National Theatre Collection Learning Resources

The National Theatre Collection includes an expanding bank of learning resources. These include:

  • Learning Guides for most productions: all the information you need to enable you to study the production and write about it in detail. These include plot synopses with timecodes, notes about the key elements from performance style to design, pointers for further research, and much more.
  • Rehearsal Insights: rehearsal room diaries and notes prepared by the Staff Director, where available. These introduce the process of creating, rehearsing and staging each play.
  • Key Stage 3 Packs: study guides for a select number of productions, tailored to teachers and students studying drama at Key Stage 3.
  • Lesson Plans: individual activities and learning tasks for some productions.
  • Short films and audio recordings including contextual information for the productions and interviews with actors and creatives, which can be found on individual production pages where available.
If you have any questions or feedback on our resources, please get in touch: ntcollection@nationaltheatre.org.uk

Check back regularly for updates, as we add more resources to this page and the production pages.

The learning resources are available in PDF format.Link to download Adobe Acrobat Reader


Download an introduction to the National Theatre Collection for Secondary School teachers. Find out which productions are available, when they were recorded, what genre they fit into and which age group they are best suited to.

Introduction for Secondary School Drama teachers

Introduction for Secondary School English teachers



Antigone cover image

Age recommendation: 14+ (some strong, bloody images)

This archive recording was captured on 4th July, 2012.

In the unstable aftermath of a civil war, Creon, the new King of Thebes, asserts his authority by forbidding anyone from honouring the death of the traitor Polyneices. But Antigone, Polyneices' sister, will not obey.

When Creon's authority is challenged, a gripping conflict emerges between the power of an individual and the state.

Polly Findlay's electric 2012 production brings Sophocles' tragedy into the modern world as a gripping political thriller.

Learning Guide

Rehearsal Insights

The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard cover image

Age recommendation: 14+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 30th June, 2011.

Ranyevskaya returns more or less bankrupt after ten years abroad. Luxuriating in her fading moneyed world and regardless of the increasingly hostile forces outside, she and her brother snub the lucrative scheme of Lopakhin, a peasant turned entrepreneur, to save the family estate. In so doing, they put up their lives to auction and seal the fate of the beloved orchard.

Set at the very start of the twentieth century, Andrew Upton’s new version of Chekhov’s classic captures a poignant moment in Russia's history as the country rolls inexorably towards 1917.

Learning Pack

Rehearsal Insights


Coriolanus cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

This Donmar Warehouse production was recorded through National Theatre Live on 30th January, 2014.

When an old adversary threatens Rome, the city calls once more on her hero and defender: Coriolanus. But he has enemies at home too. Famine threatens the city, the citizens’ hunger swells to an appetite for change, and on returning from the field Coriolanus must confront the march of realpolitik and the voice of an angry people.

Shakespeare’s searing tragedy of political manipulation and revenge, Coriolanus features an Evening Standard Award-winning performance from Tom Hiddleston in the title role, directed by the Donmar's former Artistic Director Josie Rourke.

Learning Pack


Dara cover image

Age recommendation: 14+

This archive recording was captured in the Lyttelton Theatre on 17th March, 2015.

1659. Mughal, India. Two brothers, Dara and Aurangzeb, are both heirs to the Muslim empire. Dara, the crown prince, has the love of the people – and of his emperor father – but younger brother Aurangzeb holds a different vision for India's future. Now they fight ferociously for succession.

Originally performed at the Ajoka Theatre in Pakistan, Shahid Nadeem's epic tale of the dispute that shaped modern-day India and Pakistan is brought to life in Tanya Ronder's adaptation and Nadia Fall's stunning production.

Learning Pack

Rehearsal Insights

The Deep Blue Sea

The Deep Blue Sea cover image

Age recommendation: 14+ (contains references to suicide)

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 1st September, 2016.

A flat in Ladbroke Grove, West London. 1952. When Hester Collyer is found by her neighbours in the aftermath of a failed suicide attempt, the story of her tempestuous affair with a former RAF pilot and the breakdown of her marriage to a High Court judge begins to emerge. With it comes a portrait of need, loneliness and long-repressed passion. Behind the fragile veneer of post-war civility burns a brutal sense of loss and longing.

Terence Rattigan’s devastating masterpiece contains one of the greatest female roles in contemporary drama. Helen McCrory and director Carrie Cracknell reunited following the acclaimed Medea in 2014.

Learning Pack


Frankenstein: Benedict Cumberbatch cover image

Age recommendation: 15+ (contains nudity and one scene of sexual violence)

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller each play Victor Frankenstein and his creation in these two performances of Danny Boyle's smash-hit production. Written by Mary Shelley and adapted by Nick Dear.

Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein’s bewildered Creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, the friendless Creature, increasingly desperate and vengeful, determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal.

Urgent concerns of scientific responsibility, parental neglect, cognitive development and the nature of good and evil are embedded within this thrilling and deeply disturbing classic gothic tale.

The production was a sell-out hit at the National Theatre in 2011, and the broadcast has since become an international sensation, experienced by almost half a million people in cinemas around the world.

Learning Guide

Rehearsal Insights

Lesson Plan: Putting Frankenstein in Context

Lesson Plan: Comparing Different Performances

Lesson Plan: Analysing Theatre Craft in Frankenstein

Lesson Plan: Adapting a Novel for the Stage

Lesson Plan: Adapting Victorian Language

Lesson Plan: Who is Responsible for the Creature's Actions

Lesson Plan: Is the Creature a Monster?


Hamlet cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 9th December, 2010.

Director Nicholas Hytner offers a detailed political, social and psychological context to Hamlet's dilemma: whether or not to avenge the death of his father.

Rory Kinnear plays Hamlet in this dynamic production of Shakespeare’s complex and profound play about the human condition. His performance earned him an Evening Standard Award.

Learning Pack

Rehearsal Insights

Lesson Plan: Contrasting Hamlet's Soliloquies

Lesson Plan: Understanding Theatre Craft in the Play within the Play

Lesson Plan: Rewriting Ophelia's Soliloquy

Lesson Plan: Truth and Performance in the Play within the Play

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre cover image

Age recommendation: 12+ (occasional swearing)

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 8th December, 2015 as a co-production with the Bristol Old Vic.

Born into a life of struggle, the spirited Jane Eyre tackles life's obstacles head-on as she seeks to pursue her own path in the world. Faced with poverty, injustice and a bitter betrayal, the trailblazing Jane follows her heart to fight for freedom and fulfillment on her own terms.

Devised by the Company, Sally Cookson's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece is a vivid and breathtaking spectacle.

Learning Guide

Rehearsal Insights

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

This Bridge Theatre production was recorded through National Theatre Live on 22nd March, 2018.

Caesar returns in triumph to Rome and the people pour out of their homes to celebrate. Alarmed by the autocrat’s popularity, the educated élite conspire to bring him down. After his assassination, civil war erupts on the streets of the capital.

Nicholas Hytner’s production thrusts the audience into the street party that greets Caesar’s return, the congress that witnesses his murder, the rally that assembles for his funeral and the chaos that explodes in its wake.

Learning Pack

King Lear

King Lear cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

This Donmar Warehouse production was recorded through National Theatre Live on 3rd February, 2011.

An aged king decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, according to which of them is most eloquent in praising him. His favourite, Cordelia, says nothing. As Lear’s world descends into chaos, all that he once believed is brought into question. One of the greatest works in western literature, King Lear explores the very nature of human existence: love and duty, power and loss, good and evil.

The acclaimed Donmar Warehouse production of Shakespeare’s most harrowing tragedy, starring Sir Derek Jacobi and directed by Tony Award winning Michael Grandage (Red).

Learning Pack

Les Blancs

Les Blancs cover image

Age recommendation: 14+ (contains mature themes and references to racism)

This production is an archival recording captured in 2016.

An African country teeters on the edge of civil war. A society prepares to drive out its colonial present and claim an independent future. Racial tensions boil over. Tshembe, returned home from England for his father’s funeral, finds himself in the eye of the storm.

A family and a nation fall apart under the pressure to determine their own identity as this brave, illuminating and powerful play confronts the hope and tragedy of revolution.

Les Blancs marked the National Theatre debut of the multi-award-winning director Yaël Farber, whose productions include The Crucible (Old Vic) and the internationally-acclaimed Mies Julie and Nirbhaya.

Written eleven years after A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry’s final drama is an unknown masterpiece of the American stage and a highly theatrical search for the soul of post-colonial Africa.

Learning Pack

London Assurance

London Assurance cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 28th June, 2010.

Grace has agreed to marry Sir Harcourt in return for his financial support of her family. At a house party in her father's place, Harcourt's son Charles also falls in love with Grace. When his father appears on the scene, he has to convince him that there is a case of mistaken identity and he is somebody else. Then Lady Gay Spanker, a married woman also visiting at the house, is persuaded by Charles to seduce his father and thus divert his attention from Grace. Much confusion and scheming ensues.

Originally written by Dion Boucicault, Nicholas Hytner directs Simon Russell Beale and Fiona Shaw in this a new version by Richard Bean about life, love and mistaken identity in 19th Century London.

Learning Pack


Macbeth cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

A new version by Justin Audibert and the company.

Originally staged as part of the National Theatre’s Shakespeare for younger audiences programme. This archival recording was captured in 2017.

Amid bloody rebellion and the deafening drums of war, Macbeth and his wife will stop at nothing to fulfil their ambition. Witchcraft, murder, treason and treachery are all at play in this murky world.

A bold contemporary retelling of one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays.

Learning Guide


Medea cover image

Age recommendation: 14+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 4th September, 2014.

Terrible things breed in broken hearts. Medea is a wife and a mother, stricken with grief. For the sake of her husband, Jason, she’s left her home and borne two sons in exile. But when he abandons his family for a new life, Medea faces banishment and separation from her children. Cornered, she begs for one day’s grace.

It’s time enough. She exacts an appalling revenge and destroys everything she holds dear.

Helen McCrory takes the title role in Euripides’ powerful tragedy, in a new version by Ben Power, directed by Carrie Cracknell, with music written by Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp.

Learning Pack

One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 15th September, 2011.

Fired from his skiffle band, Francis Henshall becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe, a small time East End hood, now in Brighton to collect £6,000 from his fiancée’s dad. But Roscoe is really his sister Rachel posing as her own dead brother, who’s been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers.

Holed up at The Cricketers’ Arms, the permanently ravenous Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a second job with one Stanley Stubbers, who is hiding from the police and waiting to be re-united with Rachel. To prevent discovery, Francis must keep his two guvnors apart. Simple.

Tony Award-winning James Corden plays Francis Henshall in the hilarious West End and Broadway hit.

Learning Guide

Rehearsal Insights


Othello cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 26th September, 2013.

Othello, newly married to Desdemona – who is half his age – is appointed leader of a major military operation. Iago, passed over for promotion by Othello in favour of the young Cassio, persuades Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair.

This acclaimed production of William Shakespeare’s play about the destructive power of jealousy was nominated for Best Revival at the 2013 Olivier Awards. Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear jointly won the Evening Standard Best Actor Award for their performances in the iconic roles of Othello and Iago.

Learning Guide

Rehearsal Insights

Lesson Plan: Understanding Persuasion

Lesson Plan: Writing a Final Soliloquy for Iago

Lesson Plan: Rewriting Act IV Scene 3

Lesson Plan: Theatre Craft in the Brawl

Peter Pan

Peter Pan cover image

Age recommendation: 7+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 10th June, 2017 as a co-production with Bristol Old Vic Theatre.

All children grow up, except one.

When Peter Pan loses his shadow, headstrong Wendy helps him reattach it. In return, she is invited to Neverland, where Tinker Bell the fairy, Tiger Lily and the vengeful Captain Hook await. A riot of music, magic and make-believe ensues.

A delight for children and adults alike, Sally Cookson directs this wondrously inventive devised production of JM Barrie's classic.

Learning Guide

Lesson Plan: Shadow Puppets

Lesson Plan: Flying Poetry

Lesson Plan: Designing Neverland

Lesson Plan: Character Posters

Lesson Plan: Childhood vs Adulthood

Key Stage 3 Pack

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet cover image

Age recommendation: 8+

A new version for younger audiences by Bijan Sheibani and Ben Power.

Originally staged as part of the National Theatre’s Shakespeare for younger audiences programme. This archival recording was captured in 2017.

This contemporary production sees a company of eight tell the most famous love story of all time, set against a vivid urban backdrop bursting with excitement, colour, dance and song.

A swift, contemporary celebration of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Bijan Sheibani’s thrilling production brings Romeo and Juliet to life for a new generation.

Learning Pack

Lesson Plan: Insults

Lesson Plan: Stage Fighting

Lesson Plan: Who am I?

She Stoops to Conquer

She Stoops to Conquer cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 29th March, 2012.

Hardcastle, a man of substance, looks forward to acquainting his daughter with his old pal's son, with a view to marriage. But thanks to playboy Lumpkin, he's mistaken by his prospective son-in-law Marlowe for an innkeeper, and his daughter for a local barmaid.

But while Marlowe can barely speak to a woman of quality, he's a charmer with those of a different stamp. And so, as Hardcastle's indignation intensifies, Miss Hardcastle's appreciation for her misguided suitor soars. Misdemeanours multiply, love blossoms, and mayhem ensues.

One of the great, generous-hearted and ingenious comedies of the English language, Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer offers a celebration of chaos, courtship and the dysfunctional family.

Learning Pack

Rehearsal Insights

Small Island

Small Island cover image

Age recommendation: 14+ (strong language and racist terms)

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 30th May, 2019.

Adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson, Small Island follows three intricately connected stories. Hortense yearns for a new life away from rural Jamaica, Gilbert dreams of becoming a lawyer, and Queenie longs to escape her Lincolnshire roots. Hope and humanity meet stubborn reality as the play traces the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK.

Andrea Levy’s epic, Orange Prize-winning novel bursts to new life on the Olivier stage. A company of 40 tells a story which journeys from Jamaica to Britain, through the Second World War to 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury.

Learning Guide

Rehearsal Insights


Translations cover image

Age recommendation: 14+

This archive recording was captured on 31st July, 2018.

What happens when a land is robbed of its language?

Brian Friel’s modern classic is a powerful account of nationhood, which sees the turbulent relationship between England and Ireland play out in one quiet community.

Owen, the prodigal son, returns to rural Donegal from Dublin. With him are two British army officers. Their ambition is to create a map of the area, replacing the Gaelic names with English. It is an administrative act with radical consequences.

Rehearsal Insights

Treasure Island

Treasure Island cover image

Age recommendation: 9+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 22nd January, 2015.

It's a dark and stormy night. The stars are out. Jim, the inn-keeper's granddaughter, opens the door to a terrifying stranger. At the old sailor's feet sits a huge sea-chest, full of secrets. Jim invites him in – and her dangerous voyage begins.

Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure of mutiny, money and murder is brought to life on the Olivier stage in a thrilling new adaptation by Bryony Lavery and directed by Polly Findlay.

Learning Guide

Lesson Plan: Bringing Historical Characters to Life

Lesson Plan: Designing a Poster for Treasure Island

Lesson Plan: Making Treasure Maps

Lesson Plan: Time Travelling Pirate's Debate Club

Lesson Plan: Eating on Board a Pirate Ship

Lesson Plan: Languages of Old

Lesson Plan: Roles of Women in the 18th Century

Lesson Plan: Poetry of the Sea

Lesson Plan: Sea Shanties

Key Stage 3 Pack

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night cover image

Age recommendation: 12+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 6th April, 2017.

A ship is wrecked on the rocks. Viola is washed ashore but her twin brother Sebastian is lost. Determined to survive on her own, she steps out to explore a new land. So begins a whirlwind of mistaken identity and unrequited love.

The nearby households of Olivia and Orsino are overrun with passion. Even Olivia's upright housekeeper Malvolia is swept up in the madness. Where music is the food of love, and nobody is quite what they seem, anything proves possible.

Simon Godwin directs this joyous new production with Tasmin Greig as a transformed Malvolia, in a new twist on Shakespeare’s classic comedy of mistaken identity.

Learning Pack

The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale cover image

Age recommendation: 8+

A new version for young audiences by Justin Audibert.

Originally staged as part of the National Theatre’s Shakespeare for younger audiences programme. This archival recording was captured in 2018.

Perdita is a brave, intelligent and much-loved girl, but something is not quite right in her world. Join her on a journey through magic and mayhem as she uncovers her story – the girl who was once lost and then found.

This exciting new version of The Winter's Tale is the perfect introduction to Shakespeare: using colour, song and puppetry to tell this magical tale.

Learning Pack


wonder.land cover image

Age recommendation: 11+

This archive recording was captured on 9th May, 2017.

A new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic story, wonder.land is a coming-of-age adventure that explores the blurred boundaries between our online and offline lives. Combining live theatre and digital technology in dazzling new ways, wonder.land is brought to life on stage by an extraordinary creative team.

With stunning sets, costumes, video projection and lighting, and a score by Blur’s Damon Albarn, this is a musical like no other: an Alice for the online generation.

Learning Guide

Background Pack

Key Stage 3 Pack


Yerma cover image

Age recommendation: 14+ (very strong language and sexual references)

This Young Vic production was recorded through National Theatre Live on 31st August, 2017.

A young woman is driven to the unthinkable by her desperate desire to have a child in Lorca’s classic tragedy about honour, family and female empowerment. Set in contemporary London, Piper’s portrayal of a woman in her thirties desperate to conceive builds with elemental force to a staggering, shocking, climax.

The theatre phenomenon sold out at the Young Vic and critics called it ‘an extraordinary theatrical triumph’ (The Times) and ‘stunning, searing, unmissable’ (Mail on Sunday). Billie Piper’s lead performance was described as ‘spellbinding’ (The Evening Standard), ‘astonishing’ (iNews) and ‘devastatingly powerful’ (The Daily Telegraph).

Billie Piper won an Evening Standard Best Actress award for her performance in Simon Stone’s radical production of Lorca’s achingly powerful masterpiece.

Learning Guide

Key Stage 3 Packs (Ages 11 to 14)

These activities are designed to support Key Stage 3 students as they watch National Theatre productions and include research, discussion, writing and creative tasks, most of which can be carried out in isolation if required. Some resources in the Productions section of this page are also appropriate for students in Key Stage 3.

Peter Pan cover image
Treasure Island cover image
wonder.land cover image