For many, going to the theatre is a very magical experience - to be immersed in a story but through such rudimentary methods, is a unique sensation to the stage. The border that is the screen is removed, and instead the audience is allowed to become fully enthralled in the performance. Although, if a play is well shot then it may leave an audience with the impression that they had sat in a theatre to enjoy it. In fact, this sentiment is perfectly encapsulated by ‘National Theatre Live’.


‘National Theatre Live’ is a scheme that brings livestreams or recordings of “the best of British theatre” into cinemas both nationally and internationally. With state-of-the-art filming techniques, tailored to every play, the scheme aims to bring each performance as it happens, in all its glory. From close-ups that capture every flicker of emotion, to sweeping wide shots of the intricate sets that truly display the skilful stagecraft and design of each performance.  

The tag line of ‘National Theatre Live’ is “this is theatre for everyone”.


NT Live, as it is often abbreviated, began in June of 2009, and 10 years later, it’s released more than 80 live broadcasts, including but not limited to: ‘Hamlet’ with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Dane, Danny Boyle’s ‘Frankenstein’, and ‘Amadeus’. However, the scheme doesn’t only provide for the National Theatre, it also carries out broadcasts for other British theatres, broadcasting in 2,500 venues across 65 different territories, including 700 UK venues alone. 


But how is such a momentous task tackled? Each of the broadcasts is filmed in front of a live theatre audience. The position of the cameras is tailored to each play, to ensure that audiences in cinemas always get the best seats. Via satellite, these performances are then streamed live from the theatre to cinemas across the UK, as well as many European cinemas. The live footage from the broadcast is then packaged and shared, unedited, with cinemas for repeat encore screenings for cinemas not able to stream it live, or those who wish to relive the glory. 


Having gone to two ‘National Theatre Live’ live broadcasts already, the experience is truly as if you are seated in the theatre watching the performance as usual. The importance of theatre as an art form cannot be understated and it is innovative schemes like this, coming from one of London’s theatrical foundations, that is allowing people across the world to enjoy the laughs, gasps and emotions of the stage.