Home » London Theatres » A Short Guide to the National Theatre

A Short Guide to the National Theatre


The National Theatre Complex with the temporary Shed (Red Box)

Location – South Bank, London, SE1 9PX.

The National Theatre is the home of one of the most prestigious Theatre companies in the United Kingdom, based on the South Bank of the Thames.

The National Theatre company was formed in 1963 and was based from that date until 1976 at the Old Vic Theatre. The National Theatre complex was designed by architects Sir Denys Lasdun and Peter Softley and structural engineers Flint & Neill and contains three stages which opened between 1976 and 1977.

Highly controversial at the time, it received a lot of criticism for its ‘Brutalist’ concrete blocks approach, despite the controversy, the theatre has been a Grade II listed building since 1994.

The complex has three separate auditoriums, The Olivier Theatre is the largest with seating for 1160 people, the Lyttelton Theatre which can accommodate 890 people and finally the Cottesloe which is a small studio seating around 400 people.

From February 2013 the Cottesloe was closed for refurbishment to be reopened in 2014. To compensate for this loss a temporary studio had been built call the Shed which is housed in a large red box building.


Sir Laurence Olivier

The theatre strives to present a varied programme including Shakespeare, International Classics, and Contemporary Plays.

Numerous highly acclaimed productions have been presented on the National Theatre stages and most of the famous actors and actresses of their day have appeared on its stages.

To find out about present productions and book tickets, visit the National Theatre website  here

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