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What’s in – the ultimate guide to fun at home

Sticking to your sofa this week? Step this way for my curated guide to the best streams, theatre, shows, festivals and kids activities to ramp up the fun

Events

Chelsea Flower Show

Always wanted to go to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show? Well now you can – for free (kind of)! The massive garden show is going online for the first time ever this year with behind the scenes tours of the country’s best flower nurseries, plus advice from top garden designers to help you jazz up your own back yard. There’ll also be daily interactive Q&As and, for kids, a School Gardening Club (18 – 23 May).

Music

Radio 1's Big Weekend 2020 Jonas Brothers

Don your best festival garb (glitter, wellies and a drink in each hand) for Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2020 which is going ahead as a virtual event. Pop stars, including Sam Smith and the Jonas Brothers (above), will be performing from their homes and home studios (ideal for all you nosey parkers out there), plus you can watch past performances on BBC iPlayer. Other acts announced include HAIM, Ellie Goulding, Mabel, Naill Horan, Rita Ora and Armand Van Helden (22 – 24 May).

Fan of Foals? The four-piece Oxford band have launched a series of 12 short films over on their YouTube channel, called FBC Transmissions. The weekly episodes show unseen material, backstage footage and cut scenes from the band’s documentary Rip Up The Road.

Meanwhile, pop rock band The 1975 are finally dropping their new album, Notes on a Conditional Form this week after postponing the release date. With a whopping 22 tracks on the album, it’s perfect fodder for rocking out during your unlimited exercise sessions (22 May).

If pop’s not your cup of tea, London Symphony Orchestra is streaming concerts from it’s archives every Thurs (7.30pm) and Sun (7pm) on its YouTube channel. This week you can hear the sweet sounds of Shostakovich Symphony No 6 followed by Steve Reich Quartet and Sextet.

And finally, clever clogs like Lambert Jackson Productions and the Theatre Café are live-streaming to keep you entertained and their West End performers in work. Their Leave a Light On program is a series of music shows streamed live from The Theatre Café for a small fee. This week’s line up inlaces Six the Musical star Jarnéia Richard-Noel. Full line up here.

Theatre

Barber Shop Chronicles poster

Want to watch a National Theatre production for free? Er, yeah! Over on the theatre’s YouTube channel this week you can see The Barbershop Chronicles. Directed by Olivier award-winning director Bijan Sheibani, the play is set across a single day in barber shops across the world. The show is available to watch until 21 May.

Like Macbeth? You’ve got two options this week starting with the Dutch National Opera’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. The performance is sung in Russian, but there’s the option to add English subtitles.

Macbeth Globe Theatre poster

And then, over on the Globe Theatre’s YouTube channel you can watch a 90 minute performance of Macbeth created especially for young people 11+. The show’s promising violence, blood, balloons and confetti (a slightly odd mix, if you ask me) so should be a hit with teens, plus it’s a great way to sprinkle a little culture into their lockdown schedules.

Matthew Bourne Swan Lake
Swan Lake

For ballet buffs, Matthew Bourne has made four of his award-winning productions available to watch online for the first time ever. You can rent any of the shows (take your pick from Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, The Car Man) for £5.99. Alternatively you can buy the show for £9.99 to watch on repeat.

LOCAL OPTION:

Laura Tipper and Mei Nac in Under the Umberella

Set in Coventry and Guangzhou, Amy Ng’s compelling play Under the Umbrella, about a young Chinese woman living and studying in the UK, will be streamed via the Belgrade Theatre’s YouTube Channel from May 22-29.  

The play was first staged at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre in March 2019, and casting includes Mei Mac (Wolf Totem, Handspring and National Theatre Studio; The Apology and Thatcher in China,Yellow Earth Theatre and National Theatre Studio) as Wei and Laura Tipper (City of the Unexpected, National Theatre Wales and Wales Millennium Centre; Tinned Goods, national tour) as her housemate and best friend, Lucy.  

Belgrade Young Company – The Tempest (2016)

Online workshops, Zoom playreading sessions and interactive warm-ups to stay creative under lockdown are launching to mark Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week, (May 18-24) via the Belgrade’s Between Stages hub:

#CityWarmUps – Each week, local creatives including actors, singers, drama practitioners and dancers will take audiences step-by-step through the warm-ups they use to prepare for workshops, shows and rehearsals via videos shared on the Belgrade’s website and social media at 8.30am every Monday. Follow along at home and share your thoughts and photos using #CityWarmUps.

Then on Monday evenings, a free online playreading group with be running via Zoom as part of Nick Hern Books’ national #NHBPlaygroup initiative. Every Wednesday, the publisher is making one of its extensive catalogue of plays free to read online for a week, before releasing a Q&A podcast with the writer. Those interested in taking part in the Belgrade’s online group will have the weekend to read through the plays online before collectively reading and discussing extracts via Zoom at 6pm on Wednesday evenings.

Tues 12 May, sees the launch of Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen will bring members from the Belgrade’s various youth theatre groups together to explore how Zoom might be used as a medium for developing new creative work. This nine-week project will offer up to 20 young creatives the opportunity to learn about writing, acting and directing for the small screen, culminating in the creation and performance of a piece of digital theatre.

Check out all of the above here: belgrade.co.uk/between-stages

TV & Film

The Great British Bake Off meets Gardener’s World in The Big Flower Fight, coming to Netflix this week (18 May). Ten pairs of florists, garden designers and sculptors compete to create the brightest and boldest flower creations. Sticking with the floral theme, you can also watch coverage on this year’s digital Chelsea Flower Show throughout the week on the BBC on new programme Your Chelsea Flower Show.

For your weekend watching, head over to Netflix where you can find new crime comedy The Lovebirds (22 May). Looks like a goodie to offer some much needed light relief. And then, hop over to Amazon Prime video where you can stream Oscar-winning Rocketman, an epic musical about the life of Elton John, starring Taron Egerton. If you haven’t seen it already (erm, where have you been?), it’s a must see and is available from 22 May.

Kids

CeBebies just not cutting it? This weekend take part in Play At Home Fest, a weekender of family fun, organised by renowned child pychologist Dr.Amanda Gummer. The line up includes comedy from Shappi Khorsandi and The Giggle Doctors, plus dance classes, workshops and more (23 – 24 May).

Isolation Creation Club

Kids love to colour? Check out online creative hub, the Isolation Creation Club. The platform was started by sisters Polly and Hetty (aged nine and six), after they created a colouring book and distributed it to local kids in their neighbourhood – sweet! You can download the book online, plus other scribble-worthy activities.

‘Stay at home’ activities originally planned for May half term and ‘Designer Week’ by Warwickshire’s British Motor Museum in Gaydon are now available now until 31 May here. Children can find out how to make planets from milk, use grape juice as an indicator and learn how to make ice cream!

Dare you join in science experiments with the museum’s accident-prone Professor Pumpkin and Dr Pickle?

Families are encouraged to share photographs of their stay at home activities and email them to the British Motor Museum who will share some of their favourites on social media. Please email photographs to: enquiries@britishmotormusueum.co.uk

Museums & Galleries

The Science Museum may be closed but it’s using the power of, erm, science to bring the exhibitions to you with virtual toursonline games and fun kids activities. The collection is also available to view online, with over 325,000 objects and items, many pf which you can view virtually in 3D

Andy Warhol

If Renaissance, Baroque and Impressionism is more your bag, then head straight for the The National Gallery‘s website. The gallery has teamed up with Google Street view to create a virtual tour of the exhibition rooms (watch out for people caught nose picking on camera). And then the Tate Modern is offering a virtual tour of the new Andy Warhol exhibition (above) complete with a commentary from curators Gregor Muir and Fiontán Moran.

Hastings Contemporary in East Sussex wins the award for the most creative way to tackle lockdown with real-time tours around the gallery using a super-techy telepresence robot that patrols the exhibitions. And then, over at cool contemporary gallery Kettle’s Yard in Cambs, you can see snapshots of the exhibitions taken by webcam of the museum. 

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