National Theatre Backstage Tours

National Theatre , South Bank Thursday February 28 2013 0:00
Rob Greig
Subservience of form to function is bracingly absolute in Sir Denys Lasdun's building, which was completed in 1976. The Lyttleton sits at the apex of an L-shape, with massive storage areas behind and to one side. This facilitates the repertory system the National operates, with a number of different productions using each auditorium concurrently. In the prop and set-building workshops sculptors, carpenters, smiths and painters create everything used on stage, from silicone broccoli florets to giant chunks of polystyrene rubble. In contrast to the Lyttleton's familiar set-up, the Cottesloe is an infinitely configurable modern studio space, based loosely on an Elizabethan courtyard theatre. It's the Olivier, though, with its razzle-dazzle drum revolve – a huge circular section in the middle of the stage which goes up and down as well as round and round – that is the National's pride and joy.
Venue name: National Theatre
Address: South Bank
Opening hours: 9.30am-11pm Mon-Sat (12noon-6pm Sun when there is a performance in the building)
Transport: Tube: Waterloo
Price: £7.50, £6.50 concs (unsuitable for under-sevens)