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National Theatre keeps the show going online


James Corden as Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors (Photo: Johan Persson)
James Corden as Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors (Photo: Johan Persson)

POPULAR PLAYS STREAMED ON YOUTUBE FOR AUDIENCES IN LOCKDOWN

by AMIT ROY

THE National Theatre has decided that coronavirus or no coronavirus, the show must go on in the proudest British tradition.

To that end, it is making available some of its best loved productions free of charge through its YouTube channel to theatre lovers not only in Britain but across the world.

The arts institution explained the gift by saying: “The country expected and the National Theatre answered. The Southbank institution has the world’s greatest treasure trove of live theatre recordings from the last 10 or so years, filmed at a high enough quality to be screened in cinemas as part of its NT Live programme.

(From left) Oliver Birch, Patsy Ferran, Daniel Coonan, David Langham, Arthur in Treasure Island (Photo: Johan Persson)

“For the next four weeks initially, there will be a play every Thursday at 7 pm – and for those who cannot watch it then, ‘National Theatre at Home’ will remain available online for seven days.”

National Theatre at Home will also share extra content, including interviews and post-stream talks, alongside its productions, on its YouTube channel.

Craig Edwards (left), Madeleine Worrall (centre) and Felix Hayes in Jane Eyre (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Separately, teachers will be able to access another set of plays from the “NT Collection” of 24 productions free of charge for state schools pupils learning at home. This facility is being extended for the period of the current crisis to independent schools as well.

The remote access is being provided with the backing of Bloomsbury Publishing, the NT’s partner on the project.

With National Theatre at Home, the excitement of dressing up and going out for the evening is admittedly missing. However, for audiences sitting in the comfort of their drawing rooms with a glass of chilled wine, the acoustics will certainly be a vast improvement on sitting in the Gods.

National Theatre at Home began on April 2 with Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors, starring James Corden. It remained available to watch until April 9.

The second production, due for release on April 9, is Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre. Described as “theatre at its most imaginative”, this innovative re-imagining of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece was a collaboration between the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic. This, too, will remain available until April 16 when it will be replaced by Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Scheduled for release on April 23 is Twelfth Night, featuring Tamsin Greig as a gender-swapped “Malvolia” in Shakespeare’s classic comedy.

Lisa Burger, the NT’s executive director and joint chief executive, said in one interview: “It would be lovely to think of everybody sitting down at 7 pm to start watching it, but obviously we recognise that not everybody can do that, so during this period they’ll be available for the
following week before we’ll launch the next one.”

She added: “We have delved into the National Theatre Live archive and curated a programme that’s varied from comedy to new dramas to classics so there is something for everyone to enjoy from their own homes.”

The National Theatre’s mission, the organisation said, “is to make world class theatre that’s entertaining, challenging and inspiring – and to make it for everyone. It aims to reach the widest possible audience and to be as inclusive, diverse and national as possible with a broad range of productions that play in London, on tour around the UK, on Broadway and across the globe.”

National Theatre at Home is available on: www.youtube.com/channel/UCUDq1XzCY0NIOYVJvEMQjqw

Teachers can sign up now to National Theatre Collection on Bloomsbury’s Drama Online Platform via www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/ntcollection

Those who wish to make a donation to support the National Theatre are advised to access the public appeal on its home page: nationaltheatre.org.uk

There are several other major organisations making culture available online, mostly free of charge.

Tate Modern and Tate Britain: There will be a free online tour of Andy Warhol at Tate Modern on Monday, April 6, led by Gregor Muir, director of the Tate’s Collection of International Art, and Fiontán Moran, assistant curator. This is certainly easier than trying to get into an exhibition heaving with humanity.

Then at Tate Britain on Monday, April 13, Caroline Corbeau-Parsons, curator of British Art 1850-1915, and Alice Insley, assistant curator of Historic British Art, will be the guides for the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition, “providing insight into the artist’s brief but astonishing career”.

The tours will be available on the Tate’s website and the YouTube channel.

Globe Theatre: Shakespeare’s Globe will release 40 productions on its Globe Player service for free. The shows are Hamlet starring artistic director Michelle Terry (2018); Romeo and Juliet with Ellie Kendrick and Adetomiwa Edun (2009); A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Michelle Terry (2013); The Winter’s Tale with Annette Badland (2018); The Two Noble Kinsmen with Brian Dick (2018); and The Merry Wives of Windsor (2019) with Bryony Hannah. Each show is presented for two weeks on a rolling cycle from April 6.

BBC: Culture in Quarantine: The BBC have launched a new Culture in Quarantine service which will make archive performances available on BBC iplayer, as well as providing links to cultural programmes on BBC 4 and Radio 4. Among the first programmes to be made available are: Sondheim’s 80th Birthday Celebration – a concert at the Royal Albert Hall from 2010 featuring excerpts from hit shows A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods performed by a cast of leading figures of the opera and theatre worlds with Bryn Terfel, Maria Friedman and Simon Russell Beale.

The Barbican Centre: The Barbican is promoting its archive of high-quality digital content, which is available for everyone to read, watch or listen to for free. This includes the Barbican Sessions, which capture musicians playing around its iconic spaces; the Nothing Concrete podcast, which explores music, cinema, visual art, theatre, architecture and everything in between; and long read articles and videos to enjoy.

A curated mix of digital content from across the art forms will be shared, featuring artists from across the Barbican’s programme.

Audiences can follow this on a daily basis via Barbican social channels or sign up to its mailing list to receive a weekly round-up. This digital content can all be accessed on: www. barbican.org.uk/read-watch-listen.