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NT Archive

NT Archive

When the curtain falls on the final night of a show, the NT Archive ensures the performance can live on. 

Set up in 1993, the Archive gives permanence to our theatrical productions by documenting both the administrative and creative aspects of our work, with a collection spanning over 1,000 productions in the NT’s history.


The NT Studio is home to the Archive’s collection, research room and screening facilities. The NT Archive documents the movement to found a national theatre, going back to the mid19th century, and focuses in more depth on the period from the inception of the company in 1963 to the present day.

Archive staff co-ordinate with members of various departments after a production ends in order to transfer the relevant programmes, posters, photographs, video and sound recordings of NT productions and platform events, press cuttings, prompt scripts, production drawings, costume, lighting and sound information to the Archive for permanent preservation. 

Using the Archive

As theatre is by its nature fleeting and ephemeral the records held in the NT Archive are the key to exploring past productions, as well as the general history of the National and the NT’s home on the South Bank. 

Our research room hosts access to our and on-demand access is available to audio, video and digitised items from the NT collection. This means that anyone with an interest can gain insight into the working methods of the performers and production team, and witness the cycle of an NT production from the early stages of planning right through to press cuttings and Stage Manager’s reports.


The NT Archive’s holdings make it uniquely placed to support new ways of opening up theatrical history and heritage. Archive Learning Days and Teacher Placements make use of screenings of past productions and artefacts such as prompt books, costume bibles, production images and press reviews to delve into particular genres or focus on certain productions. The Archive curates exhibitions in the Lyttelton Lounge front of house, which provide an in depth view into particular areas of theatre such as design or Shakespeare.

An increasing number of digital exhibitions in the Google Cultural Institute Institute and content on the NT’s Backstage app enable people to discover the contents of the NT Archive online. The NT Archive also hosts the Black Plays Archive website, which aims to document the first professional production of every play by black British, African and Caribbean writers in the UK, and provides access to a range of digital resources designed to support the study and revival of these plays. 

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