A new play staged by the National Theatre will thrust actors in their 70s and 80s onto the stage without a script and ask them to improvise a storyline.
Lost Without Words, described as “a theatrical experiment,” recognises that memory loss means that elderly actors often find it harder to recall scripts. Michael Gambon confessed that he uses an earpiece to prompt his lines onstage because his memory is so bad. Rufus Norris, the NT’s artistic director, said the play, would feature “older actors in their 70s and and 80s, actors who had spent their lives on stage bringing life to a writer’s words, actors who now they are old appear in our theatres less and less – what would happen if we put those actors on stage without a script? What scenes would they create? What stories would unfold?”
Will Ian McKellen, 77, take improv challenge?
The cast has not yet been finalised but Mr Norris said that it would feature “well loved” and “respected” names. “I’m not sure if Ian McKellen will be in the cast,” he said. The play, staged in the Dorfman Theatre, would consist of “structured improvisation” with the “script” likely to change from night to night. “One thing we know for sure is that those people are going to know how to ‘enter through the French Windows’,” joked Mr Norris. Sir Ian McKellen this week claimed that the National Theatre will never fully represent the UK if most of its work continues to take place in London. The actor said it was theatres across the UK that make up Britain’s “national theatre.”
Brexit production based on interviews with Britons The NT responded with a major project, My Country; A Work in Progress, which will tell the story of modern Britain following the Brexit vote. The NT is conducting interviews about life in the UK with people in towns including Merthyr Tydfil, Leicester and Londonderry. Mr Norris will collaborate with the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy to create a performance based on the verbatim conversations. The show will staged in the towns where the interviews took place. Mr Norris said: “One of the dangers is we tell the world what we think about this. Our duty is to express the voice of people who felt they had no voice.” National Theatre productions of War Horse, Jane Eyre and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will also tour the regions in 2017.
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