Live theater’s greatest assets as an experience—its intimacy, the fact that each performance represents a singular instance that won’t be repeated—also make it difficult to access as an education resource.
A new project from London’s National Theatre makes high-quality recordings of world-class theater performances available on-demand to educational institutions.
The National Theatre Collection includes performances by Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus, Benedict Cumberbatch in an adaptation of Frankenstein, and James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors. Currently comprising 19 performances, the Collection is set to expand to 30 by March 2020. It also includes archival materials like costume designs and scripts that add depth to the recorded performances.
“Ten years ago,” said National Theatre Executive Director Lisa Burger, “we launched NT Live, an initiative that broadcasts high-definition recordings of our productions to cinemas around the world. Concerned by the trend of dwindling arts provision in schools and the relatively high cost of theatre tickets, we wanted to explore how we might make these filmed productions available for use in classrooms.
“In 2015 – with the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation – we launched a resource that allowed UK schools to watch a selection of these recordings for free, at any time. The project has transformed how we support young people’s engagement with theatre, and we are incredibly grateful that the Foundation is supporting the next phase of the NT Collection: increasing the number of productions and materials available, and sharing these resources with learners around the world for the first time.”
The National Theatre Collection is available through ProQuest and Drama Online by annual subscription or one-time purchase of full access. Access is free for state-funded schools in the United Kingdom.