First Opera, Now Theater Broadcasting in HD at a Movie Theater Near You

Just last week we heard that the Metropolitan Opera’s movie theater broadcasts were selling record numbers of tickets. Now here comes the theater equivalent: The National Theatre in Great Britain will transmit a high-definition replay of The Habit of Art, Alan Bennett’s new play. Personally, I’ve never liked filmed plays – there’s a loss of intimacy there that gives theater its edge. They always feel like bad movies. I can understand the appeal of opera in the theater because the theater’s sound system may add to the musical experience. So if any of our readers do go to the National Theatre broadcast, do tell us how went. The broadcasts begin tomorrow at the Angelika Dallas and continue through Sunday at the Angelika Plano. More information after the jump.


A live performance from the UK’s National Theatre transmitted in high-definition to the Angelika Film Centers

‘Another absolute cracker, often wonderfully and sometimes filthily funny, but also deeply and unexpectedly moving’ – Daily Telegraph on THE HABIT OF ART

HOUSTON – Alan Bennett’s highly acclaimed new play THE HABIT OF ART, directed by Nicholas Hytner, was filmed live at the National Theatre in London on Thursday 22 April, and broadcast by satellite to cinemas worldwide. THE HABIT OF ART is the final play in the pilot season of NT Live, following the hugely successful broadcasts of Phèdre, All’s Well That Ends Well and Nation (a second season of NT Live will be announced shortly).

THE HABIT OF ART will screen in high-definition at the Angelika Dallas on Dallas on Wed., May 5 and Thurs., May 6 at 7 p.m. and at the Angelika Plano on Sun., May 9 at 2 p.m. and Tues., May 11 at 7 p.m.

THE HABIT OF ART is as much about the theatre as it is about poetry or music. It looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men – Benjamin Britten and W H Auden – and at the ethics of biography. It reflects on growing old, on creativity and inspiration, and on persisting when all passion’s spent: ultimately, on the habit of art.

Benjamin Britten, sailing uncomfortably close to the wind with his new opera, Death in Venice, seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend, W H Auden. During this imagined meeting, their first for twenty-five years, they are observed and interrupted by, amongst others, their future biographer and a young man from the local bus station.

The cast is led by Richard Griffiths (as WH Auden), Alex Jennings (Benjamin Britten), Adrian Scarborough (Humphrey Carpenter) and Frances de la Tour (Kay the Stage Manager).THE HABIT OF ART is Alan Bennett’s fifth play for the National Theatre. His last play, The History Boys, opened at the Lyttelton in 2004, toured nationally and internationally, played in the West End and on Broadway, and was adapted for the screen. Among its many awards were the Laurence Olivier, Tony and Critics Circle Awards for Best Play, and the South Bank Show Award for Theatre.

NT Live performances are filmed live at the National Theatre in high definition and broadcast via satellite to over 330 cinemas and performing arts centres around the world, live in Europe and some US cities, and time-delayed in countries further afield. The pilot season of NT Live began in June with the hugely successful broadcast of Phèdre with Helen Mirren, which was seen by 50,000 people in 19 countries around the globe. NT Live screenings in international venues, including the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Scandinavia and Europe, are supported by Travelex, the world’s foreign exchange and business payments specialist.

Please note: THE HABIT OF ART contains strong language and sexual references.


Daily Telegraph:  I can think of few plays that combine wild laughter, deep emotion and technical ingenuity with such bravura. The Habit of Art is a smash hit if ever I saw one… Alex Jennings is superb… Frances de la Tour, as the stage manager and Adrian Scarborough as the biographer Humphrey Carpenter, give performances of comic perfection.

Independent: Bennett the maestro returns with a multi-layered masterpiece… Richard Griffiths is superlative.

Mail on Sunday: The glorious quality of the writing – brimming with humanity and humour – and Nicholas Hytner’s flawless production carry you along in a wave of pleasure.

Guardian: A superbly fluid production by Nicholas Hytner is beautifully acted… a deeply moving play.

Observer: A tsunami of jokes, a tidal wave of argumentative statements, a gorgeous gust of opinion.

Sunday Times: A richly thought-provoking piece… deft, amusing and so intelligently and generously crafted that it makes you feel clever just watching it.

The National Theatre

The National Theatre, founded in 1963, and established on the South Bank of the River Thames in London in 1976, has three theatres – the Olivier, the Lyttelton and the Cottesloe. It presents an eclectic mix of new plays and classics, with seven or eight productions in repertory (sharing the stages) at any one time. Actors often appear in more than one play during a season; for example Elliott Levey, who appears in The Habit of Art, also appeared in All’s Well That Ends Well (broadcast as part of NT Live in October 2009). The National aims constantly to re-energise the great traditions of the British stage and to expand the horizons of audiences and artists alike, and aspires to reflect in its repertoire the diversity of the nation’s culture. With its extensive programme of Platform performances, backstage tours, foyer music, exhibitions, and free outdoor entertainment the National recognises that the theatre doesn’t begin and end with the rise and fall of the curtain.  By touring – and now, NT Live – it shares its work with audiences in the UK and abroad.  The first NT Live season has aimed to capture the diversity of the National’s work:  a classic tragedy, a Shakespeare, a family show and a new play (The Habit of Art).

NT Live is funded in partnership with Arts Council England and NESTA, and supported internationally by Travelex. NT Live is supported by The Northern Rock Foundation. NT Live events are distributed outside the U.K. through New York-based BY Experience, Inc.

The Habit of Art is supported by a group of individual donors. For a list of participating locations and ticket information please visit


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