The initiative by the National's artistic director, Trevor Nunn, will mark a return to old style "rep'' in which actors build up a company ethos and familiarity with their audience as well as achieving a recognisable style of performing. The move, planned for some time by Mr Nunn, will go some way to answering the anxieties expressed by Sir Ian McKellen who told The Independent yesterday that the lack of repertory companies meant actors could not hone their skills properly, and that when he played at the National he had no clear idea of the sort of people that were in the audience. Sir Ian is spending the next six months acting in repertory in Leeds.
A close associate of Trevor Nunn said: "Trevor is moving towards this and there will be an announcement soon. He feels you can explore Shakespeare, for example, in much more depth with a company that has established a certain style."
A spokeswoman for the National Theatre said its audience was predominantly middle-class, middle-aged and white.
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