When you can’t go to see your favourite sport, what do we do? Watch an old event on the TV.
When you can’t go to a gig, what do you do? Listen to it on Spotify or watch last year’s Glastonbury on BBCiplayer.
When you can’t go to the pub for a pub quiz, what do you do? I mean, I would create my own with friends which we would do virtually, but there is also the option of a boardgame at home or an online quiz over a drink.
But what do you do when your love is theatre? When faced with heightened anxiety about when we can next get out and do the things we enjoy and a feeling of being trapped in our homes, it is important to make the most of what is available to us.
Here at Playhouse Pickings, we are going to do our best to share things with you which might make these bizarre times feel a bit more bearable. We will be speaking to actors, directors and people in the industry about how this is affecting them personally and how it is affecting their work. We will also be reviewing online shows. Finally, we might just tell some of our own stories about what we are up to, why we enjoy the theatre, things we have seen in the past and musings on art and culture in general.
I hope that by trying to create some normal content (reviews of shows streamed online) and giving some options of places you can enjoy some culture, it might make this crazy situation feel a touch easier. And for a couple of hours, maybe you’ll be able to enjoy the escapism of theatre from your sofa.
I also hope that we will be able to join together to support those who are in the industry.
Where can you watch?
I am in technology for my “real” job so I love that I can combine my two lives and share ways in which technology can allow you to do what you enjoy.
So first up – let’s share some places you can get your hit of theatre. Over the last week or so, there have been a number of streaming services which have been set up. There are also a bunch of existing ones. Some of these are paid for, some have free content and one or two are offering unlimited streaming for free during this time.
This is just a handful – there are SO many more which we will be sharing over the coming days and weeks.
On the boards – Free rental until the 1st May @OtB_SEA
Since 2010, Seattle based On the Boards theatre launched OntheBoards.tv, delivering full length contemporary performance films online.
This has resulted in fans of contemporary performance having better access to artists they want to see regardless of where they live and their busy schedules, at affordable prices.
Better than that, until 1st May they are offering unlimited free services using the code ARTATHOME20 at the checkout. This is on rentals only.
They also have a subscription service which I would ask that those of you who have used this free service during your isolation period, consider signing up to. This will support them going forward.
More information to come on this service as I will be talking to the some of the team about the service and why they’ve made it free for the next few weeks.
Digital Theatre – £9.99 a month. @DigitalTheatre
Digital Theatre allows you to access live theatre either by renting individual shows or by paying an online subscription.
They have partnered with Britain’s leading theatre companies and film shows from multiple angles to give viewers the best experience possible.
Want to see Funny Girl with Sheridan Smith, Richard Armitage in the Crucible, La Bohem at the Royal Opera House or Zoe Wanamaker and David Suchez in All my Sons? This is the place for you. There is a HUGE range of plays, musicals, opera, dance and music. I definitely thing it is worth the subscription fee!
This is where we are starting with reviews – Henry V is up first.
24hour plays – Free @24HourPlays
In October 1995, the first production of The 24 Hour Play took place on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. These productions gather actos, writers and directors and give them 24 hours to write a play. in 1995 this was supposed to be a one off but it has continued ever since.
There are plays on Broadway, 24 hour musicals in NYC, and regular events taking place in London, LA, San Francisco, Germany, Finland, Denmark and many more. 24 Hour Plays have also raised millions of dollars for charities.
Yesterday, they have gathered twenty of theatre’s top writers to write monologues for twenty amazing actors. These were uploaded every 15 minutes to instagram yesterday. From their recent post, it looks like they might be looking to do more of these. FINGERS CROSSED
The Show Must Go Online – Free – @robmyles #theshowmustgoonline
Robert Myles is the brainchild of this. Every week there will be a Shakespeare reading group, covering the plays in the order they were written, helping actors and theatre-makers to stay connected and creative. This week’s is Two Gentleman of Verona!
Act of Connecticut – Free @actofct
Oscar-winning composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz , Bryan Perri, Tony winner Debbie Gravitte , Sam Gravitte, Matt Farnsworth), Laura Woyasz, Juliet Lambert Pratt, and Daniela Sikora are taking part in a live streamed concert.
ACT of Conneticuty and The Ridgefield Playhouse are going live this Friday, March 20th 8pm EST on Facebook Live. There will be music, a live Q&A and a celebration of the community.
BroadwayHD – Free 7-Day Free Trial and then $8.99 a month thereafter. @BroadwayHD
Tony Award-winning producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley founded BroadwayHD in 2015 and it is the only service streaming full-length stage plays and musicals specifically for viewing online.
The library includes musicals such as Kinky Boots and Kiss Me Kate, plays like King Lear (with Ian McKelan), the critically acclaimed opera, Brokeback Mountain and An American in Paris to name but a few
The Globe – A range of free content plus many to rent @The_Globe
Available for free through The Globe website are a number of their fabulous shows, including Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar and A Winter’s Tale.
But you can also find your favourite Shakespeare plays (and more) and rent or own them on a play by play basis.
Play-Per-View – launching on 20th March – @Play_PerView
This is HOT OF THE PRESS as it hasnt even launched yet. Starting from 20th March,
producer Jeremy Wein and Mirirai Sithole (School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play) will livestream a play reading series. Each live stream is one-night-only. It could be a musical, a monologue, an actor playing their dream role. Let’s wait and see what it brings. Sounds great!
Theatre without theatre – Free but please donate to the actors fund to support the industry
This is a nightly theatrical broadcast where artists record a monologue, a song, or just share their thoughts. The ones I have watched so far have been wonderful and are a great break from the world.
Weirdstreamthon – Free but please donate where you can. Steaming live on 18th March
What on earth is a weird-stream-athon you ask? Well neither I nor the organisers truly know but it sounds great.
The event will be hosted by Jack Conte, Patreon co-founder and creator. There will be conversations with artists and experts, performances, some fun surprises and a whole lotta community collaboration.
It’s free to watch and participate from anywhere in the world, and those who can afford it can join us in donating to the artists & communities most impacted.
Finally if you’re a school (or home tutor) there’s The National Theatre on demand – @NTLive
The national theatre has put together a range of tailored learning resources. This collection draws on ten years of NT live broadcasts alongside never before seen recordings from the archives.