EIF, Fringe Open

Aug 8 2015 | By More

Lothian Road blocked for EIF opener

Almost 20,000 people witnessed the opening event of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival when The Harmonium Project lit up the outside of the Usher Hall.

Designed to celebrate 50 years of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, the free outdoor animated performance saw artworks designed by 59 Productions projected onto the hall, in synchronisation with John Adams’ mesmerising choral work Harmonium.


EIF 2015 opens with The Harmonium Project. Photo Eoin Carey

EIF 2015 opens with The Harmonium Project. Photo Eoin Carey

This is the first time since 1995 that the EIF and the fringe have run to the same dates and the EIF is making its strongest splash around the city for several years. The Usher Hall event saw Lothian Road closed, with an official tally of 19,500 people crowding into the space between the Usher Hall and the Sheraton Hotel.

While the EIF box office reports strong ticket sales across its entire programme, the festival points out that this year’s scheduling includes many shows with longer runs, and there are still plenty of tickets available.

EIF director Fergus Linehan, who is celebrating his first festival where he has had full control, said: “It is now time for the team at the Edinburgh International Festival to take a back seat and leave audiences in the hands of the thousands of extraordinary artists that are arriving in our city to light up our theatres and concert halls.

“Here’s to the courage and generosity of all of all those up onstage and thank you from all of us in the shadows.”

Opening Address

The fringe is looking in equally strong fettle, with large crowds around town, from George Street to George Square and the event even getting its own postmark from the Royal Mail, which will be applied to stamped UK mail from Friday 7 to Monday 31 August.

The fringe officially opened today as well, although the preview dates have crept forward and many show have been welcoming reviewers in to their preview shows.

Kath M Mainland, fringe chief exec with  Bryony Kimmings. Photo: Jane Barlow

Kath M Mainland, fringe chief exec with Bryony Kimmings. Photo: Jane Barlow

For the third year, the event was opened with the Fringe Central Opening Address which is designed to welcome participants and inspire them to make the best use of the Fringe by getting them to think about the wider perspective and how their experience at the Fringe will impact on them and their work in the future.

This year’s address was given by Bryony Kimmings, an Associate Artist at Soho Theatre and a Fringe participant herself. Besides her own advice, she quoted extensively – and wisely – from Keiran Hurley.

He had reminded her that Edinburgh is an actual real year-round place, and not just an overblown industry playground, adding: “Try not to be too disgruntled with any locals who appear to be shitty reluctant hosts unless you can match that expectation with the humility of a good guest.

“Remember this not just because it’s respectful, but also because if you can remember that Edinburgh is a place (not just a state of mind) you will also remember that the world does not begin and end within the goldfish bowl of the Fringe.

“Whether you’re smashing it with Fringe Firsts and five star reviews or reluctantly dragging yourself to the end in front of two people a day, holding on to this truth can be an important act of self-care. Get on a 26 bus and walk along Porty Beach. Get on a 44 bus and take a walk in the Pentlands. Make friends, see shows, book in a short holiday for the start of September.”



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