The Pitmen Painters

Previewed from 19 May 2009, opened on 21 May 2008 and closed on 25 June 2008 (in repertory) National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre
Transferred 27 January 2009, Closed 14 April 2009 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre
Returned 2 September 2009, Closed 22 September 2009 at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre
Returned 2 December 2009 to 7 February 2010 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre
Previewed 5 October 2011, Opened 11 October 2011, Closed 21 January 2012 at the Duchess Theatre

The National Theatre's production of Lee Hall's play The Pitmen Painters in London following a sell-out run at the National Theatre and a three month season on Broadway

In 1934, a group of Ashington miners hired a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class. Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen began to paint - prolifically. Within a few years avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collectors; but every day they continued to work, as before, down the mine...

Full of humour, drama and revelation, Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters - inspired by a book by William Feaver - won the Evening Standard Award for Best New Play. This is the original production directed by Max Roberts.

The cast at London's Cottesloe and Lyttelton Theatres featured Ian Kelly as 'Robert Lyon', Christopher Connel as 'Oliver Kilbourn', Michael Hodgson as 'Harry Wilson', David Whitaker as 'Jimmy Floyd', Deka Walmsley as 'George Brown', Brian Lonsdale as 'Young Lad'/'Ben Nicholson', Lisa McGrillis as 'Susan Parks', and Phillippa Wilson as 'Helen Sutherland'.

The cast at the West End's Duchess Theatre featured Ian Kelly as 'Robert Lyon', Trevor Fox as 'Oliver Kilbourn', Michael Hodgson as 'Harry Wilson', David Whitaker as 'Jimmy Floyd', Joe Caffrey as 'George Brown', Brian Lonsdale as 'Young Lad'/'Ben Nicholson', Viktoria Kay as 'Susan Parks', and Joy Brook as 'Helen Sutherland'.

Directed by Max Roberts, with designs by Gary McCann, lighting by Douglas Kuhrt, and sound by Martin Hodgson.

This production premiered, with the same cast as at London's National Theatre, at the Newcastle Live Theatre - previewed from 20 September 2007, opened on 26 September 2007, and closed on 3 November 2007. Immediately prior to transferring to London's National Theatre, it returned to the Newcastle Live Theatre, in a revised version, with the same cast, from 3 April to 3 May 2008.

"In 1934, a group of Geordie miners sign up for 'art appreciation' classes. College teacher Robert Lyon, flung out of his ivory tower and floundering among the accents and world views of the pitmen, soon realises his dull lectures mean nothing to men who have never been in a gallery. Instead, he gets them to create their own art. Once the genie is out of the bottle, the Ashington Group becomes an art-world sensation. Lee Hall presents this story with such humour and compassion that you can't help but be swept along. The jobsworth union rep, the hardline Marxist and Oliver, the miner with an artist's soul, are so beautifully rendered and so strikingly brought to life by the cast that their struggles are riveting... An immensely enjoyable, often hilarious and thrillingly impassioned piece of theatre." The London Metro

"The Pitmen Painters is Lee Hall's inspired, witty, serious and humbling play about a group of Northumberland miners in Ashington in the Thirties discovering their inner artist... Based on fact, treated with the artistic licence necessary to make it work onstage, it begins with a disastrous lecture on art appreciation. The toff tutor, Robert Lyon, quickly realises the finer details of the Sistine Chapel are wasted on miners who have never looked at a painting, so instead he sets them the task of making their own art. Their raw, authentic, often extraordinarily talented response dazzles Lyon and, later, the patron and modernist art collector Helen Sutherland. Max Roberts's perfectly judged production is filled with the pitmen's paintings of Bedlington Terriers, miners bent at the coalface and flourishing allotments: the power of the play comes as much from these as from the feisty writing and astonishingly fine performances. The best new play of the year so far." The Mail on Sunday

The Pitmen Painters in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 5 October 2011, opened on 11 October 2011, and closed on 21 January 2012.