8 Behind The Scenes Secrets Of The National Theatre

Lily Frohlich Lily Frohlich


The National Theatre’s exterior might look rather intimidating, but step inside and you’ll soon see just how gentle this brutalist beast is.

It’s home to a huge host of things to see and do and we’ve got some insider info that might convince you of its immeasurable merit. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, after all.

1. The Deck at the National Theatre offers incredible Southbank views

A post shared by Lucy Causbrook (@lucycausbrook) on

It’s also a great place to grab a drink with a view without feeling like a tinned sardine. We know the nearby Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden is pretty, but this place offers exactly the same view with so much more room to breathe.

2. The National Theatre’s roof is home to an estimated 60,000 bees

[Claire André]

They’re fighting the declining bee population with a rooftop beehive paradise. If you’re lucky you’ll even be able to buy some of their fresh honey from the National Theatre bookshop. Now that’s really something to bee proud of!

3. It’s completely free to go and spy on the super-talented set makers

Access to the Sherling High-Level Walkway won’t cost you a penny and you can stay for as long as you like watching the masters ply their trade. There’s always something to see in the production workshop and it’s seriously impressive stuff.

4. Prince Charles once described the National as a nuclear power station

Apparently its construction of the theatre was simply “a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting”. He’s completely off, of course, but the building has divided critics for years. It consistently ranks in the top ten of the ‘most popular’ and simultaneously the ‘most hated’ buildings in London. The marmite of London architecture.

5. The National Theatre bookshop even sells concrete gifts

If you’re a love of the grey stuff you’ll find a selection of concrete gifts in the quirky National Theatre bookshop. It’s not just for buildings anymore!

6. Their food is unexpectedly good

Food? From a theatre? Outrageous! Well, it turns out the National has a lot to offer when it comes to eating options. Outside you’ll find an American Airstream-inspired caravan home to a Brisket + Bird pop-up, or you can visit the House Restaurant for something a little more upmarket. They even do afternoon tea. Who would have thought?

7. The Olivier is modelled on an ancient Greek amphitheatre in Epidaurus

A post shared by Marie Be (@mariebe24) on

This gives it some rather impressive acoustics. The Olivier is one of the three National Theatre performance spaces and it certainly isn’t short of mod-cons. The stage revolve extends an impressive 8 metres below the stage. You wouldn’t even feel slightly claustrophobic if you got stuck down there.

8. You don’t have to sell your soul to afford a ticket

Certain performances have limited numbers of Travelex tickets priced at £15 and 16-25s can get tickets to any show for £7.50 as part of their Entry Pass scheme. You really have no excuse not to go and see something at those prices! You can also queue up in the mornings for £15 day tickets (read about those in their FAQs). If all else fails, there’s NT Live – which broadcasts performances live to 800 cinemas across 30 countries – so you can watch from the comfort of your local picture house.

Feature Image: manilazic

More for culture vultures:

Watch Londoners Read Their Teenage Diaries
Soho’s Secret Jazz Club Is Throwing An All-Day Street Party
The V&A Is Building A Fancy New Quarter And It’s Being Unveiled This Week
A Kim Kardashian Opera Is Happening And We’re Not Sure How We Feel About It