Image credit: Beth Chalmers

National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) presents a new short digital artwork featuring spoken word and movement Thirteen Fragments, created by award-winning writer and performer Hannah Lavery collaborating with musician Beldina Odenyo, choreographer Natali McCleary and filmmaker Beth Chalmers. The project has been commissioned as part of the RSE Post Covid-19 Futures Commission and will be premiered online during the RSE’s summer events programme, Curious 2021.

Thirteen Fragments is an artistic response to the RSE Commission which addresses how Scotland can emerge from the Covid pandemic as a more equitable society and explores how a nation’s resilience can be built up and developed. RSE Fellows have informed research on the piece including Talat Yaqoob (consultant and researcher), Zinnie Harris (playwright, screenwriter and director) and Mark Cousins (filmmaker, writer, historian and curator).

Hannah Lavery’s creative response to the Commission is rooted in the female experience of the last year as a woman of colour.

Thirteen Fragments of anger, of love, of death, of exhaustion and of hope

Thirteen Fragments is a spoken word dance piece where bursts of poetry sit within an original soundscape alongside shards of song and of movement. The coming together of Beldina Odenyo’s music, Natali McCleary’s movement and Hannah’s words see the poetry take shape and given physical life, reflecting individual responses of the artists. Intimately filmed by Beth Chalmers, the piece explores the meaning of female resilience in Scotland today and aspirations for the future. Thirteen Fragments of anger, of love, of death, of exhaustion and of hope.

The premiere of the film will be accompanied by a live webinar discussion with Hannah, members of the creative team and Fellows of the RSE who have been involved in the film’s development. The discussion will focus on some of the themes the work highlights including the impact of Covid on women and wider society and the role that art and creativity play in the pandemic.

Inspired by the work of the RSE fellows, I wanted to make a film that would speak to the experience of women and especially women of colour, using poetry, dance, music and film. I have been so lucky to have been joined by a dream team of women collaborating with dance, music, and film to create a provocation and also a meditation on the time we are living through and what that means for us all as we look toward the future.

Hannah Lavery

Hannah Lavery is a Scottish poet, playwright and performer. Her autobiographical spoken word show The Drift was produced by National Theatre of Scotland and toured in 2019. Her play Lament for Sheku Bayoh, was streamed live from the stage of the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh in November 2020 and the live production can be seen at the Lyceum in August as part of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. Hannah’s new one-person adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Jekyll and Hyde can also be seen as part of Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s summer programme this August and September.

Beldina Odenyo/Heir of the Cursed is a songwriter, sound designer and theatre-maker who is also collaborating with Hannah Lavery as composer and sound designer on National Theatre of Scotland’s Lament for Sheku Bayoh. Natali McCleary is an actor, writer and mover with extensive experience as a movement director. She previously worked with National Theatre of Scotland as choreographer on Them! Beth Chalmers is a Glasgow based videographer and photographer. She collaborated as a filmmaker on Scottish Ballet’s new dance film Haud Close and has worked as a photographer with National Theatre of Scotland on Hannah Lavery’s The Drift. She previously worked with Natali McCleary on a dance video for singer-songwriter Martha Ffion’s We Disappear.

Creativity sparks debate and dialogue which is why this collaboration between the RSE and the National Theatre of Scotland is so important. This piece explores the impact of Covid on women and questions whether it has changed attitudes and mindsets. It represents a valuable contribution to the work of the RSE’s Post Covid Futures Commission connecting with key themes including resilience and inclusivity and we are very much looking forward to premiering it in August as part of our summer events programme, Curious.

Dr Rebekah Widdowfield, CEO of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Thirteen Fragments will be premiered as part of the RSE’s summer events programme, Curious in August 2021. Full programme details will be announced in July on the RSE website.

RSE Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission