2/09/2013 11:09 HRS

Celebrating the working life of the National’s first company, this exhibition includes brilliant unseen portraits, including Anthony Hopkins, Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier.

Chris Arthur’s unique access allowed him to document the National Theatre productions and the backstage world of the Old Vic.

The ‘Chris Arthur Scenes from National Life’ exhibition also includes images of the street life of Waterloo in the early 1960s.

From 9 September to 10 November 2013.

Open 10 am to 10.30pm, Monday to Saturday.

Sundays (when open): 12 noon – 6pm Closed on following Sundays: 22 Sep, 6, 13 & 20 Oct Admission free.

Location: The Lyttleton Exhibition area (first floor).

The National Theatre, South Bank, London. SE1 9PX.

Chris joined the ABTT about 1962.

He spent four years training in theatre design at Wimbledon School of Art. After graduating was dragged into the army to do his national service, where much to his surprise he was officially employed as an artist and spent an awful lot of time devising a wide range of theatre design projects.

When his two years were up, he joined Dundee Rep as assistant designer and subsequently moved to The Century (mobile) Theatre as designer.

There followed various tours and productions around the Midlands, Oxford and the North and in between times he worked in London as an electrician at The Mermaid & Cambridge theatres.

In the autumn of 1963 he thought he was joining the newly formed National Theatre on electrics, but the job actually turned out to be on the stage staff However the error was soon rectified and he transferred to back to electrics and stayed with the National at the Old Vic for 5 years. During this time he bought a camera, taught himself to use it and how to make prints. His snaps were seen and he began to carry out small assignments for the firm, These grew in scale and frequency until he eventually moved on to become a full-time professional theatre photographer.