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Cultural things to do online when you're in lockdown...

Bored already and you're sick of staring out of the window? Here's a random selection of mainly theatre-based entertainment available online – much of it (but not all of it) free.

We don’t guarantee anything, but some of the biggest (and smallest/least-known) names in the business are here...

The Wind in the Willows

Julian Fellowes, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe teamed up to deliver a new version of the Kenneth Grahame classic, staged at the London Palladium in 2017. It’s now available free, with the option to donate to help provide support to theatre workers:

Timpson: The Musical

Gigglemug Theatre’s debut production is free to watch on YouTube. Two warring houses. One ancient grudge. A whole lot of shoes...

Creative Quarantine Cooking up creative adventures for those young and old across the globe to enjoy together. 

Click here to find out more.

The Cosmic Shambles Network’s Stay At Home Festival

Go online to watch entertainers live via the internet-enabled device of your choice. Each show will be free but with a "pay what you can" option, with any profit going to performers and venues most need in these difficult times. The list of events and guests will be updated regularly here

The Show Must Go Online An award, surely, for the best use of a theatre/tech headline from an online group reading the complete plays of Shakespeare in the order they were written, live-streamed on YouTube. 

The group is bringing actors and audiences together to collectively enjoy and experience Shakespeare at a time when, you know, it's otherwise quite tough to do...

It’s all over Twitter right now that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while quarantined by the plague. If he carried on, we can too. Go here.

Here are a few more sites you might want to check out...

National Theatre Click here for the National Theatre's YouTube channel. See separate story for details of recordings you can watch free over the next couple of months.

BBC iPlayer

Often overlooked, but the BBC and iPlayer have an amazing selection of drama content and series. Try iPlayer here and the BBC's arts coverage here.

Virtual museum tours

Museums are fantastic places, and if you can't get to the Guggenheim in New York or the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam, the Uffizi in Florence or the Musee d'Orsay in Paris (or several more), check out this list from the American Southern Living magazine. There's 12 of the best museums in the world, all of which have online tours.

Manchester Art Gallery

Twelve of the world's greatest museums are all very well, but let's not forget the fine art on Manchester's doorstep. Since the Mosley Street gallery is closed for the duration, gallery staff have begun taking its activities online. Fine out more here.

History & The Arts Explore culture, conflict, and the things that make us human here.  

Online opera

There’s always quite a lot for armchair opera lovers online, but in the Covid-19 emergency some of the big companies are stepping up their offer. Here are some tips:

The Met (Metropolitan Opera, New York) is streaming its past productions on its website, free to watch, at the rate of one a day. For UK audiences, each comes onstream at 00.30am and stays until 11.30pm the next day.

The Vienna State Opera is doing much the same, with streams starting at 6pm each evening (4pm for The Ring parts 2-4), but you have to register as a customer here, then log in when you want to watch.

Staatsoper Berlin is streaming past performances on YouTube (go here first, to be redirected), changing at 11am each day.

And the Bavarian State Opera has a schedule of operas and other events as free video-on-demand for varying periods. Go here to check them out.

Not to be outdone, our own Opera North has put its wonderful complete Ring Cycle up for free. That’s binge-Wagner at its most extreme (or glorious); work through all 16 hours of it by going here, and clicking on each in turn.

OperaVision is a free streaming platform offering shows from a variety of European houses and they’re adding daily to their collection – go here and see what’s in store. Included is Opera North’s The Turn of the Screw, which you might have missed when it came to The Lowry, and the complete Ring Cycle, and videos from Glyndebourne Opera.

Royal Shakespeare Company You can find the RSC's online performance information here and on the RSC's YouTube channel

The V&A Story of Theatre This extraordinary museum's collections chart the history of theatre in Britain from the middle ages to today. From early dramatic forms, such as mystery plays and court masques, to the alternative and "in your face" drama of the late 20th Century, via the patriotic wartime entertainment of the 1940s and the foundation of institutions such as the Arts Council and National Theatre.  

Magic at the Musicals A streaming radio service offering different playlists, one of which is musicals-rich.

Ballet Watch Ballet videos online here and don't forget this story about Royal Opera House free opera and ballet streaming, which has now begun.

Creative England presents… Creative England offers film, game, audio or event creators the chance to grow with access to money, markets and networking. Experience its latest work here.  


Artspod is a video-led theatre and live entertainment website, primarily for regional venues. Lots of trailers, interviews & news, all in one place, here 

Commercial streamed theatre If you want the chance to watch top theatre productions from around the world it's hard to beat the offerings of these two (paid-for) services, Broadway HD and Digital Theatre.

Broadway HD is free for the first seven days and $8.99 a month/$99.99 a year (all plus taxes) after that, with categories from "critically acclaimed" and "Broadway classics" to "family friendly" and "must see".

Digital Theatre offers a £9.99 a month subscription or the chance to rent individual titles from £7.99.

The range is enormous from both services (and there are some terrific productions), the first US-centric and the second UK-based, featuring works from top London theatres as well as the likes of Frantic Assembly, the Young Vic, the Lyric, Opera North and Shakespeare's Globe.


Disney+ has now launched in the UK, offering TV and other entertainment for a fee (first seven days free, then £5.99 a month).

The streaming service offers a few musical theatre gems.

Both the film and Broadway versions of Disney’s musical Newsies – about the New York newsboys’ strike of 1899 – can be found on the platform.

Actress Kristen Bell (Anna from Frozen for under-10s everywhere) hosts a documentary series, Encore, that follows a group of high-school students recreating classic moments from Broadway shows, including Beauty & The Beast and Grease.

The recent star-studded, big-screen version of Sondheim’s Into The Woods is also available, starring Emily Blunt, James Corden and Meryl Streep.

And an interesting series of short films, One Day At Disney, offers behind-the-scenes looks at Frozen on Broadway as it follows actress Patti Murin (Anna), backstage.

More info here

Can you suggest any more? Are you planning or offering some sort of small-scale online production? Get in touch and we'll help to spread the word.


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