The National Theatre of Iceland (Þjóðleikhúsið) is a vibrant and dynamic theatre, that has been a leading institution on the Icelandic theatre scene ever since it opened formally in 1950, receiving around 100.000 spectators each season.
The theatre’s mission is to make outstanding, entertaining, and challenging theatre for a diverse audience, share important and compelling stories, arouse the general public’s interest in the theatre and promote the development of the arts of the stage.
The NTI works with prominent theatre artists from Iceland and abroad and nurtures new talent. The theatre tours its productions around Iceland and abroad.
The NTI aims to be inclusive, diverse, and sustainable.
Recent collaborations on the international scene include Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Complicité, directed by Simon McBurney, the Mayenburg-Trilogy, including Ellen Babic (world premiere) and Ex, directed by Benedict Andrews, and Egal (world premiere), directed by Marius von Mayenburg, as well as My Brilliant Friend, directed by Yaël Farber.
The NTI performs each season around ten new productions, as well as re-premieres, co-productions, and guest performances, comprising a varied repertoire of new Icelandic works, new foreign works, Icelandic and foreign classics, musicals, dance pieces and children’s productions. The theatre serves an important role in the development of new Icelandic plays and aims to develop youngsters’ appreciation of the theatre through productions especially intended for children and youth, and visits to the theatre.
The season 2023-2024 offers a great variety of theatrical productions, all created by outstanding Icelandic and international theatre artists.
The world premiere in Iceland of a trilogy by Marius von Mayenburg has been a great triumph, with the premiere of Ellen Babić and Ex, directed by Benedict Andrews, last season, winning the Icelandic Theatre Awards Griman, and the premiere of the third play, Egal, this season, directed by Mayenburg himself. On our main stage we will premiere Mutter Courage and her Children by Bertolt Brecht and Margarete Steffin directed by Una Thorleifsdottir, Edda, based on Norse mythology, created by Thorleifur Orn Arnarsson, and Follow the Sun, a devised new play created by actors from the NT‘s ensemble. We will receive Simon McBurney’s and Complicité’s new production of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, based on Olga Tokarczuk’s novel, coproduced by the NT, and a dance theatre production, Congratulations on Being Human.
Also, on the main stage, there will be two family productions: Gisli Orn Gardarsson will direct a new production of Frozen, that he will stage throughout the Nordic countries, and Stefan Jonsson directs a new Icelandic family musical by Gunnar Helgason, Bjork Jakobsdottir and Thorvaldur Bjarni Thorvaldsson, The Dream Catcher. We will host an important event by Art Without Borders celebrating the art of disabled theatre artists.
In Kassinn Kolfinna Nikulasdottir stages Phedra‘s Love by Sarah Kane, Thora Karitas Arnadottir stages Prima Facie by Suzie Miller and Bjorn Thors stages The Scent of Loss by Unnur Osp Stefansdottir, based on Elisabet Jokulsdottir‘s writing. We will coproduce Opera One Hundred Thousand by Thorunn Greta Sigurdardottir and Kristin Eiriksdottir, directed by Kolfinna Nikulasdottir.
On The Small Stage we offer three children‘s productions, Lara and her Lion by Birgitta Haukdal and director Gudjon David Karlsson, On Two Feet by Midnaetti and I Can do it by Peter Engkvist, directed by Bjorn Ingi Hilmarsson, that also tours the country. Also a play for and written by teenagers, Secrets, a coproduction led by Asrun Magnusdottir.
A variety of shows, comedy, stand-up, improv, cabaret, concerts, comic opera can be enjoyed in the Theatre Cellar. In the Theatre Cellar R.E.C.Arts hosts workshops for people of minority backgrounds, and the artist-activist collective also curates four Performance Parties during the season. Here we also offer Lunch Theatre Productions: The Assignment and The Visit.
Ensemble and production
The NTI is an ensemble theatre with around 25 actors employed on a permanent basis, and also works with actors with temporary assignments. The theatre runs its own efficient production departments that manufacture sets, costumes and wigs, as well as productive sound and lighting departments. A normal rehearsal period is eight weeks, the last four weeks on stage. The theatre works closely with schools on all education levels.
The theatre is situated in the historical center of Reykjavík and performs in four separate venues: the Main Stage (500 seats), the Black Box (130 seats), the Small Stage (80 seats), and The Theatre Cellar Club (100-120 seats).
The theatre offers a variety of refreshments for guests. A little theatre book shop is run in the foyer.
The NTI collaborates internationally, notably with renowned theatres, directors, and designers. Recent and current collaborations include Simon McBurney and the Complicité theatre, Stefan Żeromski in Kielce in Poland, Yaël Farber, Benedict Andrews, Marius von Mayenburg and Nina Wetzel. Other collaborations are under way.
Icelandic directors that work closely with the NTI have also gained international prestige, as theatre and film directors, among them Gisli Orn Gardarsson (Young Vic, Lyric Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, American Repertory Theater), Thorleifur Orn Arnarsson (Volksbühne Berlin, Schauspiel Hannover), Una Thorleifsdottir (Theatr im. Stefana Zeromskiego w Kielcach), Benedikt Erlingsson (Nordic Council Film Prize for Horses and Men and Woman at War), Baltasar Kormákur (Adrift, Everest).
Gender equality, diversity and staff policy It is the shared ambition of the NTI´s staff that the work ethics at the theatre shall be outstanding. The employee team has a vision of a collective approach in the making of theatre, and makes every endeavor for a friendly and encouraging atmosphere in the workplace. The NTI strives for upholding equality and cultivating diversity among its staff and audiences, and in its artistic objectives. Gender equality is at the heart of the personnel policy. The theatre has an official gender equality plan and received an official Equal Pay certification in 2020. The National theatre is working on a diversity strategy for the years ahead. In 2018 a Pact of Communication was co-created by the NTI staff and now serves as a communal code of conduct within the workplace.
The director of The National Theatre, from January 2020, is Mr. Magnus Geir Thordarson. Soon after his appointment a new artistic team and management was introduced. In the spring of 2020 a new strategy and organizational chart was introduced. Now, enhanced importance is placed on new writing, Icelandic work, international collaboration and the development of new audiences and education. In the autumn a new laboratory, Loftid, was opened, Kjallarinn became a new theatre-club-cabaret-venue, a Lunchtime theatre was introduced and the whole front of house was renovated with a new restaurant-area intended to offer the audiences a richer experience.
Magnús Geir Þórðarson, Artistic Directormagnusgeir@leikhusid.is
Hrafnhildur Hagalín Guðmundsdóttir, Dramaturg, Deputy Artistic Directorhrafnhildur@leikhusid.is
Melkorka Tekla Ólafsdóttir, Dramaturg, Artistic email@example.com
Steinunn Þórhallsdóttir, Managing Directorsteinunnth@leikhusid.is
Tinna Lind Gunnarsdóttir, Scheduling Directortinnalind@leikhusid.is
Jón Þ. Kristjánsson, Head of Marketing and Experiencejorri@leikhusid.is
Vala Fannell, Community Projects Leadervala@leikhusid.is