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Shakespeare and the National Theatre

In this extract from House of Commons Hansard, Sir Barnett Stross (1899-1967), a doctor and Labour MP, asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he was aware of the plans of the London County Council to celebrate the 400th anniversary of  Shakespeare's birth in 1964. The plans were for a Commonwealth Arts Festival to include the building of a national theatre, conference hall and art gallery, which would transform the South Bank as a cultural centre.

The National Theatre actually opened in 1963 at the Old Vic before moving to the South Bank in 1976. Although the work of William Shakespeare was influential in the campaign for a national theatre, the theatre is not a Shakespearean institution. Nevertheless, it is clear that Shakespeare was an important  reference point  in the redevelopment plans for the South Bank area of London.