North East artists unite to create unprecedented loneliness project
24 Hours in Isolation
Sunday 21st June 2020
Musicians, poets, writers and comedians from North East England are uniting to share untold stories of loneliness from before and during the Covid19 crisis, as part of an unprecedented round-the-clock storytelling project. 24 Hours in Isolation will release a new micro-episode on the hour, every hour from midnight to 11pm on 21st June 2020.
26 artists are creating short musical, spoken word or drama episodes based on real people. Contributors include singer Beccy Owen, “Door To Door Poet” Rowan McCabe, Journal Culture Award winner Jessica Johnson, Royal Court writer Mhairi Legerwood, Stand Comedy Club regular John Scott, broadcaster Viv Wiggins, award winning poet Rachel Burns, and BAFTA Crew member Allison Davies. The full running order is at the bottom of this post.
Pre-Covid episodes include supermarket staff heading off for an early morning shift; nervous joggers circling parks; confused older people waiting for care workers; autistic children singing to themselves. Stories from the pandemic include sports coaches losing their online audience, nurses pinning doves on the doors of dying patients, parents hiding from home schooling and lonely neighbours having “just one more bottle of wine”.
Released on 21st June as individual episodes of no more than 3minutes, people can visit the 24 Hours in Isolation podcast site every hour, to be inspired, heartbroken and made to laugh all day long. Or they can wait for the full collection to be released as a single 45minute collection on 25th June.
Among the stories Claire Tustin’s song “one more zoom” is an anthem for 2020 with an epic lump-in-the-throat moment, whilst John Scott’s “nurse story” is a closely researched insight into the impact of working on in intensive. Both have been released early as an exclusive preview of the full collection: bit.ly/24previews.
Conceived by producer Ben Dickenson and poet Sky Hawkins, the project is a response to self-isolation during the Covid19 pandemic and to the epidemic of loneliness that was already growing in British society before the virus arrived. A 2019 YouGov study found 53% of adults in the North East felt lonely. This is not the same as social distancing but the powerful stories in 24 Hours in Isolation show that one has exacerbated the other.
Speaking about the inspiration for the project Ben said: “Covid19 hit unexpectedly, bringing sickness and death but also separation and hardship. I was furloughed from my Executive Producer role with City of Dreams. As a creative with a social mission, having nothing to get up for was hard. Being cut off from my family was too. I talked to a lot of people who had it worse than me – nurses, parents, shop workers - we all had similar feelings. What stood out was that all of us had felt some kind of isolation before Covid arrived, and not told anyone.”
Sky Hawkins added: “I was working on a project about women’s identity for the British Library and had to finish it in isolation. It was weird but I could get it done from home by using digital media. Its’ amazing how connected everyone is online now and how separate we are in reality. We wanted to take the digital tools creatives are using and do something different - bring people together through stories about how it feels to be apart.”
The episodes in 24 Hours in Isolation have been recorded by the creators, or actors, in their own homes, using whatever equipment they could find and with advice from sound supervisor Matt Tuckey. All artists are working without fee, as is the production team. As Ben puts is: “The queue to get involved was long. The commitment to tackling loneliness and working together during a tough time for the arts was inspirational”.
24 Hours in Isolation will present a day of diverse and enlightening stories, each episode casting light on a different experience of isolation. With episodes released every hour, on the hour, starting at midnight on the longest day of the year - 21st June - audiences can have a unique round-the-clock experience, dipping in and out as the day goes on. Or they can wait till June 25th and listen to the complete collection in a single package.
24 Hours in Isolation starts midnight Sunday 21st June 2020, episodes released hourly until 11pm, audiences should subscribe at bit.ly/24hoursinisolation (all content is audio).
The episodes will also be available on podcast services including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts & Spotify.
The full 24 Hours in Isolation collection will be released as one podcast on Thursday 25th June
Donations: The artists would appreciate donations via: https://supporter.acast.com/24-hours-in-isolation.
The full 24 Hours in Isolation running order is: