All the world’s a stage… internet connection allowing.
Today is World Theatre Day, but in the absence of any conventional world theatre, thespians across the globe are having to find new and creative ways to get their dramatic fix.
Theatre companies can’t work from home, but they can broadcast productions into yours. Here’s how to get your fill of theatre – without getting up from the sofa…
1. Broadway HD
Exactly what it sounds like, Broadway HD is a subscription service archive of Broadway recordings so vast it’s bordering on difficult to navigate. We know you’re probably going to make a beeline for Les Mis, but we reserve special mention for Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma, the recent, acclaimed run of 42nd Street, and the opportunity to see Cats without childhood-ruining CGI.
Though Broadway became famous for its musicals, the site is stacked with hard-hitting drama, from Ian McKellen’s tour de force as King Lear, to Patrick Stewart’s powerhouse performance in Macbeth.
2. The Globe Theatre
The home of Shakespeare – both spiritually and literally – The Globe’s finest productions are now available on demand via Globe Player, a streaming portal not unlike its BBC namesake. Highlights include Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry, and Jonathan Pryce in The Merchant of Venice, while amateur historians can explore the theatre’s Tudor heritage with a 360 degree virtual tour. The site is pay-per-play, but with £5.99 rentals it’s a bargain.
A short distance down the Thames, the National Theatre is now streaming free productions on YouTube every Thursday, including 2011 smash hit One Man Two Guvnors, starring James Corden.
3. New York Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera House in New York was one of the first of theatre’s big beasts to see which way the wind was blowing, and has already been streaming free nightly performances for a fortnight. After finishing up a marathon of Wagner, week three will feature Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, and Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles.
Across the world, opera houses have followed suit, and flung open their virtual doors. The Vienna State Opera is putting on nightly streams, while historic Brussels opera house La Monnaie has curated an entire seven-opera ‘virtual season’ ranging from Verdi to Mozart, free to view at the click of a button.
4. Digital Theatre
As close to Netflix as the world of theatre gets, this aptly-named online archive is like a greatest hits album of theatrical productions featuring A-list talent. Watch Richard Armitage grapple with his conscience in The Crucible, Sheridan Smith light up the stage in Funny Girl, and David Suchet tackle tumult and torment in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.
A subscription service costing £9.99 a month, the site boasts more than 100 recordings in all, and has a particular penchant for former Doctor Who actors. Christopher Eccleston devours the scenery in his powerful take on Macbeth, while David Tennant and Catherine Tate reunite to play Benedict and Beatrice in Shakespeare’s classic caper, Much Ado About Nothing.
5. Hampstead Theatre
An independent playhouse in the heart of North London, the Hampstead Theatre has taken a very modern approach to the closures – uploading incumbent play I And You, starring Game of Thrones alum Maisie Williams, in its entirety to Instagram. The play will remain there for free until 10pm on March 29, so you’ll have to be quick.