A 3 PM curtain time is set for productions in its two main spaces: War Horse in the Olivier Theatre and in-i at the Lyttelton Theatre.
The idea was agreed to after a lengthy consultation with the trade unions and artistic director Nicholas Hytner. The theatre will now be turned into a seven-day operation for the first time in its history. The scheme will be tested for a three-month period, then put on hold again until next summer, once any lessons learned from the initial experience have been taken on board. The theatre, however, is fully committed to its full-time implementation.
Sunday performances have only occasionally been attempted for West End productions in the past, but it is expected that once the National does so, other venues will soon follow.
Although a seven-day operation will increase potential box- office revenue, the gains will be offset by the increased costs of operating on an extended basis, and the theatre anticipates it could even make a small net loss. However, the benefits are that the theatre – which sees itself as a public service organization – will be responding to "what we very strongly believe the audience wants and needs," Hytner said.
To book tickets contact the box office at 020 7452 3000 or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.