To download or not to download, perchance to stream... that is the question a new digital project hopes to solve by making performances of Shakespeare's plays available to a global audience on demand for the first time.
London's Globe Theatre has made over 50 productions available to download as full-length high-definition films on its dedicated online platform, in what it said Tuesday was a world first.
Among the plays featured is a highly acclaimed production of "Twelfth Night", starring British actors Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry, as well as Roger Allam's award-winning performance in "Henry IV, Part 1" and "Henry IV, Part 2".
Other much-loved classics include "The Taming of the Shrew", "As You Like It", "Love's Labour’s Lost" and "Romeo and Juliet".
The films, available to rent for £3.99 (5.1 euros, $6.4) or to buy for £7.99 at GlobePlayer.tv -- a fraction of the price of a live performance, are compatible with smartphones and tablets.
"The Globe is always looking for bold new ways to take Shakespeare out into the world and share his astonishing plays with as many people as possible," said the theatre's artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole.
A series of foreign-language productions staged as part of the theatre's international "Globe to Globe" festival, coinciding with the London 2012 Olympics, are also available on the website.
In addition, over 100 interviews can be downloaded for free with actors including Judi Dench, Ewan McGregor, Sir Ian McKellen and Jude Law, discussing Shakespeare's theatrical works.
The theatre on the south bank of the River Thames, a reconstruction of the Elizabethan playhouse where the Bard's plays were first performed, has been filming productions since 2009.
The project is the latest development in the trend for live links and broadcasts of plays, after New York's Metropolitan Opera began screening performances in cinemas in 2006.