Online theatre: streaming options for staying in
The show will go on as theatres introduce digital viewing options to bring the drama directly to you during social isolation
Online streaming gives audiences a chance to experience live theatre from their own homes and creates opportunities for actors to stay in paid work.
Culture Whisper will update this list as more initiatives launch, keeping you up to date with the changing ways to connect and consume culture while theatres remain closed.
Marc Antolin and Audrey Brisson as Marc and Bella Chagall in The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. Photo: Steve Tanner
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk
Kneehigh's charming, whimsical and thoroughly joyous account of the relationship between Marc Chagall and his model and muse Bella Rosenfeld is being streamed live from Bristol Old Vic this December, with Marc Antolin (Marc Chagall) and Audrey Brisson (Bella Chagall), reprising their roles from the original production, and Emma Rice directing.
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk is available to stream on the Wise Children Digital and Bristol Old Vic websites from Thursday 3 - Saturday 5 December at 7:30pm. Tickets £16 - £31.
Tales for Winter at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The RSC is offering a rich programme of virtual shows this winter. The winter season begins with a one-off performance of the company's heartwarming adaptation of David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress (Saturday 5 December, 7:30pm). Then on Saturday 12 December, Gregory Doran's thrilling retelling of the Trojan War will play out as a five-part affair titled Troy Story (10am - 8pm). The Festive Tales are taking place on Saturday 19 December at 7pm and Sunday 20 December at 4:30pm, with a limited number of in-person tickets being made available should restrictions lift.
Tickets to The Boy in the Dress available for £10; tickets to Troy Story available for £50 (for all five parts); tickets to Festive Tales available for £20 in person / £10 online.
Death of England: Delroy
Clint Dyer and Roy Williams' Death of England: Delroy, an unflinching examination of being a working-class man in Britain, is being made available to stream via the National Theatre's YouTube channel at 7pm on Friday 27 November. The show will return to the Olivier Theatre for live performances in spring 2021.
Death of England: Delroy will be free to watch and available for seven days
What a Carve Up!
Sharon D Clarke, Derek Jacobi and Griff Rhys Jones are among the starry cast bringing to life Henry Filloux-Bennett’s adaptation of Jonathan Coe’s murder-fuelled satire What a Carve Up!. The popular production, directed by Tamara Harvey (of Home, I'm Darling acclaim), is being extended until Saturday 2 December.
Tickets are available for £12 from the What a Carve Up! website.
Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s misogyny-busting, history-writing hit play Emilia can be enjoyed from home until Wednesday 2 December, when a recording of it playing the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre in May 2019 is being released.
Tickets for Emilia available from £1 on the Emilia Live website. Performances until Wednesday 2 December
Joe Allen's virtual cabaret
Beloved restaurant and champion of the theatre industry Joe Allen is hosting a one-off cabaret evening in support of the West End. Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Jennifer Saunders and Christopher Biggins are among the big-name stars taking part. The event is being streamed live (and for free) on Joe Allen's YouTube channel, and will be made available on the Joe Allen website thereafter.
Joe Allen's virtual cabaret evening is taking place on Thursday 26 November, 8pm - 9pm on YouTube
Christmas at the (Snow) Globe
This December brings a second chance to catch national treasure and Shakespeare's Globe regular Sandi Toksvig's 2019 production Christmas at the (Snow) Globe. A recording of the theatrical carol concert is being made available to stream online via the Shakespeare's Globe website from 7pm on Saturday 21 December, and on Twitter at 6:30pm that same day, when a communal watch-party invites audience members to don their favourite novelty Christmas jumper and watch along together. Free tickets are being made available to UK care homes and children's hospitals.
Christmas at the (Snow) Globe is available to stream on the Shakespeare’s Globe website from 7pm on Saturday 21 December until 11:59pm on Tuesday 5 January 2021. Tickets: £15+.
Sherlock in Homes
Murder mystery game meets theatrical spectacle in Sharp Teeth Theatre's Sherlock in Homes. The Zoom-based experience invites audiences into the world of the famed detective to help him solve the mystery of a murder at a Victorian circus.
Sherlock in Homes is available to stream on Zoom from 20 November - 30 December. Tickets cost £10 - £12 per device.
The latest online initiative from Bristol-based Sharp Teeth Theatre, running alongside Sherlock in Homes, is an interactive panto: Streaming Beauty. Strictly adults-only, the timely, 'filthy' show reimagines Sleeping Beauty as an erotic dancer operating solely online. Much like the original tale, it's a malicious finger prick that sends the story's heroine into a deep slumber, leaving the audience to help awaken her and restore the world to a 'new normal'.
Streaming Beauty is available to stream on Zoom from Wednesday 9 - Saturday 19 December. Tickets cost £10 per device.
Eleonore Tomlinson in 15 Heroines
Fifteen leading British playwrights draw inspiration from the Roman poet Ovid to dramatise the lives of his famed heroines. See these new works streamed live from the empty Jermyn Street Theatre, where they’re being brought to life in three parts – The War, The Desert and The Labyrinth – by a cast including Patsy Ferran, Martina Laird and Eleonore Tomlinson. Tickets: £22 - £32.
Stream 15 Heroines via the Jermyn Street Theatre website until Sunday 22 November, 7:30pm and additionally 3pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
The Last Five Years, Southwark Playhouse
Southwark Playhouse has reopened with its production of Jason Robert Brown’s 2001 musical The Last Five Years (previously pulled because of the lockdown), a two-hander about a young couple in the early throes of marriage. While the show is playing to a socially distanced, live audience each night, it has also been recorded and will be available to watch globally in November.
You can stream The Last Five Years online via stream.theatre on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 November at 7:30pm; Saturday 28 November at 2:30pm and 7:30pm; and Sunday 29 November at 5pm
Battersea Arts Centre’s MAKE/LOVE 2020 season
While its historic buildings remain closed to the public, Battersea Arts Centre has launched an autumn digital season under the umbrella title MAKE/LOVE 2020. Featuring a slew of daring new shows plus comedy nights and concerts performed live in the Grand Hall, the season is being streamed to audiences at home and offers a unifying message of hope.
Look forward to comedy gigs from The LOL Word and Yes Queens; musical performances as part of EFG London Jazz Festival; and two new projects exploring the ways we interact with our bodies: Brian Lobel and Joon Lynn Goh’s Sex with Cancer and Robert Softley-Gale’s Come to Bed With Me. Further highlights include the chance to watch a live reality TV show with a community message at its core unfold in What If…?, and a screening of BLM-inspired new movie I Still Breathe.
The MAKE/LOVE 2020 season runs until Friday 20 November. Tickets cost £0 - £10 per device, depending on show. Click here to book
The Mermaid's Tongue by Swamp Motel
Part escape room game, part immersive experience, The Mermaid's Tongue requires at-home audiences to work in teams to find a missing artefact before a society of faceless villains get their hands on it. It's the latest experience from Swamp Motel, who previously brought immersive theatre into people's homes with their acclaimed production Plymouth Point (April and May 2020). Beginning in a virtual art class, teams of up to six (working on different devices), must first help a fellow class member find out the secrets of her recently deceased friend. To do so, IT systems must be hacked, cryptic paintings read, codes and patterns deciphered, all against the clock. It's a tense 90 minutes (bravo if you complete it sooner), and at times, even on finding clues it can be a little confusing as to what to do with them. But help is on hand via a chat function in the virtual forum, and clues come swiftly to those who ask. The Mermaid's Tongue is a slick operation which uses multiple mediums to make you feel fully immersed in the experience. Just when you're squinting at your computer screen, desperately trying to solve a piece of the puzzle, text messages come flying through to ensnare your efforts. Grab your smartest friends; this reviewer wouldn't have made it past the first challenge without her colleagues.
The Mermaid's Tongue is to be played at home in groups of two to six players. Monday - Friday, 7pm & 9pm. Saturday & Sunday, 5pm, 7pm & 9pm. Tickets £15pp. Click here to book
User Not Found: A Video Podcast
What happens to your social media pages after you die? Such is the topic of Dante or Die’s play User Not Found, which was met with acclaim when it premiered at Edinburgh Festival Fringe back in 2018. Already a part-live, part-digital experience, the show’s creators Daphna Attias and Terry O’Donovan have since adapted it for a lockdown audience, transforming it into an ‘immersive video podcast’ to be watched on your phone.
Available until 10 March 2021. Watch it on Dante or Die's YouTube channel.
Hamilton on Disney+
The original Broadway production of Hamilton, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda himself as Alexander Hamilton, is finally available for fans around the world to experience. The 'movie' version is available to stream on Disney+ and if the trailer is anything to go by it captures the vitality of a live musical, with added drama and intensity from close-up camera angles. Don't throw away your shot to see the hottest musical in the world right now.
Hamilton is available to stream on Disney+ now. Sign up for £5.99 a month or £59.99 for a year.
CirqueConnect with Cirque du Soleil
Get a close-up view of jaw-dropping acrobatics courtesy of Cirque du Soleil. The world-famous circus troupe is streaming highlights from their back-catalogue of shows via a new online hub, CirqueConnect. There's a selection of 60-minute shows, from sing-a-longs to unfeasible physical feats. Best of all, everything is free to stream and family friendly.
Click here to watch online for free
The Shows Must Go On!
Taking the whole family to see a musical was an expensive ordeal once upon a time. But not in 2020, a year that's seen some of the West End's best-loved shows performed live in our living rooms. The Shows Must Go On! is a YouTube channel streaming crowd-pleasing musicals, drama and concerts every Friday night.
Shows go live at 7pm on Friday evenings and are available to watch for free for 48 hours. Click here for access.
Les Misérables: Live in Concert
When Les Misérables was briefly suspended due to refurbishments on the Sondheim Theatre in 2019 a whole host of stars and musical theatre legends, including Alfie Boe, Micheal Ball and Matt Lucas, came together for a sell-out concert version of the show. Now a recording of the Les Mis concert is available to download and watch online. Each download will raise money for charities supporting performing arts and the NHS. Producer Cameron Mackintosh says: 'we hope that fans and everyone who loves the theatre will be reminded of how special a theatrical experience can be, going to the very heart of our British culture'.
The concert is £9.99 to download and is available now. Click here to download
Globe Player: Shakespeare on Demand
With over 130 filmed productions, the Globe Theatre's on-demand-video service means there's more than enough Shakespeare to see us through theatre closures and quarantine measures. Relive Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry's star turns in Twelfth Night, get up close to Jonathan Pryce as Shylock in Twelfth Night or watch Michelle Terry playing the tragic prince in Hamlet. With a wealth of talented actors and and an emphasis on the spirit and atmosphere of Shakespeare's text, the Globe productions bring the bard to you. It's especially valuable for parents trying to ignite a love of theatre and support children their Shakespeare set texts.
Much of the Globe Player has been made free while the theatre is closed and there is also the option to rent certain productions (£4.99), own them (£12.99) or send them as a gift (£12.99). Click here to explore and stream.
The Show Must Go Online At Curve
Leicester Curve is making quality regional theatre globally accessible during lockdown by bringing its archive of performances online. Recorded productions of Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual and The Importance of Being Earnest and Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw are all available to stream online.
Click here for the Leicester Curve online archive
A feast of Theatre, Dance and Opera on Marquee TV
Get a 14-day free trial of Marquee TV to binge on recorded productions from the likes of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Donmar Warehouse, the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne, and many more. You can re-live favourites, discover thrilling new shows and curate your own packed cultural schedule, all without leaving the house.
Click here for the free trial
The Show Must Go Online
Why not spend all these free evenings at home getting to grips with the complete works of Shakespeare? The best way to appreciate and enjoy the bard is to experience his plays performed by talented actors. Newly launched and brilliantly named initiative The Show Must Go Online will live-stream performed readings of The Complete Works of Shakespeare. The plays will be performed by a group of actors in the order in which they were written, giving viewers a full overview of literary history.
Producer Robert Myles described the enthusiastic reaction to the launch of The Show Must Go Online: 'so many professional actors and experience amateurs were willing to donate their time to entertain each other, and an audience. The mix of people...[are] all brought together by their love of Shakespeare'.
Click here to watch the readings on YouTube
The 24 Hour Plays' Viral Monologues
A host of acting and writing talents including Hugh Dancy, David Lindsay-Abaire, Jesse Eisenberg and Stephen Adly Guirgis feature in a series of viral monologues. New monologues are released every 15 minutes on Instagram TV on the @24hourplays page. The short, free-to-watch micro plays make it easy to inject a little culture into your day and to elevate your Instagram grid with some quality theatre.
Click here to watch on Instagram
Leave a Light On concerts
The production company behind London's Theatre Café have launched Leave a Light On, a series of live-streamed concerts from a mix of prestigious West End performers and bright new talents. The intimate piano vocal concerts will be broadcast online live from The Theatre Café in Leicester Square and can be enjoyed for a small fee.
From Monday 23 March there will be three concerts each day. Details will be posted here when confirmed.
Sir Patrick Stewart's daily sonnets
Sir Patrick Stewart is giving us all a daily boost. The seasoned Shakespearean has been reading a different sonnet every day and broadcasting on his Twitter page. Announcing the undertaking, he said: 'When I was a child in the 1940s, my mother would cut up slices of fruit for me (there wasn't much) and as she put it in front of me she would say, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." How about, “A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away”? So...here we go: Sonnet 1.' Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, so that gives us plenty of material to cover self-isolation.
Click here to catch up and to watch on Twitter