Scenes for Survival online

May 27 2020 | By More

NTS launches crisis-response online project

The first six pieces of the National Theatre of Scotland’s season of short digital artworks, Scenes for Survival, launches tonight, Wednesday 27 May 2020, and will remain online for two years.

After opening with works that include a new Rebus short with Brian Cox as the Edinburgh detective and a piece by Janey Godley – the irreverent, expletive ridden and hilarious voice-over for Nicola Sturgeon on Twitter – the scenes will be released every week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9pm.

Ian Rankin (writer), Brian Cox (performer) and Cora Bissett (director) for John Rebus: The Lockdown Blues. Picture: NTS

The NTS says that the works have been created, and will continue to be so, in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak. So far there are over 40 pieces ready to air.

The whole programme is intended to serve as: “an inventive alternative online season of short works, following the enforced cancellation of productions and performances from the National Theatre of Scotland, as well as by venues and theatre companies across Scotland.”

The NTS has been able to attract some very high profile actors, writers and directors to the project, with the likes of Liz Lochhead, Val McDermid, Alan Cumming, Greg McHugh and Irvine Welsh with shows in the pipeline.


Hearteningly, some have 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.

The NTS says: “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.”

Each piece has been created by a quarantine creative team, connecting remotely, made up of a performer(s), writer and director and filmed by the performers, from their personal spaces of isolation.


Scenes for Survival will be free to view on

A Mug’s Game
An extract from the 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.
Produced in association with the Citizens Theatre and Stellar Quines.

Morna Pearson (writer) Ashleigh More (performer) and Cameron Mowat (director) for 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.

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.

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, performed by Moyo Akandé and directed by Katherine Nesbitt.
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.

Stef Smith (writer), Moyo Akandé (performer) and Katherine Nesbitt (director) in The Present.

Scenes for Survival is created by the 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.

Scenes for Survival confirmed artists include:
Performers: Moyo Akandé, Maureen Beattie, Cora Bissett, Mark Bonnar, Tam Dean Burn, Neshla Caplan, Amy Conachan, Richard Conlon, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Kate Dickie, Blythe Duff, Douglas Henshall, Dani Heron, Barrie Hunter, Sanjeev Kholi, Patrick Martins, James McArdle, Kristi McDonald, Lorraine Mcintosh, Ashleigh More, Julie Wilson Nimmo, Richard Rankin, Gail Watson and Jonathan Watson.

Writers: Finn Anderson, Peter Arnott, Apphia Campbell, Rob Drummond, Andy Edwards, Oliver Emanuel, Jenni Fagan, Janice Galloway, Kevin Gilday, Catherine Grosvenor, Aine King, Hannah Lavery, Ian Low, Iain Finlay Macleod, Douglas Maxwell, Nicola McCartney, Liam McCormick, Val McDermid, Andy McGregor, Alan McKendrick, Johnny McKnight, Denise Mina, Rona Munro, Noisemaker ( Scott Gilmour & Claire McKenzie), Michael John O’Neill, Morna Pearson, Frances Poet, Uma Nada-Rajah, Ian Rankin, Stef Smith, Tena Štivičić, May Sumbwanyambe, Luke Sutherland, Meghan Tyler and Irvine Welsh

Writer-performers: Liz Lochhead, Janey Godley and Greg McHugh.

Directors: Davey Anderson, Andy Arnold (Artistic Director of the Tron Theatre), Justin Audibert, ​Cora Bissett, Jordan Blackwood, Christine Devaney and Tam Dean Burn, Julie Ellen (Artistic Director of Macrobert Arts Centre), Morag Fullarton, Debbie Hannan, Ben Harrison, Finn den Hertog, Dominic Hill (Artistic Director of the Citizens Theatre), Shilpa T-Hyland, Muireann Kelly (Artistic Director of Theatre Gu Leòr), Jemima Levick (Artistic Director of Stellar Quines Theatre Company), Amy Liptrott (Associate Director at Pitlochry Festival Theatre), Beth Morton, Cameron Mowat, ​Katherine Nesbitt, Eve Nicol, Orla O’Loughlin, Andrew Panton (Artistic Director of Dundee Rep Theatre), Sally Reid, Stasi Schaeffer, Louise Shephard, Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir and Caitlin Skinner.
Writer/directors: ​Zinnie Harris, Greg Hemphill, Robert Softley-Gale (Artistic Director of Birds of Paradise), ​David Greig, Anthony Neilson, and Gerda Stevenson.

Additional creatives: Elizabeth Newman (Artistic Director of Pitlochry Theatre) and Shereen Nanjiani.


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Comments (1)

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  1. Lisa says:

    THANK YOU from Australia for putting this together.

    THANK YOU for allowing people outside of the UK to watch it.

    Most of All, THANK YOU to all the creative people out there who made this.

    Your efforts are appreciated and helpful even at this distance.

    Best Wishes to You All,