“All the world’s a stage,” wrote William Shakespeare circa 1599 when penning his comedy As You Like It. That phrase has reached new meaning since lockdowns have brought cities to a standstill and left theatres empty. The performing arts, however, are alive and well with plays, operas, musicals, stage shows and dances being streamed all over the internet.
These virtual performances always offer the best seats in the house (your couch!) and for many of them, ‘entry’ is free-of-charge. World-class performers from New York’s Broadway, London’s West End, Australia’s vibrant theatre scene and many more are bringing to life shows on digital stages, while iconic past performances are being hauled out of the archives and screened in full.
If you miss the theatre like us, here are some of the best places on the web to get your fill.
National Theatre At Home
Bringing you premium home theatre experiences, the London-based National Theatre is presenting famous plays on a weekly basis. Every Thursday the organisation posts a free-to-watch performance on its YouTube channel, having recently launched the initiative with Jane Eyre.
Currently, you can catch classic pirate story Treasure Island – reimagined as a kind of gothic, coming-of-age pantomime. If you’re in to Shakespeare, make sure to catch Twelfth Night coming soon!
The Shows Must Go On!
Musical theatre royalty Andrew Lloyd Webber is treating fans to free views of some of the greatest productions to ever hit the stage – and now the web. So far, two musicals have been announced, and the first – Phantom Of The Opera – is screening tonight on The Show Must Go On! YouTube channel. Tune in for 7pm BST (2pm EDT, 4am AEST) or catch it on replay up to 48 hours after it goes live.
The Metropolitan Opera
For vocal powerhouse performances you need look no further than The Metropolitan Opera’s free streams every night of the week. Head to the official website where at 7.30pm each day the streams go live. The schedule for the rest of this week includes Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur and Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier.
You can also watch the shows on the Met Opera on Demand app.
The legendary Berlin theatre house Schaubühne has been a driving force in the performing arts world for over two decades, with its bold production style. Its response to the lockdown has been nothing short of awesome, opening its vaults to unleash a different play every night. This award-winning group has a remarkable repertoire that includes experimental theatre, contemporary plays, uniquely choreographed shows and much more that will blow your mind.
Streams begin at 6.30pm German time and run until midnight; a half-hour before each stream, you can catch actors from each respective show with live updates.
If dance is your thing, browse on over to Digital Stage where celebrated London dance theatre Sadler’s Wells is hosting a variety of content, from one-off performances created just for the occasion and archived shows, to workshops including workouts and classes.
Shakespeare’s Globe is one of the world’s foremost playhouses on everything to do with the Bard. You’ve probably never had the chance to catch a play live at the iconic Elizabethan-style venue, but now you do have the chance to see a full play streamed free on Globe Player (which has traditionally charged a fairly steep rate for its content). There’s a new play each fortnight, and currently Hamlet is doing the rounds.
Upcoming plays include Romeo & Juliet (20 April-3 May), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (4-17 May), The Winter’s Tale (18-31 May), The Two Noble Kinsmen (1-14 June), and The Merry Wives Of Windsor (15-28 June).
Head on over to the Globe Player to catch the shows.