National Theatre Collection: Volumes I & II | Alexander Street
Photo credit clockwise: All My Sons, Three Sisters, Small Island, Frankenstein, A Streetcar Named Desire, courtesy of the U.K.’s National Theatre
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National Theatre Collection: Volumes I & II

National Theatre Collection: Volumes I & II bring the stage to life through access to high-definition streaming video of world-class productions and unique archival material offering significant insight into theatre and performance studies. Through a collaboration with the U.K.'s National Theatre, the collections offer a range of digital performance resources never previously seen outside of the National Theatre’s archive.

(Photo credit clockwise: All My Sons, Three Sisters, Small Island, Frankenstein, A Streetcar Named Desire, courtesy of the U.K.’s National Theatre)

Available to libraries, schools, and universities, National Theatre Collection: Volumes I & II makes available contemporary video productions of the highest quality from award-winning actors and directors—offering equitable access to the stage for students, scholars, and enthusiasts. 

Comprehensive support for theatre studies is provided by Theatre & Drama Premium, offering essential multi-format contextual resources that help students study every aspect of a play—including play texts, reference materials, design archives, and quality video performances from The U.K.’s National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, and the BBC among others.

Why Do Academic Institutions Value National Theatre Collection?

Equitable Access to World-Class Productions

National Theatre Collection offers students equitable online access to the highest-quality theatre productions available—replicating as close as possible the stage experience from the heart of London. World class performances and supplementary archival materials support faculty instruction and students’ study of theatre both on the stage, and behind-the-scenes production and design.

Alexander Street supports students with an accessible platform that includes synchronized transcripts and a “send to mobile” feature making it easier for students to access and engage with content.

 

Ensemble cast in Three Sisters Photo by The Other Richard
Sally Field and Colin Morgan in All My Sons. Photo by Johan Persson
Leah Harvey and Shiloh Coke in Small Island Photo by Brinkhoff Moegenburg
Photo credits: Ensemble cast in Three Sisters  (The Other Richard);  Sally Field and Colin Morgan in All My Sons (Johan Persson); Leah Harvey and Shiloh Coke in Small Island  (Brinkhoff Moegenburg)

 

Modern Interpretations of Classics from Top Talent

Contemporary productions from award-winning actors and directors re-imagine the classics in a way that reflects modern sensibilities and diversity. Recent productions—many from the last five years-- re-imagine classic plays and literary works from William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, and Bernard Shaw in new and exciting ways—updating them to broaden student perspectives through contemporary settings, diverse casts, and modern applications of enduring social issues touching upon political, race, and class dynamics.

Talent is unsurpassed with the opportunity to study the leading visionaries in theatre, including bold women directors such as Carrie Cracknell (Julie, The Deep Blue Sea, Medea), Josie Rourke (Coriolanus), and Nadia Fall (Dara, Three Sisters). Renowned actors include Benedict Cumberbatch (Frankenstein), Sally Field (All My Sons), Gillian Anderson (A Streetcar Named Desire), Danny Sapani (Les Blancs), and Rory Kinnear (Othello, Hamlet).

Advancing Diversity in The Arts

The U.K. National Theatre’s diversity mission is at the core of its work and reflects the diversity, equity and inclusion values prioritized by academic libraries today. National Theatre Collection Volumes I & II support current academic study with diverse casting and directors and production interpretations that reflect the makeup of the modern student body and helps elevate the current conversation around social issues through an artistic lens. 

Productions such as Les Blancs, Lorraine Hansberry’s final drama, centers on the racial struggles of an African society preparing to drive out its colonial present and claim an independent future. Small Island is a lens on the history of immigration and relations between Jamaica and the UK through an adaptation of Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning novel set from the Second World War to 1948. Dara speaks to forces that led to the partition and religious schisms of India and Pakistan. Originally performed at the Ajoka Theatre in Pakistan, Shahid Nadeem’s epic tale of the dispute that shaped modern-day India and Pakistan is brought to life in Tanya Ronder’s adaptation and Nadia Fall’s stunning production.

National Theatre Collection: Volume I

National Theatre Collection: Volume I features 30 high-definition video performances covering a wide range of works regularly studied in secondary and higher education. As a supplement to the filmed productions, exclusive digitized archival materials such as prompt scripts, costume designs, and costume bibles are available to provide behind-the-scenes background and contextual information. 

The collection includes such productions as: 

  • Shakespeare, with vibrant modern stagings, including Twelfth Night, directed by Simon Godwin, with Tamsin Greig in the role of Malvolia
  • Greek theatre such as Medea by Euripides, in a contemporary adaptation by Ben Power, directed by Carrie Cracknell with Helen McCrory in the title role
  • Literary adaptations, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein adapted by Nick Dear and directed by Danny Boyle, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller
  • 20th-century classics such as Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs and the Young Vic’s production of Lorca’s Yerma, adapted and directed by Simon Stone with Billie Piper in the title role
  • Comedies such as One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, directed by Nicholas Hytner, and featuring James Corden's Tony Award-winning performance
  • New writing featuring Consent, Nina Raine’s powerful, painful, funny play that sifts the evidence from every side and puts justice herself in the dock

 

National Theatre Collection: Volume II

National Theatre Collection: Volume I features 30 high-definition video performances covering a wide range of works regularly studied in secondary and higher education. As a supplement to the filmed productions, exclusive digitized archival materials such as prompt scripts, costume designs, and costume bibles are available to provide behind-the-scenes background and contextual information. 

National Theatre Collection: Volume II builds upon the first volume’s 30 videos with an additional 20 high-quality video productions featuring fresh takes on the classics and compelling performances. Exclusive archival content for behind-the-scenes context from the National Theatre Archive will also be added to this volume.

Volume II's initial release includes productions such as:
 
  • All My Sons (2019): From the Old Vic, Jeremy Herrin directs Sally Field and Bill Pullman in Arthur Miller’s blistering drama.
  • Barbershop Chronicles (2017)A co-production with Fuel and Leeds Playhouse, Barber Shop Chronicles is a heart-warming, hilarious and insightful play that leaps from a barber shop in Peckham (London) to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra.
  • Hedda Gabler (2017) Ivo van Hove, one of the world’s most exciting directors, made his National Theatre debut with a modern production of Ibsen’s masterpiece. This vital new version by Patrick Marber features Ruth Wilson in the title role and Rafe Spall as Brack.
  • Julie (2018): August Strindberg's Miss Julie finds a new home in contemporary London. Carrie Cracknell directs a cast including Vanessa Kirby and Eric Kofi Abrefa.
  • The Seagull (2016): Chekhov’s masterly meditation on how the old take revenge on the young is both comic and tragic, and marks the birth of the modern stage. The Young Chekhov trilogy of the playwright’s early work is adapted by David Hare and directed by Jonathan Kent. 
  • Three Sisters (2020): Co-produced by Fuel Theatre, Chekhov’s iconic characters are relocated to 1960s Nigeria on the brink of the Biafran Civil War in this bold adaptation by Inua Ellams.

Availability

National Theatre Collection: Volumes I & II are available for perpetual purchase as standalone collections or as a subscription through the Theatre Performance and Design Collection or Theatre and Drama Premium.

About the National Theatre

The National Theatre’s mission is to make world-class theatre, for everyone. The NT creates and shares unforgettable stories with audiences across the UK and around the world. On its own stages, on tour, in schools, on cinema screens and streaming at home, it strives to be accessible, inclusive and sustainable. The National Theatre empowers artists and craftspeople to make world-leading work, investing in talent and developing new productions with a wide range of theatre companies at its New Work Department. Our nation thrives on fresh talent and new ideas, so the National Theatre works with young people and teachers right across the UK through performance, writing and technical programmes to ignite the creativity of the next generation.

Together with communities, the NT creates ambitious works of participatory theatre in deep partnerships that unite theatres and local organisations – showing that nothing brings us together like theatre. The National Theatre needs your support to shape a bright, creative future. For more information, please visit nationaltheatre.org.uk

About the National Theatre Archive

The National Theatre Archive is a treasure trove of material, covering all of the creative, technical and administrative records of the National Theatre. The collection covers the movement to found the National Theatre and the period from the start of the company in 1963 right up to the present day. There is an online catalogue and in-person access to the archive materials is free of charge in the reading rooms in London. The National Theatre Archive is also home to the Black Plays Archive, an online catalogue for the first professional production of every African, Caribbean and Black British play produced in Britain.



Testimonials

Starting NT Live was probably the best thing I did when I was Director of the National. Since 2009, when it was launched, it has brought many phenomenal shows to millions of people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to see them. The National Theatre Collection makes a brilliant library of productions available to educational institutions who will be able to share what has until now only been available in cinemas. It’s a terrific initiative.

Sir Nicholas Hytner Former Artistic Director of the National Theatre

We are delighted to announce that National Theatre Collection goes live today in partnerships with Bloomsbury and ProQuest. This collection of iconic plays reflects the rich and diverse spectrum of British theatre over the past decades and will now be accessible to students and teachers worldwide for the first time ever. We hope that this new platform will open up the National Theatre to students, teachers and theatre-makers across the globe, whilst also ensuring that drama remains an integral part of a broad education. We would like to extend our thanks to the rights holders of these materials who have made this service possible.

Rufus Norris Artistic Director of the National Theatre

Nothing can replace the experience of seeing work live – but sharing these recordings of so many important NT Live productions will give schools an amazing insight into the world of contemporary production. It isn’t possible for everyone to travel to see work – but watching recordings can encourage and facilitate conversation and share the work nationwide. You can take your time; watch in short sections and share thoughts in the moment. These recordings will create a unique and rich teaching tool – and in a world where funding and support for teaching Drama in schools is being constantly undermined – creating ways for teachers and pupils alike to access this work is more vital than ever.

Paule Constable Lighting Designer

How marvellous that the National Theatre is opening up their archives to reach such a wide audience. Now anyone can have access to fabulous shows from the recent past such as Medea, One Man Two Guvnors and Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller, to mention just a few.

Patsy Trench Author