The National Theatre is one of the United Kingdom’s foremost publicly funded performing arts venues, internationally known as the National Theatre of Great Britain.
Founded in 1963, the National Theatre company was initially based at The Old Vic Theatre in Waterloo, before its main building was opened in 1976. The building is located next to the Thames in the South Bank area of central London.
Inside its current uber-cool exterior are, in fact, three different theatres: The Olivier (named after Sir Lawrence Olivier, the National Theatre’s first artistic director and one of the theatre’s founding fathers), The Lyttelton, and The Dorfman. Each auditorium can run up to three shows in repertoire, meaning the National can be hosting a large number of shows at any one point, anything up to 20 productions each year.
The National Theatre has produced mega hits such as The History Boys, War Horse, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, People, Places And Things, and One Man, Two Guvnors. Many of these productions continue to tour the country and globe.
In June 2009, the National Theatre began its NT Live programme; this now broadcasts the best of British Theatre to over 2,000 venues in 60 countries around the world.
A multi-functional building, the National is not just a theatre though – it’s also home to restaurants, bars, work-spaces and a unique theatre bookshop. Be sure to give yourself time before a show to buy a drink from the Understudy Bar, sit with the crowds on the banks of the Thames, and enjoy reading the script of that play you’e fallen in love with.