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Whilst many of us have made the most of the opportunity to re-find ‘old-school’ methods of entertainment in our extended periods of stay at home, whether it be a good old fashioned book, an increased number of crosswords and sudokus, or even dusting off the old dominoes and backgammon sets, sometimes it is nearly impossible to drag ourselves from the TV on an evening. In fact, our current situation has led to an increase in immersive experiences as in-person encounters are shifted away from theatres and venues to our internet-connected devices and television screens.
It isn’t just product-led businesses that have shifted their focus to at-home working thanks to ever-growing global connectivity… in a modern twist to performance industries that have spent hundreds of years entertaining the general public in physical locations all over the world in the name of entertainment, the last few weeks has seen a drastic increase in the ability to watch classic films, theatre performances and music concerts without having to leave our sofas.
Taking the lead on this improvisation of in-home entertainment was the theatre business. A joint venture between the National theatre in England and BroadwayHD in the US has seen weekly runs of Westend and Broadway hits streamed for free on their respective YouTube platforms.
Launched two weeks ago with Thursday releases, the first performance saw the 2011 farcical comedy One Man, Two Guvnors including a fresh faced James Corden in what was undoubtedly his catapult to superstardom after transitioning from his BBC3 series Gavin and Stacey to now being one of America’s leading chat show hosts.
The comedy, premiered at the Lyttleton theatre, saw a hugely successful UK run before being picked up by Broadway and taken over the pond. Last week, the YouTube channel followed with Sally Cookson’s fascinating take on the Charlotte Bronte classic Jane Eyre and Thursday’s schedule see’s Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny, Treasure Island, brought to our screens.
After seeing such a vast amount of instant success in theatre streaming, Mr West End himself, Andrew Lloyd Webber, has taken the mantle and decided to air shows of his own via YouTube free of charge. Starting with Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, the lead played by Donny Osmond, and most recently Jesus Chris Superstar starring Tim Minchin, a new Lloyd-Webber performances can be found at “The Shows Must Go On” YouTube handle every weekend.
If you don’t have a smart TV with the YouTube app downloaded, a simple HDMI cable to connect a tablet or laptop device to the TV provides a perfect alternative to cinema nights, providing a more immersive experience that often makes you forget that you haven’t actually needed to leave the house.
It isn’t just the theatre that has taken to in-home performances. Since lockdown measures have been in place, more and more recognised faces appear to have made use of their spare time. Musicians in particular have been quick to flock to online platforms and put their talents to good use to entertain the masses, particularly for those for whom concerts were cancelled with limited notice.
It’s yet another trend that Mr Lloyd-Webber has already partaken in and various artists of all genres have provided the ‘gig-experience’ from the comfort of their living rooms. From Bruce Springsteen to Gary Barlow and The National to Elton John’s Living Room Concert For America, ironically (considering events such as this often take months of planning) there now appears to be even more accessible content than ever before. Varying from impromptu performances to scheduled events spanning countries and continents, at-home concerts can be found by a means of social media and journalistic hotspots, with replays often available on YouTube the following day.
Of course, we don’t all have to abandon the old methods just yet. The Brook Taverner Journal are plotting some of the best reads in our times of isolation as well as an array of must-watch films that stray a bit further back in time than those found on the Netflix or Amazon Prime platforms. We’re also fascinated to hear from readers what traditional forms of entertainment have been brought out from the back of closets up and down the country.
Sometimes however, there’s just no beating a good television series. There, you’ll find one of the years most hotly anticipated docudramas launched on Monday in the form of The Quiz on ITV1 which explores Charles Ingram’s infamous cheating scandal on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in 2001. Originally a hit in the theatres, this three-part miniseries explores one of TV’s most famous events in more detail than ever before. After kicking off on Monday evening at 9pm, parts two and three were aired on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
Elsewhere, the conclusion of BBC1’s The Nest starring Line of Duty’s Martin Compston can be found on BBC iPlayer, as well as series three of the award-winning Killing Eve and the 6-part reality adventure Race Across The World. Finally, Channel 4 have pulled on the stops out with their latest Stand Up 2 Cancer series of The Great British Bake Off – now available to stream on All4.
It certainly feels like the end may perhaps be in sight of our need to quarantine and remain indoors, but for now we must continue to follow government guidelines and protect the thousands upon thousands of individuals country wide who are on the front line protecting us. However the means of entertainment, ensure that you look after yourself both physically and mentally. It may be that simply by doing something slightly different once a week has a far larger impact than you may think.
Continue looking after yourself…
The Brook Taverner Team.