Online Theatre: An Updated List
We are slowly returning to a version of normality as we venture out to the shops and see loved ones for the first time in months. We are brushing off the cobwebs to see what has been left behind even though it will be some time before theatres welcome audiences back. We mustn't leave the arts behind in our rush to get outside. Many venues are still putting great content up and here is a selection of my favourites. Keep supporting, keep watching and keep hoping.
“Theatre is a symbol and an expression of an idea: that being with other people is better than being alone.”
1) NextUp Comedy
This is Netflix for Stand Up comedy and it works pretty much the same way. There is a one-week free trial and then it works on a subscription. Not only will you have a good time exploring the best names in comedy but also NextUp makes a point of supporting the acts: 50% of the membership fee goes to the artists and they even provide free rehearsal space - a great way to keep supporting an industry that won't be back on its feet for some time. There is even a live comedy festival (online, of course) taking place in late June. Subscribe now so you don't miss out.
2) Lungs - The Old Vic: In Camera
A new take on streaming theatre is about to unfold. Claire Foy and Matt Smith will return to the Old Vic Theatre for several performances of Lungs to an empty auditorium. At least at first glance. There will be up to 1,000 audience members there in spirit, watching from across the country, and potentially the world, tuning in to see this iconic duo perform live art. Something we are not used to nowadays. There can be no ‘Hang on, I’m just boiling the kettle’ – at 8pm sharp, house lights go down and it’s now or never.
Tickets to the livestream range from £20 to £65. And before you ask, no, the cheapest one is not filmed from behind a pillar. They’re all the same film, but elements of the prices are to be viewed as a donation. If you’re thinking of experimenting with this strange new medium and want to worry about global warming instead of a pandemic for a change, read my full review of Lungs - click here
Tickets are still on sale for the performances:
Friday 26th June
Saturday 27th June (2pm and 8pm)
Friday 3rd July
Saturday 4th July (2pm and 8pm)
3) National Theatre At Home (free)
The final NT live shows have been scheduled. The National Theatre announced at the end of May that the streaming figures for all the lockdown archive shows so far would be enough to fill all three of its spaces every night for eleven years!
The remaining schedule:
Streaming now: The Madness of George III
18th June - Small Island
25th June- A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bridge Theatre)
2nd July - Les Blancs
9th July - The Deep Blue Sea
16th July - Amadeus
The Original Theatre Company are streaming a brand new performance of Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong. This production will mark the 104th anniversary of The Battle of The Somme.
"Told using video technology, live performance, sound design and music all woven together to create a unique portrayal of one of the greatest love stories in modern literature"
Tickets are £10 and funds will be raised for The Royal British Legion. Once you have a ticket the production will be available for 72 hours from 1st July.
5) Royal Opera House (free)
More from the archives of the Royal Opera House. Here is the schedule for the next few weeks:
La Fille mal gardée. 14th–26th June
Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words. 14th–20th June
Men at the Barre. 14th–24th June
Live from Covent Garden – June-July 2020
Il Trittico - 14th–19th June
The Magic Flute- 19th June–3rd July
Woolf Works - 26th June–8th July
La Bohème - 3rd–15th July
6) West End Live (free)
West End Live takes place every year in Trafalgar Square to showcase the best of the West End. Clearly, this is not taking place this year. Instead, surprise, surprise, there will be an online version. They are presenting a highlights package which will surely make us miss theatre even more and inspire us to keep supporting the industry while the lights are out.
Virtual West End Live will take place on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st June with performances available for a 24-hour period.
7) Southwark Playhouse (free)
London's Southwark Playhouse has a free online streaming service; Southwark Stayhouse. Here is their current schedule:
The Beast Will Rise
8) Unprecedented (free)
Unprecedented is a lockdown collaboration between Headlong, Century Films and BBC Arts. It is a series of lockdown plays filmed via Zoom (or other digital conferencing platforms) with a group of actors including Gemma Arterton and James Norton. The project “explores our rapidly evolving world”, and “how our understanding and experiences of modern Britain are evolving during the crisis”. A modern take on theatre for the current times.
9) A Book Recommendation
'Twenty Theatres to See Before You Die' by Amber Massie-Blomfield
Slightly out of place but well worth it if you're missing theatre. If there is one read to keep theatrical spirits high as we emerge from lockdown with still no sign of live performances, this could be the one. Why do you love theatre and why do you love theatres? This book is Amber Massie-Blomfield’s attempt to answer the former through exploring the latter, and it is masterful. ‘A Love Letter to Britain’s Theatres’ appears on the cover, and it certainly is that. In the treasure hunt for the most magical theatres in the country, Massie-Blomfield provides a compilation of bite-sized chunks of captivating theatrical history.