British companies adopt Digital Theatre

Theatrical companies make plays available for download

LONDON -- Five leading British theatrical companies have signed on to a new online service called Digital Theatre that will make stage productions available for high-definition download.

Stage director Robert Delamere and producer Tom Shaw, partners in Altered States Media, founded the company, which launched Oct. 26 with the English Touring Theatre production of "Far From the Madding Crowd" in a new adaptation by Mark Healy. Downloads cost £8.99 ($14.69).

The Young Vic will follow with a production of Clare Bayley's "The Container" in association with Amnesty International. The Almeida Theatre, the Royal Court, and the Royal Shakespeare Company will also participate, and the venture has the support of U.K. unions Equity and BECTU.

Delamere and Shaw said they aim to make, which they said works on all major browsers and operating systems, "the focal point for theatre-based entertainment online."