Entertainment & Arts

Tom Stoppard play announced for National Theatre

Sir Tom Stoppard
Image caption Tom Stoppard's plays include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Arcadia

A new Tom Stoppard play will be the final show directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre before he steps down in 2015.

Little has been revealed about the play, which will be Sir Tom's first at the National for more than a decade.

Sir Nicholas said he had spent years "nagging" the playwright for a new work.

The new National season includes Ralph Fiennes in George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman in February 2015.

Sir Nicholas will also direct a new play from One Man, Two Guvnors writer Richard Bean in the Lyttelton Theatre this summer.

His final season, announced on Thursday, features 10 world premieres including a new play from David Hare, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on Katherine Boo's novel about Mumbai, which opens at the Olivier in November.

It will be directed by incoming National Theatre boss Rufus Norris.

A new adaptation of Euripides' Medea, by Ben Power, starring Helen McCrory in the title role, opens in July.

Stoppard's new play will open in the Dorfman Theatre - formerly known as the Cottesloe - in January 2015.

Sir Nicholas said: "I've been nagging him twice a year since 2001 and he's always said he wouldn't. And one day he said: 'I'm writing'.

"And he disappeared to Dorset and wrote and he's just finished."

He told the BBC: "It's a chamber play. It's both entertaining and challenging but that won't be a surprise because that's what Tom's work always is."

Addressing his departure next year, Sir Nicholas added: "I'm really not keen on doing a grand farewell - I think the 50th birthday gala was my goodbye."

The last new Stoppard play at the National was The Coast of Utopia, a 2002 trilogy of three-hour plays, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn.

'Eccentric reporting'

Other highlights from the 2014 season include a new adaptation of Treasure Island, by Bryony Lavery, for family audiences.

Rules for Living, a new play by Sam Holcroft, directed by Marianne Elliott, will open in the Dorfman in March 2015.

The Lyttelton will host a new play by the Croatian-born writer Tena Stivicic in December 2014, directed by Howard Davies.

Following their collaboration on Misterman in 2011, Cillian Murphy reunites with writer and director Enda Walsh on Ballyturk, which opens in September after its world premiere at the Galway Arts Festival in July. The cast includes Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea.

Responding to what he described as "some eccentric reporting", Sir Nicholas said that eight of the 14 original plays being produced at the NT this season were written by women; and last year, more than half the NT's new plays had been written or co-written by women.

The expansion of touring and National Theatre Live in cinemas means that more people in the UK now see the Nationals' productions outside London than at its home on the South Bank.

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