National Theatre to stop showing plays on Sundays

Director says disappointing ticket sales and Government cuts mean 'case has not been proved' for Sunday performances

The National Theatre is to stop scheduling plays on Sundays, eight years after blazing a trail with the performances.

Director Rufus Norris announced that following years of disappointing ticket sales, and in the context of Government cuts, the “case has not been proved” for maintaining performances on a Sunday. From April, cast and crews will get the day off. 

The National Theatre was heralded when it introduced Sunday shows in 2008 at the instigation of former director Sir Nicholas Hytner. The National would normally put on Sunday shows on about 35 Sundays a year. 

Lisa Burger, the National’s executive director, said: “It was a fantastic initiative which we were really keen to take forward because we thought it was a way of opening up audiences. The fact is there aren’t as many audiences coming to the Sunday performances.”

She said those shows were always the last ones to sell out and given the tight financial position “we decided it is one of the things we had to give up”.

The last performance on a Sunday will be in April, when the current run of its musical Wonder.land comes to an end. During the summer months the building will be kept open for visitors, and there will be a programme and its music and outdoor programme running.  

Announcing the theatre’s plans for 2016 and beyond, Mr Norris made a commitment to increasing the gender balance and diversity at the theatre both on stage and behind the scenes. 

The new season will include gender and colour-blind roles including the staging of Peter Pan which will cast a female Captain Hook. It follows author JM Barrie’s original intention for a stage adaption to double the villainous Hook with Mrs Darling.

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