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Scottish creative talents feature in National Theatre Of Scotland's first six Scenes For Survival screening on Wednesday

By Margaret Chrystall

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SIX National Theatre of Scotland dramas Scenes For Survival will screen free across Scotland on Wednesday (May 27) at 9pm.

The new season of digital short artworks feature many talents and include well-known names such actor Brian Cox, Kate Dickie, writer Jenni Fagan,stand up Janey Godley, crime writer Ian Rankin and comic actor Jonathan Watson.

The six shorts come from 40 + films in total with the rest being 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.

Many Scottish theatre talents will take part in Scenes For Survival.
Many Scottish theatre talents will take part in Scenes For Survival.

And this week, the new work is to act as a platform to launch the new SCENES FOR SURVIVAL HARDSHIP FUND, for artists and theatre workers who have been hardest hit financially by the current crisis.

The digital artworks have been 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.

Writer Ian Rankin, who is based some of the time at his house in Cromarty, has written an exclusive new short about his detective Rebus.

John Rebus: The Lockdown Blues is directed by Cora Bissett and features Brian Cox as the grumpy detective inspector. We find him imprisoned at home, his only distant link to the outside world coming through infrequent visits from his long-standing colleague Siobhan. The ageing Rebus reflects on his bizarre solitary confinement.

Ian Rankin's Scene For Survival in launch screening.
Ian Rankin's Scene For Survival in launch screening.

A Mug’s Game is an extract from the critically-acclaimed play Fibres by Frances Poet, performed by Jonathan Watson and directed by Louise Shephard. It is centred on the generations of men knowingly exposed to deadly asbestos over years working in the Glasgow shipyards.

Clearing is 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. So she seeks solace in the nearby woods.

Alone is written and performed by Janey Godley, directed by Caitlin Skinner. A woman is trapped at home in lockdown with an adorable dog and a stubborn husband.

Isolation is 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, a lonely woman struggles to come through the hellish, isolating odyssey of her illness.

The Present, written by Stef Smith, directed by Katherine Nesbitt, and performed by Moyo Akandé, sees a young woman offering a tender poetic lament to an absent loved one, imagining a time together again.

The pieces will initially be published on bbc.co.uk/scenesforsurvival and distributed by the National Theatre of Scotland and partners via their social media channels.

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

The programme was created as an inventive alternative online season of short works, following the cancellation of productions and performances from the National Theatre of Scotland and venues and theatre companies across Scotland.

Jackie Wylie, artistic director of National Theatre of Scotland said: “Scenes for Survival will celebrate the extraordinary talent of Scottish theatre-makers.

“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.”

Jonty Claypole, director of BBC Arts said: “The National Theatre Scotland has assembled an extraordinary collection of projects with some of the very best Scottish talent – both world-famous and on the rise.

“The BBC is thrilled to be supporting the scheme as part of its Culture in Quarantine initiative.”

David Smith, director of Screen at Screen Scotland said: “We recognised immediately that this would be an incredible opportunity to bring together Scotland’s world-class creative talent to create something unique for audiences across Scotland and beyond during lockdown.

“Working within the current restrictions has driven everyone’s creativity, forging partnerships and new ways of working we hope will continue.”

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 recently announced the results from its open call-out opportunity for writers to take part in the project, which 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 Eden Court Highlands, Aberdeen Performing Arts, Birds of Paradise, the Beacon Arts Centre, the Byre Theatre, Citizens Theatre, Dundee Rep Theatre, 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 National Theatre of Scotland will not be directly allocating money from the new SCENES FOR SURVIVAL HARDSHIP FUND, but is working with the FST and other sector bodies to ensure equitable distribution of money raised from this hardship fund.

TO SEE SCENES FOR SURVIVAL go to: www.bbc.co.uk/scenesforsurvival

And also: www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/scenesforsurvival

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