National Theatre Collection: for the teacher's digital toolkit

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

As theatres reopen, digital resources remain a useful asset to teachers. The National Theatre Collection offers 50 world-class productions, ready to stream.

Othello at the National Theatre in 2013
Othello at the National Theatre in 2013

National Theatre

Over the past two years, drama teachers have faced enormous challenges, having to constantly adapt their teaching in a changing landscape. Digital theatre productions temporarily replaced live ones for all of us, but as life returns to normal and theatres reopen, digital resources can remain a useful part of teachers’ toolkits.

The National Theatre Collection is a gateway to live performance, providing recordings of 50 world-class productions for teachers to stream direct into the classroom or share with students to watch from home. The Collection is available free of charge for state-funded schools and colleges in the UK.

You will find an incredible selection of productions, with something suitable for students of all ages. From Shakespeare and Greek drama to devised work, literary adaptations and new writing. You can watch full productions or choose clips, pause when you need to pose a question to students or rewind to watch a scene in more detail. In addition to production recordings, the platform hosts a range of supporting resources, including learning guides, rehearsal insights and lesson plans.

If you are looking for ways to incorporate the National Theatre Collection into your teaching, you might like to try some of the following ideas:

For students in Key Stage 3 and above

  • Introduce and explore theatre-making skills from puppetry and costume design to lighting and sound, in inventive productions like Peter Pan and Treasure Island.
  • Laugh out loud and introduce Commedia dell’arte with the hilarious One Man, Two Guvnors.

For students in Key Stage 4 and above

  • Examine devising processes through Sally Cookson’s fantastic adaptation of Jane Eyre.
  • Watch how a novel comes to life onstage, looking across the design elements in Danny Boyle’s production of Frankenstein.
  • Watch, discuss and respond to Inua Ellam’s joyous contemporary play, Barber Shop Chronicles.
  • Introduce verbatim theatre with Nadia Fall’s play Home, created using material gathered from interviews with the residents of an East London hostel

For students in Key Stage 5

  • Analyse the bold staging and performance choices in exciting contemporary productions of modern classics including A View from the Bridge, Hedda Gabler, Yerma and A Streetcar Named Desire.
  • Explore the work of key contemporary theatre practitioners including Ivo van Hove, Headlong, Josie Rourke, Rufus Norris, Rae Smith, Paule Constable, Nadia Fall, Sally Cookson, Justin Audibert, Nicholas Hytner and Polly Findlay.
  • Challenge your students to explore theatre that pushes boundaries with Paradise, Kae Tempest’s contemporary re-working of Sophocles’ Philoctetes and Marianne Elliott’s groundbreaking production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.
  • Explore how contemporary theatre makers bring sound, lighting and video design together to create a world onstage in Julie, land and Small Island.

We hope that the National Theatre Collection will allow teachers to be bold in their choices and expand their students’ theatrical experience and vocabulary, exposing them to a broad range of theatre. In turn, we hope that students will be inspired by what they see and take that inspiration into their own theatre-making.

For more information and to sign-up, visit