The centre of theatrical activity in Britain is London. There are some 48 principal theatres in or near the West End and some 8 in the suburbs. Most of the theatres are let to producing managements on a commercial basis but some are occupied by important subsided companies, including the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Companies.
The former stages classical and modem plays from all countries; the latter presents Shakespearean plays in Stratford-upon-Avon and a mixed repertoire in London. Many non-repertoire theatres outside London present all kinds of drama and many also put on variety shows and other entertainment. Music in all its forms — pop music, folk music, jazz, light music and brass bands — plays an important role in British cultural life.
The widespread interest in classical music is reflected in the large audiences at orchestral concerts and at performances of opera, ballet and chamber music. Regular seasons of opera and ballet are given at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. Seasons of opera and operetta in English are given by the English National Opera.
There are several thousands of amateur dramatic societies in Britain (some 200 amateur youth theatres among them). Most Universities have active amateur drama clubs and societies.