MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Nine world-class stage plays, filmed live from Britain’s most exciting stages, will make their Philippine premiere through the CCP National Theatre Live, a newly-minted program of the Cultural Center of the Philippines which aims to provide the best of London National Theatre in a cinema near you.
Through CCP National Theatre Live, the premier arts and culture institution provides yet another exceptional “live” performance experience to expand the cultural palettes of its audiences, while making international theater accessible to theater enthusiasts, playwrights, artists, and the broader public.
First launched in June 2009, the National Theater Live is a groundbreaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas across the United Kingdom, around the world, and now in the Philippine shore.
The CCP partnered with National Theatre Live and the Ayala Malls Cinema to launch the first season, which runs from September 26, 2023, to May 28, 2024, exclusively at Greenbelt cinemas.
For the first season, the lineup features Life of Pi, Frankenstein, The Seagull, Much Ado About Nothing, The Crucible, Fleabag, Othello, King Lear, and Hamlet, all digitally filmed in high-definition quality. NTL films their plays in front of live theater audiences but optimized for the big screen and made accessible to theater fans across the globe.
Experience puppetry, magic, and wonderful storytelling in Life of Pi on September 26. The Olivier Award-winning stage adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel centers on a 16-year-old boy named Pi who is stranded on a lifeboat after a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. Alongside Pi are four other survivors – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Royal Bengal tiger. Life of Pi is adapted for the stage by Lolita Chakrabarti and directed by Max Webster. Filmed live in London’s West End and featuring state-of-the-art visuals, the epic journey of endurance and hope is brought to life in a breathtaking new way for cinema screens.
Directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle, with an adaptation by Nick Dear, catch Frankenstein on October 31. The thrilling, deeply disturbing Mary Shelley classic combines scientific responsibility, parental neglect, cognitive development, and the nature of good and evil. Child-like in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein’s bewildered creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, the increasingly desperate and vengeful Creature is determined to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal.
Captured live on stage in 2011, the sold-out production stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, alternating between the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his creation.
Filmed live in London’s West End, The Seagull will premiere on November 28. Following his critically acclaimed five-star production of Cyrano de Bergerac, Jamie Lloyd brings Anya Reiss’ adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic play to the stage, with Emilia Clarke making her West End debut through The Seagull.
In this 21st-century retelling of Anton Chekhov’s tale of love and loneliness, a young woman is desperate for fame and a way out. A young man is pining after the woman of his dreams. A successful writer longs for a sense of achievement. An actress wants to fight the changing of the times. In an isolated home in the countryside, dreams lie in tatters, hopes are dashed, and hearts are broken. With nowhere left to turn, the only option is to turn on each other.
Brush up on your Shakespearean knowledge with Much Ado About Nothing on December 19. Director Simon Godwin takes on the William Shakespeare classic, with an irresistible comedy, broadcast live from the National Theatre stage. The play follows the story of a legendary family-run Hotel Messina on the Italian Riviera visited by artists, celebrities, and royalty. But when the owner’s daughter weds a dashing young soldier, not all guests are in the mood for love. A string of scandalous deceptions soon surrounds not only the young couple but also the adamantly single Beatrice and Benedick. Katherine Parkinson and John Heffernan lead the cast in this romcom of sun, sea, and mistaken identity.
The CCP National Theatre Live welcomes the new year with Arthur Miller’s The Crucible on January 24, 2024. The play tells a captivating parable of power with a witch hunt. Directed by Lyndsey Turner, this story is about a group of young women in Salem who suddenly find their words have an almighty power. As a climate of fear, vendetta, and accusation spreads through the community, no one is safe from trial. This contemporary new staging, designed by Tony Award-winner Es Devlin, stars Erin Doherty and Brendan Cowell.
Premiering on February 27, 2024, Fleabag is a rip-roaring look at some sort of woman living her sort of life. Written and performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and directed by Vicky Jones, Fleabag may seem oversexed, emotionally unfiltered, and self-obsessed, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With family and friendships under strain and a guinea pig café struggling to keep afloat, Fleabag suddenly finds herself with nothing to lose. The hilarious, award-winning play that inspired the BBC’s hit TV series with the same title was filmed live on stage in London’s West End in 2019.
Another Shakespearean masterpiece, Othello, makes it to the first season of CCP National Theatre Live, screening on March 26, 2024. An extraordinary new production of Shakespeare’s most enduring tragedy, it is about Desdemona and Othello, who are wed in secret and crave a new life together. She’s a bright, headstrong daughter of a senator; elevated by her status but stifled by its expectations. He’s a refugee of slavery; having risen to the top of a white world, he finds love across racial lines has a cost. But as unseen forces conspire against them, they find their future is not theirs to decide. Directed by Clint Dyer, the play features Giles Terera, Rosy McEwean, and Paul Hilton.
A contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s tender, violent, moving, and shocking play King Lear will premiere on April 30, 2024. Considered by many to be the greatest tragedy ever written, King Lear sees two aging fathers – one a King and another, his courtier – reject the children who truly love them. Their blindness unleashes a tornado of pitiless ambition and treachery, as family and state are plunged into a violent power struggle with bitter ends. The play is directed by Jonathan Munby and stars Sir Ian McKellen.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title role of yet another great Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet, premiering on May 28, 2024. As the country arms itself for war, a family tears itself apart. Forced to avenge his father’s death but paralyzed by the task ahead, Hamlet rages against the impossibility of his predicament, threatening both his sanity and the security of the state. The play is directed by Lyndsey Turner.
Witness the magic of the London National Theatre through CCP National Theatre Live. All screenings will be at 5:30 pm, exclusively at Greenbelt cinemas. The regular ticket price is at PHP 250 while special ticket price for students is at PHP 150. Tickets can be purchased at sureseats.com.