National Theatre live: how to stream theatre shows at home on YouTube for free - from Treasure Island to Twelfth Night

As the prospect of social restrictions to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic stretches out in front of us, many will be wondering just how they'll fill an indeterminate amount of free time
(Photo: National Theatre)(Photo: National Theatre)
(Photo: National Theatre)

And with non-essential venues closed for the foreseeable, it's not like you can go out, even if it you want to.

So what to do?

Thankfully, the National Theatre has stepped up to give fans of performance something to do every Thursday night for the next few weeks.

And the best part? It's all free!

What's going on?

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A selection of much-loved National Theatre Live productions have been made available to watch on YouTube for free.

Spokeswoman Elaine Jones said: “During this unprecedented time which has seen the closure of theatres, cinemas and schools, the National Theatre announces a new initiative National Theatre at Home providing access to content online to serve audiences in their homes.

“Audiences around the world can stream NT Live productions for free via YouTube, and students and teachers have access to the National Theatre Collection at home."

How can I watch?

From Thursday 2 April, a number of productions previously screened in cinemas globally as a part of National Theatre Live were made available to watch via the National Theatre’s YouTube channel.

Each production is free and screened live every Thursday at 7pm BST. It will then be available on demand for seven days.

The first production to be broadcast as part of National Theatre at Home was Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors, featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden, though streaming of the production ended on 9 April.

Alongside the streamed productions, National Theatre at Home also features accompanying interactive content such as Q&As with cast and creative teams and post-stream talks.

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Other productions streamed as part of National Theatre at Home have included Sally Cookson’s stage adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island on April 16.

Twelfth Night – featuring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia in Shakespeare's classic comedy – begins streaming on 23 April.

Here’s what’s still to come:

Twelfth Night – streaming from 23 April

Frankenstein – from 30 April

Antony & Cleopatra – from 7 May

Further titles are to be announced.

What's The National Theatre Collection?

The National Theatre has also made The National Theatre Collection – an online resource for schools, universities, libraries and the wider education sector – available to access at home during school closure period.

The Collection includes high-quality recordings of 24 world-class productions, drawing from ten years of NT Live broadcasts and never-before-released productions from the National Theatre’s Archive.

It’s available now for free to pupils and teachers at state schools and state-funded further education colleges, through remote access provided in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing.

Schools will be able to share log-in details with pupils to access the National Theatre Collection at home during this period.

Bloomsbury Publishing has also extended the free trial period for other academic institutions including universities, libraries and independent schools until the end of May 2020 to continue to support the educational community across the globe.

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The recordings of productions are accompanied by learning resources that explore the craft behind the best of British theatre.

Available productions include Shakespeare set texts (Othello), 20th Century classics (The Cherry Orchard) and adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and The Winter’s Tale created specifically for younger audiences.


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