National Theatre

National Theatre and Theatre Nation Partnerships

Theatre Nation Partnerships is our nationwide strategic touring project which aims to grow and sustain audiences for live theatre in England.


The project sees The National join forces with theatres in six areas around the country, where we are helping to broaden and increase their audience for drama through touring, working with schools, and creating theatre with local communities.

Just over halfway through the initial three-year phase of Theatre Nation Partnerships, we’re on track to achieve our target of reaching 200,000 people from under-engaged areas and demographics, with an audience to date of over 100,000.

We are beginning to see tangible change. An adapted version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time toured directly into 60 secondary schools in Autumn 2018, reaching 13,200 pupils and allowing our partner theatres to forge strong relationships with high priority local schools. This quickly delivered results on our touring production of Macbeth, which saw a huge uplift in schools attendance at these theatres – 43% of attenders in TNP areas were school students against a 29% tour average. Meanwhile, work on wider audience development strategies saw Macbeth also achieve a big uplift in first-time bookers – 55% of audiences were first time bookers in the TNP areas against 35% in other venues.

Where are the partner areas?

Doncaster, with Cast
Greater Manchester with The Lowry
Outer East London with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
Sunderland, with Sunderland Empire and Sunderland Culture
Wakefield, with Theatre Royal Wakefield
Wolverhampton with Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Partner meetings

Regular partner meetings have become invaluable forums for collaboration and knowledge exchange. Taking place this year at partner theatres in Doncaster and Sunderland, the meetings brought together teams from executive directors, learning, marketing, programming and audience development teams from our seven partner theatres across England, with topics that included engaging schools, digital marketing and access.

We have helped these theatres develop joined-up approaches to programming and audience development and to plan and test audience development strategies locally. In turn, the team from the National have gained invaluable insight into local audiences, education networks and priorities across key parts of the country.


Public Acts

Pericles company on stage as part of Public Acts
Public Acts is the National Theatre’s new nationwide initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community.

The programme creates ambitious new works of participatory theatre and is built on sustained partnerships with theatres and community organisations across the UK who share our vision of theatre as a force for change.

The first Public Acts production was Pericles in August 2018, at the NT in the Olivier Theatre. The second production was As You Like It in August 2019 at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch. In 2020, the NT will partner with Cast in Doncaster for a third Public Acts production, working with community partners from the local area.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

In August 2020, the third Public Acts production, a musical adaptation of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, will play at Cast in Doncaster.

In a divided community, our reluctant hero, Grusha, risks everything to rescue an abandoned baby and raise him as her own. This new version of Brecht's classic, is a heartrending and gripping tale of the families we choose, filled with passion, hope, and plenty of Yorkshire grit and humour.

Find out more and book tickets