The National Theatre
Steeped in tradition and pushing the boundaries
The National Theatre is Norway’s largest theatre. Steeped in tradition and pushing the boundaries, it has the express aim of being recognised as one of the leading theatres in Europe. The Theatre is ideally located right in the centre of the Norwegian capital of Oslo – between the Royal Palace and the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) – in a beautiful building dating back to the turn of the previous century. It houses three permanent stages under one roof, with a fourth auxiliary one located in Torshov, Oslo’s new, trendy East End.
Since it opened its doors in 1899 the National Theatre has become home to the dramatic arts in Norway and the use of the Norwegian language on stage. The desire to establish a theatre for Norwegian dramatists and stage artists constituted a natural part of the country’s national development and its separation from Sweden around the beginning of the last century, a process than culminated in the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905. The statues of Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson still take pride of place in front of the Theatre’s main entrance. The names of these two national icons, along with that of Ludvig Holberg, have been engraved on the front of the building.
The National Theatre’s ensemble includes the country’s leading actors, and only the best national and international producers are invited to realise the Theatre’s artistic programme. The Theatre’s technical and administrative staff consists of highly qualified workers in all areas. In its capacity as a festival organiser and touring theatre, the National Theatre also possesses outstanding expertise in both a national and an international context.
The repertoire of the National Theatre is characterised by high quality and a balanced mix of classical and contemporary drama presented in topical and groundbreaking productions. The changing focus devoted to traditional and contemporary performances is also reflected in the annual theatre festivals that are organised at the Theatre: the International Ibsen Festival and the ICON Program which are held biennially in alternate years.