All the world's a live stream

In these unprecedented times, there is actually more access to theatre than your students have ever had, and much of it is completely free. Rebecca Pizzey rounds up some of the digital theatre to be found online from lockdown

Paul Hilton as Peter and Anna Francolini as Captain Hook in the National Theatre's production of Peter Pan, now available to stream from Drama Online
Paul Hilton as Peter and Anna Francolini as Captain Hook in the National Theatre's production of Peter Pan, now available to stream from Drama Online


Streamed theatre, free

The Orange Tree Theatre is streaming a recorded production of Amsterdam by Maya Arad Yasur. While originally billed to be available until 27 April, the production was still online at time of press, in May. Over the coming weeks, the OT will also release further archive productions, with accompanying articles and interviews to read, podcasts to listen to, and video insights to watch.

In partnership with the Guardian, Hampstead Theatre has re-released live stream recordings of several productions under the banner #HampsteadTheatreAtHome. Check the website to find out what's available now.

Chichester Festival Theatre is similarly making various archive productions available free through May and June, under the banner ‘CFT at Home’.

The Royal Court Theatre has extended its free streamed production of Cyprus Avenue until 31 May – not for students younger than KS5, or the faint-hearted, it's a very good production and will provoke much discussion.

The National Theatre's ‘at Home’ series is inviting the world in every Thursday at 7pm for a free live viewing of past productions, available for seven days after the air date. Drama Online is also providing free access to the NT Collection for UK state-funded schools, with a free trial available to independent schools, universities and libraries. The collection features 30 full filmed plays, including Shakespeare, Greek tragedies, contemporary literary adaptations, and works from the Young Vic, the Donmar Warehouse and Bridge Theatre. During lockdown, schools can share login details with their students, so they can access the content from home.

Blackeyed Theatre have made their production of John Godber's Teechers, with education pack, available free to teachers. Email to request a link.

Gecko's production of Institute is also available to stream free.

Pentabus Theatre are streaming their production of Wolves are Coming For You free on their website, with more shows to follow.

Actors of Dionysus’ productions of Antigone and Lysistrata can be found on Vimeo: and

The Berlin Theatre has made its repertory programme available to stream online. The theatre is releasing a new production daily; some are in German, but some – such as Hamlet and Richard III – come with optional English subtitles.

‘The Show Must Go Online’…

New York's Metropolitan Opera is offering free student streams once a week.

The BBC is to broadcast a series of 12 digital plays made by theatre company Headlong and Century Films, using digital conference technology, written by a diverse group of celebrated writers in response to the extraordinary circumstances imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic. This is just some of the output of the broadcaster's ‘Culture in Quarantine’ series.

Streamed theatre, for a fee

The 2017 production of The Wind in the Willows, featuring Rufus Hound as Toad and recorded live at the London Palladium, is available for online streaming – costing £2.99 to rent. Activity packs are available on the website to download for free.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's cult-hit Fleabag, in its original form as a one-woman show, is available to stream for £4 until 31 May.

Shakespeare's Globe's TV streaming platform offers paid-for, as well as free snippets of, plays; renting a performance costs £5.99 and purchasing £11.99. Bundles are also available, as well as sonnets and behind-the-scenes glimpses.

A trailblazer in online productions, Digital Theatre continues to provide access to international performances. Individual productions are available to rent from £7.99, and monthly subscriptions are £9.99, and the suite includes The Crucible starring Richard Armitage (2014), Phyllida Lloyd's all-female Shakespeare trilogy (2020) and Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith (2017).

Subscription service hosts a vast collection of filmed live performance for £8.99/month or £89.99/year. Productions include many from the RSC, the Donmar Warehouse's Shakespeare trilogy, and Dominic Dromgoole's four Oscar Wilde productions. A 14-day free trial is available.

On the Boards Theatre, Seattle, releases full-length performances of contemporary plays. With over 60 films by 42 international artists available, there is ample to choose from. Rental prices begin at $5, and purchase prices begin at $15. In October, the theatre also posted its first online masterclass, which explores dance philosophies and methodologies with two leading Seattle-based dance-makers.

Other resources

Newly-launched initiative The Show Must Go Online is offering performed readings of the complete works of Shakespeare, available to watch for free on YouTube in the order in which they were written. Interestingly, these are performed by actors via web-based video chat platform Zoom – giving the performance a strangely conference-call feel, but are no less valuable for students experiencing Shakespeare's works as they were intended to be seen (in performance… albeit without the stage). Search ‘The Show Must Go Online’ on YouTube.