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 will give audiences a chance to experience live theatre from their own homes during social isolation and it will create 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.
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+ from 3 July. Sign up for £5.99 a month or £59.99 for a year.
Sebastian Faulks' epic war story is transformed into a play. Specially made during lockdown by Original Theatre Online, the production uses video technology, sound design, music and live performance, along with narration by Faulks himself to bring the novel to theatrical life. Unlike most theatre streaming options, this is a show that was made to be online. As such it is a more dynamic experience. Faulks describes it as 'technically very ambitious,' adding 'I'm confident [the novel] has reached its best incarnation yet'. Birdsong Online marks the 104th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme and is raising money for The Royal British Legion.
Birdsong Online is available to watch from 1 - 4 July for £15. Click here to stream.
National Theatre at Home
Thanks the National Theatre's NT Live programme, there's a large archive of thrilling theatre shows captured live on film. As a special concession during closures and quarantine, the National Theatre have made productions available to stream for free on YouTube. The weekly shows have been a popular part of lockdown since they launched on 2 April. Now the final instalment of shows to stream for free has been announced.
9 July: Carrie Cracknell's celebrated production of The Deep Blue Sea starring Helen McCrory
16 July: Michael Longhurt's rousing revival of Amadeus, starring Lucian Msamati
Shows will be streamed on the National Theatre's YouTube channel here, at 7pm every Thursday
Mood Music: The Old Vic Archive
Roger Mitchell's production of Mood Music by Joe Penhall impressed at The Old Vic as part of the bicentenary season in 2018. Now you can watch online for free as part of the theatre's Archive streaming programme. Mood Music shines a light on the darker side of the music industry. Visions of artistic integrity, battles for control, and underlying sexism are at the forefront of this smart and insightful drama.
Mood Music is available to watch from 7pm on Wednesday 8 July to Tuesday 14 July via The Old Vic's YouTube channel
Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron
A small silver lining of theatre closures is that the online replacement allows us to enjoy Broadway gems. Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron's pithy stage adaptation of Ilene Beckerman's best-selling book was a triumph Off Broadway, running for three years. It's a heart-warming collection of relatable stories, each prompted an accessory or item of clothing. This recording of a 2017 production boasts a starry cast including Natasha Lyonne, Rosie O'Donnell, Tracee Ellis Ross and Lucy DeVito.
The show costs $10 to stream and is available until 5 July
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
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 from Monday 20 April. Click here to download
Wise Children on the BBC
Emma Rice's vibrant stage adaptation of 1991 Angela Carter novel Wise Children is available to watch on the BBC from Easter weekend and will remain on iPlayer for three weeks. It will also air on BBC four in May (date to be confirmed). It’s a riot of a show, bringing oodles of music, theatricality and imagination to a story of family secrets. Travel from 1989 Brixton to Victorian vaudeville and back again, via the variety shows of the roaring twenties and two world wars. With twin chorus girls Nora and Dora Chance as narrators, the story encompasses multiple sets of twins, repeated cases of mistaken identity, bawdy comedy, flashes of violence and an enduring obsession with the theatre.
Wise Children is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer for free
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 30 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'.
The plays will be live-streamed on YouTube Click here to watch the readings on YouTube
Stream Berlin's Schaubühne
Thomas Ostermeier's world-famous Berlin theatre is sharing some of its most celebrated productions for free online. The online schedule makes it clear which shows have English surtitles, and the selection includes a fresh take on Woyzeck, Yasmina Reza's Bella Figura and Lars Eidinger (Personal Shopper) playing Hamlet and Richard III.
Click here to explore the full programme and to stream for free
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 is 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