Missing the theatre already? We definitely are. Nothing compares to the buzz of the curtain rising and the act one opener. But, in these unprecedented times, unchartered waters, there are ways we can keep our spirits up, and theatre is still an available way to do so.
There are lots of ways to experience theatre online, including free productions and paid streaming services (though many have free trials you can make the most of before making your mind up). Obviously, we hope this is only a temporary solution until shows are back up and running, so here are just some of the ways we’ll be keeping occupied from home.
Enjoy works on Stage2View, a new streaming platform that launched in 2020. Stage shows include Kinky Boots, An American in Paris and 42nd Street, with newer shows including The Toxic Avenger and Ruthless. They're all available to stream on a pay-per-view basis from £4.99 for 48 hours.
BroadwayHD is a great start for easy streaming of recent plays and musicals from the other side of the pond. For just $9 a month (after a 7-day free trial), you have access to filmed productions such as Kinky Boots, 42nd Street, An American in Paris, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, plus classics like Oklahoma, Putting It Together, and Jerry Springer: The Opera. It has an easy-to-use interface, streams in crystal clear HD, and you can even gift subscriptions to put a smile on someone’s face.
The world may be going through tough times, but you can still experience the best the Globe has to offer online. Globe Player allows you to buy or rent heaps of productions to have played the theatre. Some highlights here include films form the Globe to Globe festival, showcasing a number of foreign language productions with English subtitles, and the complete collection of Dan Poole & Giles Terera’s Muse of Fire documentary. There are over 60 interviews with industry legends (most clocking in at 45 minutes) with the likes of Judi Dench, Tom Hiddleston, Fiona Shaw, Zoe Wanamaker, Baz Lurhmann, Peter Hall, Ewan McGregor, the list to delve into goes on and on.
There’s a real eclectic mix of shows available on Digital Theatre, available for a monthly payment, or one-off rental. Theatre includes Maxine Peake’s Hamlet, and Zoe Wanamaker and David Suchet in All My Sons, and Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl, while it also has a smattering of opera and orchestral concerts from the Barbican.
Getting to Stratford-upon-Avon for a visit to the Royal Shakespeare Company is off the cards, and even if you reside in Stratford, there’s no way to catch the action this historic theatre company is producing. But that’s not strictly true. The RSC is one of six companies which makes some of its filmed productions available on Marquee TV. Features include Richard II starring David Tennant, Anthony Sher’s King Lear, and Paapa Essideu’s Hamlet. Other highlights include the all-female Donmar Trilogy, Dominic Dromgoole’s Oscar Wilde season in the West End, and opera highlights from Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House, and productions from across the world. Plans start from £8.99 monthly, and it is possible to stream directly to your TV (depending on your device set-up).
Virtual reality and theatre has developed greatly over the various lockdowns. It could be of great benefit to those who can’t physically access theatres, and has been rolled out in nursing and care homes across the country for that reason. But LIVR brings virtual theatre to the masses, on a subscription basis. They have captured a number of shows with 360-degree cameras, enabling audiences to watch in complete surround vision on their mobile phone, or VR-headset.
Don’t have a headset? They’ll post a cardboard headset you can slip your phone into for the full experience. The majority of their content is fringe work, so you’re bound to find something intriguing, challenging, and great.