Scenes for Survival

Mar 21 2020 | By More

NTS creates online theatre project, supports artists

The National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) is to deliver a digital season of new theatre, a “crisis responsive artistic online project” fulfilling its ‘without walls’ remit and providing support to theatre practitioners.

Edinburgh’s Traverse and Lyceum theatres as well as Stellar Quines and Imaginate have already signed-up to help with the project which will engage – and pay – a host of actors, writers and directors to create short pieces of digital theatre “remotely from their personal spaces of isolation”.

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Scotland. Photo Christopher Bowen.jpg

The project is being delivered in association with BBC Scotland and BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine project. The works will either be new works from Scottish writers or works from much-loved Scottish classic and contemporary texts.

The NTS will announce a call-out opportunity for writers to be commissioned to write short new pieces for the project. Creative teams/pairings for the project will be announced over the next few weeks.

Established performers who have already confirmed their support of the project including Cora Bissett, Mark Bonnar, Tam Dean Burn, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Kate Dickie, Blythe Duff, Greg McHugh, Lorraine Mcintosh, Adura Onashile, Julie Wilson Nimmo and Robert Softley Gale.

overcome our isolation

Actor Tam Dean Burn said: “We can overcome our isolation by reaching out to each other by whatever means we can, and art still gives meaning to our lives, transcending the difficulties we face”

Written contributions have already been confirmed from Jenni Fagan, Greg Hemphill, Denise Mina, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, who said: “Stories are what bring us together and hold us together. There will be an ‘afterwards’ and our stories will prepare us for that.”

Tam Dean Burn. Pic: Pako Mera

The season is being produced in association with key Scottish theatres who have been critically hit economically by the COVID-19 virus. Other theatres across Scotland who have signed include the Citizens, Tron, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, the Beacon, Perth Theatre and Horsecross Arts, Eden Court, Macrobert Arts Centre, Dundee Rep, Birds of Paradise and the Byre Theatre.

Other ongoing activity from the National Theatre of Scotland will be refocused as a digital offering or opportunity for artists and audiences including Engine Room, ongoing casting meetings for actors, Play Dates, a digital programme for children, young people and their families and The Coming Back Out Balls’s Online Dance Clubs for LGBTI+elders.

Rights issues

The NTS is also exploring the rights issues involved, with a view to sharing filmed versions of acclaimed previous productions with online audiences.

All the National Theatre of Scotland’s digital offering during this time will be free for audiences and available via the Company’s online platforms and social media channels with Scenes for Survival content shared with BBC Arts, BBC Scotland and associate theatre organisations.

Adura Onashile, who has signed up for the project. Pic Peter Dibdin

Announcing the innovative response to COVID-19, Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director of the NTS said: “We are living through a period that is unprecedented in my lifetime.

“In Scotland during times of crisis we have always turned to our storytellers to offer connectivity, solace and joy. We want to bring audiences together online despite our collective isolation.

When we come through the other side of this era-defining moment we will all feel changed by what we have been through and it is theatre that will allow us to imagine, with hope, where we are going to find ourselves and how it will feel. Theatre matters, more than ever.”

She added: “The National Theatre of Scotland is part of a theatre sector that is struggling to survive through these times. Scenes for Survival will provide much-needed paid opportunities for artists, celebrate our exceptional national culture and raise money for the freelance community who are experiencing drastic economic and emotional hardship.

“We thank those who have come forward with such immediate generosity to get us started.

“We know that theatre is also about the shared, communal, live experience – the visceral understanding that the quickening of your breath and beating heart is happening alongside those sitting next to you. We continue to make theatre in this way so that we can survive these times of crisis and then come together again on Scotland’s stages.”

Once further details of Scenes for Survival are announced, All Edinburgh Theatre will add them to the listings and will be looking for ways to review the new pieces of theatre.


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