Have you ever wanted to peek behind the curtains of some of the most famous and infamous theatre productions in London? At the National Theatre, you can do just that.
The Sherling Backstage Walkway allows you to snag a glimpse of the productions at the Southbank landmark. You get a birds-eye view of all the proceedings in preparation of a new or running production.
You can play a theatrical game of Where’s Waldo while glimpsing the props from both old and recent productions. You’ll see everything from statues, masks, hands (yes, hands) and artwork to entire pieces of furniture and chandeliers. The overview also includes the actual workshops where costumes, stage sets, and the production art are made. In contrast to most theaters, almost everything that can be seen on stage at the National Theatre is produced in the same building.
On the walls of the walkway, you can find some more information about the different departments involved in the productions. There are even hands-on prop pieces that’ll give you a feel for the different materials being used.
Depending on the time of day, you can see workers being busy creating, sewing, painting, moving, hammering and glueing things together. You won’t get closer than this except for actually working there yourself.
Know Before You Go
The walkway can be accessed via the entrance of the Dorfman Theatre. It is located on the second floor. An accessible lift is available on the right side of the bar and opens directly onto the Walkway.
Visiting times are Monday to Saturday an hour before performances when there is a show in the Dorfman Theatre. The backstage area is a working environment, please note that it can get busy, noisy, and potentially smelly when workers are on location.
For visitors wanting more insights and close-up perspectives, the National Theatre also offers paid Backstage Tours from Monday to Saturday. These have to be booked in advance.