The National Theatre’s Friday Rush is back!

The Friday Rush has always been a great way to see the National Theatre’s quality drama at affordable prices.

Now the pandemic has allowed the return of live theatre, the news that the Friday Rush is back is a most welcome development.

Offering tickets for most shows (including those showing as Sold Out), you can grab a chance to see a live performance from as little as £10, which is quite a bargain these days!

You can find details of the National Theatre’s Friday Rush Scheme here

YouTube’s Theatre Treasures: Laurence Olivier interviewed by Kenneth Tynan

Here’s another treasure from my occasional rummaging around the dusty corners of the cyber-storeroom that is YouTube. Today’s nugget is an interview from 1966 – Kenneth Tynan interviewing Laurence Olivier.

The recording lasts just over 45 minutes. Do stay with it through the rather pompous opening fanfares, and you’ll find a really interesting and candid discussion with one of our greatest actors about his career, chances, upbringing, and successes.

Kenneth Tynan, who interviews Olivier, was the Literary Manager of the National Theatre at the time of this recording. Tynan, a writer and critic who liked to make waves from his first appointment – at the Evening Standard – in 1952. His collected reviews are often interesting and incisive pieces. A fan of the New Wave, John Osborne et al, Tynan’s barbed retorts against cosy theatrical fare are crackling pieces of disdain in his reviews of this material, and, frankly, are something of a delight to read in themselves. (A particular favourite of mine is his demolition of Anna Neagle in one of the plodding historical productions she starred in, “Sixty Glorious Years” who, when she sang, Tynan described as “Shaking her voice at the audience like a tiny fist”….)

Tynan was made Literary Manager of the new National Theatre Company in 1963, at which time they were still operating out of the Old Vic Theatre. It is fitting that this interview starts on stage at the Old Vic, with a view of the auditorium, with an informal Olivier, with the interview transitioning to the studio later on.

I hope you enjoy it!

With Thanks to YouTube poster Roman Stryan

Remembering Helen McCrory

This seemed like a good way to celebrate the talent of Helen McCrory, who has died of cancer. A conversation at the National Theatre with Genista McIntosh from 2014.

My condolences to all her family, friends, other loved ones – and all her many fans.

National Theatre launches new interview series- Life in Stages

The new online series continues this week.

Life in Stages is the National Theatre’s brand-new interview series profiling some of the biggest names in British theatre on YouTube with new episodes released on Thursdays 7pm BST.

The series begins on 22 April with Olivia Colman talking with Rufus Norris. Filmed on the empty Lyttelton stage, each episode features a pair of creatives reflecting on their stage careers, and revealing the funny, personal and poignant stories behind everything from their earliest theatre memory to their biggest professional highs and lows.

The episodes of Life in Stages feature

Olivia Colman and Rufus Norris

Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor

Adrian Lester and Meera Syal

Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor

You can watch the series by clicking the relevant text above.

National Theatre’s Drama Teacher Conference draws 500 teachers!

Over the half term holiday, almost 500 drama teachers from across the UK gave up their half-term to attend the National’s first-ever digital Drama Teacher Conference. As this was the first time the conference was held online, the benefit was that they were able to welcome more than triple the number of teachers they can normally host at the NT.

Attendees were able to join over 30 masterclasses led by leading theatre makers including director Marianne Elliott (Angels in America), actor Maxine Peake, and theatre critic Lyn Gardner.  

During the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, drama teachers have faced significantly more than their fair share of disruption, with drama being such a practical subject, and so the flexibility, ingenuity and sheer dedication of drama teachers across the UK is to be applauded. On top of that, how amazing that so many dedicated teachers voluntarily gave up their own half term break! 

It’s teachers who inspire the next generation of theatre-makers, and I am sure that we are all grateful for their dedication and love for not only their subject, but also for their students.