Mike Leigh returns to theatre after six years waiting in the wings

  • @robhastings

Mike Leigh is to return to the National Theatre with a collaborative, improvised play, his first stage work in six years.

The director and writer's as-yet untitled and unscripted drama, which in his inimitable style will be developed during rehearsals, will open in September. It is to feature 20-year-old Ruby Bentall, known for her part in Lark Rise To Candleford, alongside one of Leigh's longstanding favourites, Lesley Manville. The play will also be taken to Bath and Cambridge in the autumn.

Nicholas Hytner, the National Theatre's artistic director, said he had "no idea" what was in mind for the piece.

James Corden will also make a reprisal of his theatre career after a four-year absence from the stage, starring in Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors. Directed by the National's artistic director, Sir Nicholas Hytner, this reworking of Carlo Goldoni's 18th-century farce A Servant To Two Masters will be Corden's first appearance at the National since the role that brought him fame in The History Boys. The comedian was little known when he appeared in Alan Bennett's play in 2004, but its run on Broadway and his part in the film adaptation two years later sealed his reputation.

Another highlight revealed by Sir Nicholas yesterday is a musical by American songwriter Tori Amos, which will open in April in 2012. With as many as 12 million album sales to her name since her 1992 debut album Little Earthquakes, and with songs including "Cornflake Girl", her transition to the Lyttelton Theatre will be highly anticipated.

An imaginary encounter between Joseph Stalin and the playwright Mikhail Bulgakov is the subject of a new play by John Hodge, whose screenwriting credits include Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and A Life Less Ordinary. Alex Jennings is down to play Bulgakov while Simon Russell Beale will take on the formidable role of Stalin, with Sir Nicholas again directing.

Prior to that, Zoë Wanamaker will take on the role of Madame Ranevskaya in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, directed by Howard Davies and opening this May, while come June ,the Olivier Theatre will host a new version of Ibsen's Emperor and Gaililean.

Keeley Hawes is also among the impressive names included in the Southbank theatre's programme. She will lead the cast of Rocket To The Moon, written by Clifford Odets.

Danny Boyle is bringing a fresh envisioning of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein next month. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller will alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the creature.