National Theatre Collection | Alexander Street

National Theatre Collection

National Theatre Collection brings the stage to life through access to high definition streaming video of world-class productions and unique archival material offering significant insight into theatre and performance studies. Through a collaboration with the U.K.'s National Theatre, this collection offers a range of digital performance resources never previously seen outside of the National Theatre’s archive. 

Drawing on 10 years of National Theatre Live broadcasts as well as recordings never previously seen outside of the National Theatre’s archive, the video content includes 24 video performances and will expand in March 2020 to 30 video performances. As a supplement to the filmed productions, exclusive digitized archival materials such as photographs, scripts, costume designs, and more will be available to provide behind-the-scenes background and contextual information.

January 2020 Update

Five new video performances have been added to the National Theatre Collection:

Antigone (2012): Polly Findlay's electric 2012 production brings Sophocles' tragedy into the modern world as a gripping political thriller. Translated by Don Taylor with a cast including Jodie Whittaker and Christopher Eccleston.

Dara (2015): Nadia Fall’s stunning production of Shahid Nadeem’s ravishing historical drama set in 17th-century India raises issues that resonate today. Originally performed at the Ajoka Theatre in Pakistan, Nadeem’s epic tale of the dispute that shaped modern-day India and Pakistan is brought to life on the Lyttelton Theatre stage.

Jane Eyre (2015): Devised by the Company, Sally Cookson's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's classic novel is a vivid and breathtaking spectacle. This acclaimed re-imagining of Brontë's masterpiece was first staged by Bristol Old Vic.

Peter Pan (2016): A delight for children and adults alike, Sally Cookson directs this wondrously inventive devised production of JM Barrie’s classic. Originally staged at the Bristol Old Vic theatre. 

Treasure Island (2014): Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure of mutiny, money and murder is brought to life on the Olivier stage in a thrilling new adaptation by Bryony Lavery. Bryony Lavery's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's famous tale of swashbuckling adventure is suitable to adults and children alike in Polly Findlay's captivating production.



Selected Video Performances

National Theatre Collection features a wide range of works regularly studied in secondary and higher education. Unique in scope, the collection includes such performances as:

  • Literary adaptations, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein adapted by Nick Dear and directed by Danny Boyle, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller
  • Greek classics such as Medea by Euripides, in a contemporary adaptation by Ben Power, directed by Carrie Cracknell with Helen McCrory in the title role
  • Vibrant modern stagings of Shakespeare, such as Twelfth Night, directed by Simon Godwin, with Tamsin Greig in the role of Malvolia
  • 20th-century classics such as Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs and the Young Vic’s production of Lorca’s Yerma, adapted and directed by Simon Stone with Billie Piper in the title role
  • Comedies such as She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith, directed by Jamie Lloyd with a cast including Cush Jumbo and Katherine Kelly, and One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, directed by Nicholas Hytner, and featuring James Corden's Tony Award-winning performance

            …and many more.


James Corden and cast in One Man, Two Guvnors  (Johan Persson)
Ensemble cast in She Stoops to Conquer (Johan Persson)
Danny Sapani and Gary Beadle in Les Blancs (Johan Persson)


Archival Content

Content from the National Theatre Archive provides valuable insight into the creative, technical and administrative process that goes into every performance. One example is a costume bible which is the main book that a costume designer or assistant designer creates. This book holds all the paperwork needed for any production including sketches, clothing sizes, receipts, fabric care instructions, mechanical notes, and corresponding scenes.

Included as a complement to the video production of Frankenstein is the Costume Bible created by designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb for the 2011 production at the Olivier Theatre:



About National Theatre

The National Theatre’s mission is to make world class theatre that’s entertaining, challenging and inspiring – and to make it for everyone. It aims to reach the widest possible audience and to be as inclusive, diverse and national as possible with a broad range of productions that play in London, on tour around the UK, on Broadway and across the globe. The National Theatre's extensive UK-wide learning and participation program supports young people’s creative education through performance and writing programs like Connections, New Views and Let’s Play. Its major new initiative Public Acts creates extraordinary acts of theatre and community; the first Public Acts production was 2018’s Pericles. The National Theatre extends its reach through digital programs including NT Live, which broadcasts some of the best of British theatre to over 2,500 venues in 65 countries. The National Theatre invests in the future of theatre by developing talent, creating bold new work and building audiences, partnering with a range of UK theatres and theatre companies.

About National Theatre Archive

The National Theatre Archive is a treasure trove of material, covering all of the creative, technical and administrative records of the National Theatre. The collection covers the movement to found the National Theatre and the period from the start of the company in 1963 right up to the present day. There is an online catalogue and in-person access to the archive materials is free of charge in the reading rooms in London. The National Theatre Archive is also home to the Black Plays Archive, an online catalogue for the first professional production of every African, Caribbean and Black British play produced in Britain.


National Theatre Collection is a key component of the Theatre Performance and Design Collection:



Starting NT Live was probably the best thing I did when I was Director of the National. Since 2009, when it was launched, it has brought many phenomenal shows to millions of people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to see them. The National Theatre Collection makes a brilliant library of productions available to educational institutions who will be able to share what has until now only been available in cinemas. It’s a terrific initiative.

Sir Nicholas Hytner Former Artistic Director of the National Theatre

We are delighted to announce that National Theatre Collection goes live today in partnerships with Bloomsbury and ProQuest. This collection of iconic plays reflects the rich and diverse spectrum of British theatre over the past decades and will now be accessible to students and teachers worldwide for the first time ever. We hope that this new platform will open up the National Theatre to students, teachers and theatre-makers across the globe, whilst also ensuring that drama remains an integral part of a broad education. We would like to extend our thanks to the rights holders of these materials who have made this service possible.

Rufus Norris Artistic Director of the National Theatre

Nothing can replace the experience of seeing work live – but sharing these recordings of so many important NT Live productions will give schools an amazing insight into the world of contemporary production. It isn’t possible for everyone to travel to see work – but watching recordings can encourage and facilitate conversation and share the work nationwide. You can take your time; watch in short sections and share thoughts in the moment. These recordings will create a unique and rich teaching tool – and in a world where funding and support for teaching Drama in schools is being constantly undermined – creating ways for teachers and pupils alike to access this work is more vital than ever.

Paule Constable Lighting Designer

How marvellous that the National Theatre is opening up their archives to reach such a wide audience. Now anyone can have access to fabulous shows from the recent past such as Medea, One Man Two Guvnors and Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller, to mention just a few.

Patsy Trench Author