“All the world’s a stage” hits differently as institutions continue to shift their productions online amid a global health crisis.
While London’s famed wooden O remains closed to the public, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has gone digital, allowing audiences around the world to stream the Bard’s iconic works for free.
A slate of plays and short films can be found on the Globe’s YouTube page and video-on-demand platform. The six full-length productions to be presented during this period will each stream for two weeks — kicking off earlier this month with “Hamlet” and continuing with “Romeo and Juliet,” which went live Apil 20. “The Winter’s Tale,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Two Noble Kinsmen” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” will follow.
While biding time between plays, audiences can check out all 37 of the Globe’s star-studded “Complete Walk” short films, created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
“Nature has certainly touched all of our lives in recent months,” Michelle Terry, Globe artistic director said, referencing Shakespeare’s line, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” “Whilst everything seems so uncertain, one thing we know for sure is that the world will never be the same again.”
Sign up for our newsletter
She continued: “In 1599, when Hamlet stood on a ‘distracted Globe’ and uttered the words: ‘Now I am alone’ — he would have been surrounded by up to 3,000 people. Now we are alone, but we are also in the company of billions, from all around the globe, finding the most inspiring ways to be alone, together. In these times of isolation, we will continue to reach people on our ‘distracted Globe’, providing community, joy and wonder, remaining, albeit digitally for now, a place of connection for us all.”
The theater also created a new program titled “Shakespeare & Love in Isolation,” which casts a group of artists to read from some of Shakespeare’s works in digital postcard-like videos. The series includes luminaries such as Kathryn Hunter and Stephen Fry, with many more being added to the slate. Students of all ages can find a raft of content to aid in their exploration of Shakespeare while schools around the world remain closed.
“Our theatre closed during the run of the Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production ‘Macbeth,’ with over 33,000 students having watched the production, but sadly a further 15,000 missing out,” Patrick Spottiswoode, director of Globe Education, said. “I am so proud that the educational activities of the Globe can adapt online to keep providing the best access to our excellent provisions until we can open the doors again.”
Last week, the Globe hosted a virtual birthday celebration for Shakespeare, unleashing even more digital content. Presented in partnership with BBC as part of the broadcast network’s “Culture in Quarantine” project, viewers can stream “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest” for free on the BBC iPlayer. The productions will be available for three months. Starting May 11, audiences can also catch the entirety of the 90-minute Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank version of “Macbeth” for free on the Globe’s YouTube channel, where it will be available until schools reopen.