While theatres remain closed, some companies have managed to keep entertaining the nation by moving content online.

With re-runs of iconic performances, as well as innovative productions created under lockdown restrictions, and everything from dance to Shakespeare to spoken word, here is TBB’s list of shows to look out for in the coming month. The best thing: you can watch them all for free.

GREY by Koko Brown – Available on the Brixton House website from 2nd – 9th July

Following the streaming of WHITE, the first part of Koko Brown’s Colour Trilogy, Brixton House will be streaming its sequel, GREY, in the first week of July.

Blending spoken word and vocal looping, GREY explores depression and black women’s mental health.

Writing for the Guardian in 2019, Arifa Akbar described GREY as a ‘brilliant, dark and sharp’ exploration of depression.

Find out more here.

The Protest: Black Lives Matter by Various Artists Commissioned by the Bush Theatre – Available from 15th June

The Protest consists of six videos – ranging in genre from monologue to music to spoken word – released via the Bush Theatre YouTube channel.

The pieces were commissioned by the Bush Theatre in response to the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests across the globe. 

The Protest is a unique and powerful series that begins to articulate the pain and trauma we are currently living through, while also offering an opportunity to reflect and to re-energise.

Find out more here.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Available as part of BBC iPlayer’s Culture in Quarantine series until August.

With Paapa Essiedu (KiriGangs of LondonI May Destroy You) in the leading role, Simon Godwin’s 2016 production reimagines one of Shakespeare’s most iconic tragedies with a backdrop of calypso music and brightly coloured canvases.

Writing for the Guardian in 2016, Michael Billington applauded this production for its ability to even make audience members who might be seeing Hamlet for the 50th time feel like they were experiencing something new.

Find out more here.

Othello by William Shakespeare – Available as part of BBC iPlayer’s Culture in Quarantine series until August.

Iqbal Khan’s 2015 production of Shakespeare’s Othello was ground-breaking on account of being the first production to cast a black actor, Lucian Msamati (Game of ThronesTalking Heads, Gangs of London), as Iago.

Msamati stars alongside Hugh Quarshie (HighlanderThe ChurchStar Wars) in the titular role. Iqbal Khan’s casting choices and use of musical interludes bring fresh insight into the way that race and racism functions within this iconic tragedy.

Find out more here.

Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry – Available as part of National Theatre Home from 2nd-9th July.

Lorraine Hansberry’s final play and the play she considered to be her most important, Les Blancs depicts the struggle of an African country against colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Iconic for its use of the Black Aesthetic, the play follows Tshembe as he returns home from England for his father’s funeral, and immediately gets caught up in political affairs.

Find out more here.

Photo credit: Marc Brenner

Amadeus by Peter Shaffer – Available as part of National Theatre Home from 16th-23rd July.

The last production to be streamed for free via National Theatre at Home, Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus dramatises the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri in eighteenth-century Vienna.

Shaffer’s play won multiple Olivier and Tony awards after its 1979 debut at the National Theatre and went on to be a multi-Academy Award-winning film.

This 2016 production, directed by Michael Longhurst, features Lucian Msamati (‘Master Harold’…and the boys, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) as Antonio Salieri, along with live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia.

Find out more here.

Windrush: Movement of the People by Phoenix Dance Theatre – Available via BBC iPlayer until 21st July.

Founded in 1981, Phoenix Dance Theatre aims to create ‘dynamic, diverse and relevant work that embodies the Company’s rich Caribbean history and shines a light on cultural narratives which are often overlooked or untold.’

Choreographed by artistic director, Sharon Watson, Windrush: Movement of the People uses contemporary dance to recreate the arrival of Caribbean migrants to the UK via the SS Empire Windrush.

The piece reflects on the racism migrants faced upon their arrival, as well as the undeniable influence of Caribbean culture upon Britain, with Christella Litras’ soundtrack drawing on calypso, jazz, gospel, reggae and ska.

Find out more here.

Wasted by Christopher Ash and Carl Miller – Available until Southwark Playhouse re-opens to the public.

Starring upcoming actor, writer and director Matthew Jacobs Morgan (CuffsLove, NinaPure), Wasted is a rock musical that retells the lives of the Bronte children – Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and their brother, Branwell.

The musical takes the structure of a rock documentary, giving an access-all-areas account of the rebellions, heartbreaks and celebrity-status of the Bronte siblings before their untimely deaths.

Find out more here.

Rockets and Blue Lights by Winsome Pinnock – Available via BBC Radio 3 until 14th July.

Winner of the Alfred Fagon Award in 2018, Rockets and Blue Lights by Winsome Pinnock – the first black British woman to have a play staged at the National Theatre – explores the legacy of the slave trade and its ongoing impact on the descendants of enslaved Africans.

The life of a black Victorian sailor is told in parallel to the life of an actress in the 21st century, as audiences are asked to consider the representation of British history – what is represented and what we choose to deny.

Find out more here.

The Way Out by Battersea Arts Centre – Available via BBC iPlayer until March 2021

Starring artists such as Caleb Femi, Botis Seva, Le Gateau Chocolat, The Cocoa Butter Club and Too Hot For Candy, The Way Out is a modern-reworking of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Filmed in Battersea Arts Centre in one continuous, unbroken shot, this piece imitates an immersive theatre show – even as theatres remain closed – featuring everything from song to dance to spoken word, cabaret, hula-hooping and acrobatics. 

The Way Out was commissioned as part of the BBC’s Performance Live strand and released via BBC iPlayer in April 2020.

Find out more here.


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