National Theatre for national cinema

'Phaedre' to kick off initiative on Picturehouse screens

LONDON -- Coming to a movie screen near you: National Theatre plays.

The U.K.'s largest circuit of independent cinemas, operated by City Screen, said Tuesday that it has struck a deal with the National Theatre to beam plays live via satellite into movie screens across the country.

The initiative, titled NT Live, will kick off in June with the NT's new production, a production of Jean Racine's "Phaedre" that will star Helen Mirren, Margaret Tyzack and Dominic Cooper.

Picturehouse Cinemas, owned and operated by City Screen, will carry the alternative content on select screens. The movie theater operator also said it will sub-license broadcasts to other independent cinemas throughout the U.K., and certain key cities will screen the production through Cineworld and Odeon multiplexes.

The performance of "Phaedre" will be filmed in high-definition and broadcast via satellite to approximately 50 cinemas across the U.K. and 100 worldwide.

Tickets for the live broadcast of "Phaedre" will go on sale to National Theatre and Picturehouse Cinema members later this month and to the general public at the beginning of April, priced at 10 pounds ($14).

The play tells the tale of a woman who believes her absent husband to be dead and is consumed by passion for her young stepson. When her husband returns, the woman, fearing exposure, accuses her stepson of rape.

City Screen's Picturehouse Cinemas has previously programmed live opera, ballet and other events over the last three years, including the first ever live broadcast of ballet from Royal Opera House, and programming from New York's Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera.

"This is such an interesting way to develop the art form and I can't wait to see the performance in one of our cinemas," Picturehouse Cinemas managing director Lyn Goleby said.

National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner added that if he could have gone to see National Theatre plays when he was growing up in Manchester, he would have done it "all the time."
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