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Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit National Theatre

London SE1 website team

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the National Theatre on the South Bank on Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the company.

Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit National Theatre
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit National Theatre
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit National Theatre
Director Sir Nicholas Hytner welcomes the Queen
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit National Theatre
Lambeth Mayor Cllr Mark Bennett bids farewell to the Queen
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit National Theatre
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit National Theatre

The National Theatre first opened its doors in 1963 at The Old Vic under Laurence Olivier and moved to its purpose-built South Bank home 13 years later.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were welcomed to the South Bank by the Mayor of Lambeth Cllr Mark Bennett.

During the short visit the royal party saw rehearsals for forthcoming shows and met Joan Plowright, widow of Sir Laurence Olivier.

The Queen also unveiled a plaque in the new Max Rayne Centre.

800 productions later, the company is marking its half-century with a short season celebrating the people and plays that have made the NT what it is today.

Several events and exhibitions are being held this month at the NT. Part-treasure hunt, part-history tour, the National Trail takes the audience on an interactive journey around the bulding. Follow the trail and discover hidden glimpses into the rich history of the company. Solve all the clues and gain entry to the secret vault where many other treasures await.

The NT is also hosting two exhibitions. Chris Arthur: Scenes from National life celebrates the working life of the National's very first company, including portraits of Anthony Hopkins, Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier. Chris Arthur joined the lighting team of the National while making his first photographic experiments. Unique access allowed him to document the NT's shows and company life, the backstage world of The Old Vic and the street life of Waterloo.

Another exhibition National Theatre Lampoon includes cartoons and caricatures, satirical swipes from diarists, and records from the National's own archive. From the drawn-out struggle to establish a National Theatre to the love/hate relationship with Denys Lasdun's building, and the strikes of the 1970s to the Romans in Britain court case and One Man, Two Guvnors, the NT's triumphs and tribulations have provided rich pickings for cartoonists, alongside memorable theatre posters and illustrations by artists such as Gerald Scarfe and Bill Hewison.

The NT has also appealed for theatregoers and locals to submit their memories of the company over the past 50 years.

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