In these days of seemingly eternal Netflix and very little chill, the Globe Theatre has a throw-back answer to your question of "to stream or not to stream." The famous London theatre where Shakespeare himself originally staged his plays has arranged a free selection of the Bard's work that viewers can enjoy around the world, even while social distancing.
Rather than charging customers for access to the Globe Player – the theatre's own proprietary streaming service – the Globe is instead dropping the paywall on a select series of popular English-language Shakespearean classics for two week online runs between April and June, as well as a larger assortment of international productions available for the entirety of that same period.
What's online at the Globe
First up for the Globe's fortnight-long "movie nights" is a 2018 production of Hamlet staring Michelle Terry, running from April 6-19th, followed by such big hits as Romeo & Juliet, The Winter's Tale, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
That's on top of the Globe making available all of the 2012 Globe to Globe series, which includes a Gujarati All's Well the Ends Well, a Korean Midsummer Night's Dream, a Turkish Antony & Cleopatra, a Macedeonian Henry VI, The Merchant of Venice in Hebrew, and even a British Sign Language Love's Labour's Lost – many with English subtitles.
In addition, the Globe is also releasing a special program called "Love & Isolation," in which familiar faces like Sandi Toksvig of the Great British Bakeoff and stage actress Kathryn Hunter (who has also appeared on screen in Rome and Harry Potter) recite Shakespeare's work from wherever they are social distancing.
Fans of the Bard will also have free access to a virtual version of Mark Rylance’s "Shakespeare’s Walks," a beloved tour through London that departs either Shoreditch (the East Walk) or Westminster (the West Walk) to weave through destinations known to Shakespeare and featured in his work before ending, of course, at the Globe.
The show must go on
The Globe closed its doors on March 18th due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, but this isn't the first time that enjoyment of Shakespeare's plays has been muddled by a public health crisis. Theatres throughout London were shuttered by outbreaks of plague every few years in the very late 16th and early 17th centuries, when plays like King Lear and Macbeth were brand new and first drawing crowds.
This is the first time, however, that the show has gone on despite a pandemic thanks to online streaming. It's not quite the same as jostling for a good spot in The Yard after scoring cheap tickets during your semester abroad. But the Globe's generous streaming offerings are a lovely way to enjoy iconic plays from the comfort of your own living room after cooking up a recipe from Travel Kitchen, fixing a Destination Drinks cocktail, and preparing for many an exit, pursued by a bear.