Filmed versions of theatre productions from companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Court and Young Vic are to be made available to download through a new iTunes-style website called Digital Theatre.
The commercial venture, which has been created through more than £1 million of private investment, will see full length versions of stage shows filmed in high definition using multiple camera angles made available to download and keep at the cost of £8.99 each. The films will be copy protected and only be playable through specific software which is free to download from the site www.digitaltheatre.com.
Launching this week, the first two productions to available to buy will be English Touring Theatre’s Far From the Madding Crowd, recorded at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, and The Container, presented in association with the Young Vic and Amnesty International. Currently, Digital Theatre is working with five partner theatre companies – the RSC, Young Vic, Royal Court, ETT and the Almeida Theatre Company.
The initiative has been set up by theatre director Robert Delamere and TV and radio producer Tom Shaw. Five shows will be made available in the first season, with future productions due to be announced and available for download shortly. Royalties from the shows will be paid to the theatres involved, as well as creatives and performers and agreements have been reached between Digital Theatre and Equity and Bectu over payments to participants.
ETT director Rachel Tackley said the filmed version of its show “cleverly captures the raw energy and dynamism of the live production”, while Royal Court director Dominic Cooke said that “the potential of digital technology to connect with a worldwide audience is genuinely exciting.”
Young Vic artistic director David Lan added: “The combination of new technologies that promise filmed versions of productions that retain vitality and immediacy and producers who understand the needs of artists is a winning one. To create a filmed version of a show as eccentric and challenging as The Container, set in a shipping container, was a challenge. We thought if Digital Theatre can make this work, they can do anything. And they have.”
For more on this story, see this week’s print edition of The Stage.