Waterloo / Southbank Theatres

Royal National Theatre in WaterlooSouthbank is home to several theatres, including Old Vic and the Young Vic theatres on The Cut. Once marshlands, the area around Waterloo station was drained during the 18th century and is now home to one of London's most important transportation hubs. Opened in 1848, Waterloo railway station is one of Europe's busiest passenger terminals. The current building was completed in 1922 and provides services to destinations across the South of England and to mainland Europe.

National Theatre

The Royal National Theatre is one of the most important publicly funded performing arts venues in the UK. Also known as the National Theatre of Great Britain and simply the National Theatre, it was founded in 1963. The National Theatre's first artistic director was the legendary Laurence Olivier. Originally based at the Old Vic theatre, the current home of the National Theatre opened in 1976. Each year, the renowned theatre stages a diverse programme that features Shakespeare, international classic drama, and new works by contemporary playwrights. Situated on Upper Ground close to Waterloo Bridge, the National Theatre is a six minute walk north of Waterloo tube and railway station. The venue houses three theatres, including the Olivier Theatre (1,160 seats), the Lyttelton Theatre (890 seats), and the Cottesloe Theatre (400 seats). An outdoor venue, The Shed, was introduced in 2013. Acclaimed actors to have performed on the National Theatre's stages have included Helen Mirren, Dominic Cooper, Richard Attenborough, Bill Nighy, Hugh Jackman, John Barrowman, Ian McKellan, Maggie Smith, Peter O'Toole, and Laurence Olivier.

The Old Vic

Founded as the Royal Coburg Theatre in 1818, the Old Vic is located on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. In 1880, the theatre was renamed as the Royal Victoria Hall. The theatre was the base for the Old Vic Company from 1929, a precursor to the National Theatre of Great Britain. Damaged during the Second World War, the Old Vic reopened in 1950. The National Theatre Company was formed under the direction of Laurence Olivier in 1963 and was based at the Old Vic until a dedicated venue was completed in 1976. The current 1,067-seat Old Vic theatre was refurbished in 1983. Works included restoring the building's façade based on an 1830 engraving. The interior was also restored based on 1871 designs of the auditorium. Since the National Theatre left the Old Vic, the OId Vic has continued showcasing classic and new drama. Past productions have included Romeo and Juliet with Judi Dench, Hamlet with Peter O'Toole, Othello with Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, Aladdin with Ian McKellan, Hamlet with Imogen Stubbs and Ben Wishaw, and Sam Mendes helmed productions of As You Like it, The Tempest and Richard III. In 2003, Oscar winner Kevin Spacey was appointed the theatre's artistic director. The American actor performs in one to two shows each season, as well as serving as director for productions staged at the Old Vic. The Old Vic is a six minute walk south-east of Waterloo tube and railway station.

The Young Vic Theatre

The Young Vic Company was formed in 1946 under the direction of George Devine. Focusing on performing classic plays for younger audiences, the company was dissolved in 1948 when Devine resigned from the Old Vic Theatre School. In 1969, the Young Vic theatre was re-founded by Frank Dunlop as part of the National Theatre. The Young Vic Theatre became an independent company in 1974. The company's home was completed in 1970 in a former butcher's shop and bomb site on The Cut. Today, the Young Vic theatre stages classic plays and new, innovative productions. Performers at the theatre have included Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, John Malkovish, Ian Charleson, Willard White, Arthur Lowe, Michael Sheen and Timothy Dalton. The main auditorium at the Young Vic seats 420, while smaller theatre spaces seat between 150 and 70 theatregoers. The theatre underwent an extensive refurbishment between 2004 and 2006, reopening with a production of Tobias and the Angel. The Young Vic is under a ten minute walk south-east of Waterloo station.

Southbank Centre

Located on Belvedere between County Hall and Waterloo Bridge, the Southbank Centre is a five minute walk north-west of Waterloo station. The sprawling venue complex is one of the largest single-run arts centres in the world. Created in 1951, the Southbank Centre was originally a festival site that has grown to embrace music, dance, art, spoken word performances and other performing arts. It includes the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery, as well as the Purcell Room, the Saison Poetry Library, the Jubilee Gardens and The Queen's Walk. The centre hosts nearly a thousand performances each year and is home to over 100 artistic organisations. Resident orchestras at the Southbank Centre's 2,500-seat Royal Festival Hall include the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Seating over 900, the Queen Elizabeth Hall hosts mainly classical, jazz and avant-garde music productions, as well as dance performances. The Purcell Room seats 370 and hosts chamber music, jazz, mime and poetry recitals.