London’s Royal National Theatre celebrates 50th anniversary

BY newsdesk  October 22, 2013 at 5:55 PM EST


Photo by Aurelien Guichard/National Theatre

Tuesday marks 50 years of theatrical performances for the Royal National Theatre, orginally founded as the National Theatre. The AP reports that Queen Elizabeth II visited the theater to mark the anniversary and received a backstage tour from the widow of founder Laurence Olivier.

The theater’s first staged work was William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” directed by Olivier, with Peter O’Toole in the title role. Nicholas Hytner, director of the Royal National Theatre wrote Tuesday in the London Evening Standard:

“The National Theatre has no charter, no founding document, but there would be few who would disagree with the goals set out by the great playwright and critic Harley Granville Barker in 1908, who, more than 50 years before the 1963 foundation of the National, looked forward to a theatre that would, ‘keep the plays of Shakespeare in its repertoire; revive whatever else is vital in English classical drama; prevent recent plays of great merit from falling into oblivion; produce new plays; produce translations of foreign works both ancient and modern.’”