How to watch the best of British theatre from your living room
It’s been a long time since we’ve felt the excitement of spending a night at the theatre. From the orchestra tuning their instruments, stars singing in the spotlight and the final curtain call, there’s nothing quite like watching a mesmerising performance on stage. But, even with theatres shut for the foreseeable future, there’s still plenty of opportunity to satisfy your craving for plays, musicals and even more entertainment.
We’ll be keeping this page updated with the latest ways to stay in touch with the best of British theatre, podcasts and series. There’s guaranteed to be at least something that you’ve never seen before, so make it an occasion to grab front-row seats to the opening and closing night of a production in your living room.
We hope this is a quick fix, and a temporary solution before we can all experience the rush of seeing a live performance. But for now, here’s the ways we’ll be watching all the newest shows.
National Theatre at Home
On 26th March, the National Theatre announced the launch of a new initiative. Titled 'National Theatre at Home', audiences around the world can stream NT Live productions for free via YouTube, and students and teachers have access to the National Theatre Collection at home, delivered in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing. Every Thursday, a different production previously screened as part of National Theatre Live will be available to watch online for one week via the NT's Youtube channel.
Upcoming shows include:
11th June: The Madness of George III (2018), starring Mark Gatiss
Shows that have been streamed online as part of the series include:
One Man, Two Guvnors (2011), starring James Corden
Jane Eyre (2017)
Treasure Island (2014)
Twelfth Night (2017), starring Tamsin Greig
Frankenstein (2011), starring Benedict Cumberbatch
Antony and Cleopatra (2018), starring Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo
Barber Shop Chronicles (2017)
A Streetcar Named Desire (2014), starring Gillian Anderson
This House (2013)
Coriolanus (2013), starring Tom Hiddleston
Royal Shakespeare Company
Macbeth (2018), directed by Polly Findlay with Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack.
Hamlet (2016), directed by Simon Godwin with Paapa Essiedu
Romeo and Juliet (2018), directed by Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman.
Much Ado About Nothing (2014), directed by Christopher Luscombe.
Othello (2015), directed by Iqbal Khan with Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati.
The Merchant of Venice (2015), directed by Polly Findlay.
The Tempest (2013), with Roger Allam and Colin Morgan.
A Midsummer's Night Dream (2016), directed by Emma Rice with Lucy Thackeray and Ewan Wardrop.
You can access 18 productions if you sign up for a 14-day free trial on Marquee TV. It's a erforming arts streaming service with a catalogue of more than 400 dance, opera and theatre productions.
Harry Potter Online Reading by Daniel Radcliffe, Noma Dumezweni, Eddie Redmayne and more
The Harry Potter novels have captured the imagination, with people young and old spellbound by the Hogwarts magic. Now, famous faces will be contributing to an online reading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first book in the series, over the coming weeks.
The series has kicked off with Daniel Radcliffe reading the first chapter of the book, with guest readers taking on parts of the original novel from the seven-part Harry Potter series. Other readers involved include Noma Dumezweni (who originated the role of Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Eddie Redmayne (who led the cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Stephen Fry (who read the audiobooks for all seven Harry Potters), Claudia Kim (who played Nagini in The Crimes of Grindelwald), Dakota Fanning, David Beckham and even more to be revealed.
The Barn Theatre
The Barn Theatre has announced that Busted and Son of Dork co-founder James Bourne will join an all-star West End line up for their third virtual concert, The Barn Theatre Presents: The Music of Elliot Davis, which will celebrate the work of Loserville composer Elliot Davis. Performers starring in the concert include Aimie Atkinson, Lucie Jones and Jamie Muscato.
Sadler's Wells' Digital Stage Programme
Sadler's Wells has introduced Digital Stage, its free online dance programme. Performances are screened live every Friday at 7.30pm via Sadler’s Wells’ Facebook page, and are then available to watch on demand on its Facebook or YouTube channels for one week thereafter. Upcoming productions include:
- TOM – Wilkie Branson Friday 22 May at 7.30pm BST
- Hussein Chalayan – Gravity Fatigue Friday 29 May at 7.30pm BST
A series of new Monday Monologues written by UK and Irish writers will be released by the Bush Theatre, fortnightly from 18 May. They will be available to watch on IGTV, Twitter, Youtube and the Bush Theatre website for the next twelve months.
1st June – Patrick Gibson in Beds by Shaun Dunne
15th June - Maymuna Abdi in Clarissa by Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu
29th June - Anjana Vasan in Contradictions by Natasha Brown
13th July - Stefan Adegbola in Anything for Cash by Sophie Ellerby
Jermyn Street Theatre
The Jermyn Street Theatre’s artistic director Tom Littler has announced a series of new online projects joining its Brave New World Season. The projects include co-productions with the Watermill Theatre and Guildford Shakespeare Company, and feature a full-scale online production of The Wind in the Willows, rehearsed readings, and a major community project, #MyTinyPlay. These projects join the theatre’s existing work, which features actors ranging from this year’s graduating drama students to household names such as Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, Jamael Westman, Aimee Lou Wood and David Suchet.
Royal Shakespeare Company
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have released Sonnets in Solitude, a selection of Shakespeare’s sonnets self-recorded by RSC actors while in lockdown. Many of the actors were working with the RSC at the time of the theatre’s temporary closure on 17th March and have been unable to perform or rehearse since. RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran said: “The sonnets are so intimate, confidential and direct, and watching them being performed in this way captures that immediately. Perhaps after 400 years, the form has finally found its ideal format”. The RSC will release 90 of the 154 sonnets over the coming weeks which will be available to view via the RSC's YouTube channel. Miles Jupp, Alexandra Gilbreath, Antony Sher, Emma Fielding and Rosie Sheehy are just some of the actors involved.
English National Ballet
English National Ballet’s ‘ENB at HOME’ programme continues to provide free access to full-length ballets and online content. English National Ballet invites audiences around the world to enjoy never before seen full-length recordings. Upcoming productions include:
Song of the Earth - 17th June
Manon - 24th June
Royal Opera House
From 13th June, The Live from Covent Garden series begins with a free live streamed concert. It will be hosted by the BBC’s Anita Rani and the Royal Opera House’s very own Director of Music, Antonio Pappano. Highlights include an intimate new ballet created by Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor, as well as world-class singers including Louise Alder, Toby Spence and Gerald Finley performing a range of repertory by composers from Handel to Turnage.
Royal Court Theatre
debbie tucker green's hit play ear for eye is now available to read for free until September 2020. Written and directed by tucker green at the Royal Court Theatre, the play tells of patience running out for change in British Black and African American communities.
The Old Vic
A Monster Calls, first seen on stage in 2018 is available to watch until 7pm on Thursday 11 June. With heartfelt thanks to the generosity of all the casts, creatives and companies involved, a selection of full length Old Vic archive recordings of selected productions since Matthew Warchus became Artistic Director in 2015 will be hosted for free on The Old Vic’s YouTube channel. This will give audiences the chance to revisit loved productions, or watch for the first time.