Welcome to our first 2021 round-up of digital shows available for you to watch in the next few weeks.
From large-scale musicals to Zoom experiences, student showcases to the Bard, film and comedy, children’s theatre to audio pieces, storytelling to play readings, and much more, hopefully you will find something to tempt you to take a seat on your favourite sofa and take in a show at home.
First, we have the SU Fest from students at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Running across four days this week, each showcase includes a number of pieces recorded under social distancing guidelines. Catch up on their YouTube channel.
The Half Moon Theatre in Limehouse continues to share professional pieces of theatre made for children. This week’s offering is Paper Aeroplane, followed by Dust, Guantanamo Boy, Rolling Down the Road, and the return of the brilliant The House That Jackson Built. More details on their website.
The Little Angel Theatre in Islington, known for their puppet pieces, have made a number of shows available for free, including Scoop’s Space, Clever Cakes and, most recently, The Girl and the Raven. Join in here.
At Unicorn Theatre, London Bridge, you can still enjoy the adventures of Anasi the Spider, plus readings of Grimm Tales and Roald Dahl’s The Twits. The short play Huddle, for pre-schoolers, is available until 31 March. Details of all shows here.
Stories That Have Wings, a history channel for children set up by Comfort Fabian, now has a small collection of readings highlighting diverse people and events. See all the readings so far on their YouTube channel.
STEM Sisters is a new online musical show for primary school children, focusing on historical female scientists and mathematicians. Streaming online between 15 March and 11 April, the production is available for schools towards the end of term, and for families during the Easter break. More information here.
Produced by Petite Pantos, Mama G’s Half Term Tour, Telling Tales on Telly is streaming from London to the world on 20 February, with tickets available through Stanley Arts, the Key Theatre in Peterborough, the Woodville in Gravesend, or through Pride in London. Containing many of Mama G’s stories about being who you want and loving who you are, this will surely bring a bit of sparkle to the school hiatus. For more about Mama G, check out my 2020 interview.
Outside London, the Leicester Comedy Festival opens today and runs to the 21 February. Whether you’re looking for alternative, character pieces, children’s, or discussion/interview, there is bound to be something for you. Take a look at their website.
The Living Record Festival continues until 22 February. Comprising 45 shows of different styles, this is a “celebration of ground-breaking grassroots digital art”. Check out my reviews from the festival here and book in to shows here.
Moving up to Scotland, the soundfestival, exploring adventures in new music, has just finished, but shows remain on demand until 28 February. Check out my review of We Ask These Questions of Everybody and access on demand shows here.
From 1-21 March, Women of the World’s WOWIsGlobal returns with a digital festival of talks and workshops across the arts and science spectrum with a feminist slant. Book here – shows remain available on demand for seven days.
BFI Future Film Festival is the largest festival for young, emerging filmmakers. This year it runs from 18-21 February, with all 45 short films selected streaming for free on BFI Player.
The Southbank Centre’s Inside Out programme sees the series of online music and literature events return from 4 February to 28 March. Check out the line-up here.
The Manipulate Digital Festival is running this week until 7 February. You can buy day passes to access all the content on each day for £10, which you can then rewatch until the end of the festival. The programme includes “boundary-pushing visually led performance and animated film”. Further details here.
On the stream.theatre you can enjoy a range of shows including the Union Theatre’s Falling Stars, Southwark Playhouse’s The Poltergeist, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and The Last Five Years, a series of concerts Live from the Phoenix Arts Club, and a production of musical Daddy Long Legs from Dublin. Look at the shows available on “the world’s virtual stage” here.
Thespie now has links to over 400 filmed performances and 100 livestreams. It is a great resource for both paid and free content, including the Reunited series of concerts. You can find all the shows listed here.
Fringe platform Scenesaver continues to go from strength to strength. With the aim “Making little theatre big”, it now hosts links to over 350 shows from off-West End and fringe theatre across the world. They are not necessarily new (there is a production of The Three Musketeers from 2010) but are definitely well-worth a wider audience. Dip into performances here.
Filmed Live Musicals is a database of stage musicals that have been legally filmed – links are provided where available with full details and credits. There is also an accompanying podcast to keep you up to date. For more details visit the website.
Based in North Hollywood, USA, New Musicals Inc helps create new musicals and showcases a different one each week. Their New Voices Project, for those under-26, is currently accepting submissions. Find out more here.
Over in Leicester, the Curve (in association with the Birmingham Hippodrome) is to stream a full concert production of the LGBT classic The Color Purple, based on the novel by Alice Walker. Running from 16 February to 7 March, 2,000 free tickets will be offered to NHS staff. T’Shan Williams leads the company, and you can book here.
Signal Online, from Adam Lenson Productions, has returned online to support new artist-driven musicals. You can also catch up with previous editions on YouTube. Check out my reviews of ALP musicals Shift+Alt+Right, The Fabulist Fox Sister, and Public Domain.
The Big Musical Theatre Night In is on 5 March. It is a free online event celebrating all things musical with quizzes, performances and fun, raising money for the Theatre Support Fund. The inspiration of two students from Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, follow their Twitter/Instagram for more details.
Music and Variety
Giving a platform to the Covent Garden street performers, Crazy in Love opens a month-long project through February to “bring the estate’s magic to everyone”. Performances can be viewed on Covent Garden’s website and social accounts, starting with singer-songwriter Rob Falsini.
Taking place on 11 February, the Jewish Music Institute’s fundraising gala has two hours of entertainment available including the premiere of a forgotten song from Lionel Bart/Roger Cook musical Next Year in Jerusalem. Sign up to view here.
From the Theatre Royal Stratford East, five short shows comprise Press Play Here, freely available on the theatre’s website and YouTube until 17 February.. Take a look at my review of all the pieces in this project here.
The Vicky Vox Project, from New Frame Productions, is a “heightened reality series” of six episodes, each with a special guest joining the titular drag queen. A digital kick-back against the chaos of “Miss Rona”. Find the series on New Frame Productions YouTube channel.
Immersive and Interactive
Rice is an intriguing piece marrying food and performance, storytelling and song, in the run up to Chinese New Year. Wayang Kitchen and Omnibus Theatre are responsible for the piece which runs on 20-21 February, and 27-28 February, performed live from both Malaysia and the UK. It is the story of migration, the balance of life between two cultures, and the food that shapes it. Book in here.
Chronic Insanity have a new show out to kick off their year – Means of Production is a multi-screen experience written by Joe Strickland and Rebecca Saw, available on a PayWhatYouCan basis: book here. Check out my previous reviews of works by the company here.
The Inside Theatre app is an interactive way to create your own production. It launched in November 2020 with A Digital Midsummer Night’s Dream but the company has plans for expansion during 2021. Currently available for IOS and Android.
The House of Cenci, produced by Parabolic Theatre, is a a free-roaming text adventure combining first generation computer games, Zoom performance, and centuries of storytelling. Audiences will explore digital castle ruins over a four week period, starting 15 February. The show exposes an awful tragedy over four acts and live interactive scenes. Book in to view here.
Manimals is a new interactive game theatre piece about online dating. Created, performed and produced by Michelle Hudson, and directed by Flo O’Mahony, this piece virtually tours from 10-14 February (in conjunction with Greenwich Theatre, Poplar Union, and The Place Bedford) and 5-14 March (supported by Talk is Free Theatre, Canada). This is described as a “playfully filthy show, inspired by real-world dates”.
The Space new season launches tomorrow, with Pass It On. In an excellent and varied programme of theatre plays, music, showcases and duologues, plus one-person shows and much more, there are livestreams and on-demand options for most titles. Book in here.
From Camden People’s Theatre, the CPT Digital initative launched back in September but has upcoming shows from Lucy Dear (All in Your Head) and a punk version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream called Wild Time. Look at the line-up here.
From Iris Theatre, Covent Garden, Platform in the Garden presents digital recordings of shows from their summer 2020 festival. Platform pieces fron Nick Hart and Reuben Johnson are available this month – book here.
The Cockpit, Marylebone, have several upcoming livestreams starting with the Brass Flunkies on 21 February, followed by Ensemble OrQuesta’s production of Xerse, and Dissident Voices: Return to Godot. You can book for these and other on demand shows from 2020 here.
A new initiative from Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court, Late Night Staring At High Res Pixels is streaming in instalments over twenty-eight evenings in February, with the complete production available in March and April. Follow each instalment on YouTube.
Jermyn Street Theatre have a livestreamed reading of Love in a Wood by William Wycherley, available until 7 February. You can access it for free on the theatre’s YouTube channel. They have also just launched a series of European poetry readings (in the original language, and subtitled), called Butter Wouldn’t Melt.
1623 Theatre Company are about to premiere their web series What We Feel on their YouTube channel. Co-created with therapists and people with mental health issues, a new online drama will launch each Friday during February.
Streaming at Applecart Arts, Illusions of Liberty is a one-woman show about invisible illnesses, identity and racism. Written by Lorna Wells, performed by Corinne Walker, and directed by Aisling Gallagher, this show runs from 15-17 February. Book here.
Good Grief, a romantic comedy about grief and bereavement, runs from 15 February-15 April, through Platform Presents. Written by Lorien Haynes, it stars Sian Clifford and Nikesh Patel, and is directed by Natalie Abrahami. Book here for this “hybrid of theatre and film”.
A new production at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch takes inspiration from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Sharon ‘n’ Barry Do Romeo and Juliet “hacks out the boring bits” with the couple playing all the parts using props from Amazon. Streams live on Zoom from 25 February to 6 March.
A co-production of the Barn Theatre, Lawrence Batley Theatre, New Wolsey, Oxford Playhouse and Theatr Clwyd, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a new production of the Oscar Wilde classic, starring Fionn Whitehead. It runs from 16-31 March. Book here.
Jasper Plays, aka Simon Perrott, has made several pieces available on his YouTube channel, including Looking Through a Drug-Hazed Window and Tess (It’s All About Harry).
The South Devon Players, theatre and film company in Brixham, have livestreams available at the cost of £10 each; the next one is Jack the Ripper on 6 February. Access to each paid stream is available for two days after it goes live. See more information on their website.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS continues to stream new shows this year, with Haley at Therapy the next premiere scheduled on their YouTube channel on 9 February. Check out their upcoming shows here.
Chickenshed’s production of Peter Pan, first performed in 2004, is currently available on their YouTube channel. You may recall that author JM Barrie left the copyright of the piece to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, who profit from the association to this day.
Fierce Backbone, a theatre company based in Los Angeles, offer a new take on the Dracula myth on 14 February. The Wings of Dracula streams at 5pm PST and you can request to view on Zoom by emailing email@example.com.
In the USA, Red Bull Theater continues its series of livestreamed readings, with The Belle’s Strategem being planned for 22 February. It is free to sign up to the shows, but donations are encouraged. Once signed up, you have access to the relevant reading for four days. See their production schedule here.
Stute Theatre, based in Stoke on Trent, and run by Sophia Hatfield, is currently sharing short pieces aimed at children on their YouTube channel, in advance of the livestream of Common Lore in April. Also available is a chance to see Hatfield perform her Telephone Theatre play You Don’t Know Me, But … which is a twenty-two minute tour de force.
60 Hour Shakespeare, who were responsible for A Midsummer Night’s Stream last year, are now producing Twelfth Night (with Michael Corbidge) and Romeo and Juliet. The former is due to be performed in April: keep an eye on their YouTube channel.
Monsteers Artistry, which represents artists and actors, have their shows from 2020 – Satisfyingly Scary, Inspired by Shakespeare, and the Charity Christmas Cabaret (in aid of the Etcetera Theatre, Camden) on their YouTube channel, alongside new shorts Enough, An Unrequited Haunting, and Possession in the Box.
Al Dente Theatre, “proudly celebrating the intergenerationality in comedy”, went digital with their new show The Misadventures of David and Sam after its live tour was curtailed due to the pandemic. You can find both episodes of The Road Show on their YouTube channel.
The Mark Morris Dance Group continue to dig deep into their performance vaults for their Dance On series on YouTube, and are currently about to launch their 40th Anniversary Digital Season from 8 February, including a focus on works Dido and Aeneas and L’Allegro.
Second Hand Dance and Pavilion Dance South West are bringing Night Tree to the screen from 19-21 February. It is based on Eve Bunting’s book and deals with how we care for nature and each other. Bookings include a print-at-home activity pack. More information here.
South London Stories comprises seven brand-new monologues produced as films by Bubble Young Theatre, all put together in one online event on 11 February. A new creative project for 18-25 year olds, this takes inspiration from communities south of the capital. Find out more here.
On Cambridge Junction, you can access Queer Valentines between 11-28 February. This is The Kite Trust’s annual fundraiser, taking place online for the first time. Tickets can be purchased here on a PayWhatYouCan basis.
The Quarantine Theatre Company have been sharing Zoom readings of classic film scripts and TV pilots since last April on YouTube; starting with Ghostbusters and most recently What About Bob. Not all are 100% successful but they are certainly entertaining. You may especially enjoy Tipsy Titanic or their version of It’s a Wonderful Life.