National Theatre at Home relaunches as streaming service for filmed productions

It follows 16 shows being made available for free on YouTube during the first national lockdown earlier this year.

AmadeusSmall Island and Barber Shop Chronicles were amongst the productions released weekly as part of National Theatre at Home, which made more than £350,000 in donations by the end of July.

The series also reached over 15 million views and 173 countries, something which the National Theatre considers to be an “overwhelming response”.

Lisa Burger, the National’s Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive, said the the organisation was “overjoyed” to find out they had reached audiences new to theatre – both in the UK and worldwide.

“At a time when many people were isolated at home, it was uplifting to see audiences recreate the shared experience of visiting the theatre.  From homemade tickets to interval drinks, NT at Home was a way of making people feel more connected.

“And so, since the last stream finished in July, we have been determined to find a way to give our audiences access to these stunning filmed productions online once again,” she said.

Shows made available from today include National Theatre Live recordings of Phédre with Helen Mirren, Othello starring Adrian Lester, and the Young Vic’s production of Yerma featuring Billie Piper, with new titles being added to the streaming service every month.

A selection of plays from the theatre’s archive will also be made available on National Theatre at Home, such as Mosquitos with OIivia Colman and Inua Ellams’ version of Three Sisters by Chekhov, which finished performances at the Olivier Theatre in February.

Lisa added: “This is a really exciting day for the National Theatre as we launch a major, online streaming destination for our filmed theatre productions which we hope will continue to provide audiences with the power and joy of theatre for as long as it is needed.

“We want National Theatre at Home to once again bring people together from all over the world after what has been a very tough 2020 for so many.”

Disabled people were amongst those supportive of the initial National Theatre at Home series, with several people calling for the streams to continue after the initial four months, with shows made available for a fee.

Autistic scholar Gill Loomes-Quinn tweeted in May: “Hi! [National Theatre] these Live Streams are just amazing! What would be even more fab would be if you could keep up the service (even maybe for a fee?) after Lockdown ends.

“It’s fab for people who are sick, disabled, or who otherwise can’t access physical theatre/cinema.”

Responding to today’s announcement, disability and theatre blogger Shona Louise told Liam O’Dell that she is thrilled by the news.

“Throughout lockdown myself and many other disabled theatre fans have talked about how much more accessible theatre has become since it moved online and how we’d like this to continue post-Covid, today’s news really gives me hope that people are listening.

“Theatre is inaccessible in so many ways and providing online streaming can remove so many of these barriers, making this a huge step forward for accessibility,” she said.

Chronically ill theatre blogger Pippa Stacey agrees, and added that the news “feels like a hugely positive step forward” for inclusion.

“Many chronically ill people struggle to physically attend theatre environments due to the nature of their symptoms, so the ability to stream productions remotely will enable a previously hidden audience to enjoy and indulge in theatre once more,” she said.

The National Theatre has also confirmed that a selection of shows on National Theatre at Home will be made available with British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation and audio description (AD), with information about the titles and release dates coming soon.

Meanwhile, all productions will have captions for those who need them.

“Although not designed primarily for chronically ill people, those who experience symptoms such as brain fog and noise sensitivity can find [captions make] a positive difference to the viewing experience too,” Pippa added.

The campaigner also said that she hopes viewers will be able to pause and resume watching content on the platform, similar to other services, to enable those with chronic illnesses to pace themselves and manage systems.

She concluded by saying that she hopes the National Theatre will be open to feedback from chronically ill viewers following the launch, and looks forward to signing up to the service.

Subscriptions are priced at £9.98 a month or £99.98 a year, while individual NT Archive and National Theatre Live productions can be accessed for 72 hours from £5.99 and £7.99 respectively.

The National Theatre and partner Bloomberg Philanthropies have also confirmed that they will be working together to make discounts and free subscriptions available to UK and international viewers.

National Theatre at Home can be streamed through all web browsers, Apple, Google, Roku and Amazon Fire TV, with more information available on its official website.

Update – 18.12.20: The National Theatre has today confirmed its first National Theatre at Home production to come with British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation, with the critically acclaimed War Horse to stream on the service from Monday.

The filmed version of the play, which will be available to watch until 20 January, will also be on the Sky Store in the UK for the same period.

War Horse will also be one of six productions on the streaming service to come with audio description, which supports blind and visually impaired viewers to access video content.

The Cherry Orchard, Phèdre, Othello, Yerma (Young Vic) and Coriolanus (Donmar Warehouse) will be available to watch with the feature from 21 December, with Julie coming with audio description from 11 January.

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