The National Theatre is to stage its first new play by Sir Tom Stoppard in over a decade, an as-yet untitled work that will mark the last show directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner before his departure after 12 years.
Sir Nicholas revealed he had been “nagging” the acclaimed playwright for a new work for the National since he was appointed director in 2003.
He gave little away about the play which will be staged next January in the Dorfman Theatre, which is currently under construction as part of the £80 million NT Future redevelopment.
The previous plays Sir Tom wrote for the National was The Coast of Utopia trilogy in 2002, directed by Sir Nicholas’ predecessor Sir Trevor Nunn.
“I’ve been nagging him twice a year since 2001 and he always said he wouldn’t. And one day he said: ‘I’m writing’,” Sir Nicholas said. “He disappeared to Dorset and wrote, and he’s just finished.”
Rufus Norris will take over as director from Sir Nicholas next year. "I'm really not keen on doing a grand farewell. I think the 50th birthday gala was my goodbye,” he said, referring to last year’s celebrations staged at the South Bank venue.
The National’s director was in bullish mood yesterday saying the “appetite for theatre seems to me to be growing. The whole business is booming and will continue to boom.”
As part of the new season he also announced new works from Richard Bean, who wrote hit play One Man, Two Guvnors, and Sir David Hare, who has adapted Katherine Boo’s award-winning book Behind the Beautiful Forevers.
Helen McCrory is to take the title role in Medea, directed by Carrie Cracknell, and Ralph Fiennes will star in a revival of Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman.
Sir Nicholas hailed the Government’s move to introduce tax relief for theatres in Wednesday’s Budget and said that after a “very rocky start” it had realised the theatre “is a golden egg”.
The director has been critical of the Government’s stance towards theatre in the past, but yesterday said: “It feels to me now that they know this situation… is something they would prefer not to undermine.”