Top 5 Theatre Streams This Summer

Emily May

Theatres and other venues may still be closed for large public gatherings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your arts and culture fix. Many organisations have temporarily set up “digital stages” allowing you to watch live-streamed and archived performance videos at home. So why not make a night of it, dress up, pour yourself a glass of wine and watch some top-notch cultural content from the comfort of your living room.
 
Hamilton on Disney+

After cutting its teeth on Broadway before heading across the pond to become one of the hottest tickets on the West End, Hamilton is set to become a musical theatre classic. Not only unique in its use of rap, hip-hop, and R&B inspired music to tell the tale of Alexander Hamilton, the show was also revolutionary in its casting of black and non-white performers as America’s founding fathers in order to make history more relatable. “This is a story about America then, told by America now,” the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda explained to The Atlantic earlier this year. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, Hamilton feels like an extremely relevant reminder that past events as we know them are largely told from a white perspective, and often ignore the roles played by people from marginalised communities.

 


Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s Richard II on YouTube

As Shakespeare once wrote, “all the world’s a stage,” and while he probably didn’t imagine his plays being performed in the digital realm when he wrote this line, many of the Bard’s works have ended up on the internet during the global pandemic. One such stream is the recording of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s version of Richard II, which is available indefinitely on YouTube. Similarly to Hamilton, this production casts women of colour as renowned British historical figures, subverting the fact that men were often engaged to play female characters in the original stagings of Shakespeare’s plays. With celebrated actor Adjoa Andoh as the titular character, Richard II tells the tale of “a peevish, fixated ruler, devoid of authority, buffeted by a political climate of incessant, near-insane factionalism, beset in particular by an arrogant courtier for whom no amount of concession is ever sufficient” (Financial Times, 2019), and is thought by many to draw various contemporary parallels to Britain’s contemporary political situation and the post-Brexit era in particular… well they do say history repeats itself! Aside from its poignant messages, Richard II is also extremely aesthetically arresting: the whole stage and performers are opulently dressed in gold attire, lit candles glowing and reflecting in costumes and surroundings alike. Tune in to see for yourself!

 
ZooNation’s The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on The Royal Opera House’s digital stage

While quarantine and the post-corona world may make you feel like you’ve already travelled through the looking glass, why not be transported to a different version of Wonderland with ZooNation’s The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party choreographed by Katie Prince? Streamed through the Royal Opera House’s website, this piece of dance theatre brings the characters of Lewis Carroll’s much-loved world to life using narrative hip hop choreography, colourful set designs, and music by Josh Cohen and DJ Walde. Streaming from 6th-12th August, you only have a short time to catch the performance, so don’t be late for these very important dates! As The Telegraph said, you’d be mad to miss this party!

 


The Way Out on BBC iPlayer
Up next is another Alice in Wonderland inspired adventure. Part of the BBC’s Performance Live programme, The Way Out is a 42-minute long film that was shot in one take at Battersea Arts Centre. As the central protagonist—who is unnamed and known only as “The Outsider”—enters the iconic Grade II listed cultural venue, she is med by actor and comedian Omid Djalili who guides her around the labyrinthine corridors to discover the Wonderland within. Expect singing, hula-hooping, and acrobatics from renowned artists including drag performer Le Gateau Chocolat and hip-hop choreographer Botis Seva.

 
Drew McOnie’s Jekyll and Hyde on The Old Vic’s YouTube
Lockdown got you feeling like you’ve got a split personality? Friendly and caring to your family one moment and frustrated with everything and everyone the next? You’re not alone. Bringing together choreography by Drew McOnie and music by Grant Olding, this dance reimaging of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale is at once sinister and exciting. Set in 1950s London and described by The Guardian as part MGM musical, part dark televisual drama, it’s definitely not one for the kids due to containing partial nudity, scenes of a sexual nature, as well as physical violence. But perhaps, for us adults, this is just the cathartic thriller we need to get us through these difficult times?

 

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