News: NT announces original film of Romeo & Juliet with Josh O’Connor & Jessie Buckley

The National Theatre converts its planned Romeo & Juliet with Josh O’Connor & Jessie Buckley into a TV adaptation, with an amazing supporting cast that includes Deborah Findlay, Lucian Msamati and Tamsin Greig

The National Theatre has announced it is creating a new filmed version of Romeo & Juliet for television, temporarily transforming the vast stage spaces of its Lyttelton theatre into a film studio to capture Shakespeare’s timeless play for a new generation of audiences.

Romeo & Juliet will be directed by NT Associate Simon Godwin (Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night), adapted for screen by Emily Burns and with Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl, Judy) and Josh O’Connor (God’s Own Country, The Crown) as the star-crossed lovers.

As previously announced for the Olivier production, Fisayo Akinade (The Antipodes, Barber Shop Chronicles) will play Mercutio. Also announced today as joining the cast of Romeo & Juliet is Deborah Findlay (Coriolanus, The Split) in the role of the Nurse, Tamsin Greig (Twelfth Night, Talking Heads) as Lady Capulet, Lucian Msamati (Master Harold…and the boys, His Dark Materials) as the Friar, Shubham Saraf (A Suitable Boy) as Benvolio, David Judge (My Brilliant Friend) as Tybalt, Alex Mugnaioni (The Visit) as Paris and Ellis Howard (Catherine the Great) as Sampson.

Romeo & Juliet was originally to have played to theatre audiences in the NT’s Olivier auditorium from Summer 2020. Reconceived for the screen, this new 90-minute version will be shot over three weeks with a collaborative team of theatre and film experts, embracing the architecture of the theatre space in telling the story.  

It will premiere in 2021 on Sky Arts and PBS, in the UK and US respectively. Sky Arts went free-to-air this September and is now available for everyone on Freeview channel 11 in the UK. Sky Arts is the headline sponsor of National Theatre Live in the UK and has just renewed its partnership for a further three years. In the US, the Emmy Award-winning performing arts series Great Performances will present Romeo & Juliet on PBS.

Set in modern Italy in a world where Catholic and secular values clash, two young lovers strive to transcend a world of violence and corruption. Uniting key talent from both theatre and film, the Director of Photography is Tim Sidell (I Hate Suzie), with production design by Soutra Gilmour, movement direction by Jonathan Goddard and Shelley Maxwell, fight direction by Kate Waters and composition by Michael Bruce.

It will be produced by David Sabel, who created the National Theatre Live programme at the NT, at Sabel Productions. Executive Producers are Rufus Norris, Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre; Dixie Linder, Cuba Pictures (London Road, McMafia); David Horn, Great Performances; Christine Schwarzman & Darren Johnston, No Guarantees; and Philip Edgar Jones, Sky Arts.

Rehearsals for Romeo & Juliet start in November at the National Theatre, with filming from December and the premiere expected to air in spring 2021. 

Presented by Sky Arts, PBS and No Guarantees, Romeo & Juliet will be produced by the National Theatre, in association with Sabel Productions and Cuba Pictures.  

Romeo & Juliet is supported by Leila Maw Straus.

Main image: Sebastian Nevols

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