The National Theatre of Scotland has today revealed the details of the Scenes for Survival launch night and the first “scenes” to be released as part of its crisis responsive artistic project:

Scenes for Survival is a new season of digital short artworks, created 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. These shorts have been, and continue to be created, in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Scenes will initially be published on and distributed by the National Theatre of Scotland and partners via their social media channels. All Scenes for Survival content will be free for audiences. 

The first releases will include new short pieces from writers Janey Godley, Jenni Fagan, Morna Pearson, Ian Rankin and Stef Smith, and, as well as a newly performed extract from a recent celebrated Scottish play: Fibres by Frances Poet. These Scenes for Survival are performed by 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.

Each piece has been exceptionally 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. The series has been produced by the National Theatre of Scotland working with Hopscotch Films and through support from Screen Scotland’s Broadcast Content Fund.

The programme will 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.  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.

Scenes for Survival launch night will feature six shorts. There are 40 + films in total and they will 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.

  • 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.
  • Clearinga 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 andfeaturing 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 Presentwritten 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.

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director of National Theatre of Scotland 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.

 It has been fantastic to work in new ways and seek strength in creative collaboration through the cross-sector partnership between theatre organisations and broadcasters.

 We hope that audiences will find some joy, shared community and solace in watching these scenes over the next few months whilst raising funds for theatre workers in need.”

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.

Some artists involved 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 Company gratefully acknowledges the generosity of the artists who are supporting the project so far.

The Company recently announced the results from its open call-out opportunity for writers to take part in the project, which invited submissions from professional playwrights who are Scottish or based in Scotland to write new monologues or duologues, written/created in English, Gaelic, Scots or BSL. The call-out yielded over 200 applications from writers and artists across the country.

There will be a series of actor call-outs made over the coming weeks, in response to the selected texts.

Scenes for Survival is being developed and delivered by the National Theatre of Scotland working 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 the new SCENES FOR SURVIVAL HARDSHIP FUND, a fund for artists and theatre workers who have been hardest hit financially by the current crisis. The National Theatre of Scotland is working with the FST and other sector bodies to ensure equitable distribution of money raised from this hardship fund. The National Theatre of Scotland will not be directly allocating money from this fund. The fund will be launched on 27th May following the first broadcast.