skip to main content

National Theatre Live

Visit National Theatre Live for details of forthcoming broadcasts and venues

National Theatre Live performance of Hamlet being filmed, with a view of the stalls and the stage beyond, with cameras and audience in the foreground

From Stage to Screen | Making National Theatre Live

This is how National Theatre Live send plays from the stage to over 3,500 cinema screens across the globe. Here are a few of the team's secrets.

More info

What is it? How does it work?

National Theatre Live broadcasts live performances of the best of British theatre to cinemas in the UK around the world.

For forthcoming broadcasts visit the National Theatre Live website for details of dates and the venues showing the screenings.

Recent screenings have included Mark Strong in the Young Vic's production of A View From the Bridge and Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet, from the Barbican, the Broadway production Of Mice and Men (North American screenings only), King Lear with Simon Russell Beale, the Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus, Playful Productions’ acclaimed West End play The Audience, with Helen Mirren, Othello, with Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear, and Manchester International Festival’s electrifying production of Macbeth, with Kenneth Branagh as the Scottish king and Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth.


NT Live Sky Arts logo

NT Live launched in June 2009 with a broadcast of Phèdre with Helen Mirren, which was shown in over 200 cinemas around the world and seen by a worldwide audience of more than 50,000 people. The initial season continued with Shakespeare’s All's Well That Ends Well, Nation based on the novel by Terry Pratchett and adapted by Mark Ravenhill, Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art and concluded with London Assurance with Fiona Shaw and Simon Russell Beale. 

The second season of broadcasts launched with an encore screening of Phèdre. The first NT Live collaboration with another British theatre company saw Complicite’s A Disappearing Number, broadcast live from Theatre Royal Plymouth. The season concluded the smash-hit musical FELA! The second collaborative broadcast was King Lear with Derek Jacobi, live from Covent Garden’s Donmar Warehouse.

For the first time ever, National Theatre Live broadcast two separate performances of a production. Throughout the run of Frankenstein, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternated the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. Audiences in cinemas had the chance to see both combinations. The second season concluded with Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, with Zoë Wanamaker.

NT Live’s third season of broadcasts was shown in over 700 cinemas, in 22 countries around the world. The season included One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean with James Corden, Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen, a new play from John Hodge Collaborators, Travelling Light by Nicholas Wright with the award-winning Antony Sher, renowned British comedian Lenny Henry in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith.

2019 welcomes National Theatre Live's tenth anniversary and with it, more broadcasts to more cinemas, in the UK and around the world, than ever before.