TES welcomes the National Theatre

The National Theatre stages over 20 productions a year to audiences of more than 600,000 people. Home to a vast range of activity, both on and offstage, we reach people around the world through extensive education and outreach programmes, a free summer theatre festival, touring, live cinema broadcasts and digital resources.


The National Theatre is the largest theatre-producing complex in the world. Our objective is to provide teachers and students with free, beautifully-designed, easy-to-use resources that will enhance any learning experience. Our digital resources open up all aspects of theatre-making, from playwriting to technical skills, and reflect the breadth of the repertoire, from classic plays re-examined, to new writing exploring contemporary themes.

Watch hundreds of videos about acting, directing, costume, design, lighting, sound, wigs, playwriting, voice, and the three theatres inside the National Theatre. Find interviews with theatre professionals, explore the processes of great designers, discover what goes on in a rehearsal room, and be inspired to create your own stories.

We also have lots of downloadable resource packs to help you discover more about the productions and plays staged by the National Theatre – from A Midsummer Night's Dream, to Wam Bam!

Commedia dell'arte overview

A short film giving an overview of the history of commedia dell'arte. In this film Didi Hopkins from commediaworks described the influence of commedia dell'arte on modern theatre and other dramatic formats such as film and television.

Top resources

Vocal warm-up - Breathing

Breathing exercises are an essential start to any vocal warm-up; they organise the breathing muscles, extend the capacity of the voice and give a sense of the breath very deep inside the body.

Vocal warm-up - Resonance

To achieve the feeling that the actors are speaking using their whole body, humming exercises are used to develop the voice's resonance.

Vocal warm-up - Opening up the voice

After working on breathing and resonance, Jeannette works with the actors to open their voices up. First she gets them to do some stretching exercises to open their ribs up. Yawning opens up the throat. Sliding down from high in the voice on the sound 'Haaaaaaaaaa' needs to be done at least three times.

Vocal warm-up - Articulation

The big theatres at the National require a big focus on articulation. First Jeannette gets the actors to move their lips around, and then gives the tongue a good work-out. Jeannette's further selection of other sounds to repeat will, over time, build up an actor's ability to articulate clearly.

Videos by topic

Other Highlights

Dramatic style

  • Writers work in many different styles, from naturalism to the absurd. Leading writers explain some of the stylistic possibilities open to playwrights, and discuss the importance of finding your own writing style.

Building a plot

  • Some writers plan out everything in advance, and others play it by ear. Leading playwrights explain their approaches to constructing narratives for their plays, and discuss the importance of a strong narrative structure.

Production Management: Design Associate and Fit Up

  • The production manager and the design associate are responsible for looking after the designer's vision for the show. When the fit-up of the design begins the production manager has to oversee the whole process to make sure that what the designer wants is being applied on stage and to deal with unexpected incidents.

Body shaping in commedia

  • Each commedia character has a specific physical shape and way of moving. This film was made over a two day workshop with a group of young actors and led by Didi Hopkins.

Directing overview

  • Nicholas Hytner discusses the role of the director in the process leading up to the start of rehearsals, and going on through to the performances themselves.

Scenic Construction Skills

  • Although most of the personnel in the scenic construction department are specialists in a particular field – such as carpentry or metalwork – they need to have a wide range of skills which reach beyond their core discipline. This is often due to the wide range of materials which the scenic construction team works with.

New videos are added regularly so please check our profile for the latest films

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