The National Theatre

The National Theatre explores reopening with social distancing

The initiative could see the South Bank venue stage performances for the first time since March.

The National Theatre has revealed that it is exploring the potential for social distancing in the venue, a move which could see its theatres and public spaces reopen for the first time since March.

As reported in The Stage newspaper, the theatre said in a statement: "On the South Bank we are modelling a reconfiguration of our theatre spaces to allow audiences in social bubbles to attend together and similar initiatives are under investigation all over the country."

"Performing in this way would allow us to create work with both our specialist staff and our vital creative freelancers while serving as many of our audience members as we are able to safely."

As announced by the UK government, indoor theatre performances will be permitted from 1 August, providing that social distancing is maintained for audiences. Backstage and onstage, social distancing is to be implemented "wherever possible."

It is expected that The National will make a further exploration of plans to reopen once they receive confirmation of potential government support of the venue as part of its announced £1.57B support package.

Although closed to the public since the Covid-19 shutdown began in March, The National has continued to connect with theatregoers around the world through its programme of streaming NT Live performances. This programme has seen millions of theatre fans enjoy its archived performances including Small Island and Frankenstein.   

The National Theatre is home to three permanent theatres: the Olivier, the Lyttelton and the Dorfman, with a combined capactity of 2400. The venue also includes several restaurants, a shop, and large public spaces. 

Originally published on

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