It is a strange time we are living in where most businesses are closed down, including our beloved theatres. Now I’m not talking about movie theatres, though they are also closed. Unfortunately, I’m talking about live theatre shows. When will it be safe for any of us to go out and see a live performance? I don’t have that answer, however, there are alternatives. There are many options online to watch video archives of theatre plays, some being free, and others for a small price. This will never replace the magical experience of being told a live story in front of you, but it will have to do for now. I know I’ve been missing live theatre, so here are a few websites for viewing shows online:
Before the Stratford Festival could premiere the first productions for its summer’s season, they unfortunately had to close down. As a result, the festival decided to play a lot of their archival Shakespeare productions live over YouTube. Afterwards each video was allowed to be watched for free during a limited three-week period. They are currently not running any free digital productions; however, you can purchase to watch one of the shows live on their website. These productions are King Lear, Coriolanus, Macbeth, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Timon of Athens, Hamlet, King John, The Adventures of Pericles and The Taming of the Shrew. You can also subscribe to other non-Shakespeare productions such as Elizabeth Rex and Long Day’s Journey into Night. You can also view their podcasts, documentaries, and panels. You Can view their streaming website here.
You have probably heard of Disney Plus, since the popular video on demand website launched on November 12th, 2019. It has almost every Disney movie and TV series you can imagine. It also includes the original Broadway production of Hamilton, as well as Pentagon Theatre’s version of Newsies. There are multiple movies based off of Broadway shows such as, The Sound of Music, Annie, Into the Woods, and many more. There is currently no free trail if you’re a new subscriber and it comes to $8.99 per month.
Fringe Plays (UK)
There is a website called ‘Scene Saver’ which is registered in England and Wales that was created in 2019 before Covid19 was introduced to the world. Not only does it showcase Fringe shows in the UK but it provides production archival videos from Fringe Festivals all around the world. In order to view the videos, you need to register as a user or contributor. Productions are all organized by genre and the website also includes audio-described, signed, and subtitled performances. The best part is that it’s all completely free to view!
OperaVision is a website that showcases opera, concerts, and dance performances for everyone in the world to view digitally. They are partnered with 17 countries within Europe and all videos are free to view without having to register for an account. A few notable productions they have available are Orpheus and Eurydice, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream, and Swan Lake.
Theatre Companies throughout the GTA (and all of Canada) have been closed down for the time being. Although, most companies do have an online/digital season they’re producing for their 2020/21 season. Click on any of these companies to view their current season and to access information on their shows: Sawitri Theatre Group, Meadowvale Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Nightwood Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, Cahoots, Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre, Canadian Stage, Studio 180 and, Young People’s Theatre. As well, a German theatre company called Schaubühne.
If you’re missing theatre as much as I am, please check out these resources. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, we will watch a live show once again.