The National Theatre (NT) is one of the United Kingdom’s most prominent publicly funded performing arts venues. It is ‘dedicated to making the very best theatre and sharing it with as many people as possible’.
It is over five decades since the National Theatre Company under Laurence Olivier gave their first-ever performance in1963. Since then, the National Theatre has produced well over 800 plays. Today, the NT stages over 30 productions at its South Bank home each year, ranging from re-imagined classics – such as Greek tragedy and Shakespeare – to modern masterpieces and new work by contemporary writers and theatre-makers.
In 2015-16, the NT had a global paying audience of 4m, 2.5m of which was UK based and of this 0.7m came from NT Live – 57% of all UK bookers were from outside London, broadcasting productions live to 2,000 cinemas and 55 countries around the world. Through free and un-ticketed events, digital and TV broadcast, it reached a further 3.6m people, a total global reach of 7.6m. In 2015/16, 155,000 tickets cost £15 or less. Those booking tickets who are under 35 were up 46% year-on-year, and 30% were first-time bookers.
The NT’s New Work Department, created in 2015, brings together its Research and Development space, NT Studio, and the Literary Department, and currently has 180 projects in development. NT collaborations and co-productions extends its national reach and artist range. Recent examples including LOVE with Birmingham Rep; Peter Pan, with Bristol Old Vic; Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, with the National Theatre of Scotland.
In 2015, the major development programme NT Future was completed. On the riverfront, this saw the redevelopment and renaming of the Cottesloe as the new Dorfman Theatre, as well as a remodelled foyer, new cafe and bars, a new bookshop and the creation of the Clore Learning Centre. At the rear of site the Max Rayne Centre is a striking new block built to house all the National Theatre’s production departments. Linked to the new Dorfman theatre by the Sherling Backstage Walkway, from this and other viewing galleries visitors can now observe the hitherto behind the scenes work of prop-makers, scenery designers and other workshops. The NT Future project won a RIBA National Award in 2015.