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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Ex-National boss regrets 'Royal' title
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady was a recent National hit
Former Royal National Theatre director Sir Richard Eyre has said the venue should not have been given the "Royal" tag, as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Sir Richard's comments on Thursday earned nods of approval from Sir Peter Hall - another former director - and outgoing boss Trevor Nunn.

Sir Richard Eyre
Sir Richard never liked the National's full name
The two former directors joined Nunn at the theatre on London's South Bank for an onstage interview organised as part of the venue's 25th anniversary celebrations.

Sir Richard - who was director from 1988 to 1997 - said: "I find Royal National Theatre an oxymoron and I regret it."

He revealed how Labour peers Lord Rayne and Lord Mishcon - theatre board members at the time - had insisted on the "Royal" after the theatre put on Alan Bennett's A Question of Attribution in 1988.

Lord Rayne in particular thought the "Royal" would help counter criticism against the theatre in its early years, he added.

National Theatre
The theatre is on London's South Bank
Sir Richard also paid tribute to the late celebrated actor Lord Laurence Olivier, founder of the National Theatre.

"Without him we wouldn't be sitting here," Sir Richard concluded.


Anniversary celebrations - from performances to guest appearances - have been going on for several months.

On Friday, the theatre stages a play written by 25 playwrights, who wrote a scene each.

The play, which is still under the working title of The Chain Play, was written by playwrights including Patrick Marber, Stephen Sondheim, Jonathan Harvey and Shelagh Stephenson.

Lord Laurence Olivier
Lord Olivier: Theatre's founder
It has been published scene by scene on the National's website. Actors taking part in the play include Tim McInnerny, Nichola McAuliffe and Simon Day.

Other celebrations have included an ongoing discussion series on the theatre's history called the the N25 Story with star contributors.

Still to come is an appearance by actress Joan Plowright, 70, who will talk about her life and career in the theatre named after her late husband Lord Laurence Olivier.

The National moved to its permanent home on the South Bank in 1976, after spending its first 12 years at London's Old Vic.

See also:

25 Sep 01 | Arts
Hytner sets out National plan
25 Sep 01 | Arts
Hytner appointment welcomed
18 Apr 01 | Arts
National's Nunn to leave
02 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Eyre calls for cheaper theatre
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