DigitalTheatre.com launches HD theatre production player

01Nov09

The problem with going to the theatre is not enough people go.

So 5 theatre production companies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Old Vic have joined together with a new service from Digital Theatre.TV Limited to launch what they hope will be an iPlayer service for theatrical productions.

At launch only one production is currently available online; an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic Far From the Madding Crowd. This is performed by The English Touring Theatre, at a viewing cost of £8.99.

DigitalTheatre.com

The idea of mixing quality theatrical productions with digital viewing doesn’t jar with me. The productions are filmed and streamed on-demand to play on your laptop or link to your HD TV for home viewing.

Clearly the service isn’t trying to provide a purist theatrical experience (no cramped seating, blocked views or late night journey home). Instead it’s built on the model of accessibility and convenience that digital home media players operate so well within. Although the HD credientials and multiple camera-angles do try to leverage some technical superiority in relaying the performances via DigitalTheatre.com. Presumably adding a cinematic affect to the viewing of the performances?

I had hoped there would be a repository of performances available at launch. Plus some free material, lower cost viewing options and background access footage from directors, actors, technical specialists etc. involved with each production. Hopefully this will all appear in time. As only offering one play and charging £8.99 to view it isn’t the brilliant service début I’d perhaps hoped for. But I still look forward to trying the service out soon.

I would imagine Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber would be interested in the commerical accessibility of this sort of service. But producers as diverse as those behind Glyndebourne, Cirque de Soleil, and both The Latitude and Edinburgh Festivals should be getting rather excited by this idea.

I look forward to seeing the list of quality productions grow rapidly for the service to realise its potential.

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