National Theatre of Scotland and Selkie Productions along with Screen Scotland and Sky Arts are to create a theatrical experience/feature film crossover of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Conceived and directed by Edinburgh filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a new hybrid version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, adapted from the original novella and relocated from London to Edinburgh.

The new retelling uses “innovative theatrical and cinematic techniques” to create a live filmic and theatrical experience. Entering a live film set built within the atmospheric setting of Edinburgh’s historic Leith Theatre, audiences will witness the simultaneous creation and screening.

Following the final performance on 27 February 2022. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde will be livestreamed to selected Scottish cinemas. The show will then be screened ‘as live’ during the week of 28 February in UK cinemas. The footage captured during the performances will subsequently be edited into a full feature film, which will be broadcast on Sky Arts in 2023.

The production by Hope Dickson Leach and Vlad Butucea, returns to Edinburgh born writer Robert Louis Stevenson’s original story which was published in 1886. The new adaptation has been developed with Rosie Kellagher.

The drama follows Gabriel Utterson as he enters a world of dark duplicity to uncover the identity of the mysterious Mr Hyde and the hold he has over Utterson’s old friend Dr Jekyll.

In this version, Utterson’s journey is set against the background and backdrop of Victorian Edinburgh, where the wealth of the breweries is contrasted with the poverty of the Cowgate Vaults, exposing an underbelly of dark truths and corruption. Bewitched by the society of Edinburgh’s rich and powerful, Utterson soon discovers that behind the glossy façade of power there is a grim and brutal reality.

The film will be shot in black and white. Both the film and live event will feature new electronic music by DJ and music producer Hudson Mohawke.

Hope Dickson Leach is an award-winning film maker, based in Edinburgh, whose debut film, The Levelling won her a Scottish BAFTA and the inaugural IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI. This is her second project with the Company, she also co- conceived and directed Ghost Light with National Theatre of Scotland in association with Selkie Productions. This project reunites her with Vlad Butucea, (one of the writers for the National Theatre of Scotland’s Interference project) and contributing writer on Ghost Light.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde offers audiences the opportunity to experience a film being created around them, gaining insight into the theatre and filmmaking process. Audience members will wear headsets while watching the drama unfold live on a large screen in the auditorium.

Currently closed to the public, audiences will have exclusive access to the main auditorium of the Leith Theatre during the theatrical film event, and the venue’s historic backstage maze of rooms and hallways will be transformed into film set location scenes of Victorian Edinburgh.

Casting for The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde will be announced in January 2022.

Jackie Wylie, Chief Executive and Artistic Director (NTS) said: “We are thrilled to be kicking off 2022 with The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in partnership with Selkie Productions; an ambitious retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s legendary novella, offering a one-off experience to audiences who can experience it being filmed in the iconic surrounds of Leith Theatre. The National Theatre of Scotland has been increasing its digital and screen presence over the last two years with a programme of unique hybrid projects created to respond to the challenging times of Covid to ensure we can continue producing thrilling theatrical works for audiences, working with the best artistic talent in Scotland and extending the number of people we can reach.

“Conceived during lockdown as both a live experience and as a feature film, we are delighted to be working at Leith Theatre for the first time and to renew our creative relationship with the brilliant Edinburgh based Hope Dickson Leach, following the success of Ghost Light in 2020.”

Hope Dickson Leach said: “Jekyll and Hyde is a masterpiece by one of Scotland’s best storytellers deserving of a groundbreaking and challenging interpretation. What better tale to explore hybrid storytelling? Working with the National Theatre of Scotland to create this innovative piece has not only allowed me to collaborate with some of the most talented theatre and film makers in Scotland, but also to explore the narrative and formal questions that inspire me as an artist. I am so grateful to National Theatre of Scotland for consistently supporting and celebrating work that pushes the boundaries of storytelling.”

Leslie Finlay – Screen Scotland said: “This is an incredibly exciting project bringing together award-winning Scottish director Hope Dickson Leach, prolific Scottish producer Wendy Griffin and the National Theatre of Scotland. Screen Scotland’s support is enabling the production to push cinema and create a new hybrid form of storytelling, blending cinema, theatre and using innovative new technology to create a special theatrical experience for audiences to enjoy across the country.”

The Cinematographer is David Liddell, Costume Designer Alisa Kalyanova, Sound Designer Ania Pryzgoda. Supported by Weston Culture Fund, Sir Ewan and Lady Brown, The Foyle Foundation, The Britford Bridge Trust, The William Syson Foundation, The Woolbeding Charity.

Jon Creamer

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