Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at London's National Theatre

Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at London's National Theatre

by Nicholas Hytner


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From the Tony Award and Laurence Olivier Award-winning former director of London's National Theatre—this is a fascinating, candid, eloquent memoir about his career directing theater, producing films and opera, and working closely with some of the world's most celebrated actors.

The list of Nicholas Hytner's accomplishments is long and distinguished: as Artistic Director of London's National Theatre from 2003-2015, he directed and produced a great number of their most popular and memorable plays and musicals, many of which have come to Broadway: Carousel, Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors, David Hare's Stuff Happens among them. He directed both the London and Broadway productions of Miss Saigon, each of which ran for ten years. He directed Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III on both stage and screen. In short: He is one of today's most successful and admired theatrical impresarios.

In Balancing Acts, Hytner gives us a detailed behind-the-scenes look at his creative process. From reviving classic musicals and mastering Shakespeare to commissioning new plays, he shows theater making to be a necessarily collaborative exercise, and he writes insightfully about the actors and playwrights he's worked with: Derek Jacobi, Richard Griffiths, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Harold Pinter, and Tom Stoppard among them. With a cultural range that spans from The Mikado to The Lady in the Van, Balancing Acts is not only a memoir but a gathering of illuminating notes on the art of directing and a thoughtful meditation on the purpose of theater.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451493408
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/14/2017
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

NICHOLAS HYTNER is a theatre director and producer. He was director of London's National theatre from 2003 to 2015 and co-founded the London Theatre Company, whose first theatre, The Bridge, opened in October 2017

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Excerpted from "Balancing Acts"
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Copyright © 2017 Nicholas Hytner.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Part 1 Set-Up

1 National Identity 21


2 Imaginary Forces 38


3 A Really Good Time 55


Part 2 New Things

4 Ourselves and Each Other 77

New Plays

5 A Way of Looking at Things 116

Alan Bennett

6 Knowing Nothing 139


Part 3 Old Things

7 A Reason to Do It 155


8 The Original Production 178

Staging the Classics

9 The Age and Body of the Time 199

More Shakespeare

Part 4 Show Business

10 On the Bandwagon 227


11 What They Best Like 244


11 One Night Only 266

Tacking Them In

Prologue 280

Cast and Creatives 283

Index 297

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