National Theatre set to reopen with reconfigured Olivier Theatre and a pantomime

The Olivier Theatre will look significantly different when the National Theatre reopens to audiences in October.

Impression of the reconfigured Olivier Theatre
Impression of the reconfigured Olivier Theatre

On the 21st of October, the National Theatre will reopen to audiences with two new productions. In order to maintain social distancing measures, the Olivier Theatre will be going under a transformation which will see it turn into an in-the-round setting.

In order to follow the government guidelines and keep audiences safe, the National Theatre has also put other measures in place including: staggered arrival times, paperless tickets, pre-ordered drinks and enhanced cleaning and sanitisation stations throughout the theatre.

Written by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, Death of England: Delroy will be the first production to open with the new Olivier Theatre layout. The play is a new work about a Black working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain. The play will star Giles Terera (Rosmersholm, Hamilton) as Delroy. Tickets go on sale from 12 noon on Friday the 2nd of October, with 200 tickets priced at £20 and can only be purchased online.

Originally commissioned by the Lyric Hammersmith in 2018, the pantomime of Dick Whittington will be staged in the Olivier Theatre from December. Updated for 2020, Ned Bennett (Equus) will direct. The show will celebrate and honour the British theatre tradition of pantomime. Tickets go on sale in October with further information being announced soon.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said: “We’re both delighted and relieved to be reopening the National Theatre with the Olivier in-the-round season, which will allow us to present live work to as many people as possible while social distancing remains in place. It is dynamically appropriate to begin the season with Death of England: Delroy, an extraordinarily important and timely piece of work by the hugely talented Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, and we are also proud and privileged to be presenting Dick Whittington this Christmas, helmed by the inspirational Jude Christian, Cariad Lloyd and Ned Bennett. Pantomime is an essential part of the living fabric of our nation, and it is devastating that so many theatres across the country have had no choice but to postpone their pantos this year because of the unprecedented financial impact of Coronavirus. We’ll do all we can to keep the flame alive: brilliant theatre artists will serve up a slice of joy to families on the South Bank, and we’ll be asking everyone to support their local theatres by booking ahead for their 2021 pantomimes. Of course, we hope that it will be possible for theatres to perform safely to fuller audiences long before then.”

Speaking about Dick Whittington, Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd said: “In 2018, we set out to celebrate the heart of the Dick Whittington story that London has always been, and will always be, enriched by the brilliant brains and invigorating spirit of those who come from all over the world and call it home. That’s a story we want to tell now more than ever, and in quintessentially British fashion: with irreverent jokes, talking animals, awesome songs, and wholesale destructive silliness.” Ned Bennett continued: “We are inordinately excited to be talking about a show, never mind having the privilege of being able to stage one right now. We are facing such challenging times, as artists and as an industry, so we feel so lucky to have the NT able to provide this opportunity. We cannot wait to bring audiences (safely) into the Olivier and allow them to remember the joy of theatre for a night.”