The National Theatre

(2827 words)
  • Matthew Morrison

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

In the spring of 1976, a National Theatre production of Hamlet directed by Peter Hall transferred from the Old Vic to the Lyttleton, one of three theatres comprising the National’s new base on London’s South Bank. The others, the Olivier and the Cottesloe, were not yet completed, but Hall had decided there would be no more delays. It had taken over a hundred years to establish The National, and since its official launch in 1963, it had been without its promised permanent home.

The first calls for such an institution had come in 1848 from the publisher Effingham Wilson. Early supporters included Charles Dickens and Matthew Arnold who famously declared, “The theatre is irresistible; organise the theatre!” (…

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Morrison, Matthew. "The National Theatre". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 August 2008
[, accessed 10 October 2015.]