James Corden on stage in "One Man Two Guvnors". Picture: Johan Persson
James Corden on stage in "One Man Two Guvnors". Picture: Johan Persson

National Theatre Live productions streaming for free via YouTube

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Apr 2, 2020

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With theatre shows grinding to a halt during the lockdown, theatre lovers have had to rely on other forms of entertainment. More so, with movie houses closing down, too.

In SA, there have been a few conversations around staging virtual shows. However, nothing much has materialised from those conversations yet. 

In the meantime, there is good news on the horizon - the National Theatre in London, in partnership with YouTube, will be bringing a free streaming initiative, National Theatre at Home, for the next two months. 

Of course, in the past viewers have been able to catch these stage productions as it has been playing on the big screen at various venues like The Fugard Bioscope in Cape Town and at Ster-Kinekor’s Cinema Nouveau screens nationwide, plus Gateway Commercial in KwaZulu Natal, since 2009.

What does this new undertaking mean?

Well, you can watch some of the most popular National Theatre Live cinema screenings as of Thursday, April 2 and every Thursday afterwards for two months. 

James Corden on stage in "One Man, Two Guvnors". Picture: Johan Persson

In unprecedented times like these, adaptation is key to maintaining ones sanity, too. This initiative will certainly help in that regard. 

Lisa Burger, Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre said: “Our ambition at the National Theatre is to create work which is challenging, entertaining and inspiring and we’re committed to continuing that through these difficult times. 

"I'm thrilled that we’re able to fulfil this ambition in a different way through our collaboration with YouTube. I am exceptionally proud of the team at the National Theatre for working so hard to create National Theatre at Home and also to the rights holders who have been so supportive of this new initiative allowing us to bring theatre to households right across the world. 

"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. 

"We will be streaming each production at the same time each week in order to recreate, where possible, the communal viewing experience and we hope this will be an opportunity for people to share their enjoyment together online."

Christina Matteotti, Head of Music and Culture Partnerships, EMEA at Google said:  "During this incredibly difficult time, we are so glad that institutions like the National Theatre are using the platform to share treasured cultural content with the UK and global communities who are facing self-isolation. 

"Bringing the comedic delight of One Man, Two Guvnors, the magic of shows like Twelfth Night, the mystery of Jane Eyre and the adventure of Treasure Island to YouTube will be a ray of light during a very difficult time. 

"Technology can bring the cultural and creative world inside your home. We look forward to seeing how National Theatre at Home on YouTube delights the community and provides a chance to continue to learn.”

And the line-up is something to get excited about.

Fans can look forward to catching the following shows, which will be available on demand for seven days.

Tamsin Greig as Malvolia in a scene from "Twelfth Night". Picture: Supplied

One Man, Two Guvnors: James Corden delivering a Tony Award-winning performance in Richard Bean's hit comedy. 

Jane Eyre: This bold and innovative re-imagining of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms. Available on April 9 until 16.

Treasure Island: Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny is brought to life in this thrilling stage adaptation.​ Featuring Arthur Darvill as Long John Silver. Streaming on April 16 until 23.

Twelfth Night: Where music is the food of love, and nobody is quite what they seem, anything proves possible in Shakespeare's classic comedy. Featuring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia. Streaming April 23 until 30.

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