***Because of traffic, I’ve turned comment permissions off. If you have suggestions, do email me or tweet me @oelj…***

Theatre Resources For Isolation

Compiled by Ollie Jones (oliver.jones@york.ac.uk) - with thanks to too many people to mention for suggestions and links!

*starred items may require institutional log in - usually there is a log in [by institution] option which takes you to the York Shibboleth system (or equivalent if at another institution)

I’ve divided suggestions into 5 categories - Read, Watch, Listen, Write and Workshops, Other Resources. Items are organised alphabetically, unless date-sensitive.

(I’m also aware that most of these recommendations are Anglo-centric, with a smattering of European and US resources - any suggestions to help widen the scope internationally would be very welcome)


  • Do you want to learn about the history of old theatres across the UK in exhaustive-and-fascinating detail? Browse through Arthur Lloyd’s collections
  • *Drama Online Library - www.dramaonlinelibrary.com - With 1000s of plays available, you’re spoilt for choice.
  • Forest Fringe’s 2012 Paper Stages is available to read online – artists ask you to perform their works in locations around the city (or in your bedroom).
  • New Play Exchange - https://newplayexchange.org  - The world's largest digital library of scripts by living writers.
  • Nick Hern Books Playgroup - join NHB to discover and discuss fantastic contemporary drama by today's most exciting writers, available to read completely for free. Each Wednesday during the coronavirus shutdown, they're making one play available for free as an ebook and online, and inviting everyone who reads it to send in a question for the writer. They'll then record a Q&A with them, which they'll release the following Wednesday, along with the next free play! The first Playgroup play, the Bruntwood Prize-winning Yen by Anna Jordan, is available to read now. Other brilliant writers lined up so far include James Fritz, Winsome Pinnock, Enda Walsh, Stef Smith and Ella Hickson.
  • Playshare is a curated collection of plays suitable for youth theatre groups, and made available through Youth Theatre Ireland. www.youththeatre.ie/resources/find-a-play/
  • Total Theatre Magazine’s archive is now digitised and free to read – it covers 1989-2012, and is a treasure trove of alt performance history


Platforms and streaming services

  • Amazon Prime has a number of pay-for theatre productions - mostly the BBC Play for Today adaptations from the 1970/80s. Few are included if you have a Prime membership, but an exception is the RSC’s 1969 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Peter Hall and starring Helen Mirren, Ian Richardson and Judi Dench.
  • BBC iPlayer
  • The Globe is releasing 6 of its productions for free on Youtube, starting with its 2018 Hamlet
  • HowlRound are livestreaming various upcoming performances – and there’s more international performance to watch on the Howlround TV archive
  • LIVR is a subscription service that enables you to catch up on theatre in 360-degree virtual reality. Pop your smartphone into the headset they send you and experience a range of shows including Apphia Campbell’s Fringe First award-winning show Woke, which interweaves the stories of Black Panther Assata Shakur and the 2014 Ferguson riots.
  • Marquee TV - so many productions free for 30 days, including RSC, Royal Opera House, Donmar
  • Netflix has a range of theatre and theatre-related offerings.
  • Abstract: The Art of Design - especially episode 103, Es Devlin: Stage Design
  • Self-isolation may mean that many of us will use living rooms to both teach children and watch theatre. An opportunity to combine the two can be found courtesy of the super-charismatic John Leguizamo – an inspirational tutor if ever there was – whose one-man Broadway show Latin History for Morons is now available
  • Soho Theatre Live is a new service from Soho Theatre, where you can watch the NT Live recording of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag (£), as well as shows from Joel Dommett, Shappi Khorsandi, Nish Kumar, Josie Long and more.  
  • Ubu.com is a huge free archive of avant garde theatre, film, sound and dance works. DV8 is on there, among many many others.

Theatre Companies

   Lots of theatres post great films on their YouTube channels.

Ongoing projects

  • The Cambridge Greek Play YouTube channel also has scenes from plays that are on school (and many uni) syllabuses, including Antigone and Lysistrata. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUSoxf3ahi6EC_rTLm-ml5Q
  • Early Modern Theatre - www.earlymoderntheatre.co.uk - hosts 5 films of full length productions produced at TFTI and a range of other films and resources. Plays include: Thomas Middleton’s A Mad World, My Masters, John Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan, John Vanbrugh’s The Provoked Wife, James Shirley’s Hyde Park, and John Dryden’s Amphitryon.
  • Journal of Embodied Research: https://jer.openlibhums.org/
  • The Royal Opera House’s The Opera Machine is a multi-angled view of the intricate theatrical process behind the scenes during a performance of Act III of Wagner’s Die Walküre. Choose from 17 different camera angles and three different sound mixes or follow the prompt book which is used to cue the technical crew and artists
  • Performances that will never get to happen are being memorialised at online project The Social Distancing Festival

Limited availability - date restricted

  • March 2020
  • Viral Monologues - Twenty actors perform new monologues written just for them in this initiative. The performances will be shared online every 15 minutes on Tuesday night (17 March) and there’s some top talent involved, including comedian David Cross, actors Rachel Dratch and Andre Royo, and writers David Lindsay-Abaire, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Monique Moses.
  • The Show Must Go Online - The actor Robert Myles has set up a reading group for professional and amateur actors to perform Shakespeare’s complete plays in the order they’re believed to have been written. The first livestreamed reading, on YouTube, will be The Two Gentleman of Verona on Thursday (19 March).
  • YesYesNoNo have made its Edinburgh Fringe hit Five Encounters on a Site Craigslist available on Vimeo, and their latest show The Accident Did Not Take Place will be streamed live on 21 March 7.25pm here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/the-accident-did-not-2/register 
  • The American Shakespeare Center at Blackfriars Staunton VA have announced  BlkFrsTV, launching on 22 March at 1.45pm EST with Midsummer-90 - Shakespeare’s magical comedy in a neat hour-and-a-half package - featuring their fabulous National Touring company. Follow on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/americanshakespearecenter 
  • Hampstead Theatre production of I and You via Instagram starring Maisie Williams from 23rd March for one week
  • Theatre UnCut are livestreaming Kieran Hurley’s Bubble on Mon 23rd March - Is this the short-term future of theatremaking? Bubble, a play set entirely on Facebook, uses a cast of European actors who never met in person, rehearsed over Skype and filmed on their cameras.
  • Check out the Imagine! Virtual Festival during 25-27 March from 1-9pm with 24 free webcasts covering politics, poetry, film reviews, comedy at https://imaginebelfast.com. It's all free!
  • For Katie Mitchell/opera fans, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich is streaming her recent production of Judith until 26 March. Link here: https://operlive.de/judith/
  • The Royal Court’s Cyprus Avenue will be available to watch online, from Fri 27th March
  • A Modern Decameron - an online story festival. 27 March – 7 April 2020. 50+ tellers. 10 days of 10 stories. 100 messages of hope. The festival will be hosted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/3049501975089576/ and on their Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzUzlu6LWoTODcgfCfEm1wg/about 
  • The Rest I Make Up, the award-winning documentary about playwright Maria Irene Fornes, is streaming for free until April 1. https://vimeo.com/398378982

  • April 2020
  • July 2020

Limited availability - individual shows (end date unknown)

  • 5 Soldiers - Rosie Kay’s extraordinary 5 Soldiers: The Body is the Frontline was staged in army drill halls around the UK but since its live stream is still available online you can watch it from the comfort of your own sofa. Performing in close quarters to a score that mixes punk and opera, Kay’s phenomenal company bring home the horror of combat and disarm audiences.
  • Branar (Irish theatre for young audiences company) is making a video of each of their shows available for 24 hours at a time: see https://www.facebook.com/branarteatar
  • Clown Funeral - associate artists of the New Diorama and Pegasus Theatre - has made three shows available online for free. What’s on Stage describes them as ‘a whole wad of whimsy while you wait for the virus to subside’

Announced, details tba

  • BBC Culture in Quarantine to stream Emma Rice’s Wise Children, Mike Bartlett’s Albion and more
  • Home in Manchester has commissioned Homecoming, inviting theatre and live art makers to create new works at home, for an audience who are also at home. All work will be made available on HOME’s website on a ‘pay-what-you-decide’ basis. It will be made accessible to the widest possible audience through captioning, audio description, and providing relaxed versions where appropriate.


Search for podcasts using your favourite app...

  • AdLib - York Theatre Royal’s podcast
  • BBC podcasts: In Our Time, The Life Scientific, Infinite Monkey Cage, Desert Island Discs, From Our Own Correspondent, Friday Night Comedy, You’re Dead to Me, Forest 404
  • BBC 4 Radio Drama https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04xxp0g
  • Beyond Shakespeare is broadcasting a series of lunchtime readthroughs of non-Shakespeare early modern plays. Check out their twitter page for updates: https://twitter.com/BeyondShakes 
  • Curtain Call Theatre Podcast - spotlights current shows through wide-ranging interviews, which give listeners a detailed sense of what it takes for a show to come together. https://curtaincalltheatre.libsyn.com/
  • David Tennant Does a Podcast With…
  • Hamilcast - a no-stone-left-unturned exploration of the groundbreaking show Hamilton, its multilayered musical treats and its cultural impact. https://www.thehamilcast.com/
  • Gwaandak Theatre and Vuntut Gwichin Government’s Ndoo Tr’eedyaa Gogwaandak: Forward Together Vuntut Gwichin Stories -  vuntutstories.ca 
  • Tune into discussions with artists on MayFest Radio: new episodes soon
  • Off Book: The Black Theatre Podcast - features conversations between the hosts and a selection of guests from all walks of theatrical life, including actors, costume designers and writers. https://soundcloud.com/off-book-theatre-podcast
  • The Parsnip Ship - a monthly radio-play podcast series recorded live and distributed for free wherever folx stream their podcasts. This has been a great entertainment and educational resource for folx wanting to hear stories by underrepresented playwrights and independent musicians
  • Piece by Piece: musical theatre talk show hosted by musical director Joe Bunker, exploring iconic pieces of musical theatre with the actors and creative teams behind high-profile UK revivals: https://anchor.fm/piece-by-piece
  • Playing On Air - contemporary one-act play performed by actors like Adam Driver, Audra McDonald and Michael C. Hall, followed by a conversation with the creative team. https://playingonair.org/
  • Pod4Ham -  a song-by-song examination of Hamilton from The Incomparable
  • Pursued by a Bear - by Exeunt Magazine
  • Putting it Together - the biggest theatre podcast in Scotland and it’s sponsored by the National Theatre of Scotland. Contains over 120 episodes interviewing actors, writers and directors, and various other artistic creatives too.
  • NT Talks - 10 years of talks with actors, directors and more recorded at the National Theatre
  • Rathband was the 2018 winner of the BBC Audio Drama Podcast. This 3-part drama about the last 20 months in the life of PC David Rathband before he was shot and blinded by Raoul Moat is available at www.rathbandplay.com/ 
  • Royal Court Playwright’s Podcast - Simon Stephens interviews 40 playwrights
  • RTE Radio Drama. Radio plays from Ireland’s national broadcaster https://www.rte.ie/drama/radio/
  • Season 6 of Chris Goode’s podcast Thompson’s Live has just begun
  • Variety’s Stagecraft - a deep gold mine of searching interviews with actors and other theater professionals about their Broadway and off-Broadway endeavors. https://broadwaypodcastnetwork.com/podcast/varietys-stagecraft/
  • Other non-theatre recommendations: Guilty Feminist, Global Pillage, The Best Pick, 99% Invisible, Ologies, Reply All

Write and workshops:

Some opportunities that might tempt you:

Other resources