National Theatre announces original film of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ with Josh O’Connor & Jessie Buckley

The National Theatre has today 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, adapted for screen by Emily Burns and will star Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor as the star-crossed lovers.

The National Theatre has broadcast stage productions to cinemas for over a decade through its National Theatre Live programme, but this will be the first time an original production for screen has been created in its South Bank home.

Romeo & Juliet was originally to have played to theatre audiences in the NT’s Olivier auditorium from Summer 2020. Adapted 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.  

Romeo & Juliet will premiere in 2021 on Sky Arts and PBS, in the UK and US respectively.

The production will also feature Fisayo Akinade as Mercutio, Deborah Findlay as Nurse, Tamsin Greig as Lady Capulet, Lucian Msamati as the Friar, Shubham Saraf as Benvolio, David Judge as Tybalt, Alex Mugnaioni as Paris and Ellis Howard as Sampson. 

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, 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; 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.

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