The show must go on(line): Performance arts picks during lockdown

Friday, April 17, 2020 - 08:30

Recommending performing arts to see outside of a live auditorium isn’t easy. Theatre is a different experience to film and television. You have more autonomy over your experience, in that it isn’t seen via a single camera view. And it is consumed in a group setting, allowing your response and reaction to play off, and perhaps be influenced by, those around you.

But whilst the experience may be different, there is a plus side. With the aid of film and television you get to revisit moments that would otherwise have been fleeting. What was created as ephemeral, now exists in perpetuity.

And so, our Consultant Associate for Performance & Dance, Wendy Martin, and Executive Producer, Beth Byrne, have picked out some recommendations for you that will stand this text of time. Here is their selection of performance pieces that have been deliberately adapted to a new medium, and theatrical moments just too good to miss.

Wise Children

available via BBC iPlayer

Wise Children in cinemas | 2019 trailer

Wise Children is the inaugural production of Director Emma Rice’s new theatre company, of the same name. Showcasing her exuberant and overtly theatrical style, Wise Children is Rice’s adaptation of the great last novel by Angela Carter. And, with support from The Space, the BBC have now re-released a free livestream of the performance from York’s Theatre Royal on their iPlayer. A celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope; expect show girls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, mischief and mistaken identity.  

watch Wise Children on BBC iPlayer

Emma Rice is set to bring her inimitable style to our own Queen Elizabeth Hall in August, with a stage adaptation of Enid Blyton's 'Malory Towers'. 

find out more



available via Netflix

Thom Yorke - Anima (Paul Thomas Anderson & Damien Jalet)

If you had tickets for Iceland Dance Company’s sadly cancelled Black Marrow, choreographed by Erna Ómarsdóttir and Damien Jalet, here’s the opportunity to check out some of Jalet’s other work. Netflix is currently streaming PT Anderson’s short film Anima, in which Thom Yorke stars, as well as having written the music. Anima is a weird and wonderful, mind-bending experience set in a dystopian underground amongst the utilitarian proletariat journeying to work (You remember what the Tube was like pre-lockdown, right?). Enjoy Jalet’s stunning choreography, alongside Anderson’s impeccable direction.

watch it now on Netflix


21 Chump Street

available on YouTube

21 Chump Street is an experiment in musical theatre meets journalism from Lin-Manuel Miranda. The performance is based on the real-life story of 'Operation D Minus', in which police went undercover in a High School in order to investigate underage drug-running, only for the investigation to suffer unfortunate consequences. Originally reported on the NPR radio show This American Life, the story was duly adapted into a 14 minute musical with much of the libretto quoted verbatim from taped interviews, but with Lin-Manuel Miranda's wit and pathos infused throughout. 21 Chump Street premiered in this live broadcast from the Brooklyn Academy Of Music in 2014.

21 Chump Street by Lin-Manuel Miranda - This American Life - Live at BAM

Miranda brings his more recent work Bring It On, the smash hit cheerleading musical, to our Queen Elizabeth Hall this Christmas.

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available via Amazon Prime Video

We’re huge Phoebe Waller-Bridge fans, and if, like us, you have watched and rewatched the Fleabag television series so often you can near quote it line for line, now is the chance to go back to where it all began. The original stage version of the multi-award winning series, has been made available to download from Amazon Prime. It costs £4, but with all proceeds (outside of taxes) going to charities supporting those affected by COVID19, it is certainly more than worth it.

watch it now on Amazon Prime


Why do we dance?

available via SkyArts



The 29 April is International Dance Day, and on this date last year Akram Khan curated and presented Why do we dance? a wonderful series for SkyArts. Described as "an in-depth and up-close exploration of the motivations, provocations and stimulations that make the human race dance”, the series is still available to watch and download view SkyArts’ website. 

watch the series via Sky Arts

Prior to our current closure, we had been looking forward to Khan’s performance of his celebrated dance work Kaash here at Southbank Centre in May. Thankfully we have been able to reschedule this for performance 10-13 April 2021. Remaining tickets go back on sale on 27 April.

find out more


The show must go on(line)

Sadly, for everyone’s safety, our venues are currently closed. But you can still get your Southbank Centre fix online. We will continue to share inspiring and thought-provoking arts stories through our website and social channels.

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As a charity, we rely on ticket sales for a huge chunk of our income. But now they’ve stopped. And it's a huge worry to us, and the people we work with. We all need the escape of art and culture; it can inspire and unite us. So please – if you can afford to – consider a donation to the Southbank Centre today, to help us be there for you in the future.

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