Mirren brings stage to silver screen

Oscar-winner to star in Racine's 'Phaedra' as National Theatre broadcasts live theatre to 150 cinemas worldwide

When Helen Mirren announced that she had finally found a window in her film schedule to tread the boards after a six-year absence from the stage, her fans couldn't wait to book their tickets to see Phaedra at the National Theatre this summer.

But yesterday it emerged that even her grand return to theatre will be filmed for cinema. The cameras just can't seem to stay away from Mirren.

Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, revealed that Mirren had become the first theatre actor to give her approval to having one night of her performance at the National filmed and broadcast live in 150 cinemas across the globe.

In an unprecedented move, Hytner has decided to allow cameras into four productions this year to stream theatrical performances live to 50 cinema auditoriums in the UK, as well as about 100 further afield, where plays could be broadcast up to 24 hours after they had been performed.

The theatre is currently in consultation with independent cinemas. Hytner said filming would include close-ups of actors, and would most likely take place a week or two after opening night. Audiences would be offered cheaper tickets due to the presence of the cameras. What he also envisaged was additional footage for cinema viewers, including backstage and interviews during intervals.

Hytner called the move, which emulates the Royal Opera House in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, an "experiment" that would initially cost the theatre £200,000.

But if proven successful, it would allow cinema audiences around the world to tune into live theatre for a cut-price £10 ticket and become blueprint for other theatres in the West End.

Mirren, said Hytner, would be fronting a major PR campaign, called NT Live, from the end of April, to highlight the plan. The hope is that audience figures would increase because of Mirren's performance in the live cinema version. He said three other plays would be shown in the same way, but declined to name them yet.

"It felt to us that someone in theatre had to try this and that it had to be us. We will spend money on this relatively expensive operation and we will see if there's a call for it," he said.

Hytner added that had there been live streaming when he was growing up in Manchester, he would have benefited from them. "If (Laurence) Olivier's productions had been available in Manchester when I was a teenager, I would have gone every time," he said.

Last September, the theatre revealed they had secured Mirren for the lead role in Racine's tragedy, which is translated by the poet, Ted Hughes. It will be directed by Hytner and ticket bookings open on 13 March. It will be Mirren's first stage appearance since winning an Oscar for her performance in the film, The Queen. She last trod the boards in 2003.

Hytner also announced a new play by Alan Bennett, about the poet, WH Auden, which would feature a fictional meeting between Auden and Benjamin Britten that led to the end of their friendship in the 1940s.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick