National Theatre of Scotland Announces New Digital and Streamed Theatre Projects

The National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) is set to continue its new work over the coming months with an innovative mix of streamed theatre and digital projects. These will include two new productions from leading Scottish creatives Hannah Lavery and Adura Onashile, that each addresses contemporary and historical issues around race in Scotland today.

Highlights from the company’s  digital strand will include a musical celebration of Oliver Emanuel and Gareth Williams’ powerful The 306 Trilogy in the form of a new podcast and will be released as download and CD on 11 November 2020.  There will also be the return of Theatre in Schools Scotland for the 2020/21 primary school term, and the announcement of three new Associate roles within the Company who are: Hannah Lavery, Johnny McKnight, and Wezi Mhura.   

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the regular Social Dance Clubs have been being held online every month since April 2020, allowing potentially at-risk LGBTI+ elders to continue to dance and socialise together while unable to meet in person. The next online dance club will take place on 11 October, in a special event presented in partnership with SQIFF (Scottish Queer International Film Festival). The club will be based on the theme of dancing through the decades, and will feature contributions from special guest and new NTS Associate Artist, Johnny McKnight. The clubs will then continue into 2021, with the first monthly event taking place on 10 January with full details to be announced. All events are open to everyone regardless of any dancing experience.

Part of the company’s streamed theatre strand will be the co-production between NTS, Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) and Royal Lyceum Theatre  –  Hannah Lavery’s Lament for Sheku Bayoh. The work is anexploration of race, identity and the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody in 2015. It will be performed live on stage at Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre and streamed to audiences at home on 20 and 21 November 2020. Tickets are available on a Pay What You Can scale from £5 to £25 on the NTS website.

Ghosts, that was written and directed by leading Scottish theatre-maker Adura Onashile, is a brand-new multimedia project, featuring work from immersive media artists Brightside Studios. Audience phones will become a portal into the story of a boy who escaped captivity in 18th Century Glasgow, then leads  them on a journey through the streets of the Merchant City down to the River Clyde. It will be available for download and to experience from 26 February to 12 March 2021.

The successful NTS Scenes for Survivalproject, a pandemic-responsive online series of 55 theatrical shorts broadcast thrice weekly online from May to September 2020 that gained 16 million viewers, will be celebrated as part of the British Council’s 2020 UK/Italy season Being Present. In partnership with the renowned arts theatre Triennale Milano Teatro, NTS will present highlights from the  series, exploring lockdown life in Scotland over the past six months. The first online screening on 10 November will be accompanied by a Cultural Salon, an online meeting organized by NTS and BBC on issues of contemporary culture, with a Q&A session at the end of the screening.

Thenew dramatic podcast entitled The Portal, that isacollaboration between Martin Green, Wils Wilson, and David Greig, has seen the first of 12 episodes released from 25 September, when an  album of original music from the project was also released. 

With the aim of supporting Higher and Advanced Higher Drama students across Scotland, NTS is partnering with EIF on a selection of videos in EIF’s new online educational resource, Digital Direction. The project will connect students with leading theatre practitioners during the current COVID –19 outbreak, whilst they are unable to experience live theatre. The videos will be available on both the NTS and EIF websites from mid-October and will be free to all drama teachers and their students in Scotland. Digital Direction has been developed in close consultation with teachers at Leith Academy, as part of EIF’s three-year residency in the school.

NTS Artistic Director, Jackie Wylie said, “The National Theatre of Scotland, as a theatre without walls, continues to adapt its model and innovate to ensure we can continue to connect with audiences across Scotland and beyond over the coming months, whilst theatre auditoriums remain closed.

What theatre as a medium can do best is react to the issues facing us a nation. I am pleased to announce that we will be bringing two important pieces of work to theatrical life; both speak urgently to the times we are living in by exploring current and historical issues of race, identity, and social justice, as well as blending the live experience through digital platforms…

Partnership now, more than ever, is of vital importance to us and we continue to work side by side with theatres and other like-minded organisations in Scotland to offer unity and strength in our joint creative endeavours.”

While theatres remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NTS will continue to offer entertainment and participation for audiences and ongoing employment for artists over the next six months.

From October 2020, NTS is re-opening Rockvilla, its rehearsal and technical centre on the Forth and Clyde Canal in North Glasgow, for limited access including socially distanced rehearsals of the Company’s work. In December, NTS is offering a special festive programme and is planning on returning to Scotland’s theatre buildings with major tours of work across Scotland from Spring 2021. 

Irene Brown

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