All theatres across the country are closed, actors, theatre-makers and all those backstage workers who make our great theatre industry operate are out of work — and us theatre-goers are deprived of the opportunity to see the shows we love.
Theatre will be back, but in the meantime we at Stagedoor have been wondering how we can support those in the industry who are trying to remain active and creative over the coming weeks — and all our many users who will have withdrawal symptoms from being unable to go to the theatre. I know I do.
To that end Stagedoor has introduced a new section on the app called Streamdoor which lists a wide array of shows that you can watch from home. Many companies and organisations are putting recorded versions of shows on-line, others are looking at live streaming with some setting up ingenious and nimble projects that allow artists to collaborate across skype and live stream from their own bedrooms.
At a time when things look dark, theatre and theatre practitioners are responding with the creativity that makes British theatre so vibrant. In the process they are finding ways, at a time when their incomes have often dropped to zero, to possibly raise a little cash. Most of these projects are absolutely free to access online but do gently ask viewers if they would make a donation. You don’t have to, and artists understand that some won’t be able to afford to do so, but if you can it will not just be welcomed by the individuals and theatres involved but you will be making a contribution to the future of theatre and ensuring that it comes back stronger than ever.
Ah, I hear you say, “but a recorded version of a show is not the same as the live thing,” and you are right, it’s not. But it doesn’t always mean that it is less good just that it is different, in the way fresh broad beans are different from frozen broad beans but both are delicious in their own way. There are few things for theatre and theatre-lovers to feel optimistic about at the moment, but perhaps one of the things that will come out of this crisis is that theatre will give more thought to how it is distributed and how people may in the future be able to access it across many different platforms.
I’m going to be doing my bit to try and support the industry by regularly reviewing and writing about some of the productions that are listed on the Streamdoor section of the app and making recommendations. I do hope that you will join me to catch up on major productions you might have missed and to become familiar with artists whose work you’ve not previously seen. By doing so you are helping theatre and ensuring that it has a future.