Jonathan Kentís long-scheduled National Theatre production of Oedipus,
starring Ralph Fiennes (pictured) in the title role, has now confirmed
its dates and will open in rep in the NT Olivier on 15 October 2008 (previews
from 8 October), initially booking until 16 November (See News, 2 Oct
2007). Public booking will open on 23 July.
In Sophocles ancient Greek tragedy, in a new version by Frank McGuinness,
the people of Thebes look to Oedipus to lift a terrible curse from them
and their city. He consults the oracle and learns that he must root out
the late kingís murderer. But his relentless interrogation of one man
after another leads inexorably, and in the space of a single day, to his
own savage conclusion.
Fiennes is joined in the cast by Clare Higgins as Oedipus mother Jocasta
and Alan Howard as the blind prophet Teiresias (See News, 27 Mar 2008).
Also confirmed are Patrick Brennan, Steven Page, Christopher Saul, David
Shaw-Parker and Malcolm Storry. Oedipus is designed by Paul Brown,
Kentís long-term collaborator at the Almeida and, more recently, the
Theatre Royal Haymarket season, with lighting by Neil Austin, sound by
Paul Groothuis and music by Jonathan Dove.
September 12, 2006 (from Broadway.com)
Fiennes, Chaplin and Shaw Set for Starring Roles at National Theatre
National Theatre Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner informally
revealed future plans for the theater at a press conference today,
including a new play by David Hare and performances by Ben Chaplin,
Fiona Shaw and Ralph Fiennes.
Hytner would not reveal details about the subject, title or timing of
Hare's playó"it's in the hands of the Gods"óbut confirmed that their
long working relationship would continue. When Hytner directed Hare's
Stuff Happens in 2004, there were reports afterward that Hare was
disenchanted by the fact that the National failed to extend its run or
bring it back. (Another play, His Dark Materials, was already committed
to the open at the Olivier.) Hytner admitted frankly, "He was pissed
off, and we were sorry." Previously, the National produced Hare's
trilogy of plays about the British church, state and judiciary (Racing
Demon, The Absence of War and Murmuring Judges between 1990 and 1993),
as well as Amy's View (originally produced in 1997), A Map of the World
(1982), The Secret Rapture (1988), Skylight (1995) and The Permanent Way
(2003). Hare's next play, The Vertical Hour, will have its world
premiere on Broadway in a production starring Julianne Moore and
directed by Sam Mendes, opening November 30.
Chaplin will star as TV journalist James Mossman in Nicholas Wright's
new play The Reporter, the true story of Mossman's suicide. Former
National Artistic Director Richard Eyre will return to direct.
Fiennes will reunite with director Jonathan Kent to star in Oedipus,
which will be staged at the National and then embark on a national tour.
Kent most recently directed Fiennes on Broadway in Faith Healer. Their
previous collaborations include Hamlet (an Almeida production that
subsequently transferred to Broadway) and the double bill of Richard II
and Coriolanus, which later ran at BAM.
Shaw will star as Winnie in a revival of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days,
directed by Deborah Warner. The two have worked together at the National
on Richard II (Shaw played title role) and The Powerbook as well as
productions of Medea (both in London and on Broadway) and Beckett's
Footfalls at the Garrick Theatre.
Emma Rice, Artistic Director of Kneehigh Theatre Company whose
production of Tristan and Yseult was a big hit at the National, will
return to put on a stage version of the 1946 film classic A Matter of
Life and Death at the Olivier.
Hytner revealed that he will direct a new production of George
Etherege's 1676 play The Man of Mode at the Olivier next year, as well
as a new play by Ayub Khan-Din (whose Royal Court hit East is East
subsequently became a film) at the Lyttelton.
June 21, 2006 (from Daily Mail)
Oedipus? It's a complex role
By BAZ BAMIGBOYE
Ralph Fiennes is planning to play Oedipus for the National Theatre.
The award-winning actor will star in the Greek tragedy in a production
to be directed by Jonathan Kent, his long-time artistic collaborator,
for the National's autumn 2008 season.
When I approached them yesterday, the National confirmed to me that a
plan is at a very early stage. There's no word yet on who will adapt
Sophocles' work about a son who murders his father and sleeps with his
The writer David Stuttard did a version three years ago in Durham, which
modelled Oedipus on Tony Blair, but I think the National have it in mind
to commission a new adaptation. One idea being explored is to take the
play, either before or after its run at the National, on a tour of
One particular spot the artistic team is keen to visit is the Roman
amphitheatre at Bosra, in Syria, although no one can predict what state
that part of the world will be in two years from now.
Mr Kent has directed Mr Fiennes in several plays including Hamlet for
the Almeida (which also featured Francesca Annis) a few years ago, and I
always remember a Shakespeare double bill they did in Shoreditch, again
for the Almeida.
The producer Sonia Friedman bought them together again for Faith Healer,
presently on Broadway with Cherry Jones and Iain McDiarmid.
Mr Fiennes has other projects in the pipeline, including another stint
as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and, probably before the National
season, he will direct his first feature film.
The city of thebes is suffering and Oedipus the king wants to know why. Creon is sent to ask the oracle and Teiresius, a
prophet is sent for. The oracle says that the murderer of Laios must be found and punished so Oedipus proclaimed that he would
do everything he could to find the murderer. Teiresius says that the murderer is Oedipus, but Oedipus does not believe him.
Oedipus charges Creon of sending the prophet to overthrow him. Oedipus tells Iocaste of his leaving Corinth. He tells her that
it was prophesied that he would kill his father and marry his mother, but so that it would never happen, he ran from Corinth.
On the trip, he met some people on the highway, got in an argument, and killed them. He also solved the riddle of the sphinx,
and became the king of Thebes. A messenger came from Corinth to tell Oedipus of the death of Polybos and that he would now
become the king of Corinth. The messenger also tells Oedipus that he is not the son of Polybos, but that the messenger was
given Oedipus by another man and that he gave Oedipus to Polybos. The person that gave Oedipus to the messenger was sent for.
The shepherd arrives and tells Oedipus that he was a servant of Laios and that Laios gave him his child to kill because of the
prophecy that his son would kill him. Since the shepherd felt sorry for the child, he did not kill him, but gave him to the
other shepherd. After this, Oedipus finds out that the prophecy came true. Iocaste commits suicide, and Oedipus gouges out his
eyes. Then he says bye to his children, and leaves the city.
Cast and production credits
Written by Sophocles
Translated by Frank McGuinness
Directed by Jonathan Kent
Set Design by Paul Brown Lighting Design by Neil Austin Sound Design by Paul Groothuis Music by Jonathan Dove Movement by Denni Sayers
Oedipus: Ralph Fiennes
Jocasta: Clare Higgins
Teiresias: Alan Howard
Creon: Jasper Britton
Shepherd: Alfred Burke
Messenger: Gwilym Lee
The play will open in rep in the National Theatre Olivier London on October 15 (previews from October 8), initially booking until November 16.
Public booking will open on July 23.