Top theatre, dance and opera to watch online
- Arusa Qureshi
- 3 April 2020
Apphia Campbell in Woke / credit: Mihaela Bodlovic
Including weekly Shakespeare readings, Edinburgh Fringe hits and European opera productions
Theatres and concert halls may be closed for the time being but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy world-class music and staged productions from your sofa. We pick a selection of live streams and archive performances to check out now.
As the world's first virtual reality content platform dedicated to theatre, LIVR is a service that you can access from your mobile device. You download the app, subscribe for £5.99 a month, at which point you'll be sent a free VR headset, and then you're free to browse the content library at your leisure. Shows you can watch right now include former Edinburgh Fringe hits It'll Be Alt-Right on the Night, Ladykiller and Woke by Fringe First Award winner Apphia Campbell.
The opera streaming platform has a wide range of productions from all over Europe that you can watch for free. Head to operavision.eu to browse, with highlights such as a live version of Opera North's production of Britten's Turn of the Screw, Komische Oper Berlin's staging of Weinberger's Spring Storms and Royal Swedish Opera's Madame Butterfly.
The Show Must Go Online
The actor and director Robert Myles is currently hosting weekly readings of Shakespeare plays in the order in which they were written, which are livestreamed for the public on YouTube. The first play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, was broadcast live on Thu 19 Mar with professional and amateur actors joining in.
With the Notting Hill theatre closed, they've started hosting Gate Lates live on Twitter (@GateTheatre), which involves a sharing of poetry and storytelling. The first edition was hosted by Dean Atta, with guests Iona Lee, Riwa Saab, Lily Fontaine and more. The theatre is also presently working on making some of their work available online at gatetheatre.co.uk
Slung Low, who run the Leeds cultural community college The Holbeck, are sharing something from their extensive archive on their Twitter account (@SlungLow) every day. The first piece they shared was 15 Minutes Live, their collaboration with Unicorn Theatre which was made last year. It features six new radio plays performed live with an orchestra, with an original musical score composed by Heather Fenoughty.
Although the Metropolitan Opera is closed until at least the end of the month, the company has been streaming a title from its Live in HD series every evening (11.30pm GMT) from their homepage metopera.org. The videos are available to watch for 20 hours following the stream, with highlights including Puccini's La Bohème (conducted by Nicola Luisotti) and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (conducted by Valery Gergiev). Audiences can also see footage of what goes on backstage and expert introductions to the works from veterans of the art form such as Reneé Flemming and Joyce DiDonato.
UK-based arts organisation Theatre Uncut commission leading and emerging playwrights to create plays that explore political and social issues, which are then released free for anyone to perform anywhere. The company recently released Bubble, a play set entirely on Facebook by award-winning playwright Kieran Hurley. It uses text and emoji to tell the story of the events that follow when a male lecturer calls a female student a slut. Watch it online at theatreuncut.com.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre has launched an online poetry series, digital activities for children and young people and a telephone club, giving members of the public a chance to have conversations with both staff and actors while the building itself is closed. The initiatives, launched by Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman, aim to keep the community connected with their local theatre, while fighting loneliness and isolation during the COVID-19 crisis. To make use of the telephone club, you can contact the theatre at firstname.lastname@example.org and you'll receive a call back from a member of staff or artist, who will speak to you for half an hour over the phone. Follow @PITLOCHRYft and the hashtag #PFTLightHopeJoy on Twitter to keep updated.
With the National Theatre currently closed, National Theatre Live productions will soon be available for audiences to watch at home thanks to the launch of National Theatre at Home. One NT Live production is due to be made available on their YouTube channel each week, starting with Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors on Thu 2 Apr at 7pm.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
In light of theatre closures, Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced that he will be making his musicals available to watch for free on YouTube. Starting on Fri 3 Apr at 7pm, with the 2000 production of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond, Joan Collins and Richard Attenborough, the musicals will free to watch for 48 hours. Next weekend's musical will is the 2012 production of Jesus Christ Superstar, starring Tim Minchin, Mel C. and Chris Moyles.
Watch hundreds of dance, opera and theatre performances from around the world on Marquee TV, which has filmed productions from companies like the RSC, the Royal Opera House and Sadler's Wells. Highlights include Classic Spring's Oscar Wilde season, the RSC's Richard II starring David Tennant and Bolshoi Ballet's Swan Lake. Plans start from £8.99 monthly, but there is a free trial period of 30 days.
Home From Home: The Swan
Birmingham Royal Ballet will present a special 'living-room' performance of Carlos Acosta's The Swan on Wed 8 Apr, set to Saint-Saëns's Le Cygne from Le Carnaval des animaux. The piece will be performed at home by principal dancer Céline Gittens, accompanied by principal pianist Jonathan Higgins and cellist Antonio Novais. Stream it on BBC Arts Digital and BBC iPlayer on Wed 8 Apr from 3pm.
Hamstead Theatre, in association with the Guardian, are re-releasing the live stream recordings of Mike Bartlett's Wild, Beth Steel's Wonderland and Howard Brenton's Drawing the Line for free. The productions will be made available, on demand, over three consecutive weeks as part of the theatre's #HampsteadTheatreAtHome series. Watch Wild until Sun 5 Apr, Wonderland from Mon 6–Sun 12 Apr and Drawing the Line from Mon 13–19 Apr.
Royal Court Theatre
London's Royal Court Theatre has made its 2017 production of David Ireland's Cyprus Avenue free to watch until Sun 26 Apr. The award-winning play is directed by Vicky Featherstone and stars Stephen Rea as a Belfast loyalist who is experiencing a psychotic episode, mistaking his five-week old granddaughter for Gerry Adams.
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