Some Quarantine Culture

For those of us who are locked-down in our homes, working remotely or just trying to fend off the anxiety of unending news updates, it can often feel like we are trapped and unable to enjoy what we once did…

However, these latest limitations and safety measures have provided creatives throughout the country with a unique opportunity to bring arts and culture into the comfort of your home more than ever before. 

So, here is a list of some shows and other fun things to cosy up and watch through quarantine. 

National Theatre at Home:

The National Theatre are live-streaming a collection of great plays every Thursday night at 7pm GMT on their Youtube channel. These shows can be watched for free. Their current schedule includes:

Jane Eyre – April 9th, available on Youtube until April 16th

Treasure Island – April 16th, available on Youtube until April 23rd

Twelfth Night – April 23rd, available on Youtube until April 30th

Poltergeist Theatre Company: ‘Lights Over Tesco Car Park’

This Fringe favourite company have live-streamed and uploaded their innovative and hilarious play about aliens and truth to their Youtube channel. It is available until the end of the month and is free to watch.

Breach Theatre: ‘It’s True, It’s True, It’s True’

Available on the Breach Theatre Youtube channel until the end of the month, this play about a rape scandal that shocks 1600s Rome is a gripping tale of art and power. It asks if anything has changed about our current society, and what horrible reflections from the past we still see in our contemporary mirrors. This stream is free to watch.

Soho Theatre On Demand: ‘Fleabag’

The monologue that became the television show that took the world by storm is now available to download from the Soho Theatre website. The download has a 48 hour limit, and the rental fees for this show range from £4 to £250, as all the money raised is donated to charities supporting those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Other shows can also be downloaded for rental from the Soho Theatre website for £4, including stand-up performances from Mae Martin, Nish Kumar, and Rhys James.

The Globe Theatre

Shakespeare’s Globe already has a streaming service on its website, but they are also now releasing plays for a limited time, for free, on their Youtube channel. These shows include:

Hamlet – Available from April 6th to April 19th

Romeo and Juliet  – Available from April 20th to May 3rd

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Available from May 4th to May 17th 

The Two Noble Kinsmen – Available from May 18th to May 31st

The Winter’s Tale – Available from June 1st to June 14th

The Merry Wives of Windsor – Available from June 15th to June 28th 

The Globe Theatre will also be releasing 34 foreign language versions of Shakespeare shows as created by artists for the Globe to Globe Festival in 2012. More information will be released on their website when prepared.

Royal Court Theatre: ‘Cyprus Avenue’

This show is available to watch for free on the Royal Court Theatre Youtube channel until the end of April. The play is about a man who is feels as though his culture and personhood are being threatened by the contemporary world and pressure to move on from the tragedies of the past, leading him to do the despicable. 

Livestreamed plays and recorded shows are not unusual in the modern world, but they are still often kept behind a paywall; The National Theatre livestreams cost upwards of twelve pounds to go to the cinema, The Globe Theatre keeps some of its shows behind a subscription service fee. While this is perhaps cheap for some, for a large number of people it is not just about the financial aspect, but the accessibility one; if you can’t make it to the cinema, let alone a West End theatre, it can be isolating and demoralising to be further left out. 

This is why I have found the sudden enthusiasm and excitement from established theatres and arts industry groups to be so soothing and fulfilling – finally, more barriers to accessing theatre have been removed. It full-on sucks that it has taken a global catastrophe to get to this, however I hope it can demonstrate that the demand is there for this type of entertainment streaming to be made permanent. I can’t stand the belief that releasing recorded theatre shows or gigs online will result in a drop in people attending live stage shows, if anything I strongly believe that it will increase support of the arts. Here’s hoping that this, at least, becomes part of the new normal. 

Zoe Robertson, Arts and Culture Editor