National Theatre of Scotland Celebrates Scenes for Survival as Series Comes to End 

Scenes for Survival, the innovative digital series created by National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, will draw to a close over the next six months. Each film will be taken down two years after it was premiered, with audiences being offered the last chance to view.

The projectserved as an inventive 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.

 It launched with six films on the 27th May 2020, seeing  new short artworks released online each week until the week of the 14th September 2021. To date, the programme has garnered over 22 million views across all platforms.

The project was delivered by NTS 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, and saw a host of Scottish performers, writers, and directors create short pieces of digital theatre remotely from their personal spaces of isolation, with films released online for audiences to enjoy for free.

Scenes for Survival won one of the 2020 RNIB See Differently – Coronavirus Heroes Awards, which celebrated making the series fully accessible with audio description, captioning and BSL introductions while Fatbaws, a surreal and hilarious short film written by Douglas Maxwell, directed and performed by Peter Mullan, was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA.

The audio described version ofAleister Crowley Summons the Devil by Denise Mina, performed by Gordon Houston is now the most watched NTS YouTube video of all time.

The 55 short pieces of digital theatre were created by some of Scotland’s most exciting performers, writers, directors, and other creatives working remotely from their personal spaces of isolation. These were filmed from locations across Scotland and the UK, as well as international locations as far-flung as Dublin, New York and Seoul, South Korea and have  been viewed by audiences from 52 countries.

Scenes for Survival served as a conduit for continuing to offer paid opportunities to artists, performers, and other theatre freelancers during a uniquely challenging time. Over 200 creatives and freelancers worked on the project. More than a third of artists involved in Scenes for Survival were working with NTS for the first time, including over half of the writers commissioned for the project.

The season of works also acted as a platform to raise money for a new hardship fund for artists and those in the theatre industry who had been hardest hit financially by the current crisis. Launched by NTS in association with the Federation of Scottish Theatre, the McGlashan Trust, and leading Scottish Theatre organisations, all donations to the fund went directly to providing support for Scottish theatre workers most impacted by the current crisis.

Some of the films– The Longest Summer, performed by Richard Rankin; Janey Godley’s Alone series Part I and II; Peter Mullan’s Fatbawsand The Domestic by Uma Nada-Rajah, performed by Kristi McDonald – achieved more than one million views and Danni The Champion, a short drama from Iain Findlay Macleod was selected for screening at seven international film festivals. 

Irene Brown

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