As COVID-19 continues to ravage the theatre industry, a fight back has begun. Arusa Qureshi explores the

launch of an online drama programme

S cotland’s artistic organisations continue to come together to offer some hope amongst the uncertainty, with digital programmes and online projects launched every day for isolated audiences. The  National Theatre of Scotland  are the latest to announce some good news with Scenes for Survival, a crisis-responsive artistic online project launched in association with BBC Scotland and BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine project.

The digital programme of work being created over the coming months will include engagement with writers, actors and directors to produce and deliver new pieces across varying online platforms, which will tackle themes that are currently being navigated by those in the industry and beyond. Many writers and performers have already confirmed their support of the project and it reads like a veritable who’s who of Scotland’s arts industry: Cora Bissett, Mark Bonnar, Tam Dean Burn, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Kate Dickie, Blythe Duff, Finn Den Hertog, Greg McHugh, Lorraine McIntosh, Adura Onashile (pictured, top), Julie Wilson Nimmo, Richard Rankin, and Robert Softley Gale, with written contributions from Jenni Fagan (pictured, bottom), Greg Hemphill, May Sumbwanyambe, Val McDermid, Denise Mina and Ian Rankin.

Not only will the programme provide some relief and comfort to audiences affected by social distancing and self-isolation, it has also been curated to support the Scottish theatre sector and creatives during economic uncertainty, with the platform being used to raise money for a new hardship fund for those in the industry who have been hardest hit financially.



‘We are living through a period that is unprecedented in my lifetime,’ 28 THE LIST 1 Apr–31 May 2020

says Jackie Wylie (pictured, right), National Theatre of Scotland’s artistic director. ‘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 collective isolation. When we get to the other side of this era-defining moment we will all feel changed by what we’ve 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.’ despite


these catastrophic Wylie acknowledges that National Theatre of Scotland is part of a sector that is struggling to cope during 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.’

In the coming weeks, the NTS will announce a call-out opportunity for writers to be commissioned to write short pieces for the project. High-profile artists involved will also be given the chance to donate their artistic fee on a pay-it-forward basis so that more artists are invited to get involved and be paid for their contributions.

More information and

further announcements will be made available



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