Monday, 3 February 2014

Backstage at The National Theatre

Award-winning London Walks guide Karen Pierce-Goulding reviews a backstage tour of the National Theatre…



With three performance spaces at the National Theatre, the turnover of shows at the South Bank complex is impressive. The National Theatre’s brief, after all, is to provide as great a diversity of productions as possible – from Shakespeare to Tori Amos, from musicals to master classes.

All being well, the average National Theatre-goer will know nothing of the behind-the-scenes machinations of this logistical Rubik’s cube.

But if you have been on a National Theatre Backstage Tour, the seemingly effortless presentation of the work onstage becomes all the more impressive.

Last year I took a group along to the NT and we joined a Backstage Tour.

Our guide snaked us through the labyrinthine secret corridors and through security doors past dressing rooms and green rooms – an “insider” experience delicious enough in its own right, but enlivened by our guide who regaled us with tales of actors who have lost their way en route to the stage!

Our Jules Verne-like journey took us into the depths of the building where we visited the busy scene dock and rehearsal. At the props department, our guide showed us one of the original horse puppet heads used in War Horse.

Our guide conducted the tour in a vivid style, deftly unpicked the complexities of the central scene dock tower of the building, shedding light on the subject with clarity and no small passion.

Like all great guided tours, the National’s backstage tour made me want to return and experience the place again armed with new insights. My every visit to the National Theatre since my backstage tour has been a richer experience as a consequence.





Karen Pierce-Goulding is a London Walks guide and winner of the prestigious Blue Badge Guide of the Year award. She was the only London guide to be featured by U.S Travel + Leisure magazine in their World’s Greatest Tour Guide list.



Details of National Theatre backstage tours can be found at their website: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk



TOMORROW WE ARE GIVING YOU THE CHANCE TO WIN TWO TICKETS TO A NATIONAL THEATRE BACKSTAGE TOUR! OUR SIMPLE-TO-ENTER COMPETITION STARTS TOMORROW 4TH FEBRUARY 2014.



A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.

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