Hope Dickson Leach, BAFTA-winning director of acclaimed Toronto, Rotterdam and London festival selection “The Levelling,” has embarked upon a hybrid adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s iconic novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
Leach and co-writer Vlad Butucea have transposed the story from London to Victorian Edinburgh. The story 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. The adaptation has been developed with theater dramaturg Rosie Kellagher. The casting will be revealed imminently.
The adaptation will kick off as a theatrical live experience, where audiences will enter a live filmset built within the atmospheric setting of Edinburgh’s historic Leith Theatre, over Feb. 25, 26 and 27, 2022. Following the final performance on Feb. 27, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” will be livestreamed to selected Scottish cinemas.
The show will then be screened “as live” — meaning that it will be performed as though live but broadcast after a short delay — during the week of Feb. 28 in U.K. cinemas. The footage captured during the performances will subsequently be edited into a full feature film, which will be broadcast on Sky Arts in the fall of 2023.
The film will be shot in black and white by David Liddell and both the film and live event will feature new electronic music by DJ and music producer Hudson Mohawke.
The project is presented by the National Theatre of Scotland and Selkie Productions in association with Screen Scotland and Sky Arts.
Leach also co-conceived and directed “Ghost Light” with National Theatre of Scotland in association with Selkie Productions.
Jackie Wylie, chief executive and artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, said: “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: “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.”
Leslie Finlay of Screen Scotland said: “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 truly immersive theatrical experience for audiences to enjoy across the country.”
The project is supported by Weston Culture Fund, Sir Ewan and Lady Brown, The Foyle Foundation, The Britford Bridge Trust, The William Syson Foundation and The Woolbeding Charity.
The very first film version of Stevenson’s novel is believed to be a 1908 16-minute-long silent horror film of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Since then, there have been over 123 films made, from animation to satire to horror, with versions filmed across the world.