Lockdown 100: Theatre to enjoy from your sofa, part one

We may not know when we will be back in theatres large or small again with a live audience, but you can experience a wide range of productions and performances from the comfort of your sofa.

I’ve been watching as much as I can, and reviewing a sample of material as I go, but this is my personal choice of a hundred opportunities to engage with the creative people who make the arts such a vibrant and diverse force in popular culture.

This is in no way a ranking of “what’s best”. I have tried to cast my net as widely as possible, with different sized organisations, venues and companies, and a focus beyond my usual London spaces. Hopefully you will find something of interest in this two-part list.

My thanks go to companies, PRs, fellow bloggers, creators, performers and venues who have made their material available: especially those who let me know about it!

I would recommend keeping an eye on social media, YouTube, and Vimeo to catch other shows and performances which seem to be announced daily.

Please enjoy these choices, and consider donating to keep cast, crew and creatives afloat in these difficult times.

Without further ado …

  1. All The Web’s A Stage

A “livestream fundraiser for artists, by artists” broadcast by Theatre Together on 23 April, in aid of Acting for Others, Help Musicians, and The Golsoncott Foundation. With song, comedy, poetry and more, this runs over eight hours and can be viewed on the Theatre Together website.

Donate via JustGiving.

2. Barn Theatre

The Barn Theatre in Cirencester have made a number of productions available on their YouTube channel. Complementing a full performance of Henry V are a series of monologues under the title Bard from the Barn. You can also view a series of readings from Storytime at the Barn, follow the comic adventures of Tweedy’s Lost and Found, and enjoy musical performances in the series The Barn Presents.

On the 23 May a new live stream will run called The Music of Finn Anderson: West End Meets The West Country.

Donate to support the Barn here.

3. BBC Culture in Quarantine

The BBCiPlayer has a number of productions free to air, including a series of nine plays from the RSC and Shakespeare’s Globe, Emma Rice’s Wise Children, the full thirteen-episode run of Performance Live (including a new piece filmed at Battersea Arts Centre during lockdown), and Michael Clark’s to a simple , rock ‘n’ roll … song.

4. Coronavirus Theatre Club

Launched in March, this project has streamed a variety of monologues on its YouTube channel, with new titles added every Sunday. Describing itself on Twitter as “Theatre Tinder” this has been a dynamic and exciting use of writers and performers with something for everyone.

Donate to support artists and creators on Ko-fi.

5. Coronet Theatre

Based in Notting Hill, the Coronet have launched a series of short pieces called Inside Out on their YouTube channel; the series also includes a full production of Mayakovsky: A Tragedy by William Kentridge.

Donate to support the Coronet

6. Curve Leicester

The Curve have made three productions freely available for the duration of lockdown under the tagline “The show must go onLINE”. These are Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual, The Importance of Being Earnest, and What the Butler Saw. These can be viewed along with shorter pieces of content on the Curve website.

Donate to support the Curve

7. Deafinitely Theatre

Presenting shows in British Sign Language and spoken English, Deafinitely Theatre currently have one show available: Grounded, on their YouTube channel. This will be streamed until the end of May. Mike Bartlett’s dark thriller Contractions will be made available in June, plus (for newsletter subscribers only), Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis in July.

Donate to support Deafinitely Theatre

8. Dear Ireland

Streamed across four nights in April, the Abbey Theatre in Dublin presented a fundraising showcase featuring Irish performers. Described as “a national conversation led by Ireland’s artists: 50 writers, 50 actors”. Find out more about the Dear Ireland here, and view all four streams until October on the Abbey Theatre’s YouTube channel.

Donate to support the Abbey

9. Don’t Go Into The Cellar/ Strictly Sherlock Holmes

Theatre company Don’t Go Into The Cellar present “Victorian theatre with bite”, and are streaming regular Sunday Down The Cellar broadcasts until the end of August. on their Facebook page. In addition there is a special live stream of Strictly Sherlock via Zoom on 23 May at 8pm, which you can register for here.

Donate to support Don’t Go Into The Cellar

10. Drunk Plays

Created by Ben Hewis, the concept of Drunk Plays is that “isolated playwrights write a monologue while drunk, drunk actors perform them”. Check out the videos on their Twitter channel for short blasts of diversionary theatre. Three “shows” of monologues have been shared so far, generally on Mondays, and I hear the concept is returning soon.

11. Fight Back 2020 Festival

Co-hosted by the New Theatre, Dublin, and takebackyourseats.ie, The Fight Back 2020 Festival ran from 7-24 April, releasing new monologues each day, all based loosely around the theme of lockdown. You can donate indvidually to each monologue’s artists by following the links on the Fight Back 2020 Festival website.

12. For The Love of Arts

Curated and produced by Michelle Collins for the Equity Benevolent Fund, this is a collection of fifty monologues made available on YouTube.

Donate to the Equity Benevolent Fund

13. Gate Theatre

Based in Notting Hill, the Gate has made two excellent archive productions available: The Unknown Island (adapted for the stage by Ellen McDougall and Clare Slater) and Suzy Storck (by Magali Mougel, translated by Chris Campbell). Both can be viewed via the Gate’s YouTube channel or their website until 30 June.

Donate to support the Gate

14. Greenwich Theatre

The Grrenwich Theatre are making a different archive production available each Friday on their YouTube channel: Tobacco Road is “a gritty and entertaining exploration of London’s 1920s gang scene”; Fulfilment (by SharkLegs) is a provocative “show about the price really pay for next day delivery”. Further titles including School for Scandal and The Duchess of Malfi are planned.

15. Half Moon Theatre

Donate to support Greenwich Theatre

A young people’s theatre in Limehouse, the Half Moon has made a number of archive productions available via Half Moon Live on their Vimeo channel. You can currently choose from Off The Grid (for age 13+, an immersive new play by David Lane that navigates a shocking and heart breaking human story through the underbelly of a hidden society), When Spring Comes (for age 3-7, a play about loss and rebirth, fusing contemporary dance with live jazz and animation), her (for age 13+, a compelling new story about a fifteen year old London girl who inexplicably finds that conflict has made her an alien in her own country, co-produced with Brolly Productions), and Once Upon a Snowflake (age 3+, a Paper Balloon production for families).

Donate to support the Half Moon

16. Hope Theatre Online

Based above the Hope & Anchor pub in Islington, the theatre launched Hope Online at the end of April, with events anounced via their Twitter account. A series of workshops, talks, Q&As and events are planned.

Donate to support the Hope

17. Hull Truck Theatre

Heading to Yorkshire, Hull Truck at Home brings a selection of events and past productions to your living room. You can choose to listen to an audio recording of Richard Bean’s Kiss Me, or experience a different archive video recording each month: currently Ben Benison’s Jack Lear. For more details visit the Hull Truck website.

Donate to support Hull Truck

18. Inspirations Theatre Company

An amateur theatre group based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Inspirations have been very busy indeed with musical concerts shared on their YouTube channel. Currently available are entertaining showcases of work by Sondheim, Lloyd Webber, Stiles & Drewe, Kander & Ebb, Tim Rice, Jason Robert Brown, Jukebox Musicals, and the Eurovision.

Find out more about Inspirations

19. Jermyn Street Theatre

Continuing their season theme of Brave New World, JST have made a series of short performances available online on their YouTube channel including Shakespeare sonnets, short plays, and more. This week they launched the first of two full-length rehearsed readings: The Skin Game (by Tony Cox) is available until 26 May, when In Praise of Love (by Terence Rattigan) will stream live and remain available for a week.

Donate to support Jermyn Street Theatre

20. Lazarus Theatre Company

Greenwich Theatre’s resident company Lazarus Theatre Company have made their production of Marlowe’s Edward II available via their website until 9 June, together with an archive audio recording of this year’s season opener, Macbeth.

Donate to support Lazarus Theatre Company

21. Live Stream Archive

A temporary initiative to collate live streams from around the internet which may not be available elsewhere, the Live Stream Archive concentrates on fringe, small-scale and experimental work and has some absolute gems. It is the brainchild of Joe Boylan, Jason Crouch, Joe Bunce, Ben Monk, and several members of LIVE LAB, a group of like minded artists and makers who met and collaborated at HOME (Manchester).

Work available includes material from Daniel Bye, Adam Pownall, Emergency Chorus, Synergy, Hidden Track, Clown Funeral and Spymonkey.

22. Marquee TV

For £8.99 a month, you can access “a world of culture” including the Royal Opera House, Bolshoi Ballet, Teatro Real, Opera Zurich, the RSC and more. A 14 day trial is currently available.

23. Monsteers Artistry

A talent agency and team of casting/theatre producers, Monsteers Artistry streamed a live concert called Sending Love in Lockdown in aid of the Funds for Freelancers. You can still purchase a ticket to view the stream until 31 May for £8.68.

24. National eTheatr

Created by Barry Brett-McStay, this project is “an online theatre space for UK artists & audiences during the Covid19 crisis”. Launching new live streamed monologues on its YouTube channel regularly, this is a perfect place to experience small-scale work from some talented performers.

Donate to support the National eTheatr project

25. NT at Home

Drawing from its store of more than seventy NT Live broadcasts, and some archive recordings never before screened, the National Theatre is releasing one production a week for free on its YouTube channel. Tonight, 21 May, is the debut of the Young Vic’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. If you are an NT member, you can download digital programmes and other accompanying material from the theatre website.

Donate to support the National Theatre

26. Omnibus Online

A three-theatre space on the ddge of Clapham Common, the Omnibus has opened up its vaults to share material through Omnibus Online. A new show debuts each Tuesday, and apart from Engine Room scratch pieces which are live streamed on Instagram, reamin available to watch on the Omnibus website and YouTube channel.

Donate to support the Omnibus

27. Only the Brave

Filmed at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff in 2016, this new musical features Caroline Sheen and David Thaxton and has been made available to stream on AdVision TV’s Vimeo channel.

28. Opera North

In Leeds, Opera North has made the entirety of their acclaimed 2016 Ring Cycle available on their website.

Donate and support Opera North

29. Phoenix Arts Club

The Phoenix Arts Club has taken its weekly Saturday Supershow online via its You Tube channel. Catch performances from Sooz Kempner, Stiff & Kitsch, Gin Minsky, Trevor Dion Nicholas and more.

30. The Place

Camden’s dance theatre is sharing material on its website on a time-limited basis. From 7pm on 21 May to 10pm on 22 May is BEAT from Igor x Moreno, then from 4-8 June is The Head Wrap Diaries from Uchenna Dance.

31. Reasons to be Cheerful

Upcoming from 3 June, Graeae Theatre Company will stream their musical based on the life of musician Ian Dury. This will remain available via online streaming and YouTube until 3 August.

Find out more about Graeae

32. Rough House Theatre (UK)

Dougie Blaxland’s one man show about cricketer Colin Milburn is available to stream on the Rough House Theatre website.

33. Royal Albert Home

The Royal Albert Hall has been presenting a range of concerts live from the homes of singers and musicians. The full series, which includes musical theatre, classical and popular musicians, is available on their YouTube channel.

Donate and support the RAH

34. Russell Maliphant Dance Company

The RMDC has made a few short pieces available on its YouTube channel including an extract from The Rodin Project.

35. Sadler’s Wells

Based in Clerkenwell, Sadler’s Wells has launched its Digital Stage on its YouTube channel with a full performance of Moon Water, alongside a series of Dance on Screen films.

36. Saplings Online

Bloom Theatre, a new company set up to promote LGBTQIA+ work, made some shows available from their live Saplings strand earlier in the year. Now a new set of pieces has been produced under lockdown. You can view both collections on their YouTube channel and find out more about Bloom Theatre on their Facebook page.

37. Sherman Theatre

In Cardiff, the Sherman Theatre has been streaming short monologues under the umbrella title of TEN on their YouTube channel with the final play due shortly. There is also a play reading of Antigone due on 30 May.

38. The Show Must Go Online

Created and directed by Rob Myles, this is a year long project to record every Shakespeare play through Zoom and live stream them each week on YouTube. Ten plays have already been completed, plus three collaborations with Quirk Books (Shakespeare mashups with, respectively, Star Wars, Clueless, and Mean Girls).

Find out more about The Show Must Go Online via Twitter

39. The Showstoppers

The Showstoppers have presented their own Alternative Eurovision Song Contest on YouTube, and have also been regularly entertaining us with 24-hour improvised song challenges plus online storytime. Back in March, right at the start of lockdown, they recorded their final live improvision at the Lyric and made it available on Facebook.

Donate to the Care Workers Charity via The Showstoppers fundraising page

40. Shubbak Festival

The Shubbak Festival, London’s festival of contemporary Arab culture, has been sharing material on Zoom, Instagram and their website in lieu of having a 2020 Festival.

41. Signal Online / Bonfire

Adam Lenson Productions have been streaming completely live concerts of new musical theatre each week on their YouTube page since the start of lockdown. Each SIGNAL Online showcase (of artists-driven new British musicals) is over 2 hours long, and there are also concerts by Darren Clark, Finn Anderson, plus a discussion entitled The Stay at Home Performer.

Donate to support these concerts

42. Soho Theatre on Demand

The Soho has a variety of content available to rent on its website: as well as Fleabag, you can choose from shows by Jordan Brookes, Desireer Burch, Mae Martin, Shappi Khorsandi, Nish Kumar, and many more. Mr Swallow: Houdini has just had its run extended, and and more titles are due soon. Rentals typically start from £4.

43. Southwark Stayhouse

The Southwark Playhuse currently has four shows streaming for free on its website: the Brontë musical Wasted, Shakespare’s Twelfth Night, a debut from Jesse Briton called Bound, and a collection of monologues from Philip Ridley’s The Beast Will Rise.

Donate to support Southwark Playhouse

44. Stay at Home with Crazy Coqs

Soho’s prime cabaret space has released shows each week on its YouTube channel. These include full shows with Mandy Meadows, Lorna Dalls, Kate Garner, Jason Kravits, Peter Orner, the Girls From Oz, Jessica Martin, and Sandy Walsh.

45. The Stay Inn / Made at Home Productions

Created via Zoom and performed entirely live, Team MAH have streamed two productions on their YouTube channel so far, both utilising the new technology to create involving and vibrant versions of old classics. They first turned their attention to Shakespeare with A Midsummer Night’s Stream, and then to Oscar Wilde for The Importance of Bcc’ing Earnest.

Donate to support The Stay Inn

46. Stratford Festival

From Canada, the Stratford Festival has been streaming some of its Shakespeare productions on its YouTube channel. Macbeth and The Tempest are currently available, with Timon of Athens scheduled next. These are accompanied by supporting material including “cast reunions”.

Donate to suppprt the Stratford Festival

47. Told by an Idiot

Each week, Told by an Idiot theatre company have been releasing a different show from their archive under the tagline Idiots in Isolation.

48. Unicorn Theatre

The UK’s leading theatre for young audiences, the Unicorn has created a new digital theatre experience, Anansi the Spider Re-Spun. This will be streaming free on YouTube from 30 May in three episodes and is aimed at age 3-8.

Donate to support the Unicorn

49. Visible Fictions

From Scotland, Visible Fictions “presents innovative and dynamic theatrical productions for young people of all ages (and adults), that inspire, challenge, engage and entertain”. At the beginning of May, they premiered a series of short films and animations under the umbrella title Phone Fictions and the videos can still be viewed on their Facebook page.

Find out more about Visible Fictions

50. Wandsworth Arts Fringe

The Wandsworth Arts Fringe may not be taking place physically this year, but its digital presence has now launched and you can see the schedule on the website.