The National Theatre is to remodel its largest stage so that it can reopen for a socially distanced audience.
The Olivier usually holds 1,150 people but when performances return in October, they will be held in-the-round for an audience of just under 500.
A new play, Death of England: Delroy, will open while December will see a one-off return of pantomime with performances of Dick Whittington.
The venue said they were “delighted and relieved to be reopening”.
artistic director previously warned it was “haemorrhaging money”.
Death Of England: Delroy is a one-person play written by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, which is described as being “about a black working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain”.
Only one pantomime has ever been performed on a stage at the venue when a production of Cinderella was put on in the Lyttelton Theatre in 1983.
It is now to return for one year only with a new version of Dick Whittington as a way to “celebrate and honour panto’s place at the heart of British theatre”, according to the venue.
Writers Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd said it would be filled with “irreverent jokes, talking animals, awesome songs, and wholesale destructive silliness”.
As well as a transformed stage, the venue will introduce staggered arrival times, paperless tickets, pre-ordered drinks, enhanced cleaning, mandatory face coverings and sanitisation stations.
The National Theatre’s Director Rufus Norris said the new set up “will allow us to present live work to as many people as possible while social distancing remains in place”.
Speaking about the decision to bring back pantomime, he said they were doing “all we can to keep the flame alive” at a time when theatres across the country cannot put on their performances.