20 Mar 2020
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Watching theatre online – a guide to watching shows from your sofa

On March 16th, theatres and arts venues across the UK closed their doors as the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, advised the public to avoid large gatherings amid concerns surrounding the increasing spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). 

A guide to watching theatre online

The theatre industry is now faced with the difficult task of adapting to new ways to appeal to its existing audiences as they are forced to stay at home and not visit the many theatres and arts venues in the capital. We’re sure producers, artists and venues alike will continue to innovate and find new ways to produce exciting content over the coming weeks and months and we’ll keep this list updated as more activities are announced. 

Now, sit back and enjoy this guide on how to watch theatre online from the comfort of your own sofa, with initiatives from the BBC and National Theatre, and dazzling West End shows in HD.

BBC’s ‘Culture in Quarantine’

Mike Bartlett’s powerful play, Albion, has played two sold-out runs at the Almeida Theatre in 2017 and 2020. The BBC will now make a recorded live performance available as part of its ‘Culture in Quarantine’ programming, which will also include Emma Rice’s Wise Children and Breach Theatre’s award-winning production of It’s True, It’s True, It’s True. BBC Radio will also air more radio plays from its archives, and BBC Sounds will air new drama podcasts, as part of the wide-reaching programme of events. 

  • When: Soon, no specified date
  • Where: BBC TV, radio and online. 
  • Price: Free

Wind in the Willows

This musical adaptation of Wind in the Willows by composing duo Stiles & Drewe opened at the London Palladium in 2017 and was made available to stream on BroadwayHD last year. Now the producers have uploaded the whole show online for everyone to watch!

  • When: Now!
  • Where: The show’s website
  • Price: Free, with an option to donate to the charity Acting for Others.

Cyprus Avenue

Cyprus Avenue will be streamed by the Royal Court

The Royal Court will release its filmed version of David Ireland’s blistering play, Cyprus Avenue across its online channels. The play stars Stephen Rea as a Belfast loyalist who is convinced his baby granddaughter is Gerry Adams. 

  • When: Friday 27th March, 12pm (to coincide with World Theatre Day) for one month
  • Where: The Royal Court’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube channels
  • Price: Free

Eugenius!

This sci-fi musical developed a cult following during its two runs at The Other Palace in 2018, a planned transfer to the West End was unfortunately cancelled when investors pulled out. Now the producers are releasing an archive recording of the show, filmed during its second run at the The Other Palace for audiences at home.

  • When: Friday 20th March, 7pm (will also be available to stream online for a short period afterwards)
  • Where: Eugenius Facebook page
  • Price: Free, with a plea to donate to the charity, Acting for Others

National Theatre Live

The National Theatre is exploring options to make its extensive NT Live and NT Collection available to audiences. Recent live broadcasts have included Jamie Lloyd’s radical new version of Cyrano de Bergerac starring James McAvoy and Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, starring Andrew Scott.

  • When: Unknown 
  • Where: Across the National’s website and social media channels
  • Price: Unknown

All the Web’s a Stage

All The Web's a Stage is a new initiative set up by Theatre Together

A new initiative by Theatre Together, an organisation raising money for those in the arts industry suffering from arts hardship, will see over 50 performers come together to participate in a programme of comedy, dance, theatre and cabaret. Confirmed acts include Danny Mac, Jodie Pregner and La Voix.

  • When: Activities will culminate on Shakespeare Day on 23rd April
  • Where: Streamed online throughout the day, specific platforms to be confirmed nearer to the date.
  • Price: Free, with the opportunity to donate to Theatre Together’s partner charities.

Digital Theatre / BroadwayHD

For a monthly subscription fee, audiences can get their hands on recorded live performances of blockbuster plays and musicals on Digital Theatre and BroadwayHD. Highlights include:

  • Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith, recorded live from Manchester’s Palace Theatre
  • The Old Vic’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, starring Richard Armitage
  • The major revival of 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
  • The Donmar Warehouse’s all-female Shakespeare trilogy
  • Eugene O’Neill’s classic drama Long Day’s Journey Into Night

How to access:

  • When: Available now, on demand
  • Where: The Digital Theatre and BroadwayHD websites
  • Price: Subscription based, around £10 a month

The Habit of Art

The UK tour of Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art will be streamed online

The UK tour of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art, starring Matthew Kelly and David Yelland, will be filmed without an audience and made available online.

Leave a Light On

Leave a Light On is a series of live concerts from musical theatre stars

The Theatre Cafe and Lambert-Jackson Productions have teamed up to stream three live concerts every weekday from some of the biggest musical theatre stars in the West End. Confirmed performers include Lucie Jones (Waitress), Danielle Steers (Six), Alice Fearn (Wicked, Come From Away), and Cassidy Janson (& Juliet). 

  • When: Performances take place at 2:30, 4:30 and 6:30 from Monday 23rd March
  • Where: The Theatre Cafe’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Price: Free, just tune in!

I and You

The Hampstead Theatre’s acclaimed production of Lauren Gunderson’s I and You is being re-released next week. The production starred Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams and Zach Wyatt.

Showstoppers

Showstopper livestreamed its show

The all-improvised musical troupe have recently hit 1,000 shows. They were due to play a show at the Lyric Theatre on the night that theatres were closed, so they decided to perform their show to an empty theatre and livestream it all!

Shakespeare’s Globe

Many of Shakespeare's greatest plays are available to watch through Globe Player

The Globe Player has over 50 productions from Shakespeare’s Globe available to watch on demand, for a rental or purchase fee. Most of Shakespeare’s major works are available, as well as new writing and other plays from Shakespeare’s contemporaries. 

  • When: Available now, on demand
  • Where: The Globe Player website and app
  • Price: Prices vary per play, and whether you decide to rent or keep the show.

Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House will be delivering a programme of free content as part of their #OurHousetoYourHouse initiative. The programme will feature some of their most popular productions, including Peter and the Wolf and Così fan tutte.

The Met Opera

The Met will stream some of its most iconic productions including La Boheme

Need an extra opera fix? The Met Opera in New York is streaming an opera from their collection every night, from Carmen to La Traviata, you can watch these world class performances from the comfort of your own home. 

  • When: Streams begin at 11:30pm nightly (7:30pm ET) and will be available until 7:30pm the following evening. 
  • Where: The Met’s website
  • Price: Free

We’ll keep updating this post as more shows are announced, let us know on Twitter @TheatreOfficial if you know of any other announcements. We hope you’re staying safe, and look forward to continuing to share the magic of theatre in these changing times.



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