NT Live - web streaming into cinemas: a good idea from National Theatre (England)?

The Guardian reported at the beginning of this year the National Theatre in England's experiment, as defined by Nicholas Hytner:

"...we felt that somebody has got to try it and if somebody has got to try it then it has got to be us."

The NT will stream live performances to independent art house cinemas. Audiences will pay £10. The broadcast costs are c. £50,000 each time via satellite, so the NT may well have to sell the broadcast abroad as well.

The first live play will star Helen Mirren who is acting as figurehead of the advertising campaign. The moving cameras will also capture the audience response, like in TV studios, so if you fancy starring alongside Dame Mirren, then get your ticket for Racine's Phaedra, 25th June, and I'll see you on the big screen!

Do you think this is a good way to experience theatre? Do you think that National Theatre Wales should consider something like this?

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Comment by Greg Cannon on May 22, 2009 at 14:22
"£50,000 each time via satellite" - It cost us less to stream the National Eisteddfod live in 1998. Get a decent Broadband connection installed (See WAG is the service is not available in your area) and DIY!

Anyway, what's the benefit if it being 'live' - why not simply load it to YouTube AFTER the event, you'll get more interest, for a lot less.

And, no I'll not be paying £10 to watch the show on PC, unless it's really good!

You could always support S4C's "TV over the Internet" venture and partner Inuk Networks
Comment by Gary Owen on May 19, 2009 at 11:08
I think it's great that people at the Royal (as we must surely now begin calling the RNT, to distinguish it from all the other Nationals about the place) are starting to realise there's something odd about the way their theatre is set up. Theatre is about people physically coming to a space and witnessing a live performance. Why then, if you're creating a 'national' theatre, do you stick all of your auditoria in one corner of the country? The answer is - obviously - because you have a relentlessly metrocentric viewpoint and don't give a stuff about the rest of Britain. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that people in the rest of Britain start to find their own way, and start to form their own institutions.

So - is this a good thing? It's nice . It's better than nothing. But it doesn't fix the fundamental flaws in the RNT as an institution which make it very difficult for it to be a British national theatre. But that's fine - the NTS in Scotland and NTW here will cheerfully make up for the Royal's built-in limitations.

Should NTW do similar things? Maybe very occasionally for very big shows. Maybe if we find ways to do it more cheaply, that perhaps don't involve hiring our own satellite. But not at the expense of doing smaller, more intimate pieces that can tour to where people actually are, and which can give audiences an immediate, live experience.

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