National Theatre

16:37 Mon 24th May 2010 |

The Royal National Theatre (generally known as the National Theatre and commonly as The National) in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is located next to the Thames in the South Bank area of central London.

The National Theatre stages over 20 theatre productions a year. These are put on in the three auditoriums - the Olivier, Lyttelton and Cottesloe Theatres - and in these three theatres are presented a mix of new plays and classics, with up to six productions in repertory at any one time.

The idea of a National Theatre is believed to have first been suggested around 1848. The first recorded proposal for the establishment of a National Theatre was put forward by Effingham Wilson, a London publisher.

The first foundation stone of the current building was laid by the Queen Mother in 1951 next to the Festival Hall. Work on the site where the National Theatre actually stands started on 3 November 1969.

Apart from normal productions, the National offers all kinds of other events and services:

•    Short early-evening Platform performances.
•    Free exhibitions in the foyers.
•    Free live music before performances.
•    Outdoor events in the summer months.
•    Backstage tours
•    One of the world's best-stocked theatre bookshops to browse.

Visitors can interact with The Big Wall, which focuses on a current production at the National Theatre and will be soon provide information on the full programme, providing a new, interactive way of experiencing theatre. The theatre is open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 11pm, all year round (except for bank holidays) and on a number of Sundays from noon to 6pm.

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Tickets for performances can be purchased online, by phone or in person at the box office.

Contact details for the National Theatre tel: 020 7452 3000 (Box Office), fax +44 (0)20 7 452 3030, email:

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