Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Thursday, 20 August 2009 08:51 UK

Gambon to appear in Bennett play

Alex Jennings and Michael Gambon
The play is due to open at the Lyttelton Theatre on 5 November

Veteran actor Sir Michael Gambon is to star in Alan Bennett's new play when it opens in November, the National Theatre has announced.

The actor, 68, who succeeded Richard Harris in playing Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, will appear in The Habit of Art alongside Alex Jennings.

The work tells the story of a fictional meeting between composer Benjamin Britten and poet WH Auden.

The play is Bennett's first since The History Boys, which opened in 2004.

Sir Michael will play Auden while Jennings - who played Prince Charles alongside Helen Mirren in The Queen - will appear as Britten.

It reflects on growing old, on creativity and inspiration, and on persisting when all passion's spent
The National Theatre on The Habit of Art

Actress Frances de la Tour will also appear in the production which is being directed by the National's artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, who also helmed The History Boys.

In the play, Britten seeks advice from his friend Auden about a new opera, in a meeting that is interrupted and observed by other characters including their future biographer.

The play is "as much about the theatre as it is about poetry or music", the National said in a statement.

"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."

It is due to open at the National's Lyttelton Theatre on 5 November and will be broadcast live at a number of cinemas across the UK on 22 April next year.

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