Matthew Kelly & David Yelland get into The Habit of Art

The Original Theatre Company and York Theatre Royal have announced a UK tour of Alan Bennett’s, The Habit of Art, directed by Philip Franks and starring Matthew Kelly as W H Auden/Fitz and David Yelland as Benjamin Britten/Henry.

The tour begins in August at York Theatre Royal.

The Habit of Art explores friendship, rivalry and heartache, the joy, pain and emotional cost of creativity.

It is centered on a fictional meeting between poet WH Auden and composer Benjamin Britten.

Bennett wrote it as a play-within-a-play. Actors Fitz, Henry, Tim and Donald are rehearsing a play called Caliban’s Day under the direction of stage manager, Kay, and in the presence of the playwright, Neil.

In Caliban’s Day, a fictitious meeting occurs in 1973 in Auden’s (Fitz) rooms at Oxford, not long before he dies.

Britten (Henry) has been auditioning boys nearby for his opera, Death in Venice, and arrives unexpectedly – their first meeting in 25 years after falling out over the failure of their opera Paul Bunyan.

Alan Bennett’s play premiered at the National Theatre in 2009, directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances de la Tour.

The National then toured the production, a year later, with a new cast led by Desmond Barrit, Malcolm Sinclair and Selina Caddell.

Matthew Kelly’s West End credits include Waiting For Godot, Tim Firth’s play Sign of the Times, the musical, Lend Me A Tenor! and Lennie in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of Of Mice and Men at the Savoy Theatre.

Other recent theatre includes Pride & Prejudice (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre & UK Tour), The Jew Of Malta, Volpone and Love’s Sacrifice for the RSC, and Toast (Park Theatre & 59E59 in New York).

David Yelland’s most recent theatre credits include Witness for the Prosecution (London County Hall), A Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare’s Globe), Taken at Midnight (Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatre Royal Haymarket).

West End credits include Deathtrap (Garrick), The Deep Blue Sea (Haymarket), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Strand), Richard III (Savoy – for which he won the Clarence Derwent Award), Life x3 (Savoy) and Man and Boy (Duchess).


August 30 – September 8, York Theatre Royal
September 11-15, Theatre Royal Brighton
September 17-22, Salisbury Playhouse
October 1-6, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
October 8-13, New Wolsey, Ipswich
October 15-20, Richmond Theatre
November 6-10, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
November 12-17, The Lowry, Salford
November 19-24, Palace Theatre, Southend.

Further dates to be added

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