National Theatre

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National Theatre Permanent theatre company usually subsidized by the state and housed in one venue, where national classics of drama are performed in repertory. The oldest national theatre is the Comédie-Française in Paris, founded in 1680. The National Theatre of Great Britain, first advocated by Garrick, only became a reality in the 1960s. Its first production, Hamlet, took place on October 22, 1963, at the Old Vic Theatre. Sir Peter Hall succeeded Laurence Olivier as artistic director (1973–88). In October 1976, new buildings designed by Sir Denys Lasdun officially opened and comprise the Lyttleton Theatre, the Olivier Theatre, and the Cottesloe Theatre. Other directors include Sir Richard Eyre (1988–97), Trevor Nunn (1997–2002), and Nicholas Hytner (2002– ).

National Theatre

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National Theatre. First proposed by Effingham Wilson (1848), but bedevilled by false starts, conflicts of interest, and two world wars, the idea of a state theatre received parliamentary approval (1949) but the promised funding was not forthcoming. The National Theatre company was finally incorporated in 1963, with Laurence Olivier as director and the Old Vic providing a nucleus of actors, but it was not until 1976, after financial difficulties and criticism, that the company moved into its permanent home, a three-theatre complex on the South Bank (London), partly state subsidized. Since 1988 the prefix ‘Royal’ has been permitted.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Royal National Theatre

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