Welcome to A Brief History of The National Theatre, one of five sites dedicated to the many people and events that have shaped this famous institution. As part of the Teens Behind the Scenes program, this series aims to inform and inspire young theatre artists right here in Washington, D.C. Each site examines a key feature of The National’s past, including its proud record as a pre-Broadway tryout site and its many entanglements with local and national politics. This one serves as an overview of The National’s nearly 200 hundred-year history. Each section examines that history from a different perspective, taking into account not only its physical foundations but its place in American culture. Periodically, you’ll find a From the Archives section that highlights prized materials drawn from The National Theatre Archives, as well as sections labeled Consider This…, which invite you to put on your thinking cap. Click the Start Here button above or browse the menu to get going.

The National Theatre Corporation’s Teens Behind the Scenes program is made possible through the generous support of Jacqueline Badger Mars. These sites are curated by dramaturg Jared Strange. Click here to learn more about Teens Behind the scenes.

The National Theatre Foundation is the 501(c)(3) non-profit entity responsible for the continued operation and preservation of The National Theatre. Donations to the National Theatre Corporation help fund necessary capital improvements and maintenance to preserve this historic facility. Additionally, contributions support free community and educational programming, and make possible the management of a vast, content-rich archive. To make your tax-deductible contribution to the National Theatre Corporation, please visit our secure giving website, with our thanks. 

The Nederlander Organization manages and programs the theatre, including the Broadway at The National series. The name “Nederlander” has been synonymous with great entertainment since 1912. Led by James L. Nederlander, President, the organization continues the tradition of operating iconic, historic theatres, as well as producing and presenting the best in theatrical entertainment and concert performances. To learn more, please visit nederlander.com.