Last updated on March 12th, 2021
Are you stuck between four walls and wondering how to entertain yourself at home during Coronavirus self-isolation? Beat the social distancing blues with cinema streaming, some classic laugh out loud books, and keep company with websites and podcasts which will add colour to your world. Listen to some soothing classical music (with plenty of free options) or go for a night out at the theatre and opera without leaving home. So go and put the kettle on, and let’s have fun with a cultural survival guide to self-isolation.
Last updated: 23 March 2020
How to watch new film releases at home
You can watch the latest adaptation of “Emma” starring Anna Taylor-Joy on Amazon Prime and via Sky Store. Also available is “Birds of Prey,” (Amazon Prime and iTunes), “Th Invisible Man” (Amazon Prime and Sky Store) as well as “Frozen” on Disney +.
You can watch the latest indie/arthouse cinema releases with Curzon Home Cinema. Catch “Portrait of a Lady,” “Mr Jones” and “The Truth,” starring French royalty, Catherine Deneuve and “Vivarium.” (27 March). It’s easy to download the app on to your TV or device, (and you enjoy one film from the Wellcome collection for free.) You can also rent arthouse films from BFI Player.
How to watch plays at home
Shakespeare in your living rom
Love Shakespeare? Take a virtual pew in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with Globe Player. Here, you can watch over 50 Globe productions including what I view as the greatest Shakespearian production of my lifetime: Twelfth Night. It stars the great Stephen Fry as Malvolio and the godly Mark Rylance as Olivia. I was lucky to catch this three times on-stage and am now hopping happy that I can see Rylance twirl and Fry prance around in his garters on demand. Oh, the joy!
Watch West End and regional theatre
Thankfully, you can park your bum on your home sofa and still see some Olivier-award worthy theatre on any device (and anywhere in the world.) For £9.99 a month, you can see top-notch theatre (and some opera as well) on Digital Theatre. Watch stage fireworks in the musical “Funny Girl” with Sheridan Smith, catch “All my Sons” with David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker, and see the delicious “Private Lives” with Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor.
Immersive Ldn will be curating the Housetrap Theatre & Arts Festival, which will be streamed live on Friday 3 April from 6.30pm – midnight. The festival is donation based, so audiences can give as they are able, and the money raised will be shared between the artists performing (with a small percentage going to the running costs).
Broadway theatre at yours
Stream Broadway theatre greats with Broadway HD which is also available in the UK. Some favourites include “Ann,” starring Holland Taylor, the five-time Tony-nominated “Falsettos,” and “42nd Street.”
Free Theatre Streaming
You will be able to watch more and more free theatre online now, but do consider donating if you can as the theatres need every pound they can get.
I highly recommend the west end production of Wind in the Willows, written by Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”). It’s a great distraction for the kids (and this mum really enjoyed it).
Keep an eye out on Friday 20 March for the release of “The Show Must Go On” when actors will read the Shakespeare repertoire, in the order in which they were written. It kicks off at 7pm on March 19.
Watch Classical Music, Opera and Ballet at Home
You won’t need opera glasses now, but you could throw caution to the coronavirus wind and get dressed up for some opera streaming at home. You could even get the cocktail shaker going.
If you haven’t tried opera before, now is your chance to see a favourite which is sure to be love at first musical note: Verdi’s “La Traviata.” With a star-studded cast which includes Renee Fleming, Joseph Calleja and Thomas Hampson, it’s conducted by the Royal Opera House’s Music Director, Antonio Pappano with an eye-catching production by Richard Eyre. You can watch “La Traviata” and other operas (as well as some excellent ballet) on Digital Theatre.
Watch over 700 performances on any device, anywhere in the world with the Metropolitan Opera’s Met Opera on Demand app ($14.99 a month).
For £9.99 a month, enjoy some top notch classical music (and opera) from performers around the world with Medici TV.
The Met is also streaming free encore presentations for the duration of the opera house’s closure. All “Nightly Met Opera Streams” will begin at 7:30pm EDT and will remain available via the homepage for 20 hours.
Watch free opera on Opera Vision with productions which include Garsington’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” Remember to check out their fantastic podcast. You can also listen to Lyric FM’s Opera Night with Paul Herriott which broadcasts past performances at the Metropolitan Opera.
- “Peter and the Wolf,” The Royal Ballet, 2010 on 27 March 2020, 7pm
- “Acis and Galatea,” The Royal Opera, 2009 on 23 April 2020, 7pm
- “Così fan tutte,” The Royal Opera, 2010 on 10 April 2020, 7pm
- “The Metamorphosis,” The Royal Ballet, 2013 on 17 April 2020, 7pm
Get a 30-day free trial on Marquee TV with productions from Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House, OpernHaus Zurich and Teatro Real, Madrid.
Couch Classical Concerts
London Mozart Players, the UKs longest established chamber orchestra, are launching At home with LMP an initiative that will help keep audiences connected to music by going virtual. This dedicated web page will allow anyone to access and enjoy performances by LMP musicians and associated artists virtually from the comfort of their own home, ensuring that audiences can connect with the orchestra and experience the transformative power of classical music. Donation-based.
Free Classical Music Concerts
Check the latest live streaming from venues around the world with the Social Distancing Festival.
Listen to the LSO in your living room with a programme which includes full-length concerts twice a week, artist interviews, playlists, film recommendations, activities to keep young music fans busy and much much more.
Quarantine soirees with the Budapest Festival Orchestra Rehearsal Room.
Each night, members of the Budapest Festival Orchestra will give a live chamber music concert called Quarantine soirées for online viewing. Streamed from the BFO’s rehearsal studio these concerts are recommended for all music-lovers locked in their homes.
Bring Museums and British Heritage home with you
Check out #MuseumfromHome for the latest on how museums around the world are keeping us in touch with the art scene. Expect plenty of virtual museum tours (such as the Louvre, the Museé d’Orsay and the National Gallery).
Google Arts and Culture is a fantastic online platform through which the public can access art around the world.
You’ll become a serious Albertphile once you’ve perused The Royal Collections microsite on all things Prince Albert. It includes 23,500 items form the Royal Collection, and his wide-ranging material can be explored together online for the first time.
Go behind the scenes of the Victoria and Albert Museum with Secrets of the Museum.
The BBC has announced its Culture in Quarantine programme.
Thirsty for more? Catherine of Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays has put together a virtual tour guide of museums around the world.
Fun Books to read if you’re Self-isolating
These classic books are sure to put a big fat smile on your face.
“The Moon’s a Balloon,” by David Niven. The best-selling autobiography is the gossipy up-close-and-personal account of the debonair British actor’s life in Los Angeles, where he worked and partied with Hollywood royalty. You’ll probably also want to read the sequel: “Bring on the Empty Horses.”
“Mapp and Lucia,” series, by EF Benson. Take a saunter back to the 20s and 30s and to the seaside town of Tilling in East Sussex. Start with “Queen Lucia” after which you’ll want to devour the rest of the series. You can supplement with the joyous “Mapp and Lucia” TV series (available to rent on Amazon Prime or to buy on DVD).
Read anything in the Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G. Wodehouse (and make sure you watch the spiffingly hilarious TV series as an accompaniment).
“Wilt” by Tom Sharpe. A riotous read about how college lecturer Wilt fantasizes about topping off his unwieldy wife.
“The Uncommon Reader,” by Alan Bennett. It’s a small read, but it packs a cheery punch, especially when you find out that the reader in question is none other than Her Majesty The Queen.
“Vile Bodies,” by Evelyn Waugh. A delicious satire of the Bright Young Things of the 1930s.
“Bridget Jones,” by Helen Fielding. Jonesy and her “silly little dress” need no introduction, but I would say skip the third book in the series and watch the film instead.
“Never have your Dog Stuffed,” by Alan Alda. This entertaining autobiography covers the ups and downs of the glittering world of show business.
You can buy all these books from my Amazon shopfront.
Other Good Stuff
Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries…The Magic (Netflix). Take a backstage tour of Barbra’s Streisand’s life.
Stephen Fry’s Podgrams, including the “7 Deadly Sins” podcast (also available on iTunes).
What could be more apt than the Desert Island Discs?
Watch Joyce DiDonato and friends sing from her living room.
Stay safe and stay well. And stay tuned for many updates on how to entertain yourself at home during coronavirus social distancing.
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