Rathi Kumar

Operations Director, Young Vic

Putting audiences in the director’s chair


13 min

Innovate, not just replicate.

Those four words would serve as a guidepost for London’s Young Vic as its staff navigated the pandemic. Known for its pioneering programming, the theatre emphasizes learning and discovery. The company operates with a mandate to let artists lead. And the team believes theatre is best when everyone can participate.

So when COVID-19 forced lockdowns and social distancing, it was imperative the Young Vic find new ways to fulfill its mission. Centerpiece engagement programs moved to virtual gatherings. But then staff began to explore creative options for its traditional stage offerings. They saw a market saturated with online arts content.

“We knew we had to enter with something that would allow us to produce online content in a new and exciting way.”

“If we wanted to make our mark in this space,” says Rathi Kumar, the Young Vic’s Operations Director, “we knew we had to enter with something that would allow us to produce online content in a new and exciting way.”

The result is Best Seat in Your House, the Young Vic’s multi-camera broadcast platform that launched in August 2021. Kumar shared its origin story with attendees at the Tessitura Learning & Community Conference in Denver.

Best Seat in Your House takes livestreaming to a new level. The player gives audiences a say in how they watch a performance. Viewers can switch back and forth from at least six camera angles. Or they can sit back and enjoy the director’s cut of the show.

The enhancements don’t stop there. The Best Seat in Your House experience also centers accessibility. Every performance includes live captioning, audio description and British sign language. Ushers respond to online chats to ensure service levels like those provided in the venue.

“We know the experience of theatre online is not the same as theatre in person,” Rathi says. “But if we could enhance the streaming experience through multiple viewing angles and ultimately create a more engaging, immersive and accessible product, we hoped this would broaden the streaming appeal.”

The experiment surpassed expectations and expanded the Young Vic’s reach to a global theatre audience. Viewers from as far away as Australia, Japan and Rwanda joined those in Europe and North America for streamed performances.

“Feeling part of an international community and creating the opportunity for that community to experience our stories from wherever they are located is one way to minimize our differences and reinforce our common humanity,” Rathi says.

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Rathi Kumar presented this talk as part of the Innovator Series at the Tessitura Learning & Community Conference in August 2022. Want to experience Best Seat in Your House? Check out this online demo or watch the Young Vic’s premiere musical Mandela, streaming Jan. 19–23, 2023.

Rathi Kumar

Rathi Kumar

Operations Director
Young Vic

Rathi Kumar has worked in the performing arts for more than 13 years, leading project management, organisational efficiency, strategy and operations.

As Operations Director of the Young Vic, she is responsible for ensuring the organisation is strategic in its use of resources across people, operations and business systems, and that risk across the organisation is effectively mitigated. She is also focused on embedding the Young Vic’s commitment to creating a people-centred, antiracist culture. Rathi originally joined the Young Vic in 2017 as Director of IT and Administration.

Prior to the Young Vic, Rathi spent more than eight years at the Roundhouse developing business systems, streamlining business processes and leading high impact projects. Throughout her career, she has been very involved in the Tessitura community, most recently serving on the Member Advisory Committee as a UK/EU representative, where she has been a strong voice for the nuances in UK legislation and the impact that has on Tessitura system development. She is currently a member of the Tessitura Network's Board of Directors.

Rathi is passionately committed to positively contributing to arts and culture, ensuring the principles of representation, inclusion and accessibility are deeply embedded into organisational practice in order to remove barriers to engagement, while championing organisational efficiency and sustainability.


Arts & Culture




Virtual Experiences


Innovator Series