While theatre’s London-centric nature means it’s never been easy to get to a lot of professional shows from our little bubble, tighter restrictions in Scotland are currently leaving many of us even more cut off from the art we love than usual. But although it could never recreate the buzz of the live experience, there’s a huge amount of incredible theatre online to tide us over until we’re able to return. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the best places to find great theatre online, and some of our top show recommendations.
Digital Theatre Plus
The university has a subscription to this service which offers recordings of a huge number of professional productions including theatre, opera, musical theatre and dance. It’s not the easiest website to navigate, but it’s well worth a scroll through for all sorts of interesting obscure things as well as productions from big companies and theatres like the RSC, Donmar and Royal Opera House. We particularly recommend checking out the Donmar’s astonishing all-female Shakespeare Trilogy, the production of Miller’s The Crucible starring Richard Armitage, and, if you need a laugh after that lot, Noel Coward’s Private Lives starring Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor.
Marquee TV offers a similar subscription service to DT Plus, but unfortunately we don’t get access to it through the university. There’s significant overlap in the content with DT Plus so it may not be worth the investment long term; however, if there’s a particular production you can’t find on DT Plus it may be worth checking out their 14 day free trial. They also offer a student discount, although strangely it seems that this needs to be requested via email so we’re not sure how easy that is to arrange.
National Theatre of Scotland
The National Theatre of Scotland’s Scenes for Survival project has seen a huge number of artists come together to create short films from lockdown, exploring a huge variety of issues. While these aren’t pieces of live theatre, they’re a great way of seeing how artists are finding new ways of expressing themselves until we can all be back together in person.
The Old Vic
Having got in on the ticketed livestream game early with a socially distanced production of Lungs over the summer, the Old Vic will be bringing some much-needed Christmas cheer to us this December with a similar approach to their hit production of A Christmas Carol. Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but you can register on their website to get updates about the production, which will be streamed from the 12th to the 24th of December.
The Globe player website gives access to a huge number of productions from this famous theatre, with most available for rent or purchase. We particularly recommend the production of The Merchant of Venice starring Jonathan Pryce, but there are also versions of more obscure Shakespeare and early modern plays by less well-known authors, which could be incredibly helpful for anyone studying these and struggling to find a decent (or any) production to watch. Just make sure to check Digital Theatre Plus first as they have a few Globe productions for free!
Unfortunately most of the theatre that was on BBC Iplayer over lockdown is no longer available, but there are still a couple of shows worth checking out in their “Culture in Quarantine” section, particularly A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Northern Ballet’s Dracula.
The Byre Theatre
Although we’re sad that the National Theatre’s youtube screenings have ended, it’s exciting to be able to see them in a cinema again and share the experience with a real audience. The Lehman Trilogy is coming up on October 25th, and there will hopefully be more to come soon!
It’s an incredibly difficult time for theatre and the arts in general right now, and we hope to see them back and thriving with full audiences as soon as they possibly can. In the meantime though, some of these productions might take your mind off the sad state of the world right now, if only for a few hours.