Entertainment & Arts

National Theatre to axe Sunday performances

Andrew Garfield, Tamsin Greig and Ralph Fiennes Image copyright Getty Images/BBC
Image caption (From left) Andrew Garfield, Tamsin Greig and Ralph Fiennes are part of the new National Theatre line-up

The National Theatre has decided to axe Sunday performances due to its "tight financial situation".

The announcement came as the London venue unveiled its new programme which includes plays starring Ralph Fiennes, Andrew Garfield and Tamsin Greig.

NT boss Rufus Norris said Sunday performances would stop because they were "always the last performances to sell".

The last Sunday show will be Damon Albarn's musical Wonder.land in April.

Sunday performances in the Olivier and Lyttelton theatres began in 2008 and took place about 35 weeks a year.

Norris said the decision to stop them was taken after the theatre "looked very carefully at the evidence over the last few years".

Giving more detail, executive director Lisa Burger said: "The fact is that there aren't as many audiences coming to Sunday performances.

"Given the tight financial situation that we are in we decided that was one of the things we had to give up."

The NT building on the South Bank will, however, remain open to the public on Sundays over the summer.

'Gender confusion'

Among the plays coming up at the National's Olivier theatre is Twelfth Night in February 2017 - with Tamsin Greig turning the traditionally male role of Malvolio into Malvolia.

"That play is about lots of gender confusion anyway," Norris said.

There will be more Shakespeare in early 2018 when Ralph Fiennes will star in Antony and Cleopatra. The role of Cleopatra is yet to be cast.

Other highlights include:

  • Chichester Festival Theatre's trilogy of early Chekhov plays - Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull - in new versions by Sir David Hare at the Olivier Theatre from July.
  • Amadeus will open in the Olivier in October, with Lucian Msamati as Salieri. Peter Shaffer's play about Mozart had its world premiere at the NT in 1979.
  • The Red Barn, a new play by Sir David Hare based on Georges Simenon's novel La Main, will open in the Lyttelton Theatre in October, directed by Robert Icke.
  • Ivo van Hove will direct Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the Lyttelton in December.
  • Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield will appear in Tony Kushner's Angels in America, directed by Marianne Elliott, at the Lyttelton in May 2017.
  • Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, based on Alan Warner's cult Scottish novel The Sopranos, directed by Vicky Featherstone, gets its London premiere at the Dorfman in August.
  • New plays: Mosquitoes by Lucy Kirkwood and Consent by Nina Raine.
  • Another World: Losing Our Children To Islamic State, a piece of verbatim documentary theatre by Gillian Slovo, will be the final full production in the NT's Temporary Theatre in April.

Norris described the blend of re-imagined popular classics, new plays and musical pieces as "hopefully a broad programme which will underline our commitment that we believe that theatre is for everyone".

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