10 ways to creatively engage with theatre from home
UPDATED: 4 January 2021
We all miss the theatre. It's in difficult times like now, when everyone is social distancing, that we could do with a little escapism and a few hours in the dark with our favourite show. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways we can engage our creative side and get stuck into some theatre from home. From watching shows and films, to learning new skills, here are ten ways you can utilise the time at home for something productive and positive.
Stream theatre productions to your living room
While we all know staring at a screen is no substitute for witnessing incredible performances on stage, right now, it might be the best we’ve got. There are a number of services which specialise in bringing theatre to the small screen, enabling you to watch favourite shows from the West End and Broadway. Relive landmark productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company or Shakespeare's Globe, or discover theatre in a new way with advanced technologies. Here's the best ways to watch British theatre in your living room.
These are usually great ways for people who may not be able to physically access theatre to engage with the arts, but are also hugely helpful in this time when theatres are closed. Here are five theatre streaming services you should know about to get you started.
Watch theatre-related films and TV shows online
There’s a plethora of theatre-related content out there, from filmed live performances, documentaries about theatre, and film adaptations of stage shows. It’s also a good opportunity to watch any films which might have musical adaptations set to play the West End one day, like Moulin Rouge or Mean Girls. We pulled together a list of all the theatre-related content on Netflix, but even a quick YouTube search will pull up memorable performances form award ceremonies, concerts and more. You’ll be falling down that rabbit hole in no time.
Brush up on your theatre knowledge
Theatre buffs love dropping theatre facts and titbits of knowledge about theatre history and culture. We’ve compiled a list of books that you can buy or download to help you brush up on your stage know-how, such Nicholas Hytner’s insight into running the National Theatre, autobiographies from Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and hysterical onstage mishaps and accidents. Top up on facts to dish out the next time you’re in the stalls.
Read the scripts of plays you want to see
Theatre is all about translating words on a page into something mesmerising on stage, but many theatregoers have never picked up a playscript. It can be a great way to understand a writer’s intentions, think about how you might stage a play as a director, or get some friends together and rehearse a few scenes. Here’s a list of some West End plays you can buy the scripts for online.
Pick up an instrument and get learning
Lots of time indoors can be a great time to learn a new skill. One option could be to learn Italian and finally understand operas, or dust off that instrument you have lying around and get playing. If you’re an absolute beginner, there are hundreds of tutorials on YouTube to get you going for free, and some will even teach you how to play your favourite musical theatre numbers.
Finally write that play you’ve been thinking about
We’ve all had an idea for a great play, but “never had the time to write it”. Well, now you have no excuses. Knuckle down, and start writing. Anything. You might never get a better opportunity, and don't know where it might lead you. Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine, who knows what you culd create.
Listen to theatre podcasts
Working from home can be quite isolating, and you might miss idle chit-chat with your work colleagues from time-to-time. If you're able to listen to podcasts while you work, there are loads out there relating to theatre. Of course, there's the London Theatre Spotlight podcast which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and YouTube, but other great shows from the Royal Court and National Theatre are also available to listen to.
Explore ways you can donate to theatres
The suddenness and scale of theatre closures have put a lot of London’s theatres under financial strain; some may really struggle to reopen after the outbreak. But there are ways you can help. If you can spare the cost of a theatre ticket regularly, then perhaps you could consider donating to your local or favourite theatre. Here's a few theatres that you could donate to.
Donate to The Barbican.
Donate to the Bush Theatre.
Donate to the Hampstead Theatre.
Donate to the Lyric Hammersmith.
Donate to the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Donate to Shakespeare's Globe.
Donate to The Old Vic.
Donate to the Young Vic.
Try your hand at reviewing
You won’t be alone in working through box sets and watching films during your time isolating, and no matter how good the action is, it can begin to feel monotonous. But you could stretch yourself to write about what you’ve been watching, and how it has affected you. Consider writing a personal blog just for yourself, publish your thoughts online, or simply log what you’re watching with a simple tweet telling others what you liked and what you didn’t.
Stay active and create your own choreography
Ever felt inspired to choreograph a musical? It's widely known that keeping fit is the key to a healthy mind, so why not choreograph your own routines to West End musicals. Dare to dream with routines that defy description. Maybe you'll become the next Matthew Bourne or Stephen Mear?