Great Performances Presents the Exclusive U.S. Premiere of the National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet Friday, April 23 on PBS
Starring Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley and directed by Simon Godwin
An original film for television by the National Theatre, Great Performances: Romeo & Juliet premieres Friday, April 23 at 9 p.m. on PBS, pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app. This stylized film of Shakespeare’s masterpiece celebrates the theatrical imagination, moving from the stripped-down aesthetic of a rehearsal into a cinematic journey that embraces the architecture of the theater space and varied backstage spaces of the National’s Lyttelton Theatre. In this contemporary rendering of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, a company of actors in a shuttered theater bring to life the tale of two young lovers who strive to transcend a world of violence and hate.
Starring Josh O’Connor (The Crown, Masterpiece: The Durrells in Corfu) and Jessie Buckley (Fargo, Chernobyl) as Romeo and Juliet, the production is directed by Shakespeare Theatre Company Artistic Director Simon Godwin and is adapted for television by Emily Burns. The ensemble cast features Fisayo Akinade as Mercutio, Shubham Saraf as Benvolio, Deborah Findlay as the Nurse, David Judge as Tybalt, Alex Mugnaioni as Paris, Ellis Howard as Sampson, Tamsin Greig as Lady Capulet and Lucian Msamati as the Friar.
“During the ongoing performance shutdown in London and New York, we’re delighted to participate in this compelling hybrid of theater and film that brings an exciting contemporary perspective to one of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays,” said Great Performances Executive Producer David Horn. “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with the National Theatre.” The series broadcast the National Theatre’s production of One Man, Two Guvnors in November 2020 as part of its fourth annual “Broadway’s Best” lineup on PBS.
“Shakespeare’s potential for reinvention is endless,” said director Simon Godwin. “Over 17 days of filming, the company was united by a sense of shared exploration. As well as being given intimate access to the thoughts and feelings of characters, we were able to bring to life remarkable, forgotten spaces at the National Theatre. Desire, dreams and destiny came together to make Romeo & Juliet sing in an entirely new way.”
Throughout its more than 40-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details). Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. John Walker is Senior Producer, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer and David Horn is Executive Producer.
Great Performances: Romeo & Juliet is produced by the National Theatre in association with Sabel Productions and Cuba Pictures. 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.
Major funding for Great Performances is provided by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, Rosalind P. Walter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Jody and John Arnhold, The Starr Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, public television viewers and PBS.
About the National Theatre
The National Theatre’s mission is to make world class theatre that’s entertaining, challenging and inspiring – and to make it for everyone. It aims to reach the widest possible audience and to be as inclusive, diverse and national as possible with a broad range of productions that play in London, on tour around the UK, on Broadway and across the globe. The National Theatre’s extensive UK-wide learning and participation programme supports young people and schools through performance and writing programmes like Connections, New Views and Let’s Play, while Public Acts creates ambitious new works of participatory theatre in sustained partnership with theatres and community organisations around the country. The National Theatre extends its reach through digital programmes including NT Live, which broadcasts some of the best of British theatre to over 2,500 venues in 65 countries, and the National Theatre Collection, which makes recordings of shows available to UK schools and the global education sector. The National Theatre invests in the future of theatre by developing talent, creating bold new work and building audiences, partnering with a range of UK theatres and theatre companies. For more information, please visit nationaltheatre.org.uk @NationalTheatre @NT_PressOffice
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