Britain is now one of the world's major theatres centres. Many British actors and actresses are known all over the world. They are Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Glenda Jackson, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and others.
British groups often set new trends in music. New staff and styles continue to appear. One of the most popular contemporary musicians and composers is Andrew Lloyd Webber. The musicals and rock operas by A. L. Webber have been a great success both in Britain and overseas.
If you stand in Trafalgar Square with your back to Nelson's Column, you will see a wide horizontal front in a classical style. It is the National Gallery. It has been in this building since 1838 which was built as the National Gallery to house the collection of Old Masters Paintings (38 paintings) offered to the nation by an English Private collector, Sir George Beamount.
At present most acting still continues to be naturalistic. Designers make the settings as realistic as possible. Modern producers and directors Peter Hall, Peter Brook and others are trying out new styles of acting. Some go back to Greek methods, with a revival of the chorus; others are making use of the audience in helping to interpret the play.
In the first half of the 17th century the influence of the Puritans was bad for the popular theatre, and it was not before the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 that theatre going again became a popular habit. The most popular plays were comedies. The first part played by an actress was that of Desdemona. Nell Gwynn was the first English actress.