The National TheatreHistory In 1949 the National Theatre Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament. It was left to the Chancellor of the Exchequer todecide whether the theatre should be built. The site itself was changed around 3-4 times. The first foundation stone was laid by the Queen Mother in 1951 next to theFestival Hall. Work on the site where the National Theatre actually stands started on 3 November 1969, and was inauguratedby Jennie Lee (made Baroness 1970), then Minister for the Arts. When the National Theatre Company was founded, it was decided in July 1962 that with the pending completion of the newbuilding, the Old Vic Theatre was to become the temporary home of the specially created National Theatre Company. The companys first ever performance was at the Old Vic on 22 October 1963. Before the move to the South Bank, theyplayed at the Old Vic for twelve and a half very successful years, ten of them under the directorship of Laurence Olivier. Out of the 3 theatres the Lyttelton opened first, in March 1976; the Olivier next in October 1976; and the Cottesloe staged itsfirst public performances in March 1977. The Queen officially opened the building on 25 October 1976. Saturday 1st March 1977 was the first night on which all three theatres were playing. In October 1988, to celebrate the National Theatres 25th anniversary, the National was granted the title ‘Royal,’ and HM TheQueen unveiled a plaque in the foyer commemorating the event. the National Theatre has produced over 700 plays. Years since, the National has staged over twenty new productions. Several different productions can be seen in any one weekand there are over 1,000 performances every year, given by a company of 150 actors to over 600,000 people. Since the opening night of, ‘Hamletstarring’ - Peter OToole, on the 22nd October 1963, the National Theatre has producedover 700 plays An exhibition about the history of the National Theatre is on permanent display in the Theatres Olivier Circle Gallery.
The National TheatreQuotes…the National Theatre must be its own advertisement - must impose itself onpublic notice, not by posters or column advertisements in the newspapers, but bythe very fact of its ample, dignified, and liberal existence. It must bulk large inthe social and intellectual life of London...It must not even have the air ofappealing to a specially literary and cultured class. It must be visibly andunmistakably a popular institution, making a large appeal to the wholecommunity…It will be seen that the Theatre we propose would be a NationalTheatre in this sense, that it would be from the first conditionally – and, in theevent of success, would become absolutely – the property of the nation.‘Preface (1904) to A National Theatre: Scheme and Estimates by William Archerand H. Granville Barker, London 1907.
Continued…Its a great time to be a national theatre, and to rise to the challenge of living upto our name. We want to tell the stories that chart the way the nation ischanging. We want to bring front-line reports from new communities andgenerations, and we want to see the present redefined in the context of thepast,‘- Nicholas Hytner, Director of the National Theatre.
The National TheatreAims The National Theatre is central to the creative life of the country. In its threetheatres on the South Bank in London, it presents an eclectic mix of newplays and classics, with seven or eight productions in repertory at any onetime. The National Theatre aims constantly to re-energise the great traditions ofthe British stage and to expand the horizons of audiences and artists alike. The National Theatre aspires to reflect in its repertoire the diversity of thenations culture. At its Studio, the National offers a space for research and development forthe National Theatre’s stages and the theatre as a whole. Through the National Theatre Education Department, tomorrows audiencesare addressed. Through an extensive programme of Platform performances, backstage tours,foyer music, exhibitions, and free outdoor entertainment it recognises thatthe theatre doesnt begin and end with the rise and fall of the curtain. And finally, by touring the National Theatre shares its work with audiences inthe UK and abroad.
The National TheatreWhat’s OnShowing Now: People The Effect The Magistrate HymnForthcoming: This House Children of the Sun Othello
Sourceswww.nationaltheatre.org.ukBy Hayden Simmons and Alexander Sanders