News ID: 277574
Published: 0401 GMT December 01, 2020

UK’s National Theatre launches pay-for-plays streaming service

UK’s National Theatre launches pay-for-plays streaming service
A view of the National Theatre in London, the UK, is seen in this photo.

Helen Mirren in ‘Phèdre’, Adrian Lester in ‘Othello’ and Billie Piper in ‘Yerma’ are to be made available for people to watch at home as part of a new pay-for-plays streaming service from the UK’s National Theatre.

The National Theatre at Home platform, launched on Tuesday, follows the success of it streaming filmed plays on Thursday nights over the summer, reported.

The 16 productions resulted in 15 million views in 173 countries.

That was free but the new service will cost £9.98 a month (£99.98 a year) or £5.99-£7.99 for a single play.

Rufus Norris, the director of the National Theatre, said the first motivation was to serve what was clearly a huge demand. “We had extraordinary figures which showed there was an appetite for this work.”

The second reason was to claw back some money. “It has been an extraordinarily difficult time for this theater and for all theaters and we’ve had to make some very painful financial decisions and if there is a way of serving an audience but also bringing some income in to the theater, that is a sensible thing to do.

“The primary objective, even within that, is that a lot of the money that we bring in is immediately fed back to the artists who made the work and our partner theaters. As we know the freelance artists, on who this industry entirely depends, have been facing huge difficulties at this time so any income we can get to them is going to be crucial.”

There will be two strands to the service: Productions from National Theatre Live that were broadcast to cinemas; and a selection of plays from the National Theatre’s archive being released online for the first time.

Seven National Theatre Live titles were announced on Tuesday: ‘Phèdre’, which was the first back in 2009; Tom Hiddleston in Josie Rourke’s ‘Coriolanus’ at the Donmar Warehouse; Piper in the Young Vic production of ‘Yerma’; ‘Amadeus’; ‘Medea’; ‘Othello’; and ‘The Cherry Orchard’.

Titles from the archive include Lucy Kirkwood’s ‘Mosquitoes’, which starred Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams; and Inua Ellams version of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’ which relocated the action to Nigeria between 1967-70. The project, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will add new titles monthly.

Norris admitted it had taken a while for him to come round to the idea of watching theater on screen. “It has been a funny old learning curve. When NT Live was launched I was a skeptic, I thought the whole point is that live relationship between the actor and the audience member but the success proved otherwise.”



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