The National Theatre has admitted having “Royal” in its title is not always useful.

The famous theatre was given permission to add the prefix to its name in 1988, to mark its 25th birthday, but it is still known as the National Theatre.

Asked why it does not use “Royal” in its title, artistic director Rufus Norris said: “Sometimes it’s very useful for us and reflective and sometimes it’s less so.

“There’s no question about the fact that theatre has a challenge. This country is still very class-driven and there is a perception, and anything that adds to the perception that this place is not for everyone can be a downfall.”

On any prospect of dropping the prefix completely, he said he would “pass that hot potato”.

He added: “I’m going to take that one to the board and have a chat with them about it.”

Citing a recent project on arts education, Mr Norris said: “The fact is we do have quite close communication with the royal family.”

Lisa Burger, the National Theatre’s executive director, said: “It wasn’t originally part of our name, unlike the Royal Opera House, which was set out by royal charter. We were set up differently.”

The National Theatre has announced a stage adaptation of Andrea Levy’s Small Island, a one-man play about the late comic Richard Pryor written by and starring Sir Lenny Henry, and a musical adaption of the Mr Gum story books.

Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings will star in Hansard, about a husband and wife struggling to come to terms with seismic events in their lives.

The theatre is also launching “smart caption glasses” to “transform access to theatre for audiences with hearing loss”.