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Guinness Book of Records

Interesting theatre facts & figures, useful for reference or for settling arguments after the show!


  • The longest of the 37 plays is Hamlet with 4042 lines and 29,551 words.
  • Of Shakespeare's 1277 speaking parts, the longest is Hamlet with 11,610 words.
  • The first all-amateur company to have staged all 37 plays was the Southsea Shakespeare Actors, Hants (founded 1947) in October 1966.
  • Arts Festival

  • The world's largest arts festival is the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe, instituted in 1947.
  • Oldest

  • The oldest indoor theatre in the world is the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy. Designed in the roman style by Andrea di Petro, allias Palladio (1508-80), it was begun three months before his death and finished by his pupil Vicenzo Scamozzi (1552-1616) in 1583. It is still preserved today in its original form.
  • The oldest theatre still in use in Great Britain is The Royal, Bristol. The foundation stone was laid on Nov 30 1764, and the theatre opened on May 30 1766 with a 'Concert of Musick and a Specimen of Rhetorick'. The City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds was a singing room in 1762, and so claims to outdate the Theatre Royal.
  • Largest

  • The largest building used for theatrical performances is the National People’s Congress Building (Renmin Dahuitang) on Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. It covers an area of 5.2 ha (12.8 acres) and seats an audience of 10,000.
  • The highest capacity purpose-built theatre is the Perth Entertainment Centre, Western Australia, completed at a cost of $A8.3million in November 1976 with 8003 seats. The stage area is 1148m2 (12,000 ft2).
  • The world's largest stage is in the Hilton Theater at the Reno Hilton, Reno, Nevada, USA. It measures 53.3 x 73.4 m (175 x 241 ft). The stage has three main elevators and two turntables with a circumference of 19 m (62 ft 8 in).
  • The highest capacity theatre in Great Britain is the Odeon Hammersmith, London, with 3483 seats.
  • The largest stage in Great Britain is the Opera House Blackpool, Lancs. It was rebuilt in July 1939 and has seats for 2975. Behind the 14m (45ft) wide proscenium, the stage is 30m wide, 18m deep, and has a height of 33m (100ft x 60ft x 110ft). There is dressing-room accomodation for 200 artistes.
  • Longest

  • Thunderous clapping echoed around the Vienna Staatsopher on the warm summer evening of July 30, 1991, for one hour and 20 minutes, setting a new record for the world's longest applause ever. The audience, who had just reveled in a performance of a lifetime by Placido Domingo in Othello, responded by rising to their feet and clapping through encore after encore – 101 curtain calls to be exact!
  • On February 24, 1988, Luciano Pavarotti received 165 curtain calls and was applauded for 1 hour 7 minutes after singing in Gaetano Donizetti's L'Elisir D'Amore at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Germany.
  • The greatest recorded number of curtain calls ever received at a ballet is 89 by Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias and Rudolf Hametovich Nureyev after a performance of Swan Lake at the Vienna Staatsoper, Austria, in October 1964.
  • The longest commonly performed opera is Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, by the German composer Richard Wagner (1813–83). An uncut version, as performed by the Sadlers Wells Company in 1968, totaled 5 hr. 15 min. of music.
  • The longest continuous run of any show in the world is The Mousetrap, by Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976). The 19,907th performance of the play took place on October 23, 2000, in London, UK.
  • Shortest

  • Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), author of the most influential play in post-war drama, Waiting For Godot (1953), also wrote the shortest play in world drama - the 30-second Breath. He wrote the play in early 1969, as part of the theatrical revue Oh, Calcutta!, but he eventually withdrew the work from the production when it was altered without his permission.
  • The shortest theatrical run on record was of The Intimate Revue at the Duchess Theatre, London, on March 11, 1930. With the scene changes taking up to 20 minutes each, the management ditched seven scenes to get to the finale before midnight. Much of the audience walked out before the end.
  • See also:

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