National Theatre Live’s 2010 broadcast of Alan Bennett’s acclaimed play The Habit of Art, with Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances de la Tour, returns to cinemas as part of the National Theatre's 50th anniversary celebrations. Benjamin Britten, sailing uncomfortably close to the wind with his new opera, Death in Venice, seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend, W H Auden. During this imagined meeting, their first for twenty-five years, they are observed and interrupted by, amongst others, their future biographer and a young man from the local bus station. Alan Bennett’s play is as much about the theatre as it is about poetry or music. It looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men, and at the ethics of biography. It reflects on growing old, on creativity and inspiration, and on persisting when all passion’s spent: ultimately, on the habit of art.

  1. Alan Bennett


Top Billed Cast

  1. Richard Griffiths

    Richard Griffiths

    W. H. Auden

  2. Alex Jennings

    Alex Jennings

    Benjamin Britten

  3. Frances de la Tour

    Frances de la Tour

Full Cast & Crew

National Theatre Live: The Habit of Art
National Theatre Live: The Habit of Art


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Status Released

Release Information

  • April 22, 2010


    All ages admitted, but certain scenes may be unsuitable for young children. May contain mild language and sex/drugs references. May contain moderate violence if justified by context (e.g. fantasy).

Original Language English

Runtime 2h 25m

Budget -

Revenue -

Homepage http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/synopsis/11638-the-habit-of-art



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