Thursday, January 15, 2009

NT broadcasts

The Times of London reports that, starting in June, the National Theatre will begin broadcasts of its plays, starting with Dame Helen Mirren herself in Racine:

"On June 25, her performance in Ph├Ędre, a 17th-century French tragedy, will be beamed live from the National Theatre in London to 50 cinemas around the country and, within 24 hours, a further 100 all over the globe."

Something tells Bobo that Spokane is not going to be among those 100 international locations. (But we really, really ought to start a letter-writing campaign. Write
and tell them that Met Opera broadcasts have done well at the Regal NorthTown 12 Cinemas and that we'd pay to watch Helen Mirren read the phonebook. Even the East Grinstead phonebook. (This, of course, is an Alan Ayckbourn allusion.)

Given the recent pix of Dame Helen, who's 63, in a cherry-red bikini, it seems altogether fitting and proper that she should play Racine's lusty older woman who yearns for her own stepson and goes into jealous rages when Hippolytus turns out to have his own, much younger girlfriend. We'd pay to see that.

Ben Hoyle's article continues thusly:
"Operas, concerts and sports events have already proved that there is an audience for live event broadcasts but theatres had held back, wary of previous lifeless attempts to film stage plays. The National, however, sees this as an opportunity to grow support.
"Nicholas Hytner, the director of the National, said yesterday that the sector needed to find out whether there was an audience."
Write the National. Show them there's an audience.

ADDED on 2/18/09:
Mirren will bring her production of Phaedre to Washington, D.C., Sept. '09; and the following month, Cate Blanchett will appear as Blanche Dubois in Streetcar -- both productions at WDC's Shakespeare Theatre Company. Read more here.

1 comment:

  1. The New York Times is running a series of articles answering reader questions.

    Much of the first edition focuses on the economics of Broadway and hooks into this posting of yours.
    The respondents, Ken Bloom and Frank Vlastnik, cite producer fears that seeing Braodway shows for free on TV will limit interest in paying to go to New York (whether from New Rochelle or New Mexico) to pay exorbitant prices to see the real thing--or even to pay far less exorbitant prices to see the pale imitations on tour.

    Audience activities give the lie to this notion. Examples range from toddlers re-viewing their favorite Backyardigans episode ad nauseum to tourists (going back to Washington Irving and earlier) seeking some communion with authenticity at Shakespeare's birthplace or, more recently, at Ground Zero. My own introduction to theatre was through a television broadcast of a Broadway show and I could not contain my excitement at having the opportunity to see the revival on Broadway.

    Even with all the complications of splitting the royalties and shooting the production the National Theatre and the Met Opera have the right idea. Now how do we help Broadway producers see that?

    -Bill Gaar