Tuesday, October 20


- April 7, 2020

For those of us who enjoy live arts, theatre, concerts, gigs, comedy… well the lockdown has become a real worry. Can live arts survive? Will theatres, clubs and concert halls be able to make a comeback when all this is over? And what of the performers? These are hard times for the arts, Brighton Festival and Fringe are cancelled or postponed, our venues are shut and right now no one can answer any of these questions.

But are the arts dead? No of course they are not and hats off to the companies that are doing their best to keep them alive.

Okay, I admit that watching recordings of live performances is never going to be the same, none of the thrill of live arts, the tension and atmosphere of a theatre, the knowledge that what you are witnessing is a one off experience. And I know that for as long as I have been writing about live arts here I have bemoaned the fact that too few young people are not learning about that, the fact that live performance requires concentration and focus, there is no pause button,. No re-wind or fast forward.

Right now though we have to take what we can so the initiative being taken by some venues and companies to offer free streaming of their productions is to be applauded.

I started last week by watching the National Theatre Live streaming of One Man, Two Guvnors. Brilliant in almost every sense and with a real feel of live theatre. On Thursday 9 April they will add Jane Eyre, a co-production with Theatre Royal Bath that I saw hen it toured. It’s an imaginative piece and well worth sitting down to. To find out there forthcoming programme go to https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

For the first time, Chichester Festival Theatre is to stream a selection of its archive productions online, beginning with the musical Flowers for Mrs Harris from Thursday 9 April for the Easter weekend.

Flowers for Mrs Harris will be available on CFT’s website at https://www.cft.org.uk/flowers-for-mrs-harris-broadcast for 30 days and will be free to watch. The 2018 Chichester Festival production is directed by Daniel Evans, with a cast led by Clare Burt (who won a UK Theatre Award for her performance), Joanna Riding and Gary Wilmot.

LOrd Lloyd Webber is in on this too and you can stream Jesus Christ Superstar this Friday at 7pm BST on The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel! It will be available for 48 hours, so you can tune in whenever you like over the weekend! Subscribe now and watch some of the best loved Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals FREE for the next seven weeks. Details on https://www.andrewlloydwebber.com/the-shows-must-go-on/

In association with The Guardian, the Hampstead Theatre is streaming three of its productions in full for free. The second show to be made available is Beth Steel’s Wonderland, directed by the theatre’s previous artistic director Edward Hall. The drama looks at the clashing ideologies during the miners’ strike in the mid-eighties, and is available from 6th April.

Then, to round the season off, Howard Benton’s 2013 play Drawing the Line is available from Monday 13th April. Howard Davies directed this production that tells the story of the partitioning of India in 1947.

Sadler’s Wells offers a full-length programme of dance performances and workshops during lockdown. Launched on 27th March with a screening of BalletBoyz’s Deluxe, the venue will use Facebook to stream a number of productions.

From 3rd April, balletLORENT will present its adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin, and future broadcasts will include a new version of Wilkie Branson’s dance for camera installation TOM..

There will also be workshops and activities for families, children and over 60s to dance along to throughout the month.

This month, the Royal Court has made its production of David Ireland’s Cyprus Avenue available for free on YouTube. Starring Stephen Rea, a Belfast loyalist is in the midst of a psychotic episode, when he mistakes his five-week-old grand daughter for Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. It’s available on YouTube until 26th April.

Shakespeare’s Globe has announced it will release 40 productions on its Globe Player service over the next month for free. The shows will include Hamlet starring artistic director Michelle Terry (2018), Romeo and Juliet with Ellie Kendrick and Adetomiwa Edun (2009), A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Michelle Terry (2013), The Winter’s Tale with Annette Badland (2018), The Two Noble Kinsmen with Brian Dick (2018) and The Merry Wives of Windsor (2019) with Bryony Hannah. All Globe Player productions are captioned, with each show presented for two weeks on a rolling cycle from 6 April.


A brilliantly fun West End production of The Wind In The Willows is being made available for free (although the theatre company are asking for you to make a small donation for a variety of theatrical charities). The musical opened in June 2017 and starred Rufus Hound as Toad, Simon Lipkin as Ratty, Craig Mather as Mole, Neil McDermott as Chief Weisel, Denise Welch as Mrs Otter and Gary Wilmot as Badger. Based on the classic children’s story by Kenneth Grahame, the musical was adapted for the stage by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes.


New York’s Met Opera is joining in too. Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 pm EDT until 6:30 pm the following day. The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers.’ Wagner’s Parsifal, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, and Verdi’s Falstaff are all in the upcoming schedule. The streaming is free, but you have the option to donate towards helping to keep the Met running.


That’s a rich menu of arts to keep even the most avaricious culture vulture sated and no doubt other venues will soon follow suit. Donate of you can, let’s keep the arts alive!

Andrew Kay

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