This March, Radio 4 goes behind the scenes at the National Theatre, tracking the creative development and rehearsals for the National’s new play, My Country; A Work In Progress, which reflects the country after the EU Referendum in the words of people across the UK and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, directed by Rufus Norris.
In the days following the EU referendum the National Theatre began a nationwide listening project. The vote on 23 June 2016 was not only a politically significant decision, it also threw into sharp relief deep divisions across the country – revealing hitherto unspoken, yet profound differences in outlook and attitude. It divided Scotland and Northern Ireland from England and Wales and London from almost everywhere else.
In a unique piece of artistic engagement with this event, Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, has teamed up again with his former artistic collaborator, the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, to create a stage work aimed at capturing that moment and those divisions, titled My Country; A Work In Progress. Central to the play are the voices of the public themselves, which will in the final piece be presented by actors.
Radio 4’s documentary follows Norris, Duffy, producer Padraig Cusack and designer Katrina Lindsay as they work with the interviewers, their material and the actors to bring to life this reflection of Britain post-referendum.
Gwyneth Williams, Controller of Radio 4, says: “Culture has a central role to play in adding a perspective to events as they unfold in this unpredictable and turbulent period of history. I’m therefore delighted to be bringing this documentary on the making of the play to our listeners, following the National Theatre in their endeavour to deepen our understanding of Britain.”
Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, says: “For me, the referendum provoked questions about our country that were far beyond the question of Britain’s role in Europe. It articulated an estrangement and disaffection with our country and our collective consciousness. This provoked a need and a desire to create a piece of theatre that was responsive to the frustration and disillusionment we saw unfold post referendum. Having the BBC in the rehearsal room to explore how the creative process comes together on a verbatim project has been a great experience. I hope listeners will enjoy hearing about the process over the weeks and months the BBC were in the room with us and gain some insight into the highs and lows that came through this unique devising process.”
TX date: 9 March 2017, 11.30am