And will they drag audiences away from Netflix's bottomless pit of cheesy Christmas movies, big cat documentaries and royal-baiting dramas? Read on to find out.
How much is it? £9.98/month or £99.98/year, £5.99-£7.99 per show
What do you get? It's starting small, with access to just 12 of the National Theatre's teeming archive of shows, but new performances will be added each month.
How much is it? £4.99-£5.99 per show
What do you get? All the Shakespeare you could ever want, and more! With an archive stretching back decades, it's perfect for theatre students and bardolators alike.
What are the highlights? Jeremy Herrin's gently magical 2013 take on The Tempest, starring Roger Allam as Prospero
How much is it? $8.99/month
What do you get? Loads of big budget shows from both Broadway and the West End, including 55 musicals (and a less high-profile line-up of plays)
How much is it? $50.00/year
What do you get? Add a touch of spice and strangeness to your theatrical diet with this US-based platform, which specialises in cabaret, experimental theatre, dance, opera and live-art.
What are the highlights? Okwui Okpokwasili's dazzling solo show Bronx Gothic.
How much is it? £8.99/month, £62.99/year
What do you get? A classy (but faintly stuffy) line-up of classic theatre, opera and ballet
What are the highlights? Akram Khan's ballet Giselle, Shakespeare by the RSC, and Oscar Wilde comedies from Classic Spring's West End season.
None of these services offer anything approaching the breadth or depth of cinema-based rivals like MUBI or Netflix... not yet anyway. And they're also weighted towards the more trad, classic side of theatre, rather than showcasing the sharpest Off-West End plays or latest musicals. So unless you're a Serious-with-a-capital-S theatre fan, maybe the real winners here are the ones that let you cherrypick the shows you want (like NT at Home and Globe Player), rather than trapping you into the costly marriage of a year-long subscription.
Right now, access to filmed theatre shows is restricted by issues around rights (the famously-long-dead Shakespeare doesn't demand royalties, but living writers tend to), and the quality of recordings that were often intended for archival purposes only. What will be extra-fascinating is seeing what happens as theatres start to reopen, and how they respond to audiences that are newly hungry to stream shows. Will sell-out, star cast shows at venues like the NT go online? Or will theatres hang on to exclusivity (and the ability to charge higher prices) by restricting access to in-person audiences? We'll be watching this space... and hoping for the ultimate Netflix/theatre crossover, a mainstage NT musical adaptation of Tiger King (a gal can dream 🐯).
Until next week, Stage Savvy
ASK LYN: Has panto lost its magic?
"When it comes to theatre, memory is burnished....the shows that live on in my mind are the ones I love, and they get better and better over time."
Quotes of the Week
"If we really want the vaccine rollout to go smoothly, let's just put an experienced theatre General Manager in charge - with an army of Stage Managers leading logistics on the ground - and watch the whole thing run like clockwork."
- Nick Hern Books, on Twitter
"One of the priorities moving forward must be retention of people in theatre, and all that their years of experience, foresight and passion brings to the table."
- Salome Wagaine, writing in her Bustle article on UK Theatre's post-Covid future.
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