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.


NT panto to be broadcast free from 23-27 December

Here’s a bit of good cheer for all you young at heart Panto-holics! If you can’t go to the Panto, then this year the Panto will be coming to You!

The National’s drafted-in production of DICK WHITTINGTON which has been sadly curtailed for live performance, has – in the nick of time- been recorded for broadcast via the National’s YouTube channel from 23 to 27 December.

The National said “In honour of all the theatres that have been forced to cancel their Christmas pantos, we’re sharing DICK WHITTINGTON for FREE from 3pm (UK time) on 23 December until midnight (UK time) on 27 December.

Freshly updated for 2020 by Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd, this hilarious and heartfelt new version of the classic tale is packed with the cheekiest of jokes, the chattiest of animals, the awesomest of songs and the messiest of silliness.

As you enjoy watching the show, please support a theatre near you by making a donation or booking tickets for 2021.”

When the notice about Tier 3 status and closure became a reality last week, the cast and technical team worked tirelessly to bring forward the projected filming date so that they could just get the show “in the can” before the curtains fell yet again, and the NT along with London’s world-leading West End theatres, experienced their first ever “dark Christmas”.

So this year, although Covid-19 is the real villain, we can all still raise a laugh thanks to this most British of entertainments! Hooray!

You can find the National Theatre’s YouTube channel here


The drama behind the drama: listen to the tortuous birth story of the National Theatre

Broadcast recently again on BBC Sounds, THE NATIONAL is a fascinating listen. Written by Sarah Wooley, this three-part drama about the creation of the National Theatre on London’s South Bank features all the main players: Sir Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Tynan, Lord Goodman, The Lord Chamberlain, Peter Hall and Harold Pinter as well as many others.

You can listen to THE NATIONAL by clicking here

(Please note – users outside the UK may not be able to access BBC online programming – but give it a try anyway!)