The National Theatre Should Be Demolished

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The National Theatre is a nauseating eyesore of a building, that is a blot on the London skyline, a hangover of 1960's architecture that was build in the 1970's, but should it be bulldozed? I am not sure, I have never been to any of the 3 theatres, so not qualified to answer this question, even though it does not have a aesthetic appeal on the outside, surely the most important issue is what happens on the inside and the terrific shows it presents to the public.
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I agree Phantom... the building is dreadful but it should be about the work. I appreciate some of the theatres i've been to but that doesn't always constitute a decent show/performance. I would love to see a new theatre built but tbh i'd rather see that money spent restoring some of the older theatres before we spend money creating a big new thing... whcih will probably be a concrete jungle that people will discuss on this board in twenty years time :p
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Outside - pretty crap, I agree.
Inside - I love the spaces. I'd prefer to watch something at the Olivier than almost any major West End house.
And most importantly, as already said, it's the work that makes the National, not the building.
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The atmosphere inside always creates a certain kind of magical excitment for me and always has.
You know you are in a place that produces the most incredible work and you are about to witness one of these. Some times they ain't that magical I know haha.

The building itself wouldn't look out of place as a motorway service station.

When I worked at the Royal Festival Hall years ago, there were major plans drawn up that would have transformed the entire complex. They involved every thing that encased the two main auditoriums (basically, what you see today would have just disappeared!) being completely removed and a brand new glass and steel shell build around.
It was based on some arts complex in europe and look stunning on paper. The third auditorium would have been rebuild in a different location but still inside the main building.
Of course the old GLC put pay to that and we still left with a concrete eyesore that London doesnt really deserve, especially in such a prime location.

The National Theatre Should Be Demolished

The Olivier Auditorium.
The National Theatre Should Be Demolished

The foyers.
The National Theatre Should Be Demolished
The National Theatre Should Be Demolished

The Cottesloe auditorium.
The National Theatre Should Be Demolished


Updated On: 2/5/10 at 09:45 AM
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#5
Posted: 2/5/10 at 10:15am
It looks a bit better at night:

The National Theatre Should Be Demolished

To be honest I actually find the exterior of the National quite fascinating in its hideousness. I must have walked past it literally hundreds of times and even now, every time I'm still stunned that anyone could ever have thought that that looked good. However once you're inside, the theatres themselves are wonderful, much like many (though not all!) of the productions I've seen there.
Updated On: 2/5/10 at 10:15 AM
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#6
Posted: 2/5/10 at 10:26am
The National Theatre Should Be Demolished

It's sort of like the Tony-winning Alley Theatre in Houston. It's had its share of amazing productions, including the world premiere of Jekyll and Hyde that created huge national buzz before eventually morphing into the hideous Broadway production, but the building's exterior is so incredibly ugly. The Redgraves seem to love it though, as they performed there regularly.

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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#7
Posted: 2/5/10 at 10:31am
The most hideous thing Ive ever seen!
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#8
Posted: 2/5/10 at 10:55am
I doubt few people would think the National Theatre looks beautiful from the outside. But what goes on inside is whats important. For me the National Theatre is like a second home, where I can go, relax and enjoy myself and enjoy some of the best theatre in the world. The National Theatre is doing its job and does it brilliantly!
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#9
Posted: 2/5/10 at 11:06am
Regarding exteriors, the National is a gorgeous gem compared to the garbage can that is the Alley. Wen I was little, I was terrified of the Alley Theatre. It looked like a prison to me. I expected to see armed guards in those turret-like structures.
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#10
Posted: 2/5/10 at 11:16am
LOL Matt.
I used to spend every lunch hour and later afternoon breaks at the National. Having coffee, reading almost every book in the shop and then walking out having paid 75p for The Stage.
Despite its ugliness the entire South Bank Centre is feast of stuff for any one interested in the arts.
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#11
Posted: 2/5/10 at 11:37am
I have to own up to the fact I love the NT building. Most of the South Bank as a whole is dreadful - but in issolation I love the NT. Its a lot nicer than the dreadful mistake that is the Peacock Theatre! Or an out of town building like the Churchill Bromley!
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#12
Posted: 2/5/10 at 11:57am
Lol that place in Houston certainly does look like Alcatraz.

Most people on here agree the National Theatre is ugly and does not fit into other London heritage theatres such a Drury Lane or Haymarket which are both grade A listed.

However with little money The National, could look a lot better, such as spraying the walls to give it a more contemporary feel or even tiling the outside to give it a more classical feel, it certainly be worth the investment.
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#13
Posted: 2/5/10 at 12:04pm
The Theatre Royal Drury Lane looks nice from the front, but the other three sides are pretty ugly. The Old Vic is worse for that: it looks like a flat picture of a pretty building has just been glued to the front:

The National Theatre Should Be Demolished

Oh, and the NT bookshop is wonderful! I was in there just yesterday. I nearly missed a play once because I was so engrossed in a book there.
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#14
Posted: 2/5/10 at 12:15pm
Well, if you actually read the article, you'll find out the author doesn't want the NT demolished at all. He just thinks it could be beneficial for the National Theatre of England to not be tied down to one building and have the flexibility of the NTs of Scotland and Wales, neither of which have a single designated building. He doesn't think the building's pretty, but he does love its good works and wishes it could do more of that.

Whereas Quentin Letts, on the other hand, would be happy to see the big concrete block I fondly think of as my second home in rubble on the South Bank...
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#15
Posted: 2/5/10 at 12:35pm
I don't think the exterior is THAT bad... just nothing special. But I feel the interior and space of the NT is amazing! You feel the place is really quiet and clean and you can concentrate on the play & performance. As for the Olivier, the space is just... vast! It's an ugly building... who cares?! It's doing some amazing work! There are some way uglier and more dangerous buildings out there!... also... people as well! and they ain't doin this city any good!
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#16
Posted: 2/5/10 at 1:50pm
Agree it looks a lot nicer at night!
The National Theatre Should Be Demolished
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Not quite sure about the article - though I agree with nearly everything she says, it does come form the baby out with the bathwater style of journalism. Yes, maybe it could be a bit more mobile, but on the other hand having a permanent base gives it the ability to do the 'big' shows that other, more flexible, subsidised companies can't do...

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Updated On: 2/5/10 at 01:50 PM
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#17
Posted: 2/5/10 at 2:12pm
The National is an ugly building but the inside is great. You have to consider it is three theatres in one building. I wonder if the exterior could be remodelled without affecting The National's ongoing programming or would they have to do what The Young Vic and Almeida did and present their works in various locations while building work took place.

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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#18
Posted: 2/5/10 at 2:52pm
I agree that the NT is a concrete monstrosity from the outside (particularly on a typical drizzly grey London day), but I love the interior spaces. Moving out / demolishing the building would definitely be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I wish the RSC still performed at the Barbican - some of my earliest and fondest memories of their productions stem from the feeling I got as a teenager of being immersed in an amazing space totally given over to theatre as an art form (as opposed to a mainly commercial venture).
Seen some shows in my time....
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#19
Posted: 2/5/10 at 2:55pm
I bet the RSC wish they were still at the Barbican!
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#20
Posted: 2/5/10 at 2:56pm
I agree with what's been said. It should be about the work done there, not the building. I would kill to see a play there but I was lucky enough to step inside when I was in London a few years back.
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#21
Posted: 2/5/10 at 3:10pm
The Barbican did quite well with BITE and they don't need the RSC who now have to rent out theatres for London seasons. I think after the success of The Histories at the Roundhouse, they could do another season there.
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#22
Posted: 2/5/10 at 3:12pm
It may be unfashionable and ugly but so was St Pancras Station considered to be in the 1960s and look how revered that is now.

The brutalist concrete style will come back in to fashion one day. Until then just drape a large pink feather boa over it and stick on a couple of giant winkie false eyelashes.
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#23
Posted: 2/5/10 at 3:15pm
Thats what my friends do to me at 2 in the morning when I cant speak or stand in Shuttleworths!
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The National Theatre Should Be Demolished#24
Posted: 2/5/10 at 3:18pm
I'll have to work out where this place Shuttleworths is.