As one of the industries that has been hardest hit by the pandemic, the theatre sector is collectively striving to find new ways of bringing its wealth of talent to an audience – even if that audience is a little further away than normal. With new productions being live streamed and old favourites available on demand for nostalgic viewing, there’s plenty to keep theatre fanatics entertained during lockdown. Here’s our pick of the best theatre, ballet and opera streaming services, all of which you can enjoy from the comfort of the best seat in the house – your sofa.
National Theatre at Home
The National Theatre was well-prepared for this era of virtual viewing, having been streaming its stage productions to cinema screens across the country for years as part of its National Theatre Live programme. Its new streaming service, National Theatre at Home, allows you to rewatch some of its most iconic past productions, such as Julie starring Vanessa Kirby, the award-winning production of War Horse, and Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston.
Available to rent for three days, £6.99 per production; subscribe for £8.32 per month or £82.32 per year, ntathome.com
All the world’s a stage – especially when you can watch the Bard’s best plays on demand. Shakespeare’s Globe has launched Globe Player, which allows you to rent or buy archive productions such as The Two Noble Kinsmen, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, along with backstage videos, documentaries and discussions. On the company’s YouTube channel, you’ll find a series of talks, readings and an exclusive, free showing of Romeo and Juliet, which is available until 31 March.
Soho Theatre on Demand
Established to champion new theatre, comedy and cabaret in the capital, Soho Theatre is located on London’s Dean Street and, in normal times, offers more than 2,000 performances a year across its three event spaces. During lockdown, the company launched Soho Theatre on Demand, a streaming service that provides access to a range of its past comedy, theatre and cabaret performances. Enjoy sets from comedy stars such as Shappi Khorsandi, Joel Dommett and Nish Kumar, and cabaret performances from the likes of Camille O’Sullivan and The Tiger Lillies.
Available to rent for £4 per production, sohotheatreondemand.com
Royal Opera House Stream
The Royal Opera House was one of the first major institutions to jump on the streaming bandwagon when the pandemic began, kicking off proceedings with the release of a new major opera or ballet every week. As part of its Our House to Your House initiative, the company launched Royal Opera House Stream, on which you can watch a limited run of archive performances. New productions are released every Friday, and are available to view for two weeks afterwards.
Available to buy from £2.50 per production, stream.roh.org.uk
Old Vic: In Camera
In May 2020, The Old Vic announced the launch of Old Vic: In Camera, a series of socially-distanced performances live streamed from the Soho theatre’s stage. The most recent lockdown has sadly but paid to this exercise for now, but plans are in place to continue the series once restrictions have lifted. Until then, you can enjoy a limited rerun of Lungs, starring The Crown’s Claire Foy and Matt Smith, as well as a free showing of The Greatest Wealth, a series of monologues originally staged in 2018 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Alongside the eight original monologues is a new commission written by Bernardine Evaristo and performed by Sharon D. Clarke.
Lungs is available to stream for £15 until 29 January, oldvictheatre.com
Calling all dance fans: Sadler’s Well is offering a virtual programme of full-length performances, films and workshops to help people keep connected to dance during lockdown. Enjoy backstage tours, archive performances and special edition films – including a collaborative feature shot in partnership with the Financial Times, which sees dancers across the globe explore how the pandemic has changed the way we move, touch and connect.