London’s National Theatre to stream productions online for free

London’s National Theatre to stream productions online for free

Like many performing arts institutions across the world, London’s National Theatre recently shuttered amid coronavirus-related closures. While the venue remains closed through June 30, the theater announced last week an at-home streaming series that will open its archives to a global audience for free.

Beginning April 2, viewers can stream select live-capture productions on the theater’s YouTube channel via the newly established “National Theatre at Home” series. The program will raise the curtain on a different play every Thursday at 3 p.m. EDT, after which the offering will be available to stream for seven days. The service will also provide students and teachers access to the National Theatre Collection through a partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing.

The series makes its debut with Richard Bean’s comedic play “One Man, Two Guvnors,” starring James Corden, who won a Tony Award for Best Actor when he reprised the role on Broadway in 2012. On April 9, “National Theatre at Home” will continue with a stream of Sally Cookson’s stage adaptation of “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë. Bryony Lavery’s “Treasure Island” will be available on April 16, followed by Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” on April 23. Additional titles will be announced in the coming weeks.

To supplement the streamed plays, the initiative also features Q&As with casts and creative teams, along with post-stream talks. The productions hail from the National Theatre Live’s cinema program, which screens captures of West End productions in movie theaters across the globe.

The National Theatre’s decision to release works online for free echoes initiatives from performance institutions in New York City, such as the Metropolitan Opera and National Sawdust. Other theaters, like London’s Old Vic, have offered up productions at home for those who held on to previously purchased tickets.

“Our ambition at the National Theatre is to create work which is challenging, entertaining and inspiring, and we’re committed to continuing that through these difficult times,” Lisa Burger, National Theatre executive director and joint chief executive, said in a statement.

She continued: “We will be streaming each production at the same time each week in order to recreate, where possible, the communal viewing experience and we hope this will be an opportunity for people to share their enjoyment together online.”

Top Image: “One Man, Two Guvnors,” starring James Corden. Photo: National Theatre Live.