Staff Recommendation/ The NTLive Experience

Cornerhouse Technical Manager Bill Lam has been an NTLive fan from the very beginning…

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since Cornerhouse joined the National Theatre Live programme. My involvement began in late 2010, to oversee all technical operations and to ensure Cornerhouse met the NTLive technical standards. I can still remember the testing period in October 2010: intrigued, I had a half hour window in Cinema 1 to see Complicite’s A Disappearing Number broadcast live from Theatre Royal, Plymouth. It was only then that I realised the programme’s true potential to give our customers the best audio visual experience. Everything is captured in full high definition, beamed directly to our digital projector. As for sound, it covers all dialogue on stage with plenty of volume and clarity, while you’ll also appreciate the surround picking up a distant cough or laughter from the audience in the theatre. It does give the sense that you’re there. The camera work is superb: close ups of the cast to the grand scale of the stage make every seat in the cinema the best seat in the house.

Part of the strength of NTLive is of course the variety and scale of the productions. Our first public broadcast of Hamlet in December 2010 was a sell-out and the audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties beyond our control, subsequent broadcasts of Fela, King Lear and Frankenstein had to be cancelled. Looking down from the projection booth, despite all my efforts, I was sad that we weren’t able to broadcast these productions to our enthusiastic audience. However, we did seek permission from National Theatre to provide repeat screenings. This was particularly important for us and gave our audience another opportunity to see these plays.

Given how passionate I am about the programme, I was determined to make things right. The live programme kick started smoothly again with The Cherry Orchard, One Man, Two Guvnors and most recently, The Kitchen. What’s fascinating is that none of the productions feel out of place on a big screen, thanks largely to the modern digital equipment which brings us the ‘as live’ experience. Ever unbiased, I don’t have a favourite. I am, however, looking forward to the latest season of productions, with Collaborators next month, Travelling Light in February, William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors starring Lenny Henry in early March, followed by She Stoops to Conquer in late March. I hope you can join us.