Love it or loathe it, there’s no disputing that the National Theatre is something of a London institution. The old girl is getting a much-needed wash and brush up following the announcement that it will receive £2.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help towards a major refurbishment of the iconic modernist site. The money will go towards NT Future, a wider fundraising project whose initiatives sound pretty interesting.
Firstly there will be a new Production Building with improved facilities for artists, designers and theatre-makers. This building will also include the excitingly-titled Sherling High-Level Walkway which will offer visitors a bird’s eye view of the NT’s production workshops for set construction, scenic painting, carpentry and prop-making. There will be a new Clore educational centre, a public garden, a reconfigured foyer space that will be opened up to the South Bank path, bars and cafes will be refurbished and a new riverside café and bar will be created.
The biggest change will be the complete overhaul of the small Cottesloe Theatre, which will close when its present show, The Effect, finishes its run in a few weeks. In 2014 it will re-open as the Dorfman Theatre with more seating, better sightlines, more flexibility, bigger foyer space – and crucially – more loos. Whilst the Cottesloe is getting its makeover, a temporary theatre called The Shed, will open in front of the NT from April. If you nip down there over the next few months you can watch its construction progress. The first performance is set for April 9.
For those who fancy being a part of the new development and immortalised forever alongside this London landmark (well, at least until the paint begins to chip again) you can contribute to the NT Future website. If you can spare £100 you can have your name included on a supporters mural; £1000 will net you an engraved paving stone outside the theatre, and for £5000 true thespians can have a seat in the Dorfman Theatre named after them. Rebecca Taylor
For more info, see ntfuture.nationaltheatre.org.uk.