National Theatre Live schedules new Stoppard, Cumberbatch as Hamlet, and Broadway hit

National Theatre Live has revealed the plays it will broadcast in venues around the world this Spring and the offerings are tantalizing. It includes the first (of I hope many) Broadway productions — “Of Mice and Men” with James Franco and Chris O’Dowd — and, this fall, Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet.

Image of National Theatre Live logoAlso scheduled are the classics “A View From the Bridge” and “Man and Superman,” and new plays by Tom Stoppard and David Hare.”

To locate a venue for a simulcast ( which are delayed in the USA due to the time difference) click here. (Most performances have encores at a later date). For NTL newbies, the events include a host who introduces the evening, usually an interview or two at intermission, and the curtain call. For those of us watching from afar, the closeups, seeing the show from multiple angles, and discerning the actors’ nuances that rarely can be observed beyond the first few rows make up for being in a different time zone let alone a different country.

Here is the schedule:

OF MICE AND MEN

MARCH 12:  James Franco and Chris O’Dowd are featured in this landmark Pulitzer Prize-winning work by John Steinbeck, who adapted it from his novel. The book is required reading for many American high school students and a good way to get them interested in theater if they aren’t already. Besides, the story is one without a happy ending and a good conversation starter for talks about friendship and the learning disabled.

BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS

MARCH 31: A new play by David Hare, whose “Skylight” was shown as part of the NTL fall 2014 season. (That production begins on Broadway March 13 with Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. Click here for tickets). “Flowers” is based on Katherine Boo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel documenting the lives of residents living in the present-day slums of Mumbai, India, near the airport.  Watch the show’s trailer below. 

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

APRIL 7: Ivo van Hove direct’s Arthur Miller’s masterpiece with a cast led by Mark Strong. Set in Brooklyn in the 1950s in an American-Italian neighborhood, Eddie has an unhealthy obsession with his niece and a growing dislike for his wife’s two illegal immigrant cousins, one of whom shows an interest in the niece. Miller has said he based the play on a true story he heard. Read a review of this production here.

THE HARD PROBLEM

MAY 6: New Tom Stoppard play directed by Nicholas Hytner. (I just loved writing the sentence. Two of my favorite artists together again. Can’t wait.) In this play Hilary, a young psychology researcher at a brain-science institute is nursing a private sorrow and a troubling question at work. “The Hard Problem” is Stoppard’s first play for the stage since “Rock ’n’ Roll” in 2006, and his first for the National since his trilogy, “The Coast of Utopia,” 2002.

MAN AND SUPERMAN
Image of Ralph Fiennes stars in "Man and Superman" as part of the NTL series. Maybe telling your teens that Voldemort stars may get them into the theater. OK. A venue that replaces a "theater."
Ralph Fiennes stars in “Man and Superman” as part of the NTL series. Maybe telling your teens that Voldemort stars may get them into the theater.

MAY 16: Ralph Fiennes stars in George Bernard Shaw’s “exhilarating reinvention” of this witty, provocative classic that asks questions about how we live. Shaw was as much a philosopher as playwright and the play puts forth a major Shavian theme: man is the spiritual creator,  woman is the biological “life force” that must always triumph over him. Act III contains the famous dream sequence of “Don Juan in Hell,” although it’s not always included in what is a four-act event. To learn more about the play, click here.

 

HAMLET

OCTOBER 15: A country at war can certainly tear a family apart, especially when one’s mother marries one’s uncle shortly after the death of one’s father (who was murdered, according to his ghost who comes back and bosses you around).  And that’s just the first act. Lyndsey Friedman directs.  

Benedict Cumberbatch (bottom) and Jonny Lee Miller (both of whom play Sherlock Holmes characters on TV) starred opposite each other in the NTL production of "Frankenstein." To make things more fun, they learn both roles  for the production. Here, Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein and  Miller as The Creature. (Photo: National Theatre).
Benedict Cumberbatch (bottom) and Jonny Lee Miller (both of whom play Sherlock Holmes characters on TV) starred opposite each other in the 2011 NTL production of “Frankenstein.” To make things more fun, they learned both roles and switched parts during the run. Here, Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein and Miller as The Creature. (Photo: National Theatre).
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