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National Theatre axes Sunday performances

Sam Swann and Sean Rigby in Pomona at the National's Temporary Theatre. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Sunday performances at the National Theatre have been dropped, as part of a cost-cutting drive that could see the venue’s temporary space demolished.

NT director Rufus Norris said Sunday performances had been axed as the venue looks at ways of “contracting”. The theatre faces the loss of revenue from the West End production of War Horse and a 30% cut [1] in real terms to its subsidy since 2010.

“We have looked at the evidence carefully over the last few years and we are going to stop Sunday performances. The case has not been proven with them, and they are always the last performances to sell,” he said.

The director first mooted the idea of ending Sunday runs at a briefing last year [2].

Executive director Lisa Burger added that Sunday openings, which have been running since 2008, had been a “fantastic initiative” and a way to “open up audiences”.

“The fact is there aren’t as many audiences coming to Sunday performances. Given the tight financial situation, we decided it was one of the things we have to give up, which is sad,” she said.

However, she said the venue would remain open as a building on Sundays during summer months, claiming “it’s important people on the South Bank can get to use the theatre”.

Norris also said the end of Sunday performances would mean actors could be cross-cast in productions more.

“With Sundays you can’t cross-cast, as actors have to have a day off. This [ending Sunday runs] gives us more flexibility in other areas,” he said.

The NT also revealed that verbatim play Another World: Losing Our Children to Islamic State, would be the last fully staged show in the Temporary Theatre, when it opens in April.

Norris said: “With the closure of War Horse and the fact we are facing, in the eye, the reality of the fact we have lost 30% in real terms of our subsidy since 2010, we have been looking at various ways of contracting the organisation, to make it as efficient as possible.”

He added: “One of them is to limit the productions we are doing in this building [the Temporary Theatre]. We don’t know yet whether we will be knocking it down after the last fully staged production.”