Entertainment & Arts

National Theatre puts spotlight on Brexit Britain

Rufus Norris Image copyright PA
Image caption Rufus Norris said he wants to address 'the complete vote of no confidence in our system'

The National Theatre has embarked on a major project to tell the story of modern Britain following the vote to leave the European Union.

The theatre is conducting interviews about life in the UK with people in more than a dozen towns and cities.

That "massive verbatim archive" will then form the basis of future shows.

"We will attach a load of writers and theatre-makers to that and they will draw from that what they will," artistic director Rufus Norris said.

The National has already sent interviewers to Londonderry, Merthyr Tydfil, Leicester and Glasgow, and will canvas members of the public in 10-20 further locations from October.

"We've got to try to do what little we can to address the complete vote of no confidence in our system that that was," Norris said.

"I don't believe 17.5 million people are racists or idiots. I categorically don't. I think we've got to listen."

'Immediate artistic response'

Norris said the project - dubbed Missing Conversations - was on the scale of We're Here Because We're Here, the National's highly acclaimed memorial that saw "ghost soldiers" appear on the streets to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme in July.

The director, who voted to remain in the European Union, took over the National last April.

He is known for shows including London Road, a musical play about murders in Ipswich that used the words of real people performed by actors.

The London-based theatre will make "an immediate artistic response" to the referendum, he pledged.

"I think there's something very, very true in that vote. I'm not sure it's exclusively about membership of the European Union. But it doesn't matter what I think.

"In the first instance it's about getting out and finding out what people all over the country are thinking."

He said the venture, called Missing Conversations, was a "huge listening project".

Norris added: "This is, in a sense, a follow-on from We're Here Because We're Here - a very different kind of community project - just to gather a massive verbatim archive of what people think about where they live, where they think the power lies, what they think of British values, what their values are. Just to listen."

Norris was speaking at The Lowry arts centre in Salford, where he announced that War Horse will visit Edinburgh, Salford and Milton Keynes in 2018 as part of a UK tour.

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