You might be finding that now, while in self-isolation, is the perfect time to break the spines of the books you bought years ago but never got the chance to read, or cross off a few titles from your must-watch list. As it turns out, it might also be a good time to catch some high-end theatre.
Several theatres have chosen to keep their shows going even though they have had to temporarily close their physical venues. Here are some of the best ways to watch theatre online from the comfort and safety of your own home. From Broadway and West End shows to works by up-and-coming playwrights and even a Shakespeare play in Arabic, they’re all for free and available to stream.
London's National Theatre has an archive that is a theatregoer's goldmine. It includes some of the best recordings of stage shows around, and in cinema quality. The theatre broadcasts its shows to venues around the world, including Dubai's Courtyard Playhouse, as part of its NT Live programming. But with such venues shut down, the theatre has turned to YouTube.
Every Thursday a new National Theatre show will be released on the platform and will be available to stream for one week. Each play comes with some bonus content, including talks and Q&A sessions with the cast and crew.
The first show to be released on the National Theatre's YouTube channel is the comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, which will be available to watch until Wednesday, April 8. The play, written by Richard Bean, is set in Brighton in 1963, and is an adaptation of Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni's comedy The Servant of Two Masters.
The stage adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, written by Sally Cookson, will be released next, on Thursday, April 9. Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery, will premiere on Thursday, April 16, followed by Shakespeare's Twelfth Night on Thursday, April 23.
The legendary playhouse is another UK theatre offering high-quality content online for free, and in more than 30 languages.
Every fortnight a new full-length English-language Shakespeare play will be available to watch on the theatre's streaming platform, Globe Player. The series starts with a 2018 production of Hamlet, which runs from Monday to Sunday, April 6 to 19, after which Romeo and Juliet will be screened, from Monday April 20 to to Sunday May 3.
Also, every production from the theatre's Globe to Globe series will be made available until Sunday, June 28, including a Korean production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, an Armenian production of King John, a Yoruba rendition of Winter's Tale and Richard II in Arabic.
For the full list of shows, visit www.globeplayer.tv
Schaubuhne am Lehniner Platz
The famous Berlin theatre is now opening its virtual doors to audiences for free. Every night, from 8.30pm to 2am, a different play from the venue’s vault will be available to stream.
So if you’re up for a late-night dive into some of the most bold and extraordinary productions to have hit the stage, the Schaubuhne am Lehniner Platz's collection is what you’re looking for.
Most of its recent productions stream with English subtitles. But don’t overlook the ones that don’t because honestly, they are a visual spectacle, even if you can’t keep track of everything that’s going on.
For the Disconnected Child, written and directed by Falk Richter, is set to be available for streaming tonight, Sunday, April 5, whereas Art by Yasmina Reza is scheduled for Monday, April 6.
For a detailed look at the schedule, visit: www.schaubuehne.de
The Hampstead Theatre in London, which specialises in commissions and producing works by up-and-coming playwrights, has long been at the forefront of off-West-End theatre.
The venue has been making new plays available to watch for free online for some time now, but is still worth a mention for its spotlight on contemporary works.
Now streaming on the theatre's website is Wild by Mike Bartlett, which tells the story of Andrew as he goes from discussing apartments and making plans for the future with his partner, to being on the run in Moscow and at risk of an assassination. The play is inspired by the life of Edward Snowden and will be available to stream until tonight, Sunday, April 5.
Beth Steel's Wonderland – a play about the UK miners' strike of 1984 – will be available to watch next, from Monday to Sunday, April 6 to 12.
OK, so this is not technically free, but you can make good use of the streaming platform's week-long free trial. With its slick user interface and easy-to-navigate categories, it's basically the Netflix of Broadway and features classics such as Oklahoma and Putting It Together, as well as An American in Paris, Kinky Boots, and Death of a Salesman.
If you choose to continue after your free trial ends, you’ll have to purchase a monthly subscription for $9 (Dh33) or pay $100 for yearly access (Dh367).