The National Theatre first opened its doors in 1963 at the Old Vic.
And 800 productions later it is celebrating 50 years of innovation and world class stage craft.
Later today is exactly 50 years since its opening performance of Hamlet, starring Peter O'Toole and Rosemary Harris, directed by the National Theatre's first artistic director Laurence Olivier.
In opening the theatre with Hamlet, Olivier, widely recognised as the greatest Shakespearean actor of all time, started a deep and important link between the national performance centre and interpretations of the bard.
Peter Hall and Trevor Nunn, both former artistic directors at the Royal Shakespeare company, continued and deepened this tradition.
Later today, the Queen will visit the theatre as part of a month long programme of celebrations.
She will tour the vast multi-stage complex, watch some rehearsals and workshops, and will be given a peak backstage.
Next month some of the best actors will return to the famous boards to reprise some of their best loved roles.
Judi Dench, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith will all perform speeches from roles they have performed as part of a celebratory performance on November 2.
The event, which will be live on BBC 2, will include scenes from its most iconic productions, including No Man's Land, the History Boys, and Pravda.
The gala will see a cast of 100 perform live on stage, directed by Nicholas Hytner, the current artistic director.
Dame Judi Dench will perform an elegy from her starring role in Anthony and Cleopatra in 1987.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear, Helen Mirren and Ralph Fiennes will also feature in the performance.
Nicholas Hytner, who will be replaced by Rufus Norris from 2015, told The Evening Standard he is even hoping for a reunion of The History Boys.
I don’t think we will get them all because they are unbelievably busy and successful. But I know that James Corden and Dominic Cooper will move heaven and earth.
Sir Nicholas said the gala celebration will be bigger than originally billed, and include "properly and elaborately re-staged highlights from the many shows that have made an impact over 50 years. "
Later next month a number of screening of some more recent productions will be screened in cinemas across the UK.