National Theatre of Scotland launches Scenes for Survival

In response to the coronavirus crisis, the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) will be launching a new season of digital short artworks as part of its crisis responsive artistic project. 

EntitledScenes for Survival,the workshave beencreated in association with BBC Scotland, Screen Scotland, BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine project and Scotland’s leading theatre venues and companies, with support from Hopscotch Films. 

Scenes for Survival will be free for audiences, and will have their Launch Night on 27 May 2020 at 9pm when six shorts will feature. There are 40 + films in total to be released approximately three times a week over the coming weeks. A selection of scenes will also be broadcast on BBC Scotland, BBC Four and BBC Alba over the coming months and distributed by NTS and partners via their social media channels.

The programme will serve as an inventive alternative online season of short works, following the enforced cancellation of productions and performances from NTS as well as by venues and theatre companies across Scotland. 

The first releases will include new short pieces from well-known writers such as Janey Godley, Jenni Fagan, Morna Pearson, Ian Rankin and Stef Smith along with a newly performed extract from a recent celebrated Scottish play: Fibres by Frances Poet.

These Scenes for Survivalwill be performed by acclaimed actors Brian Cox, Kate Dickie, Moyo Akandé, Ashleigh More, Janey Godley, Jonathan Watson, and directed by Cora Bissett, Debbie Hannan, Cameron Mowat, Katherine Nesbitt, Louise Shephard, and Caitlin Skinner with a host of other well respected names from the world of theatre waiting in the wings.

Following an open call out to writers who are Scottish or based in Scotland to submit new monologues or duologues, written and created in English, Gaelic, Scots or BSL, over 200 applications were received. Some artists involved have laudably offered to donate their artistic fee on a pay-it-forward basis to enable further artists to be involved and paid over the coming months.

Artistic Director of NTS, Jackie Wylie, said, “Scenes for Survival will celebrate the extraordinary talent of Scottish theatre-makers. Their resilience and creativity in being able to MAKE theatre from their spaces of personal isolation is incredible. Theatre as an artform is able to be responsive and these stories begin to help us understand the times we are living through and how to collectively imagine our futures…”

Scenes for Survival is being developed and delivered by NTS  in association with an unprecedented number of partner organisations, including Aberdeen Performing Arts, Birds of Paradise, the Beacon Arts Centre, the Byre Theatre, Citizens Theatre, Dundee Rep Theatre, Eden Court Highlands, Imaginate, Macrobert Arts Centre, Perth Theatre, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, Summerhall, Stellar Quines, Theatre Gu Leor, the Tron Theatre and the Traverse Theatre. The season of works will also act as a platform to raise money for a new fund for artists and theatre workers who have been hardest hit financially by the current crisis – Scenes For Survival Hardship Fund.

Through the variety of styles of writing from the various participants, Scenes for Survival will draw attention to the enduring and urgent role of storytelling in the current crisis and explore themes of hope, solidarity, community, escape, imagination as well as stories from the frontline.

Irene Brown

A Mug’s Game – an extract from the critically-acclaimed play Fibres by Frances Poet, performed by Jonathan Watson and directed by Louise Shephard. Centred on the generations of men knowingly exposed to deadly asbestos over years working in the Glasgow shipyards, and the tragic impact left on them and their loved ones, Fibres is a bittersweet comedy infused with Glaswegian resilience and wit. First produced in October 2019 in a co-production between the Citizens Theatre and Stellar Quines, the play toured Scotland to critical and audience acclaim. Jonathan Watson appeared in the premiere last year. Produced in association with the Citizens Theatre and Stellar Quines.

Clearing a new short piece from writer Morna Pearson, performed by Ashleigh More and directed by Cameron Mowat. When the lockdown comes into force a teenage girl finds herself torn between isolating with each of her separated parents. She seeks solace in the nearby woods, a place where she can escape from the worries of her day-to-day life. Produced in association with Aberdeen Performing Arts.

Alone – written and performed by Janey Godley, directed by Caitlin Skinner. Trapped at home with no company save for an adorable dog and a stubborn husband who just won’t be told what to do, a middle-aged woman offers a sobering and darkly funny glimpse into her lockdown experience.

John Rebus: The Lockdown Blues – an exclusive new Rebus short from Ian Rankin, directed by Cora Bissett and featuring Brian Cox as the irascible detective inspector. Imprisoned at home, his only distant link to the outside world coming through infrequent visits from his long-standing colleague Siobhan, an ageing Inspector Rebus reflects on his bizarre solitary confinement.

Isolation – a new short piece from novelist Jenni Fagan, performed by Kate Dickie and directed by Debbie Hannan. Trapped in self-imposed solitude in her bedroom and cut-off from those she loves the most, a lonely woman struggles to come through the hellish, isolating odyssey of her illness. Isolation reunites Jenni Fagan with Debbie Hannan, who directed the 2019 stage adaptation of her stunning debut novel The Panopticon. Produced in association with Summerhall.

The Present -written by Stef Smith, directed by Katherine Nesbitt, and performed by Moyo Akandé. During her solitude, a young woman offers a tender poetic lament to an absent loved one, and takes comfort in imagining a time when they can be together again. Produced in association with the Traverse Theatre.

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