EIF Launches New World onto Edinburgh’s stages

Mar 18 2010 | By More

Elevator Repair Service's The Sun Also Rises Photo: Mark Barton

By Thom Dibdin

This year’s Edinburgh International Festival brings the New World to Edinburgh’s old stages, with a programme that Festival Director Jonathan Mills described as a festival about sensuality, texture and flamboyance.

“There are very important and serious messages imbedded in it, to be sure,” he said in his announcement of the programme at the Hub yesterday. “But it is a riot of colour, it is an enormous amount of fun.”

“This year the Festival takes us on a journey around the contemporary cultures of the Americas and Australasia,” according to the Australian-born Mills. “We have shifted our centre of gravity from Europe towards these intriguing and complex continents. As these diverse cultures, separated by vast oceans, converge in Edinburgh, I hope you will join us to celebrate the synergies and revelations they offer.”

The seven-strong theatre programme contains works from six different companies. The National Theatre of Scotland are the only European company on the bill, with the world premier of Caledonia, written by political satirist Alistair Beaton. Having spoken to him at length after the launch, it seems that this will be a fantastic exploration of the Darien disaster which, with direction from Anthony Neilson, should have echoes and comments on current political events. An extra £200,000 budget from the Scottish government’s Expo Fund will no doubt add a few bells and whistles.

The other world premiere on the theatre front is The Sun Also Rises from New York’s Elevator Repair Service. The company are making their UK debut and this is their reimagining of Ernest Hemingway’s first major novel – published in the UK as Fiesta – about a quartet of American ex-pats journeying through Europe in the 1920s.

Making her EIF debut is Meridith Monk, with Songs of Ascension, a work she has created with American multimedia artist Ann Hamilton. The Wooster Group return with a production of Vieux Carre, Tennessee Williams’ late play set in the boarding house where he stayed in New Orleans in his youth.

The Gospel at Colonus is Lee Breuer and Bob Telson’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus as a gospel revival service, with the Blind Boys of Alabama taking the role of Oedipus.

From Chile, Teatro Cinema fuse the two art forms in a highly stylised staging which is a seamless blend of live action and film projection. They bring the first two works of a proposed trilogy: Sin Sangre (Without Blood) and The Man Who Fed Butterflies, which is an EIF co-production. The Santiago-based company Teatro en el Blanco bring Diciembre, a play set in a South American country on a Christmas eve when none of the invited guests turn up.

The Dance programme contains works from five companies. The Spanish Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Company are creating a new work, Quimeras, for the Festival, while Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal will be presenting the late choreographer’s Agua. Lemi Ponifasio, a Somoan choreographer based in New Zealand brings his company, Mau with two pieces, Tempest: Without a Body, and Birds with Skymirros. Grupo Corpo from Brazil combine formal classicism in dance with flamboyant Brazilian sensuality in Parabelo and Onqoto. Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet reside in San Francisco and will be performing Dust and Light and Rasa on what is their UK debut.

The big news on the opera front is the arrival of Bret Dean’s new production Bliss from Opera Australia, based on the Peter Carey novel. Opera de Lyon perform Porgy and Bess in a production which includes input from the makers of On Danse, the hit of the festival in 2007. Ensemble Elyma will be performing Carl Heinrich Graun’s Montezuma, about the subjugation of the Aztec empire by the Spanish conquistadors.

The Edinburgh International Festival 2010 runs from Friday 13 August to Sunday 5 September


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