Greenwich Theatre has announced the release of its first ever production made entirely for online, a special adaptation featuring Oscar-winning performer Dame Helen Mirren.

'In direct response to the current closure of theatres,' The Secret Love Life of Ophelia is now being adapted by the south east London venue for a unique online premiere.

The story, written by Steven Berkoff, has been reimagined for online audiences as a stream of video messages performed by a cast of 40 "exceptional" and emerging actors.

Dame Helen Mirren, who is a patron of Greenwich Theatre, has also joined in with the production, and will make a special appearance during the play.

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Berkoff's piece imagines the letters written between Hamlet and Ophelia, revealing the unwritten side of one of the most tragic relationships in all of Shakespeare's plays.

The Secret Love Life Of Ophelia seeks to fill in the gaps, revealing the growth of that young love through an exchange of letters between the two characters which are both intimate and direct, tender and passionate.

The theatre said that with Berkoff's consent, "together this diverse cast will reveal just how universal the experiences of the young lovers are."

Originally conceived as a piece for two actors on stage, Greenwich Theatre has secured Berkoff’s endorsement to reimagine the letters as video messages for this contemporary production, and director James Haddrell has brought together a cast of 39 young, emerging or marginalised actors to each perform one of the letters.

Concluding the piece, it has now been confirmed that Helen Mirren will make a special appearance as Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.

Mirren was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company before making her West End debut in 1975, and has since then won the Triple Crown of Acting in the UK and won an Oscar.

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She has also been a member of the National Youth Theatre since the 1960s, and the online play has been designed to offer the same early exposure as she had.

Greenwich Theatre, along with theatres across the world, has been "fighting for its survival" since the outbreak of Covid-19 at the start of the year, with many struggling financially.

Established actors, creative teams, crew and venue staff are all waiting to discover when their work will return, and hundreds of new young actors are now graduating with no potential employment in sight.

Greenwich Theatre says it hopes to give some of its performers access to major roles, and allow them to show their talent in front of a large, online audience.

The theatre has also been running an online programme called Greenwich Connects during the lockdown, including streamed shows and online activities.

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Last week, the theatre joined hundreds of others in the UK lighting up in 'emergency red' to highlight the threat posed to theatres in the current Covid-19 climate.

The Secret Love Life of Ophelia will premiere on Greenwich Theatre's YouTube channel on Friday, July 31, free for all audiences, and remain there until August 14.