norris has been the Artistic Director of the National Theatre since April 2015. Norris came to prominence in 2001 with his production of Afore Night Came at the Young Vic, for which he won the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer. In 2004 he won his second Evening Standard Award and the Critics Circle Award for his production of Festen. Since then, Norris has directed a host of critically acclaimed shows, among them an adaptation of DBC Pierre's Booker Prize winning novel Vernon God Little at the Young Vic, and a West End revival of Cabaret, which won 2 Olivier Awards. Norris' 2008 Broadway production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, starring Laura Linney and Ben Daniels, won five Tony Award nominations. In 2013 Norris directed the opening production at the Shed space at the National, Table by Tanya Ronder. In 2009, Norris made his screen debut with the short film King Bastard, written by Tanya Ronder. His debut feature Broken opened Critics Week at Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and went on to win Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards. Norris' second feature was the screen adaptation of London Road (2015).
Carol Ann Duffy was born in Glasgow, Scotland. She received a degree in philosophy from Liverpool University in 1977. Duffy’s books of poetry include: New & Collected Poetry for Children (Faber and Faber, 2009); Rapture (Macmillan, 2006); Selected Poems (Penguin, 2004); FeminineGospels (2002); and The World’s Wife (2000), a collection of poetic retellings voiced by the wives of the famous and infamous. Her earlier volumes include: Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Forward Poetry Prize; The Other Country (1990); Selling Manhattan (1987); and her first collection, StandingFemale Nude (1985), for which she received a Scottish Arts Council Award.
In addition to poetry, Duffy has edited numerous anthologies, authored several critically-acclaimed plays and children’s books, and has collaborated with the singer and composer Eliana Tomkins on a series of jazz performances. Her awards include a five-year grant from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts in England, a Lannan Literary Award, and the T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Duffy was the longtime editor of the poetry magazine Ambit, and has been a frequent reviewer and critic for many publications, including The Guardian. Duffy was appointed as Britain’s Poet Laureate in 2009, becoming both the first woman and the first lesbian poet to hold the position in its more than 300 year history.
- Rufus Norris
- Carol Ann Duffy
- Katrina Lindsay
- Paul Knott
- Alex Caplen
- David Shrubsole
- Seema Bowri (East Midlands), Cavan Clarke (Northern Ireland), Laura Elphinstone (North East), Adam Ewan (South East), Penny Layden (Britannia), Stuart McQuarrie (Caledonia), Christian Patterson (Cymru)
- created in collaboration with
- eight UK arts organisations in association with Cusack Projects Limited
- National Theatre