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BWW Feature: Online Theatre You May Have Missed

BWW reviewer Louise Penn takes a look at the digital streams available across UK theatre

BWW Feature: Online Theatre You May Have Missed
Homemakers Festival at HOMEMcr

Many theatre productions have been made available during the pandemic lockdown in the UK while stages have been quiet and venues closed. We take a look at some of the highlights you may have missed online over the past few months.

As theatre's future remains uncertain, with a new tiered system looming, donations are welcomed by all the venues and companies listed. Happy viewing.

Shakespeare

Rob Myles's The Show Must Go Online started eight months ago and finished on the 19 November. Each full-length play was cast and rehearsed within a week and then streamed live. The whole series of Complete Works remains available on YouTube, along with four Shakespearean mashups presented with Quirk Books.

Table Top Shakespeare
Table Top Shakespeare

Forced Entertainment's Table Top Shakespeare began two months ago with Macbeth and finished a week ago with The Tempest. Each play is abridged and performed by one actor using kitchen utensils as characters and props. The average length is around fifty minutes, and they are entertaining both for younger audiences and those new to the bard. The whole series remains available until the 30 November.

Southwark Playhouse's production of Twelfth Night, directed by Anna Girvan, is available on their website.

Swinging The Lens's production of Richard II, with a cast of women of colour, is on the company's YouTube channel, and was originally presented at Shakespeare's Globe in 2019.

Both the Royal Shakespeare Company and Jermyn Street Theatre (JST) have tackled Shakespeare's Sonnets. The RSC's Sonnets in Solitude currently has more than fifty readings available; JST has completed the full set. You can find both the RSC and JST on YouTube. From 23-30 November, a full show of the Sonnets has been made available via theThe Shows Must Go On YouTube channel.

Tim Crouch has created a trio of shows focusing on Shakespearean characters (Banquo, Malvolio, and Peaseblossom). You can find these on Crouch's Vimeo channel.

The Barn Theatre, Cirencester, created three series of short pieces under the title Bard from the Barn. Co-produced by Aaron Sidwell, they place characters from Shakespeare into modern situations and the series can be found on their YouTube channel.

Musicals

Myth the Musical
Myth - The Musical

Dave Malloy's Ghost Quartet was added to YouTube in March 2020. This is an earlier version of the show which ran at the Boulevard Theatre in 2019.

Myth - the Musical was filmed at The Other Palace in March 2018. Written by Sam Cassidy, it has been available on Nick Ross Media's YouTube channel since the beginning of lockdown.

Three weeks ago, Glow-Worm Productions added their production of Mongolian Death Worm, a puppet musical written and performed by James Ure and Michael A Grant, to their YouTube channel.

Only the Brave, a musical by Rachel Wagstaff and Matthew Brind, filmed at the Wales Millennium Centre in 2016, was made available on Vimeo by AdVision TV in April 2020.

Adam Lenson Productions have been extremely active over the past few months: their SIGNAL Online concerts and specials remain available on YouTube, and they have recently moved into time-limited ticketed productions.

Short plays

Golden Age Theatre
Transhuman and other short plays
currently available online

Compacts, a series of ten original short plays and monologues, is available on YouTube and showcases work written by Rick Allden. The average length is eleven minutes, and the shows focus on a range of voices and situations.

Lights Down Productions showcases female-led new writing across ten short plays. The Light On Showcase allows the playwrights to try out new pieces in the short format. Writers include Caley Powell, Emilie Maybank, and Judy Upton and are performed over a video link. The full series is available on the company's YouTube channel.

Golden Age Theatre Company have made seven short plays available on their YouTube channel. The company is "dedicated to creating theatre which explores big ideas in both historical and contemporary settings". The plays are typically 30-40 minutes long and explore a wide variety of subjects. The most recent plays are Infantophobia, about a woman who has a fear of children, and Transhuman, a sci-fi piece (both by Ian Dixon Potter).

The Coronavirus Theatre Club was formed seven months ago and now has more than forty short plays available on their YouTube channel. The pieces are sharp, energetic, and thoughtful, and include pieces written by Alice Murray, Alex Britt, Aurelia Gage, and Victoria Saxton. Running times range from three to twelve minutes.

Over at Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Ten Tiny Plays feature snapshots of time across pieces running at an average of two minutes long. Writers include Lauren Bracewell and John Dunn. You can find these on the theatre's YouTube channel.

A remote series by Mark Goldthorp, Distanced comprises six short plays which were uploaded over the past four weeks. At an average running time of eight minutes, they can be enjoyed as separate entities or in one go online.

National eTheatr streamed between April and July 2020, with a wide range of plays from ten minutes long up to an hour in length. Barry McStay developed the project to provide work for theatre artists during the first national lockdown. You can find an archive of all the streams on their YouTube channel.

The Ow Am Ya! Theatre Company's project, Emerge, shares the work of their Youth Theatre Company on the subject of 2020. Currently, seven plays are available, including work by Poppy Tooth and Lauren Hindley. All have a running time of around three minutes and are available on the company's YouTube channel.

Tales From The Edge is a series of short-film monologues, filmed during lockdown and featuring characters "on the edge of society". These were uploaded between May and August 2020 and run at around fifteen minutes each. They can be viewed on YouTube.

Fringe festivals

Thornhill Theatre Space Fringe Festival
Thornhill Theatre Space's
Worldwide Virtual Fringe

Many fringe companies and festivals have moved online for 2020. Those that are still available or just starting include the following:

The HOMEmakers festival at Home in Manchester. You can access a range of audio and video recordings, and games, on a PWYC basis on the theatre's website. Access is available until 31 December.

The Hope Theatre in Islington has launched Hope at Home, which comprises five monologues. They will be released online on the theatre's YouTube channel each week from 23 November.

During the summer, the Thornhill Theatre Space's Worldwide Virtual Fringe ran on Facebook, and all thirty videos remain available, ranging from podcasts, plays, musical showcases, readings, and behind the scenes discussions. They have recently moved into offering selections from new musicals, including Astrom Club and No, You Can't.

The Space in Limehouse made several Zoom production readings available on their YouTube channel including their 2.0 Fest and ScriptSpace.

Scenesaver has collated many fringe performances from around the world in one place, available on free registration. It is this year's hub for the Off-West End Theatre Awards (OnComms).

Recently they have launched a "Theatre Club" where viewers can watch and discuss shows together. Donations are welcomed either to the site itself or to individual productions. Both the Reading and Wandsworth Arts Fringe have archived this year's productions on this site.

Children's shows

Half Moon Theatre Digital Plays
Half Moon Theatre at Home

Half Moon Theatre has been making productions available throughout lockdown. The House That Jackson Built is available online on a Pay What You Can basis from 28 November, and Butterflies from 12 December. Once booked, the recording can be watched for seven days.

On Unicorn Theatre's YouTube channel, you can find readings of Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales (until 21 February 2021) and Roald Dahl's The Twits (until 30 November 2020). Both are suitable for young children from the ages of 8-12.

Little Angel Theatre has made some short pieces available on their YouTube channel under the umbrella title Puppetry Sofa Series, with more planned before Christmas. They are also streaming two productions (Reach for the Stars, until 6 December; and Wow! Said the Owl, from 2-31 December via Zoom, at the cost of £13.50 per household).

What theatre shows have you enjoyed watching online? Let us know on Twitter!

Photo credits: HomeMCR, Forced Entertainment, The Other Palace, Golden Age Theatre, Thornhill Theatre Space, Half Moon Theatre



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From This Author Louise Penn