As the former Artistic Director of the National Theatre in London Nicholas Hytner evidently has many interesting stories to tell. He was at the helm during a creative and successful period where the National Theatre expanded into cinema with National Theatre Live and when classic plays such as The History Boys, War Horse and His Dark Materials were all staged. Nicholas Hytner is at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to discuss his new book Balancing Acts. Within this memoir he lets the audience behind the scenes at the National Theatre and explains how he deals with personalities as big as Harold Pinter, Alan Bennett and Michael Gambon. The book is filled with anecdotes and Nicholas is in conversation with James Runcie to give the audience a taster of his 12 year period at the “National”.
When asked about the juggling act of running the day to day upkeep of a building and the creative task of directing plays Hytner talks at length about the joys and the challenges. He thrives on creating new work and collaborating with interesting writers and actors. Nicholas Hytner has enjoyed a long period of collaboration with Alan Bennett, through the staging of Wind and The Willows, The Habit of Art and The History Boys. Hytner lets the audience into a secret of working with Bennett, where their relationship can be simplified to “You just write it down and I will stage it“. Hytner comes over as being easy to work with and a person who clearly loves the rehearsal room. He talks at length about staging Shakespeare and the joys that this brings.
Balancing Acts is a witty book filled with anecdotes and opinions. Nicholas Hytner’s enthusiasm and love of theatre comes over at the event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The hour concludes with Hynter discussing his latest project, a new theatre space in London. Here he will be staging big, commercial and exciting productions that he plans to screen in cinemas (in the same style of National Theatre Live). What is clear is the Hytner’s love of theatre has not been diminished since he left his role at the National Theatre and he will continue to make theatre popular in any way he can.