NT : Archive : Stage by Stage : South Bank 1992-1995

South Bank 1992-1995

In the Cottesloe, the team of director Declan Donnellan and designer Nick Ormerod stage Millennium Approaches, the first part of Tony Kushner's “gay fantasia on national themes”, Angels in America. Part two, Perestroika, follows in 1993.

A Studio production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya in Pam Gems' version, with Ian McKellen and Antony Sher in the leading parts, plays in the Cottesloe.

Jim Cartwright's new play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, directed by Sam Mendes, is another Cottesloe success, later transferring to the Aldwych, and Robert Lepage's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, featuring a large pool of mud, causes a stir. Stephen Daldry's first production for the National, J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls, moves to the Olivier and then also transfers to the Aldwych. For the next several years it is in various West End theatres, and tours all over the world.

Productions by Giorgio Strehler with the Piccolo Teatro from Milan, and by Franco Zeffirelli with a company from Rome, visit the Lyttelton as part of the European Arts Festival.

Richard Eyre's production of Richard III, with Ian McKellen in the title role, tours the United States for sixteen weeks.

The Studio makes the first-ever visit to Lithuania by a British theatre company, taking a group of actors, designers, directors and theatre practitioners to work with actors from thirteen different companies there. They hold classes, discussion groups and an open public forum.

The production of Fuente Ovejuna is revived to visit Expo '92 in Seville, and, as the National is a member of the Union des Théâtres de l'Europe, the company visits the Union's first festival, in Düsseldorf, with Angels in America.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, directed by Nicholas Hytner and choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, plays for sixteen weeks in the Lyttelton, transferring the following year to the Shaftesbury. This was to be Sir Kenneth's last work; he died suddenly during the rehearsal period.

The year's work results in 24 awards being received by National Theatre actors, writers, directors, and designers.

During the financial year 1992/1993, the National undertakes more touring than ever before. Over 34 weeks, its work is seen, outside London, by more than 200,000 people. Nicholas Hytner's production of The Madness of George III is revived in the Lyttelton and tours the United States.

Springboards, a celebration of new work from the Studio, and studio theatres nationwide, is held in the Cottesloe (where five new pieces are seen) and elsewhere throughout the UK.

The David Hare Trilogy, directed by Richard Eyre and designed by Bob Crowley, is completed by The Absence of War, which is staged together with the other two, Racing Demon and Murmuring Judges, in the Olivier, all three plays being several times performed on a single day.

On one day – Saturday 18 October 1993 – eighteen performances of Royal National Theatre productions are given: a record that will be hard to break.
They are: The David Hare Trilogy in the Olivier x 3; Ken Campbell's one man shows in the Cottesloe x 3; Sophie Treadwell's Machinal in the Lyttelton x 1; Euripides' Ion at the Studio x 1; Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York x 2; Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the New Theatre, Cardiff x 2; Brecht's Mother Courage at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester x 2; and in the West End, J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls at the Aldwych x 2, and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel at the Shaftesbury x 2.

Jeremy Sams' translation of Cocteau's Les Parents Terribles goes to Broadway as Indiscretions, and Stoppard's Arcadia to the West End. Peter Brook's The Man Who, visits the Cottesloe; it will return in 1995, this time to the Lyttelton.

First visit of the National to South Africa: the Market Theatre, Johannesburg hosts a Studio residency: 32 practitioners in workshops, classes, seminars and performances.

Patrick Marber's first play, Dealer's Choice, developed in the Studio, opens in the Cottesloe, wins the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy, and transfers to the West End. It will later tour all over the UK, to Ireland, Australia, and the States, opening the 1996 Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta, Georgia.

David Hare's Skylight wins the Olivier Award for Best Play, transfers to the West End and Broadway, and in 1997, re-cast, tours the UK and returns to the West End.

The first phase of BT National Connections, a partnership between BT, the National, regional theatres, numerous playwrights, and hundreds of young theatre companies, ends with showcases at the National. The scheme continues to grow over the next years.

Judi Dench wins both best actress Olivier awards – for Rodney Ackland's Absolute Hell in the Lyttelton and for Sondheim's A Little Night Music in the Olivier.

Mary Soames ends her Chairmanship of the Board, and is succeeded by Sir Christopher Hogg.