Olivier Award winning Headlong and BAFTA award winning Century Films present Unprecedented, an intimate response to the radical way our world changed when lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020. With theatres going dark, and much of the world entering a state of isolation, Headlong and Century Films set out to explore how theatre can be made during, and about, the Covid-19 pandemic.
Written by a diverse range of celebrated playwrights and performed by over 50 of the UK’s finest actors, Unprecedented gives insight into this novel, communal experience and the changes our society has undergone.
One week before the lockdown was announced, some of the UK’s most celebrated playwrights were commissioned to write 14 stories. They meditate on community and connection, focusing on the lives of couples, NHS workers, families and teenagers. Stories of love, triumph, uncertainty and humour. They ask the question of how education, work, relationships, culture, and capitalism have been changed, are changing on an hourly basis, and explore how people still manage to find the humour and humanity in their situation – despite or because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Produced by Headlong and Century Films, Unprecedented was conceived, written, filmed and produced in lockdown. Rehearsals took place over Zoom; props, costumes, lighting and set were sourced or made by the cast themselves, and the series was shot in homes across the country using digital conferencing technology.
Eleven of the digital plays will be broadcast on BBC Four across three nights with all fourteen available to stream on BBC iPlayer as part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.
A powerful exercise in connection
The question many are asking is whether streamed or filmed offerings are a new kind of theatre. The jury is still out. But this is definitely a different kind of TV, and all the better for it. It’s good to see Headlong taking the lead.