It’s rather unfortunate most of the greatest performances in English theatre are in London, given the average trip there typically costs more than $3,000, room and board not included.
Fortunately for all of the thespians and general lovers of the performing arts, Digital Theatre provides a much cheaper alternative to dropping a couple grand on a trip across the pond. Established in 2009, this international website provides HD recordings of performances of contemporary plays, operas and time-tested classics.
The companies performing these productions range from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the English Touring Company, but they all guarantee a view of performances many people outside of Great Britain just don’t get a chance to see.
While watching a video recording of “Romeo & Juliet” (set in Globe Theatre — a recreation of the venue Shakespeare himself performed in) doesn’t quite capture the feeling of standing under the pouring London rain while the star-crossed lovers die three feet away on stage, it does provide cheap access to a high-end, technically sound and legal production of a world-class theatre performance, something rarely done for the performing arts.
Continuing in the website’s vein of bringing theater-access to those often excluded, a good portion of the plays are closed-captioned for those who are hard of hearing. It is important to note, however, that not all of the plays come with subtitles. To see a complete list of which plays are accessible, visit www.digitaltheatre.com/browse/theatre.
Signing up for the website is free, but it does cost to rent or buy the videos. Prices vary, with HD purchases ranging from £4.99 (currently a little over $7) to £10.99 (around $16). Rentals tend to hover at about half of the highest price. While this may not sound as good as, let’s say, a free showing of these plays, note that an actual ticket to the Globe Theatre costs around £15 ($21) for an adult.
Once signed up, users can download their purchases straight to their laptop to watch offline, or stream productions on their Apple products or Samsung Smart TVs on the site’s free apps.