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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as Doctor Who and Clara behind the scenes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cheery but half-baked canine caper: 'Pudsey the dog: The movie'

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor