Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 53

national theatre

theatres found company followed

A theatre which is endowed by the state and is usually situated in the national capital. Today found throughout the world, such endowed companies have a long history in many European countries. The oldest national theatre is the Comédie Française in Paris, founded in 1680 by Louis XIV; this was followed by five other French national theatres. Other long-established national theatres are to be found in Denmark (1772), Sweden (1773), and Norway (1899). In Britain, though advocated from the time of Garrick, a National Theatre was not inaugurated until 1962, under the direction of Laurence Olivier. Peter Hall replaced Olivier (1973–88), he was followed by Richard Eyre (1988–1997), Trevor Nunn (1997–2002), and Nicholas Hytner (2002– ). Since 1976 the company has occupied its own building on the South Bank. The year 1999 saw the creation of the first National Theatre Ensemble Company, which received critical acclaim.

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