Scenes for Survival | Dreaming of Edinburgh, an extract from The Breathing House

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24 Jun 2020

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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.

Produced by National Theatre of Scotland, in association with BBC Scotland, Screen Scotland, BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine projectand the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, with support from Hopscotch Films.

“For me, I have to say that “theatre on screen” is a contradiction in terms that I can’t reconcile. What we see can either be an archived record of a theatrical performance, or, far more interesting to me, a piece of short filmmaking specifically with two minutes on screen in mind… filmmaking where the camera is there as a character, not just as a recorder. What I hope we’ve done with is itself of value, and not just as a reminder of what we’re missing.

My contribution to the Scenes for Survival is a speech from a project dear to my heart, The Breathing House, set in a 19th Century Edinburgh of the mind, which I like to think of as the adaptation of a Victorian “Novel of Sensation” that no one actually ever wrote. Dreaming of Edinburgh is a gender re-assigned adaptation of a scene in this adaptation, if that makes any sense. I wanted something about confinement that made no actual reference to lockdown but would somehow speak to it. Hence setting it somewhere between the past and the present.”

Peter Arnott


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