One of the few gifts of the spring pandemic lockdown was being able to watch plays from the National Theatre on YouTube for free. I don’t miss much about living in a city, but I do miss going to live theatre, and this was a welcome distraction from the simmering panic.
Steven and I have gone to Charlottetown in the past to see the National Theatre Live productions at the movie theatre, but this hasn’t been possible in recent years. When the Live at Home series ended, I wondered why we couldn’t just watch plays at home all the time.
The answer to my prayers arrived today with the new subscription service National Theatre at Home. We haven’t subscribed to any streaming services for some time, but I jumped on this right away. You can sign up for a yearly subscription or rent single shows.
There isn’t a lot on there yet, but they promise to release more each month. There is Medea with Helen McCrory, which we saw at the movie theatre and can’t wait to watch again as it was breathtaking. Amadeus was fantastic as well. And I hope Death of England: Delroy, which streamed on YouTube this past weekend, shows up on NT at Home as it was dense and powerful, a play about Brexit and Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 and so much more, the only play I’ve ever seen that talked about what was happening at the same time I was watching the play.
Radio didn’t kill theatre, movies didn’t kill theatre, television tried to kill theatre and probably came close at times, but theatre adapted, continued on, and the online world will only stretch it more. We still want to be in a space with someone else telling us a story surrounded by others who are listening to the same story. Sitting in your living room watching a play isn’t quite the same, but who knows what virtual reality will make possible?