Innovation That Matters

Live theatre on the silver screen

Publishing & Media

When actress Helen Mirren portrays the character Phèdre this summer in a London production of Jean Racine’s tragic play by the same name, it won’t be only attendees at the Royal National Theatre who get to watch. Rather, theatre lovers around the globe will have a chance to see the production on the silver screen at a cinema or arts centre near them. Through its new NT Live initiative, which kicks off with this summer’s production, the Royal National Theatre will film the Phèdre performance live and in high definition, then broadcast it via satellite to some 50 venues across the UK—for a potential audience of up to 10,000 in a single evening—along with 100 more in the US, Canada and Europe. In addition to the performance itself, remote audiences will be able to watch backstage footage and interviews with artists. In the UK, the National is working with the Picturehouse chain and a range of independent cinemas and arts centres; ticket prices will likely be GBP 10. The National Theatre aims to broadcast three additional productions during its NT Live pilot season, and they’ll be chosen in advance to allow cameras greater freedom; ticket prices will be adjusted accordingly. Much like the Met’s broadcast efforts, which we covered back in 2007, the NT Live initiative promises to bring live theatre to countless audiences who might not otherwise see it. It’s a sort of democratization of the arts—both financially and geographically—and it’s very likely coming soon to a cineplex near you. Symphony orchestras: you’re up next! 😉



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