Released to mark the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death, National Theatre Shakespeare draws together a wealth of incredible archive material from the 55 main-house Shakespeare productions the NT has staged to date, from Peter O’Toole as Hamlet in 1963 and the 1964 all-male production of As You Like It, to the critically acclaimed 2013 Othello and Sam Mendes’ production of King Lear in 2014.
Packed with videos, production photographs, costume and set designs, annotated scripts and more, it gives a unique glimpse behind the scenes of the NT, and demonstrates Shakespeare’s continuing relevance to the modern stage.
• Exclusive video interviews including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Derek Jacobi;
• An interactive timeline of production posters;
• Hundreds of production and rehearsal photographs, costume illustrations, set designs,
technical images, annotated scripts and other content from a selection of NT productions;
• An introduction to each production from journalist and critic Benedict Nightingale;
• Cast and production lists
The history of the creation of the NT is inextricably linked with William Shakespeare. Effingham Wilson’s proposal for a national theatre was partly inspired by the purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace for the nation in 1847. In Wilson’s 1848 Proposition for a National Theatre he set out a claim that a theatre – ‘a house for Shakespeare’ – would be an important complement to the preservation of Shakespeare’s home.
The inaugural production of the National Theatre Company at the Old Vic was Hamlet in 1963, directed by Laurence Olivier and featuring Peter O’Toole. When the NT moved to its new building on the South Bank in 1976, the first production was Hamlet directed by Peter Hall, with Albert Finney in the title role. This year, therefore, also marks the 40th anniversary of Shakespeare productions at the NT on the South Bank.
Including those staged at the Old Vic, there have been 55 main-house productions of Shakespeare’s plays at the NT, the most recent being As You Like It, directed by Polly Findlay. Twelfth Night, directed by Simon Godwin and featuring Tamsin Greig, will open in early 2017.
The National Theatre Shakespeare app is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The NT is part of the Shakespeare400 partnership coordinated by King’s College London
1. To download the app from the iTunes Store, please visit
2. For audio-visual content related to any Shakespeare production at the NT, please
contact Mary Parker.
3. For more information relating to Shakespeare at the NT, visit
4. For more information about the Shakespeare400 partnership, visit
5. In total, there are 55 Shakespeare productions at the NT featured in the app:
1965. Much Ado About Nothing
1967. As You Like It
1968. Love’s Labour’s Lost
1970. The Merchant of Venice
1972. Richard II
1974. The Tempest
1977. Julius Caesar
1979. As You Like It
1979. Richard III
1981. Measure for Measure
1981. Much Ado About Nothing
1982. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1986. King Lear
1987. Antony and Cleopatra
1988. Cymbeline (Late Plays)
1988. The Tempest (Late Plays)
1988. The Winter’s Tale (Late Plays)
1990. Richard III
1990. King Lear
1992. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1995. The Merry Wives of Windsor
1995. Richard II
1995. Titus Andronicus
1997. King Lear
1998. Antony and Cleopatra
1999. The Merchant of Venice
1999. Troilus and Cressida
2000. Romeo and Juliet
2001. The Winter’s Tale
2003. Henry V
2003. Love’s Labour’s Lost
2004. Measure for Measure
2005. Henry IV – Parts 1 & 2
2007. Much Ado About Nothing
2009. All’s Well That Ends Well
2011. Twelfth Night
2011. The Comedy of Errors
2012. Timon of Athens
2014. King Lear
2015. As You Like It
The National Theatre is dedicated to making the very best theatre and sharing it with as many people as possible. We produce productions on the South Bank in London each year, ranging from re-imagined classics to modern masterpieces and new work by contemporary writers and theatre-makers. The National’s work is seen on tour throughout the UK, in London’s West End, internationally (including on Broadway) and in collaborations and coproductions with theatres across the country.
Across 2015-2016, the NT staged 34 productions and gave 3,057 performances in the UK and internationally. We reached audiences of over 787,000 on the South Bank, and over 3.7 million worldwide. Via the NT Live programme, which broadcasts live performances to cinema screens internationally, we reached 1.5 million people around the world.
The Clore Learning Centre at the NT is committed to providing programmes for schools, young people, families, community groups and adult learners, including the nationwide youth theatre festival Connections and playwriting competition New Views. Last year, we engaged with over 189,000 participants through the NT Learning events programme. Further, over 2,200 secondary schools have signed up to the free streaming service, On Demand in
Schools since its launch in September 2015.