For theater-lovers, one of the few silver linings of our current situation is the ability to watch theater from all over the world. It may not provide the same magic as experiencing a live performance, but it helps fill the void. From local venues sharing their current season, to streaming services highlighting Broadway shows from decades past, to small experimental theaters in New York and large national theaters in Europe releasing classics from their archives—the options are endless! But how do you choose?
To help you out, Cal Shakes is going to keep a running list of resources, shows, streaming services, and other theatrical offerings from around the globe. Each week we’ll highlight five pieces that we think look cool. Check back here for more content and feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions.
Five Shows We’re Streaming This Week:
The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Adapted by Mike Fitelson
Filmed lived at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, the “contemporary dance spectacle” is set to Tchaikovsky’s music and includes a short set from MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers. Available through Jan 3 live and on-demand; tickets start at $25.
If you’re looking for ballet, you can watch New York City Ballet’s 2019 production of Balanchine’s Nutcracker on MarqueTV through January 3. Tickets are $25 (includes a 1-month trial of MarqueTV).
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
By Eric Kimmel, adapted by Michael Dailey, Straw Dog Theatre, Chicago, IL
Adapted from the award-winning children’s book of the same name and directed by Spencer Ryan Diedrick, this family-friendly show offers a bit of magic and an opportunity to sing along. The show runs through December 20 with live performances at 11 am and 2 pm PST on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are either $25 or $30 per household ( and the VIP version includes pre and post-show opportunities); a portion of ticket sales go to The Jewish Council of Urban Affairs.
Jack and the Beanstalk
by Iain Lauchlan, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, UK
Though plays like A Christmas Carol exist in Britain, pantomimes (or pantos) are just as—if not more—popular. Not all related to miming but closer to commedia dell’arte, this raucous holiday tradition combines a classic fairy with music, comedy, drag, and over-the-top costumes in a show fun for the whole family. created and starring Iain Launchlan, Jack and the Beanstalk was developed and performed live with 2020 in mind. Directed by Paul Gibson and running just over an hour, the Belgrade Theatre offers ways to watch the show with your family near and far. Running through December 31 on demand; tickets are £16 ($21.70). You can also catch the National Theatre’s panto, Dick Whittington, for free on their YouTube channel December 23-27.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
adapted by Jefferson Mays, Susan Lyons, Michael Arden
Known for his Tony Award-winning solo performances, it should be no surprise that every critic is raving about Jefferson Mays’ solo A Christmas Carol where he plays 55 different characters. Filmed live in October, this new version of the classic story was adapted for the Covi-19 audience but don’t expect your typical saccharine holiday story or anything resembling Zoom. Director Michael Arden says on the website that he wants the audience to jump within the first 5 seconds—so maybe don’t bring your youngest children. This version is much closer to the original Dickens than most. Streaming through Jan 3; tickets are $30.
There are so many Christmas Carols, it was impossible to pick just one. We’re also intrigued by Manual Cinema’s world premiere adaption that features over 100 paper puppets and a live original score. Running live from Chicago through December 20; tickets start at $15.
And then there’s Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol with a Twist—a modern musical adaptation with a female Wall Street tycoon in the title role. Or if you’re looking for a traditional version, check out the Old Vic’s production featuring Andrew Lincoln in the title role (streaming live through December 24).
Christmas at the (Snow) Globe
written and directed by Sandi Toksvig and Jenifer Toksvig, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, UK
If you’re missing carols this year, Shakespeare’s Globe has you covered with a 45-minute sing-along featuring magic, snow, and joy for the whole family. Adapted for film by Pip Broughton and performed in Shakespeare’s empty Globe, this is piece will fight all your pandemic holiday blues. Available on demand through January 5; £15 ($20.26).
Meet Me in St. Louis
book by Hugh Wheeler, songs & music by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, Irish Repretory Theatre, New York, NY
Filmed remotely and following social distancing guidelines, Irish Rep presents an adaption of the 1989 Broadway musical based on the 1944 Judy Garland film. The company last performed the full show in 2007 and come to you now with a brand new version of the heartwarming holiday story. Running through Janaury 5 with a variety of pricing options.
Other Resources (working list)
List of all things streaming developed by theater-lovers near and far:
- List of Bay Area Theaters streaming productions online, updated daily.
- LaMorinda Arts Council Art in Place – A collection of local and national resources for all art forms and all ages.
- All Things Shakespeare – The Folger Theatre has compiled thorough list of Shakespearean productions around the globe.
- Theater Resources for Isolation – An extremely comprehensive list of global theatrical performances (note: developed in the UK so certain things may not be available in America).
- Free Theatre Screenings – Another streaming list of almost all European companies, but includes dance and opera (including The Met) as well as theater.
- Playbill has compiled two lists of shows to watch from your couch – 15 Broadway shows and another 26 productions from around the world. Most are available via Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, PBS or BroadwayHD.
- Time Out New York – A daily list of what is currently streaming
- BroadwayWorld – Every time a theater publishes something about streaming, it ends up here.
- CultureFix – Website developed to keep track of streaming cultural events around the globe.
- CultureDigital – Another website developed to track events globally.
- Remote Immersive Theater Suggestions from the NY Times including a texting version of Romeo and Juliet where you play the friar over 14-days.
- No Proscenium – A complete guide to all things immersive.
- List of Virtual Concerts – By NPR, updated daily and organized by genre. (Bonus list for music lovers!)
Theater companies streaming multiple productions:
- Belarus Free Theatre – Even in normal times, this theater is forced to operate underground due to political circumstances in their own country. Currently operating out of the UK, the company is streaming 24 pieces through June.
- Berliner Ensemble, Berlin, Germany – streaming a new classic every Friday at 9 am PST including a production of Mother Courage from 1957.
- The Flea Theater, New York – Offering an online version of their late night episode Serials.
- La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, CA – A newly launched digital platform called WOW (Without Walls) that offers newly commissioned video installations and 1×1 performances.
- La MaMa, New York – Offering a weekly online live performance series called Downtown Variety.
- National Theatre, London, United Kingdom – Just launched new on-demand streaming service.
- The Public Theater, New York – Offering live streaming work sessions of Suzan-Lori Parks in collaboration with Howlround and archived performances from Joe’s Pub.
- Sadler’s Well, London, United Kingdom – One of the world’s leading dance companies offering free performances and workshops while the theater is dark.
- The Schaubühne, Berlin, Germany – Described by Time Out as “ the coolest theatre in the world since before most us were born,” the Schaubühne is showing a different production each night at 6:30 pm German time (9:30 AM PST) but it’s only available until midnight (3 pm PST).
- Shakespeare’s Globe, London, United Kingdom – Offering a different production every two weeks and access to all of their Globe to Globe Festival which brings Shakespearean productions from around the world to the Globe (including a Comedy of Errors set in modern day Afghanistan).
- The Tank, New York – Offering a variety show on Tuesdays for emerging artists.
Streaming services you may not have heard of:
- All Arts – Arts and Culture Hub created by WNET (parent company of New York’s PBS stations) including full-length productions like James Earl Jones in King Lear.
- Audible Theatre – Audio plays from audiobook giant Audible. Includes newly commissioned pieces and audio versions of Broadway and Off-Broadway plays; offering a selection of free pieces.
- BritBox – The biggest streaming collection of British TV, including a smattering of RSC productions- including Matt Lucas as Bottom in A Midsummers Night’s Dream and John Cleese in The Taming of the Shrew, as well as shows Shakespeare lovers will enjoy, like Upstart Crow. 7-day FREE trial, then just $6.99/month
- BroadwayHD – Offering Broadway productions and pieces from regional theaters and companies from all over the world; the first week is free.
- Digital Theatre – Offering productions from the UK including Royal Shakespeare Company, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Old Vic and more; subscription and rental plans available.
- Great Performances – PBS show that presents Broadway and other major New York performances; normally requires a subscription but they are offering a selection through May 27 including The Public’s recent Much Ado About Nothing.
- JS-Encore – A bi-weekly series of traditional and contemporary Japanese performance.
- Madelen – A collection for French theater, opera, dance.
- Marquee TV – Includes David Tennant in Richard II and tons of plays from Royal Shakespeare Company, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House and more; the first month free.
- MIT Global Shakespeares – Shakespearean productions from all over the world.
- OnTheBoard.tv – Rent or subscribe to contemporary theater, dance, and performance art.
- The Show Must Go On – New Youtube channel from Andrew Lloyd Webber. Every Friday at 2 pm EST, Webber will share one of his musicals for free for 48 hours. Starts 4/3 with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dream Coat.
- LIVR – First streaming service for virtual reality theater (regular productions that have been then filmed for VR).
- Kanopy – A free service (with a library card or university ID) offering “thoughtful entertainment” including the Wooster Group’s Hamlet and Macbeth starring Sir Patrick Stewart, though it mostly offers films and documentaries there is an entire performing arts section with recordings of plays, behind-the-scenes videos, and more.
- Stage – a streaming services for those looking for more documentaries and behind-the-scene looks into theater, opera, and music. They do have a few full productions and film adaptations of plays but it’s not their focus; $4.99 a month; first week free.
Amazon, Netflix, and Youtube are also great resources for full-length productions.
- 12 Angry Men…And Women: The Weight of the Wait Arranged by Arthur Yorinks, Billie Holiday Theatre, Brooklyn, NY
- Antigone at Ferguson by Sophocles; translated and directed by Bryan Doerries – Theater of War Productions
- Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs, The Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
- Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley adapted and directed by Christopher McElroen, Brick, Brooklyn, NY
- Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass and directed by Robert Wilson, Théâtre du Châlet, Paris, France
- First Encounter: King Lear – Royal Shakespeare Company/Park Armory; an edited version geared towards students
- Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit –a VR production from the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. Boston, MA
- Lear by Young Jean Lee – Soho Rep, New York (many of Lee’s other plays also available for free)
- Mama Got A Cough by Jordan E. Cooper
- Method Gun by Rude Mechs, Austin, TX
- Playboy of the Western World by John Synge – Druid Theater Company, Galway, Ireland
- Richard II by William Shakespeare, The Public Theater, New York, NY
- Slava’s Snow Show by Slava Poulin, Moscow, Russia
- Table Top Shakespeare by Forced Entertainment, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Until the Flood written & performed by Dael Orlandersmith, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, New York, NY
New performance developed in isolation:
- Broadway’s Best Shows – Newly released series of one night only livestream readings of Broadway’s best plays to benefit the Actor’s Fund.
- Bubble – A play from Theatre Uncut that takes place entirely on Facebook. The theater invites you to watch and then download the script and perform with a group of friends or strangers.
- Homebound Project – A new initiative that partners playwrights and actors to create new work and raise money for kids no longer receiving school lunches. New program offered each week; $10
- Play At Home – Newly commissioned short plays to be shared with family and roommates in insolation; part of a partnership between many regional theaters including The Public Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, Berkeley Rep and others.
- Play-PerView – “Featuring Tony Award winners and a constellation of stars from the worlds of Broadway, Off-Broadway, film, and television, Play-PerView, a new live-streaming theater initiative co-founded by producer Jeremy Wein (NYC PodFest, Kevin McDonald: Alive) and actor and producer Mirirai Sithole (“Black Mirror: Smithereens;” School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play; If Pretty Hurts…), will deliver unique, one-time-only, live-streamed theatrical events and original series into the homes of theater fans around the globe.”
- The Show Must Go Online – Live readings of Shakespeare’s work from actors all around the world in the order they are believed to be written; every Wednesday at 11 am PST
- Social Distancing Festival – A site for artists and companies from all over the world to share new content or pieces they couldn’t share live.
- Stars in the House – A twice-daily series run by The Actors Fund bringing together Broadway starts
- Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – Headliner for last summer’s Echoes concert, Thao Nguyen and her band released their new music video “Phenom” in isolation via Zoom.
- Theatre Without Theatre – New Instagram account for theater artists to share while we’re in isolation.
- Theatre Nerd Shakespeare Pandemic Watch Party – “A group of theatre nerds who watch Shakespeare films during the Pandemic and comment about them on the Face Book.”
- Viral Monologues by 24 Hour Plays – New monologues (3 to 10 minutes long) written, rehearsed, and performed in 24 hours. Over 60 have been released so far by actors filming themselves at home including performers Daveed Diggs, Michael Shannon, Denis O’Hare, Hugh Dancy, and Sienna Miller to name a few.
Other fun theater things:
- Theater Gone Wrong – Broadway actors talking about performance mishaps.
- Min Kahng talking about how to write during quarantine.
- Free Playwriting Classes from Lauren Gunderson.
- Free Playwriting Class from Young Jean Lee.
- Musicals That Never Made It –New musical spoof podcast hosted by Broadway actor and comedian Gabe Gibbs. He and his writing partner Josh Coyler recruit Broadway stars to sing songs from their “cringe-worthy musicals-– all in the attempt to take their failed musicals to Broadway and earn the attention and respect of Lin-Manuel Miranda!”
- Playscripts Free Reads – Publisher Playscripts is offering twenty of their top plays to read for free including works by Lauren Gunderson, Jen Silverman, Naomi Iizuka.
- Playing On Air – a podcast and radio program dedicated to sharing short plays by top playwrights and featuring amazing actors and award-winning directors.
- BBC Radio Plays – an free archive of radio plays from BBC
- Such Stuff – the podcast from Shakespeare’s Globe. Conversation between Michelle Terry and Peter Brooks about the Globe’s new project, Love in Isolation, which will see an extraordinary array of artists share some of Shakespeare’s greatest words from their place of sanctuary.