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Enjoy Culture from the Comfort of your Own Home: Theatre Streaming Services

National Theatre

Shona Clelland, cultural venues development manager for Assembly Rooms Edinburgh

As productions pause and venues across the nation remain in lockdown, the arts and culture’s archives have been unlocked by many esteemed establishments worldwide. Now, from Broadway to the West End, some of the world's best plays and musicals are available for all to stream online – and many of them free for a limited time. Because even if the show can’t go on, there’s no harm in pretending otherwise for a couple of hours. 

Some of our must-see performances include:

The National Theatre - https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/nt-at-home

The National Theatre has a huge archive, and they'll be releasing highly acclaimed theatre productions for free every Thursday. With each title available to stream for a week, you won’t want to miss out. Catch up on the comedy hit One Man featuring James Corden, or watch Two Govners, Jane Eyre, Treasure Island and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in the coming weeks.

London’s Royal Opera House - https://www.youtube.com/user/RoyalOperaHouse

The Royal Opera House has generously rolled out a free programme of curated ballet and opera content. Its #OurHouseToYourHouse series showcases one production every Friday which is free to stream anytime from its YouTube channel. Already released is Peter and the Wolf, Acis, Galatea and The Metamorphasis.

The Metropolitan Opera - https://www.metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/

The Met has said it is hoping to brighten the lives of audience members even while its stage is dark by streaming a different encore operatic production every day. Each of these will be available free-to-view for 23 hours to ensure that all parts of the world may access it. Notable additions are this Friday’s (24 April) showing of La Traviata and Saturday’s At-Home Gala, featuring more than 40 leading artists joining from their homes around the world.

The Globe - https://globeplayer.tv/

This iconic theatre may be closed for now but as the official home of Shakespeare, the theatre has been recording its productions for years, amassing a library of the most-loved tragedies, comedies and histories. Now on The Shakespeare Globe Trust’s platform, you can pay to rent or stream the legendary playwright's works as you wish, from Hamlet to Henry VIII to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. All productions are available so that you can choose to stream from the comfort of home As You Like It. There's also a bank of free content to watch including Shakespeare Lives, a collection of contemporary short films reimagining his work, and the Sonnet Project NYC series, where Shakespeare's poems meet the urban poetry of New York.

We’ve also seen streaming services pop up to fill the void that playing our favourite musical soundtrack on repeat just can’t seem to fill. Getting rave reviews so far is:

BroadwayHD – take a virtual trip to Broadway with this streaming platform, which has a library of more than 200 recorded performances like Kinky Boots, The King and I, Sound of Music and Cats. Watch Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma!, Ian McKellen as King Lear and Orlando Bloom in Romeo and Juliet. The site offers a seven-day free trial so you can stream as many shows, plays and ballets as your musically deprived heart desires: broadwayhd.com.

Digital Theatre - the digital arts platform has more than 100 world class theatre experiences to watch, including many British productions. Watch Maxine Peake as Hamlet at the Royal Exchange Theatre, and Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith, captured during its run at the Palace Theatre. Other highlights from theatres up and down the country include Richard Armitage in The Crucible at London's Old Vic, and Oedipus, starring Steven Berkoff, at Nottingham Playhouse. You can rent productions or sign up for unlimited streaming with a monthly subscription: digitaltheatre.com

Marquee TV offers on-demand dance, opera and theatre and has extended its free trial period to 30 days - giving you plenty of time to get stuck in to its catalogue. Highlights include Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Hamlet, The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice, and Kathy Burke's revival of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan, starring Jennifer Saunders. You'll also find performances from some of the world's leading dance companies and choreographers, including The Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Alexander Ekman and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: marquee.tv

Even Amazon Prime has seven versions of King Lear on it so when you're searching for yet another box set to binge, why not tune in to one of these instead?