Wednesday, 18 March 2009

HOT: National Theatre Backstage Tour, Southbank SE1 9PX

Transport for London conspired to work against me one last time on my final day in London....hence I arrived 15 minutes late to the National Theatre backstage tour. Luckily, the box office girl also moonlighted as a tour guide sometimes, so she was able to whip me around the first 15 minutes of the tour before dropping me off with the rest of the group, who were in the carpentry and set design area backstage.

The tour provides an interesting insight into the background workings of one of my favourite London theatrical haunts. We were led through various areas, enroute spotting carpenters mending War Horse puppets, artists spraypainting the huge backdrop for the upcoming production of Death and the Kings Horsemen, passing around various latex items from the props department such as an incredibly realistic hamburger, and being told about the massive drop in the Olivier stage which allowed things like swimming pools to be built (Much Ado about Nothing), giant ship prows to rise above the ice (Fram) and the raising of a hot air balloon (His Dark Materials).

The highlight was walking out onto the stage of the main auditorium, the Greek-inspired Olivier Theatre. Surprisingly for such a large theatre, I didn't feel overwhelmed out on stage, and I could even imagine myself addressing an audience :)

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