National Theatre Live to release productions on YouTube for free

James Corden won a Tony Award for "One Man, Two Guvnors."
James Corden won a Tony Award for “One Man, Two Guvnors,” which will kick off National Theatre Live’s at-home programming.
(Johan Persson)

National Theatre Live, which records and broadcasts stage shows from London’s West End to movie theaters worldwide, is unveiling a new at-home initiative amid the closure of theaters due to the novel coronavirus.

Beginning April 2, audiences can watch a number of NT Live’s live-captured productions for free via the National Theatre’s YouTube channel. Every Thursday at noon PST, a production — filmed in front of an audience in the theater — will be streamed and then be available on demand for seven days.

The “National Theatre at Home” lineup kicks off with Richard Bean’s comedic play “One Man, Two Guvnors,” featuring James Corden’s Tony Award-winning performance as “an insatiable Humpty Dumpty who has hired himself out to two masters he’s determined to keep apart while doubling his wages and calories,” wrote Times critic Charles McNulty in 2012.

That production will be followed by Sally Cookson’s 2017 adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” (April 9), Bryony Lavery’s 2014 take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” (April 16) and Shakespeare’s classic comedy “Twelfth Night” (April 23).


Further titles, plus accompanying content like chats with casts and creative teams, will be announced at a later date. Students and teachers also will have access to the National Theatre Collection at home, delivered in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing.

The company makes its content freely available to audiences at home — in partnership with YouTube and with the approval of the productions’ various rights-holders — during the current unprecedented time, in which numerous theaters are also releasing recordings of their productions online.

“Our ambition at the National Theatre is to create work which is challenging, entertaining and inspiring, and we’re committed to continuing that through these difficult times,” said executive director and joint chief executive Lisa Burger in a statement.

“We will be streaming each production at the same time each week in order to re-create, where possible, the communal viewing experience, and we hope this will be an opportunity for people to share their enjoyment together online,” she continued.