The drama behind the drama: listen to the tortuous birth story of the National Theatre

Broadcast recently again on BBC Sounds, THE NATIONAL is a fascinating listen. Written by Sarah Wooley, this three-part drama about the creation of the National Theatre on London’s South Bank features all the main players: Sir Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Tynan, Lord Goodman, The Lord Chamberlain, Peter Hall and Harold Pinter as well as many others.

You can listen to THE NATIONAL by clicking here

(Please note – users outside the UK may not be able to access BBC online programming – but give it a try anyway!)


Enjoy A HISTORY OF DISRUPTION – a free online talk from the National Theatre Archive

DAYTIME EVENT – Fri 18th September at 14:30 BST

This unusual and intriguing online talk will take you through periods of disruption in the National Theatre’s history, from the very movement that founded the theatre, right up to the present day’s unprecedented closure. It will also highlight a variety of ways in which anyone can access and enjoy National Theatre content from home.

The event is expected to last about 30 minutes, with time for audience questions at the end.

This event is hosted by the National Theatre Archive and is part of Lambeth Heritage Festival 2020.

Book here to request access to this talk


The National Theatre’s AMADEUS

You can now watch the National Theatre’s highly-praised production of Peter Shaffer’s classic drama AMADEUS, available from 7pm BST on Thursday July 16th.

Music. Power. Jealousy. Welcome to Vienna. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a rowdy young prodigy, arrives determined to make a splash. Awestruck by his genius, court composer Antonio Salieri has the power to promote his talent or destroy it. Seized by obsessive jealousy he begins a war with Mozart, with music and, ultimately, with God. Peter Shaffer’s iconic play had its premiere at the National Theatre in 1979, winning multiple Olivier and Tony awards before being adapted into an Academy Award-winning film.

Directed by Michael Longhurst (Constellations, The World of Extreme Happiness), Lucian Msamati (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, ‘Master Harold’… and the boys) plays Salieri – with live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia.

GUIDANCE: The BBFC age rating is 15 due to some strong language and moderate sex references.

The running time is 2 hours 50 minutes with a very short interval. The show is subtitled.

Although this production is free to watch, please strongly consider making a donation to the National Theatre – or you can text NTATHOME 10 to 70085 to donate £10 or NTATHOME 20 to donate £20 – to enable it to keep its doors open after this crisis has passed.

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The National Theatre’s SMALL ISLAND

The National Theatre’s production of SMALL ISLAND is available to watch for free until 7pm on Thursday 25th June (UK time). It was filmed live on stage at the National Theatre in 2019.

Embark on a journey from Jamaica to Britain, from the Second World War to 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, in this moving stage adaptation of Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning novel.

Hope and humanity meet stubborn reality as SMALL ISLAND traces the tangled history between Jamaica and the UK as our characters dream of a better world. Hortense yearns for a new life away from rural Jamaica, Gilbert dreams of becoming a lawyer, and Queenie longs to escape her Lincolnshire roots, in three intricately connected stories.

Featuring a company of 40 actors, including Leah Harvey, Gershwyn Eustache Jr and Aisling Loftus. SMALL ISLAND is adapted by Helen Edmundson and directed by Rufus Norris.

The running time is 2 hours 55 minutes with a very brief interval. It is subtitled.

GUIDANCE – BBFC rating is 15 due to some strong language, discriminatory behaviour, occasional sexual references and mild violence. Please note that, as part of depicting the experience of Jamaican immigrants to Britain after the Second World War, some characters in the play use racially offensive terms. This production contains strobe-like effects.

Although this production is free to watch, please strongly consider making a donation to the National Theatre – or you can text NTATHOME 10 to 70085 to donate £10 or NTATHOME 20 to donate £20 – to enable it to keep its doors open after this crisis has passed.

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James Graham’s THIS HOUSE

The National Theatre’s production of THIS HOUSE is available to watch for free until 7pm on Thursday 4th June (UK time).

It’s 1974, and Britain has a hung Parliament. The corridors of Westminster ring with the sound of infighting and backstabbing as the political parties battle to change the future of the nation.

THIS HOUSE is a timely, moving and funny insight into the workings of British politics by James Graham (Ink, ITV’s Quiz) and directed by Jeremy Herrin (People, Places and Things).

This highly-praised production enjoyed two sold-out National Theatre runs, a West End transfer and national tour as well as being filmed by National Theatre Live.

It was filmed live on stage at the National Theatre in 2013.

GUIDANCE – some strong language throughout. Suitable for ages 14+.

The running time is 2 hours 40 minutes with a very brief interval. It is subtitled.

Although this production is free to watch, please strongly consider making a donation to the National Theatre – or text NTATHOME 10 to 70085 to donate £10 – to enable it to keep its doors open after this crisis has passed.

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