Pay the price of a movie ticket to watch the world’s top theatre actors
Actors Ian McKellen and Danny Webb performing Shakepeare’s King Lear at the Duke of York Theatre. (Photo: Johan Per)

Pay the price of a movie ticket to watch the world’s top theatre actors

There is something special about sitting in your theatre seat while the world outside melts away and a different reality unfolds on stage in front of you.

The experience feels intimate, even if you are sharing it with a few hundred people seated in the audience. And better yet, if it is a standout performance, one where the actors move you to tears, leave you gasping, or make you seethe with anger, all in the space of a few hours.

Now, imagine having this experience with some of the best actors in the world performing on stage, iconic theatre performers such as Ian McKellen, Ralph Fiennes and Gillian Anderson.

The idea might sound like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity involving extreme planning, expensive airfares and almost-impossible-to-score theatre tickets. But really, you can also just hop on an MRT train to the Esplanade and pay the price of a movie ticket to catch a screening of a National Theatre Live performance – the next best thing.

National Theatre Live is a pioneering initiative by the National Theatre in Britain. It films live performances at the National Theatre, Barbican and the West End in London, and broadcasts them in cinemas and screens at over 2,000 venues in more than 40 countries, including the Esplanade in Singapore. The initiative, which is into its eleventh season, has made some of the world’s best theatre performances accessible to thousands of people, who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to catch the shows.

Some sceptics might have their reservations about this next best option to watching top theatre actors in action. As someone who lost the ability to speak after watching a screening of Imelda Staunton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and cried inconsolably watching Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter in Angels in America, however, I can’t recommend the theatre screening enough.

Yes, there is nothing quite like seeing great theatre actors perform in the flesh. But the screening will most likely be one’s best bet to catch the actors performing on stage, at the peak of their careers, and in theatre productions which take years to put together and sell out almost immediately. This is truly a chance to witness moments in theatre history.

This weekend, the Esplanade will be screening three National Theatre Live shows. They are: War Horse, based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo; Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, starring Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, and King Lear, with Ian McKellen playing the titular role. Find out more about the screenings and get your tickets here.

We can’t wait to share more awesome content with you. This is going to be so much fun.

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