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National Theatre LIVE in the BVI

National Theatre Live - Othello

National Theatre LIVE

“cause when there’s life there’s still hope”

― Michael Morpurgo, War Horse

Photography provided by Nadia Menezes and Harriet Robertson

The BVI is privy to multiple cultural diversions—some more exclusive and challenging to discover—that form its universal image as a location offering varied activities.

In collaboration with H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC), Appleby Global offshore law firm commenced screenings of fantastic British dramas through the National Theatre Live series in the final quarter of 2013.

The set of plays showcase award-winning performances across the globe from the UK’s National Theatre and has been enjoyed by 1.5 million people worldwide. The inspiration to screen these performances globally is part of the National Theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

National Theatre Live - Macbeth
Discussing the success of the series since its inception in the BVI, Nadia Menezes, organiser and lawyer at Appleby—who are the sponsors—and Harriet Robertson, associate director in setting up the series, both agreed that their desire to increase cultural activity in the Territory, motivated their pursuit of this initiative. With their efforts to make this activity a reality spanning more than a year, Harriet said, “I’m a general culture-vulture and theatre lover. Some time ago, Nadia and I separately stumbled across National Theatre Live productions [in New York and in Sydney respectively] and we both realised what an amazing way it was to open up theatre to wider audiences and to more remote locations. Perfect for the BVI.”

Nadia, who shares Harriet’s passion for theatre agreed: “I…was determined to see how we could introduce more cultural entertainment activities and a regular theatre programme in the BVI. This project makes internationally renowned theatre performances and the arts accessible for the BVI community, and combines education with entertainment.”

The first four performances—Frankenstein, the thrilling gothic classic, Macbeth, which invites viewers to a movie-style presentation of a Shakespearian play about deceit, betrayal and murder, Habit of Art, a comedy with the late Richard Griffiths, and Hamlet, a renowned Shakespearian play exploring the depths of the human condition—have achieved success.

National Theatre Live - Frankenstein
National Theatre Live - Frankenstein's Birth

Harriet and Nadia anticipated a novel spectacle in provision of this activity for the BVI and acted on their mutual aspiration: “…It was very exciting for me to learn that Nadia had similar ambitions to bring world class theatre to the island,” commented Harriet. “Thanks to support from Appleby and a lot of perseverance, we are very happy to say the first events have been a huge success and exceeded our expectations.”

A crowded auditorium was entertained at the powerful performance of Frankenstein on Halloween night of 2013 and this enthusiasm funnelled into the subsequent display of the melancholic Macbeth in the following month. Tickets were donated to HLSCC English students and BVI High School Drama Club pupils for separate performances, in alignment with Harriet and Nadia’s admirable goal of providing education in synchrony with entertainment.


Nadia perceptively noted that although there are cultural pursuits on the island, they can be difficult to find and on many occasions remain entirely invisible. To combat this challenge, Nadia said, “We have been very proactive in marketing the events and spreading the word about this exciting new project.”

National Theatre Live - Othello

With the reasonable price of NTL tickets fixed at a similar rate to visiting the cinema, the BVI audience is granted a fantastic opportunity – London costs would be substantially more expensive. Nadia and Harriet noted that arguably the performances surpass the experience of live theatre – close up camera angles present all the drama and emotion, whilst wider shots and some cleverly mastered 360 degree views reveal the splendour of the sets, providing ‘Godlike’ perspectives and views from stalls’ seats simultaneously.

Concluding, Harriet revealed her optimism in growing the audience attendance of the younger generation commenting that, “the BVI is a community of people from all around the world, with different backgrounds and cultures. Theatre offers a way to unite and connect through the universal themes of love, loss, revenge and sadness.”

National Theatre Live - War Horse

In discussing the task of gathering sponsorship, Nadia said: “I was able to get the support of my employer, Appleby, in order to sponsor this initiative.” Appleby’s philanthropic motion in this enterprise provided all the equipment, content for the theatre screenings and administration assistance. There is also discussion of donating ticket sale proceeds to theatre and art scholarships for HLSCC.

This month, a new production of William Shakespeare’s celebrated play Othello will be presented on Saturday 22 (at date of print) telling the story of the destructive power of jealousy.

National Theatre Live - War Horse
National Theatre Live - War Horse

With an impending bright future, the National Theatre’s original stage production of War Horse and King Lear by William Shakespeare are impending performances to revere with great anticipation.

Though the dates are still to be confirmed, March 22 and April 5 are possible dates for National Theatre Live’s adaptation of War Horse and May 24 for King Lear.

Erin Paviour-Smith

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