Streaming is not a full substitute for seeing a show live, but it can sometimes be an autistic audience’s only option if accessible performances are not happening at the theatre. It is not a full solution, but it is an effective sticking plaster.
As always, it’s recommended going into any show or performance to read a synopsis and any trigger warnings. Also, because these are live broadcasts, things such as loud noises and strobe lighting might still happen in some shows. Please check individual shows before you book anything.
Theatres that offer streaming include:
National Theatre at home
London’s iconic national theatre now has a paid subscription service that updates with new plays to watch each month. These include streams which used to be cinema only, and recordings from the national theatre archive.
Young Vic Theatre: best seat in the house
A streaming service by London’s Young Vic theatre which allows you to watch a show whilst it is live. The current show is announced regularly. You pay a standard ticket for what you want to see and can choose a “seat” camera angle to watch. This very much works like being in a real theatre.
Old Vic Theatre
Old Vic is offering some free performances via YouTube on demand.
London’s iconic Shakespeare theatre offers both on demand and live watches for most of their shows. Ticket prices range from five pounds upwards.
Company currently offering collection of short plays in one video on their YouTube.
A touring company with a strong emphasis on streaming theatre, some of these are immersive experiences. Tickets start from 15 and 20 pounds.
Royal Welsh College of Music
This welsh drama school is doing online ticketed live-streams throughout this autumn, mainly focused on 19th century classic plays.
One of the Netherlands’s most prestigious theatre companies streams its seasons via ITA Live, mainly with English subtitles. Tickets are a standard price and the streams are live with no on demand option. This autumn features 4 broadcasts.
The UK TV channel periodically broadcasts theatre, ballet and opera from companies such as National Theatre, English National Opera and Royal Opera House for free.
Opera and Ballet:
Royal Opera House
London’s Royal Opera and Ballet offers live as well as on demand streams, tickets are standard pricing.
Dutch National Ballet and Opera
The company is offering a limited streaming programme; mix of ticketed and free, operas have English subtitles.
Finnish National Opera and Ballet
The company offers free streams from September to august of nearly all works, often with a free on demand option afterwards. Operas often don’t have English subtitles, however.
English National Ballet at home
Catalogue of recordings from English national ballet, subscription service.
A free video catalogue of many operas and some ballet from around the world, live-streams for free via YouTube with English subtitles on demand afterwards. Streams are available for up to 3 months afterwards.
Munich’s main opera house live-streams all its major work for free in the months from September to august each year. These streams all have English subtitles. The on demand option is a pay by show basis. From this year onwards, previous live-stream recordings can be brought as DVDs via the online shop.
UK’s main opera festival live-streams each summer for free, on demand afterwards.
I hope learning about these theatres and places has been enjoyable.
During the process of updating links to these services and streams, we noticed that, unfortunately, we had to remove some of the theatres we had planned to include because those companies have stopped their streaming options.
We can only assume that their streaming options existed as a way of combating the loss of audiences during the COVID19 lock-downs; now that audiences are allowed to return, the streaming options have stopped, which is a shame and seems like a missed opportunity.
We hope more companies will start streaming, and we’ve tried to list companies that do this often or permanently.
Written by Chloe, Published by Dominic Palfreman
I am now finally part of the conversation.
For the last year or so Abi and myself have been working on making accessing Theatre a reality for people with ‘Learning Disabilities’ or ‘Autism‘ labels. One of the things we spoke about in our last blog was how almost every other art form can be accessed from your front room in an environment you can control. Other than Theatre. Until now…
There is Theatre everywhere! Due to recent developments companies are choosing to stream certain productions online. Some now have entire online programmes. You can watch anything from productions from The National Theatre to The Dutch National Opera. There is something for everyone. Opera has been streaming for a while now, and Theatres are finally catching – it is exciting.
Why is it exciting? Because it allows people access to Theatre who would not ordinarily be able to access it. Like me. I can now have an informed opinion on things. I can now say ‘I liked that actor’, ‘the production value was good’, ‘that play was not for me’. I now feel like I have the privilege to have my opinion whereas before I only had an informed opinion on the limited amount of productions that have been available to me.
It has gone from being an agenda that I no control over. Where I would be given this one production of a play I could see. Whereas now I have a huge catalogue to choose from. I am now open to so much more Theatre and am able to explore what genres I like, what styles of writing I can play around with and what is achievable in a theatrical space and as a writer that has done me a world of good. It has made me so happy and I feel more positive about Theatre than I have done in years.
So, what about the financial sustainability of Theatres? There have been several high-profile stories of Theatres having financial trouble and a lot of these Theatres have set up live streaming as a way of getting donations and contributions to the Theatre. Some of their shops are also still open for people to buy things from.
When we went into lockdown, I was worried about my world shutting down almost entirely and this time has not gone without its stresses. I was not expecting to feel anything positive at all and certainly was not expecting Theatre to become accessible for me for the first time in my life. It is like the entire new world opened up, and I really don’t want that door to shut for me again.
My question is: Once this pandemic has settled and we are able to access the Theatres again, will this new world still be available for me to access?
Do you want to join in with the conversation? Here are several links to some varied productions. Please read content warnings as you may not like some of the production themes.
Bristol Old Vic:
Schaubuhne Theater Munich
Munich Staatsoper (Munich State Opera)
Dutch National Opera
Gorki Theatre Germany
Manchester Royal Exchange
Written by Chloe and Abi, Published by Dom Palfreman
I am Chloe, I am an aspiring play-write, and I’ve only ever seen 2 performances.
Whenever you read a guide on playwriting, the first piece of advice is always “go and see as much theatre as possible”
So I have found myself stuck.
I am extremely sensitive to sound, so can only go to see relaxed performances.
A relaxed performance is where alterations are made to sound and light, strobe lighting and sound effects or music are removed or reduced in impact. In addition, chill-out zones are at the front of the theatre if you need to take some time away from the performance. The content of the performance is unchanged.
I noticed that there was a considerable lack of relaxed performances in Devon, which means I have to travel across country to see theatre. Although there is sufficient provision for BSL, Captioned and touch tours, relaxed performances seem to have less than their accessible performance counterparts.
Another thing I have noticed is that the majority of relaxed performances I have come across are aimed at children. This does not provide for adults with labels who seek complex, nuanced and in depth narratives.
I have been working with Abi to contact theatres across the country to discuss their access programmes (some have better programmes than others) and have managed to secure a meeting with a local theatre.
We will also be working towards ensuring that there are more BSL, captioned and touch tours where there are gaps in provisions in certain theatres.
Royal Shakespeare Company have recently instigated Chilled Performances, which have a relaxed atmosphere but do not remove sound effects, strobes or turn down potentially loud music. The audience is instead given a sheet indicating where these things occur as a guidance. I feel that this would be beneficial for some people and am aiming to raise this possibility with more theatres.
We have noticed that different theatres will focus primarily on one area of access. There is no unified group consensus on equalling out accessible performances and access.
Our end goal is to make theatre much more accessible for all, not just performances but also the actual spaces.
Written by Chloe Llewellyn, Published by Dominic Palfreman
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