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 the city is on lockdown.
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 are making the productions available to stream for free on YouTube. Starting from 7pm on Thursday 2 April a new show will be broadcast each week. Lisa Burger, executive director of the NT says: 'we have curated a programme that’s varied from comedy to new dramas to classics so there is something for everyone to enjoy from their own homes. We will be streaming each production at the same time each week in order to recreate, where possible, the communal viewing experience and we hope this will be an opportunity for people to share their enjoyment together online.'
First up is Richard Bean's side-splitting, Tony-winning satire One Man, Two Guvnors, which is sure to provide some light relief. Other upcoming highlights include Sally Cookson's stage adaptation of Jane Eyre (on 9 April), the enchanting family-friendly take on Treasure Island (16 April) and Tamsin Grieg's starring turn in Twelfth Night (23 April). More shows are to be announced.
Shows will be streamed on the National Theatre's YouTube channel here, at 7pm every Thursday
Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Shows Must Go On!
Get your musical theatre fix with the full Andrew Lloyd Webber back catalogue, which is now available to stream online for free. The new The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel brings the West End and Broadway directly to your device. Starting from 7pm on Friday 3 April, a new show will be available to stream for free each week. Each musical will be available to watch online for just 48 hours, so be sure to mark the date in your diary.
It starts with the 2000 revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (7pm, 3 April), with an all-star cast including Donny Osmond, Joan Collins, Maria Friedman and Richard Attenborough. Next is the acclaimed 2012 arena production of rock classic Jesus Christ Superstar (7pm, 10 April), featuring Tim Minchin, Chris Moyles and Melanie C. More shows will be announced soon.
Musicals will be streamed on The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel here. They will launch every Friday from 3 April and will be available to watch for free for 48 hours.
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.
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
Hampstead Theatre at Home
Catch up with recent hits from Hampstead Theatre as they bring archive productions online. Live recordings of three shows will be released online in collaboration with the Guardian.
First up is Wild (2016) a darkly comic whistle-blower story inspired by Edward Snowden, written by Mike Bartlett and directed by James Macdonald. Wild is available to stream on the Hampstead Theatre website and the Guardian website from 10am on Monday 30 March to 10pm on Sunday 5 April.
Week two, from Monday 6 April to Sunday 12 April, offers Beth Steel's acclaimed 2014 play Wonderland, which gives an epic account of the miners' strikes and the political upheaval that framed them.
Finally, from Monday 13 April to Sunday 19 April, you can stream Howard Brenton's Drawing the Line (2013). The vast production, featuring a large ensemble cast, is a celebration of human spirit based around the partitioning of India in 1947.
Click here to watch on Hampstead Theatre's YouTube channel
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, starting with The Two Gentlemen of Verona at 7pm GMT on Thursday 16 March
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.
Isolated But Open Commissions
Papatango Theatre company have launched a new scheme offering a platform for writers, paid work for actors and free entertainment for online viewers. Isolated But Open Commissions invite playwrights to write and submit a new five-minute monologue. The deadline for submissions is midnight on 31 March. Ten new works will be commissioned, and 10 actors will be cast to self-film the monologues. The playwrights and actors will be paid £100 each for the chosen monologues. Papatango will share the films online, so audiences can enjoy bite-sized chunks of new theatre writing for free.
Click here to share a monologue and keep an eye for the streaming details of the chosen works.
All the Web's a Stage
Theatre Together, a new collection over over 50 performers and theatre industry professionals are hosting a bumper online celebration on William Shakespeare's birthday, 23 April. All the Web's a Stage is a selection of live performances including dance, comedy, cabaret and theatre. Star performers confirmed to take part include Danny Mac, Jodie Prenger, Tom Milner and La Voix. The show will be streamed live throughout the day on Thursday 23 April and audiences can watch for free, with options to donate to help those in the performing arts who are struggling due to loss of income. Paul Virides, co-producer of All the Web’s a Stage, said how the industry 'faces unprecedented times, and we in the arts are facing huge challenges, with the CIF indicating today that 47% of freelancers in the arts have lost 100% of their booked gigs. Across the UK artists have been coming up with ingenious ways to stay connected and support each other during this time.'
Follow Theatre Together on Twitter (@TheatreTogether), Facebook (/TheatreTogether) and Instagram (@theatre_together) for updates.
Wind in the Willows
Julian Fellowes' 2017 musical production of The Wind in the Willows is available to stream for free. Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 book about the friendship and hijinks of Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad is brought to life as an all-singing, all-dancing production. Created by the team behind Mary Poppins the musical, it tells the well-known story of woodland friends united in their unease over rambunctious Mr Toad’s need for speed and dangerous obsession with all things motor-car. And the show offers wholesome entertainment for children who have overdone it with the CBeebies.
Click here to watch online for free
The Royal Court has released a live recording of David Ireland's incendiary 2015 play Cyprus Avenue. Stephen Rea stars as a Belfast Loyalist who is losing a grip on reality. 'Gerry Adams has disguised himself as a newborn baby and successfully infiltrated my family,' he warns. Fanaticism and dementia entwine in a bitterly funny, deeply troubling examination of the the Angry White Male. The recording is released at 12 noon on 27 March and is is available to watch for free on the Royal Court website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages for one month.
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
Olivier Awards – Greatest Moments
Instead of the scheduled Olivier awards ceremony, due to take place on Sunday 5 April, there will be an alternative celebration of theatre's talents. ITV will broadcast Olivier Awards – Greatest Moments, an hour-long programme featuring archive footage from the last 10 years. Expect speeches and performances from the likes of Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Matilda and The Lion King.
The show will be broadcast on Sunday 5 April at 10:15pm on ITV in place of the 2020 Royal Albert Hall awards show which was cancelled due to coronavirus.