A chronological list of available Royal Shakespeare Company productions and where to watch them.

Theatre is ephemeral.  Records often exist. There will be programmes. Costumes kept in archives along with photographs, annotated scripts, director's notes.  But outside of the publication of the text, it's mostly fleeting, an experience between actors and audiences which mostly lives on in the memories of participants, for better or worse.

Some productions survive.  Quite often they'll be recorded by the company or theatre either on audio or video, usually with a camera filming the whole stage from a fixed point, available for future academics and practitioners to view at the theatre or connected building.  The National Video Archive of Performance contains plenty of those.

Increasingly, though, national theatres including the National Theatre are filming their productions for a commercial audience, either through cinema projection or DVD release or both.  During the lockdown many of these recordings have been made available for free or a small donation and there are now streaming subscription services containing dozens of past shows.

Britbox have recently made twenty-five of the recent RSC Live presentations available alongside their television archive for £5.99 a month and I thought it would be useful or interesting to watch them in their original seasons and recreate the thematic connections, the experience of turning up in Stratford-Upon-Avon and looking at the poster outside.  Which necessitated making a list.

Then I wondered what other Shakespeare productions across the years are available in some form or other, outside of their archived audio or video, whole shows and also excerpts either in compilation releases or television documentaries.  How much of the RSC's bard history is available to the general public either filmed in theatre or reproduced in a studio setting?

Plenty and not much.  As you'll see, from this chronology I've created over the past week, people with academic credentials have access to a number of mid-twentieth century productions recorded for BBC television through Box of Broadcasts (and the BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource).  Outside of that there are a few other similar studio bound reproductions, usually starring Sir Ian McKellen.

There are also excerpts, snatches of productions or whole acts and the sources for these are included below (records or documentaries), although I've excluded the particular Act or Scene numbers to keep the list relatively simple to read, but that's usually a click away.  The link in each title will take you to a production profile which may contain photographs.

Where possible I've also linked to somewhere you can actually watch or see these plays, either right then or through subscriptions and purchases.  There is further archive material on the RSC website, the Birthplace Trust archive (which was invaluable in compiling this list), the RSC's YouTube channel begun in 2010 and the exhibition pages at Google Arts & Culture.

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