Ideas of a National Theatre date from as early as the 1840s.
The Olivier Theatre is the NT's biggest auditorium. Named after the artistic director Laurence Olivier, who had managed the National Theatre Company before it had its own space, the Olivier Theatre incorporated new technology – a ‘drum revolve’ and ‘sky hook’ – that allowed sets and equipment to be easily brought in and out of its third floor location. The Olivier Theatre also made history with Guys and Dolls; not only was it the National’s first musical, but its success led to a UK tour and a West End run.
The Olivier Theatre is one of three venues at the National, completed by the Lyttleton Theatre and the Dorfman Theatre.