Scenes for Survival: 50 + new sharp shorts, with new commissions and freshly imagined scenes from much loved Scottish plays, all performed, written and directed by leading Scottish theatrical talent. are being shared across a series on online platforms and channels over the next few months . So far there have been 29 short digital artworks released with over 8 million views across BBC and National Theatre of Scotland online platforms.
50 + short artworks are being created as a rapid response project, by brilliant Scottish artists to celebrate and support Scottish theatre-making in a time of crisis. Filmed, so far, in isolation, in Paisley, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perthshire, Seoul, New York, Dublin, London, Stirling and Fife and shared online with over 8 million views to date. Scenes for Survival is an ongoing series of close-up intimate portraits of lives in lockdown telling extraordinary stories of love, loss and longing, free for audiences everywhere in exceptional times.
Created in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the project is being delivered by the National Theatre of Scotland 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 sees a host of leading performers, writers, and directors creating short pieces of digital theatre remotely from their personal spaces of isolation.
The programme is serving 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 draws attention to the enduring and urgent role of storytelling in the current crisis and explore themes of hope, solidarity, community, escape, fear, imagination and humour.
Scottish theatre organisations involved include: Aberdeen Performing Arts, Ayr Gaity, Birds of Paradise, the Beacon Arts Centre, the Byre Theatre, Citizens Theatre, Curious Seed, Dundee Rep Theatre, Eden Court Highlands, Imaginate, Macrobert Arts Centre, Perth Theatre, Playwrights Studio, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, Shetland Arts, Solar Bear, Summerhall, Stellar Quines, Theatre Gu Leor, the Tron Theatre and the Traverse Theatre.
Scenes will initially be published by the BBC’s online channels 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.
All content will remain online for two years and a selection will be shown at a later date on BBC Scotland, BBC4 and BBC Alba in the coming months. The season of works is also acting as a platform to raise money for a new hardship fund for artists and those in the theatre industry who have been hardest hit financially by the current crisis.
The first Scenes for Survival shorts were released on 27 May 2020, in a launch night featuring six films. Subsequent films are being released three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and will go live at 9pm.
The next Scenes for Survival releases for the week of 27 July are:
The Longest Summer (Mon 27 July) – What do you remember most about growing up? Chances are it might be the summers, with so much time to play they felt like they might go on forever. And it looks like this one might be the longest yet… Written by Noisemaker (Scott Gilmour & Claire McKenzie) and directed by Jemima Levick, The Longest Summer sees Richard Rankin star in a lyrical, life-affirming musical journey through childhood and hardship, celebrating the beautiful things that the world has to offer.
Soup Song (Wed 29 July) – When times are tough and you’re needing cheering up, there’s no beating a big bowl of warm, lentil soup. It’s a wee taste of home that’ll see ye through yer grief, even if ye cannae quite get the recipe right, the same as the way they used to make it… Annie Louise Ross features in this heart-warming short from writer Stewart Ennis, directed by Nic Green & Peter McMaster. Produced in association with Ayr Gaiety.
First Things (Fri 31 July) – Lockdown has been a lonely business, but luckily Becky from Radio Skotia is on the air to keep us company every step of the way. She’s always there to raise our spirits with a shout-out or share the perfect tune to cheer us up. But perhaps it’s time someone asked her how she’s doing? Elaine C. Smith stars as an upbeat radio DJ with a big heart in this new short from writer Val McDermid, directed by Maggie Kinloch.
SCENES FOR SURVIVAL ARTISTS
Artists involved to date include:
Performers: Moyo Akandé, Jasmin Ewing-Asname, Maureen Beattie, Cora Bissett, Mark Bonnar, Tam Dean Burn, Neshla Caplan, Morven Christie, Amy Conachan, Nicole Cooper, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Kate Dickie, Blythe Duff, Brian Duffy, Liz Ewing, Gilly Gilchrist, Julie Graham, Douglas Henshall, Dani Heron, Gordon Houston, Katherine Howden, Barrie Hunter, Emma King, Sanjeev Kholi, Natalie MacDonald, Patrick Martins, James McArdle, Kristi McDonald, Lorraine Mcintosh, Natalie Moore Williams, Ashleigh More, Julie Wilson Nimmo, Richard Rankin, Annie Louise Ross, Elaine C Smith, Daibhidh Walker, Jonathan Watson, and Natalie Moore Williams.
Writers: Finn Anderson, Peter Arnott, Apphia Campbell, Rob Drummond, Philippe Ducros, Andy Edwards, Oliver Emanuel, Stewart Ennis, Jenni Fagan, Janice Galloway, Kevin Gilday, Catherine Grosvenor, Nelly Kelly, Aine King, Hannah Lavery, Ian Low, Iain Finlay Macleod, Iain Macrae, Douglas Maxwell, Nicola McCartney, Liam McCormick, Val McDermid, Andy McGregor, Kathy McKean, Alan McKendrick, Johnny McKnight, Linda McLean, Denise Mina, Rona Munro, Noisemaker ( Scott Gilmour & Claire McKenzie), Michael John O’Neill, Morna Pearson, Frances Poet, Lynda Radley, Uma Nada-Rajah, Ian Rankin, Corinne Salisbury, Stef Smith, Tena Štivičić, May Sumbwanyambe, Luke Sutherland, Meghan Tyler, and Irvine Welsh
Writer-performers: Richard Conlon, Janey Godley, Liz Lochhead, and Gail Watson.
Director/performers: Peter Mullan
Writer/Director/Performer: Greg McHugh
Directors: Davey Anderson, Andy Arnold (Artistic Director of the Tron Theatre), Justin Audibert, Cora Bissett, Jordan Blackwood, Nick Bone, Liz Carruthers, Christine Devaney and Tam Dean Burn, Graham Eatough, Julie Ellen (Artistic Director of Macrobert Arts Centre), Morag Fullarton, Leonie Rae Gasson, Nic Green, Debbie Hannan, Ben Harrison, Finn den Hertog, Dominic Hill (Artistic Director of the Citizens Theatre), Shilpa T-Hyland, Natalie Ibu, Emily Ingram, Niloo-Far Khan, Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh, Muireann Kelly (Artistic Director of Theatre Gu Leòr), Maggie Kinloch, Jemima Levick (Artistic Director of Stellar Quines Theatre Company), Amy Liptrott (Associate Director at Pitlochry Festival Theatre), Fiona MacKinnon, Morag MacKinnon, Sarah McCardie, Peter McMaster, 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: Lewis den Hertog, Dougal Gudim, Simon Lidell, Rob MacNeacail, Kim Moore, Pippa Murphy, Shereen Nanjiani, Elizabeth Newman (Artistic Director of Pitlochry Theatre) and Luke Sutherland
CURRENT SCENES FOR SURVIVAL
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.
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.
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 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.
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 Present- written 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.
Skeleton Wumman – A newly performed extract from the play Skeleton Wumman, written and directed by Gerda Stevenson and performed by original actor Amy Conachan.The Skeleton Wummun rests at the bottom of the cold sea, withering away in the passing tides and dreaming of life above the waves, in this vivid and poetically eerie Scots-language fable.
Fatbaws – Peter Mullan features in and directs a surreal and hilarious new short from writer Douglas Maxwell. After switching the food in his back garden bird feeder, an idyllic lockdown experience is threatened after the birds make it clear they’re none too happy with the change. A showdown ensues, and as the fight escalates beyond his control the lines between man and beast begin to blur.
The Domestic – Following a traumatic event, a young woman is rescued by her boyfriend and wakes up on a crowded hospital ward. There she finds much-needed comfort from an unexpected and welcome source of humanity. Kristi MacDonald appears in a new short piece from writer Uma Nada Rajah, who is herself working as a staff nurse for NHS Scotland during the current crisis. Directed by Beth Morton
Joseph Knight – Patrick Martins & Emma King perform an extract from the new play by May Sumbwanyambe, directed by Justin Audibert. Based on a true story, Enough of Him explores the life of Joseph Knight, an African man brought to Scotland as a slave by plantation owner John Wedderburn to serve in his Perthshire mansion, who starts a relationship with a maid in the household. Produced in association with Pitlochry Festival Theatre, where Enough of Him had been due to premiere in October 2020.
Sore Afraid – Stuck inside all day, Nualla finds it hard not to keep a watchful eye on her neighbours across the road. And despite her husband’s warnings, as the days and weeks roll on she can’t help but become drawn into the intimate moments in their lives. Maureen Beattie features in this heartbreaking new short from writer Michael John O’Neill, directed by Dominic Hill. Produced in association with the Citizens Theatre.
Wednesday- A global lockdown might feel like the perfect time to write a piece of reflective drama, but for one bickering couple the creative process leads to nothing but disagreement. Directed by Finn Den Hertog, Douglas Henshall & Morven Christie feature in this inventive new short from writer Tena Štivičić, a witty and hilarious take on relationship frustrations and lockdown creativity. Produced in association with Shetland Arts.
The Banshee – Bedevilled by writer’s block, an unsupportive partner and a bad case of the heebiejeebies thanks to the neighbour from hell, Julie Wilson Nimmo stars as a would-be children’s author seeking inspiration from an unlikely source. Written and directed by Greg Hemphill, this creepy new comedy short is a pure scream.
Dreaming of Edinburgh – (An extract from The Breathing House by Peter Arnott) Gazing from a window upon the polished propriety of genteel Victorian Edinburgh society, a young woman takes delight in imagining the pent-up carnal desire bubbling beneath the surface of the city’s straitlaced exterior. Molly Vevers stars in this playful musing on locked down lust in ‘the most erotic city in the world.’ Directed by Stasi Schaeffer and produced in association with the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Dreaming of Edinburgh is an extract from Peter Arnott’s play The Breathing House.
Larchview – Following a breach of the nation’s lockdown rules, one of the government’s most senior scientific advisers is forced to practice for his groveling public apology in a fictitious new short sharp drama. As he struggles to justify his actions, he slowly comes to terms with what he has done, and the horrifying scale of his mistake becomes clear. Featuring Mark Bonnar, written by Rob Drummond, and directed by Jack Nurse.
When? – (An extract from Further Than the Furthest Thing). Following a disastrous natural event, the residents of an isolated island community in the middle of the Atlantic are left picking up the pieces and lamenting a way of life that has been lost. A newly staged extract from Zinnie Harris’s first full-length play Furthest Than the Furthest Thing, performed by Kathryn Howden and Gilly Gilchrist and directed by Zinnie Harris. First staged at the Traverse Theatre in 2000, the play was most recently seen by audiences at Dundee Rep in 2012. Produced in association with Eden Court.
Strolling Through The Meadows- (An extract from Trainspotting) Making their way across a busy Meadows at the height of the Edinburgh Festival, Renton and Sick Boy upset Spud when they start tormenting a squirrel. Their ever-sensitive pal points out that vermin status is very much in the eye of the beholder, as two passing posh wifies make abundantly clear. Actor Brian Duffy performs this extract from Irvine Welsh’s seminal Scottish novel Trainspotting in British Sign Language, recorded in Seoul, South Korea, directed by Davey Anderson. Produced in association with Solar Bear.
Birdie’s Dilemma – When a loyal employee is betrayed by the company she’s given twenty years of her life to, it’s the latest in a lifetime of injustices. Struggling to contain her anger, long-suppressed impulses boil to the surface as she plots a suitable revenge. Tracy Wiles features in an incendiary new short piece written by Apphia Campbell and directed by Natalie Ibu. Produced in association with Playwright’s Studio.
Disco With Mum – Isolating in their separate homes during lockdown and coming to terms with a recent bereavement, a mother and daughter reflect on happier times while contemplating an uncertain future for their family. The online video call to plan the playlist for a virtual disco becomes a cathartic exploration of grief, defiance and hope, and a celebration of the healing power of music. Julie Graham and Saskia Ashdown star in this lyrical and inspiring new piece from writer Hannah Lavery, directed by Julie Ellen. Produced in association with Macrobert Arts Centre.
Courier Culture – A rookie fast food bike courier races the clock as he navigates the streets of post-Covid Glasgow. Pondering his new status as a Key Worker – and dreaming of something even bigger – he plots his way across a daunting new landscape, featuring abusive customers, oblivious pedestrians and a ‘creepy wee manager who lives in his pocket.’ Jatinder Singh stars in this cutting new piece, written by Kevin P. Gilday and directed by Graham Eatough
The One with the Lockdown – Ash and Charlie are two regular, same-sex flatmates. Stuck indoors during lockdown, they eat together, laugh together, and watch shows together. But one night over dinner, stuck in a routine that they’re both a little too comfortable with, something happens that might just turn their friendship on its head. Martin Donaghy and Oliver Bennett feature in a witty new short from playwright Meghan Tyler, directed by Leonie Rae Gasson.
Aleister Crowley Summons the Devil – Sick of being scorned, young Aleister Crowley wants the world to know his name, even if he must summon the forces of Hell to do so. From his remote Highland mansion he begins to cast a mighty spell… Unfortunately, black magic takes a while, and things aren’t going as well as he’d hoped: he’s bored, lonely, and nothing really seems to be happening. Maybe it’s all just a big waste of time? Gordon Houston features in a wickedly funny new short from writer Denise Mina, directed by Amy Liptrott. Produced in association with Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
Babe Rainbow – During lockdown, a kind-hearted postie achieves local celebrity status and a new nickname, entertaining locals on her round with a selection of colourful costumes. But her newfound fame is a double-edged sword and she must wrestle with her conscience to decide if the community’s smiles and selfies outweigh the sneers and sniping of snidey colleagues. Natalie Moore Williams stars in this cheering new short from writer Ian Low, directed by Fiona MacKinnon. Produced in association with the Byre Theatre.
Black Scots – an extract from First Snow / Première neige – A young man recalls escaping the horrors of civil war in Congo as a child, to seek asylum in Glasgow with his mother. He finds surprising parallels between the barbarity and exploitation at the heart of that conflict and the shocking revelations of murder and profiteering painted away beneath the surface of his new homeland’s history. Thierry Mabonga stars in this extract from First Snow / Première neige by Philippe Ducros, Linda McLean and Davey Anderson, and directed by Niloo Far Khan.
The Park – When you live in the city every park is a haven, especially if you’ve got wee kids to keep busy. But when everything locks down, and suddenly everyone has to keep their distance, how do you explain that they can’t play like they used to anymore? Martin McCormick features in a heart-warming short from writer Andy McGregor, directed by Ben Harrison, that celebrates the importance of appreciating the small things in life, even in the hardest moments.
Naeb’dy – After the end of the world, who expected wee Davey fae Tynecastle to be the last man standing? He certainly didn’t. But now he’s got the run of the place, and naeb’dy to kick about with. The space is nice, but he’s starting to miss the wee pleasures of normal life. And the loneliness might be getting to him. Greg McHugh writes, directs, and features in this darkly comic and timely post-apocalyptic short.
Ian & Sheena – Lockdown is hitting hard, and Scotland’s National Theatre is desperate for submissions for its inspiring new project. Could the stage be set for the Kirktoon Players, the country’s “leading” amateur dramatics group, to step into the spotlight? Time to get their heads together and show these uppity professionals how it’s done. Richard Conlon and Gail Watson co-write and star in a lively follow-up to the smash hit satire My Left Right Foot: The Musical from writer/director Robert Softley Gale, with BSL performance from Natalie MacDonald. Produced in association with Birds of Paradise.