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This may sound a bit blasphemous...
May 11, 2011 7:39 PM   Subscribe

Risky question: Is there any way to watch theatre online?

I know that it might be missing the point of theatre, but if musicians can make live DVDs, or CDs why not theatre troupes (at least some)? Bonus for modern and classical theatre resources.
posted by roomcoloredcharlatan to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are lots of productions that get recorded for DVD. For example, Baz Luhrmann's production of La Boheme. Whether there are legal places to watch those online... probably depends on where you live and what you're looking for.
posted by web-goddess at 8:53 PM on May 11, 2011


The only thing I can think of is The Met Opera (have not used this myself yet).
posted by mleigh at 9:05 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's http://www.digitaltheatre.com, a British website (haven't personally used it, but read about it on some other theater website). I haven't heard of any other resources for watching theater online, but I have a feeling that there will be more and more of it as the 21st century continues.

One reason that this is not more frequent is, as you suggested, because of the fact that "liveness" is an integral part of the theatrical experience. Another reason is more prosaic: it comes down to rights issues. When a play is filmed and made available as a digital download, how much of the purchase price should go to each actor? How much to the author? How much to the theater company that originally produced the show? As you can imagine, this can get tough to negotiate (especially because professional actors, stagehands, and musicians are unionized workers, playwrights have agents, etc) and it's always an issue when trying to film theater and make it available on TV or online. For instance, I know that PBS is specifically forbidden from putting out DVDs of its "Live From Lincoln Center" broadcasts.

At any rate, there are many challenges to be worked out before it becomes common for theater companies to film their shows and make them available online. As usual when it comes to theater, the Brits are a couple of steps ahead of us Yanks...
posted by clair-de-lune at 10:09 PM on May 11, 2011


Can't speak to the legality of this or how long it will be on youtube, but here's the 10th anniversary production of a classic: Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert
posted by -->NMN.80.418 at 10:57 PM on May 11, 2011


I'm watching Dogville right now. That might suit you.
posted by unliteral at 7:47 AM on May 12, 2011


Great Performances now streams its recordings online. My personal favorites include the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Macbeth and Hamlet.
posted by thebestsophist at 9:06 AM on May 12, 2011


Passing Strange (highly recommended) is on Netflix instant play.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:42 AM on May 12, 2011


If you've got access to a library that carries it, Theatre in Video contains over 250 plays.
posted by telophase at 10:14 AM on May 12, 2011


Shows in the UK will sometimes be streamed because the venue restricts audience numbers or to promote discussion.

There's also the NT Live programme, which streams plays at the National Theatre to cinemas worldwide. It's not quite what you asked for, but if industry gossip's to be believed, the NT are thinking about expanding this programme to include internet broadcasts. There'll most likely be iplayer style regional restrictions though.

Streamed or recorded theatre will always be a poor second to the real thing, but there are plenty of people willing to put up with a lesser experience rather than miss a show altogether for reasons of money or scheduling. The technology and the demand are both there. As clair-de-lune says, the main problem is standardised contracts that were first drawn up before this sort of thing was possible. Once Equity/TMA/etc embrace the possibilities and work out how to fairly apportion the money, you'll see a huge leap in what's available.
posted by the latin mouse at 2:24 AM on May 13, 2011


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