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TheatreHD - World Classic on The Big Screen

TheatreHD - World Classic on The Big Screen

The TheatreHD project is a new look at the theatrical art, which becomes even more accessible to its true connoisseurs. The best plays of the world's theaters are broadcast in cinemas in Russia and take viewers to the halls of the British "Globe", the American "Metropolitan Opera" and the Moscow Bolshoi theater.

Autumn is the time of the opening of theatrical seasons, so we decided to talk about “TheatreHD” with the head of the art Association CoolConnections (the company organizes film festivals and shows on the big screen of theatrical plays, opera, ballet, concerts, serials) Nadezhda Kotova.

How did the idea of the TheatreHD project come about? What difficulties have you encountered in its implementation?

The idea of showing theatrical plays in the cinema is inspired by the ideals of the national enlightenment: first in Sweden, and then in England, the national theaters decided to become "artistically accessible" - at the modern technical level of "accessibility". Not every viewer from a small town could afford to get to the Swedish "Dramaten" or the London National Theatre, but to get to the nearest cinema and there to watch the live broadcast of the capital's performance via satellite is quite possible.

The project began in the summer of 2012, when for the first time in Russia there were screenings of the production of the British Royal national theatre "Frankenstein" starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. At first it was very difficult to persuade cinemas to put theatrical screenings — it was a new direction, the sites doubted success. But the stunning success of the broadcast revealed a huge interest in unusual content, because viewers have an alternative to Hollywood blockbusters.

Now the performances are shown in more than 30 cities of Russia. The geography of shows is constantly expanding. The mission of the TheatreHD project is to make the world's best plays available to everyone.

Tell us, is not your theatrical spirit lost when you watch a play in the cinema?

I think it’s not: in the same way, the audience is covered with a wave of pleasure when a favorite actor appears on the stage. Again, in the cinema you never sit in the back (because seats prices are equal), by default you are somewhere closer to the stalls, well, and the advantage of close-ups has not been canceled. Sound quality, a large screen distinguish viewing in the cinema from home: for the effect of immersion in the production, of course, you need people around, a dark hall, and then you can feel the theatrical atmosphere for real.

Due to the time difference, most Russian cities do not see the broadcast, but its recording, along with comments from guests of the evening, actors and interesting inserts in the intermissions. Thanks to the screenings, the public has the opportunity to see on stage the elected representatives of the British acting school. World stars of films and TV series Benedict Cumberbatch, Helen Mirren, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Bill Nye and other British actors play their best roles in the theater. All performances are subtitled in Russian, which allows you to hear the real voices and intonations of your favorite actors.

Was it difficult to convey the idea to the audience? Not everyone understands why they should go and watch a theatrical play at the cinema if they can download and watch it at home.

The performances we show, with rare exceptions, are not available on DVD and are not available on the Internet. The audience of a theatrical performance in the cinema is not the one that usually goes to the cinema. It is a completely different – people who are able to choose. Before deciding how to spend their leisure time, they spend some time trying to figure out what they want to see — it can be independent cinema, theater, opera, and ballet.

Broadcast “TheatreHD” attracts fans of the playing of British actors, known for acclaimed films and TV series, lovers of classical music, real theatergoers interested in modern art, learning English and just viewers who want to be aware of everything new.

How are the plays to be broadcast selected?

The “TheatreHD” project shows are formed of three components: the Metropolitan Opera, the Bolshoi theatre ballets, and the British theatres. Each theater has its own plan of shows, but we try to choose the most interesting for our audience.

Recently, you are increasingly organizing screenings not only of theatrical and opera productions, but also of films and TV series — for example, "Doctor Who". Which is more popular — theater or cinema?

Our Theatrical film season and, for example, "the day of the Doctor" are content for completely different audiences. The strategy of our company is selecting the content we are interested to work. Theatrical content has certainly become a separate activity, but the film festival screenings have not gone away, as well as the repertory planning of some cinemas. We are constantly looking for something that will be interesting to us and interesting to the viewer. To the different viewer.

Text by
Oksana Semenikhina