Lights Shine On for EIF

Aug 4 2020 | By More

Festival announces online offering

The Edinburgh International Festival has announced My Light Shines On, a series of online shows for August, with filmed and audio works by Scotland’s five national companies and the Traverse among the offerings.

The whole event launches on Saturday 8 August, the date that the EIF would have opened were it not for the pandemic, with a one-hour gala programme on TV and YouTube, celebrating the Festival City.

The alternative festival will consist of 13 filmed works, available on the EIF’s YouTube channel, and a clutch of physical events, starting with a multi-venue light installation at some of the city’s more iconic venues.

National Theatre of Scotland – Ghost Light. Pic: Peter Dibdin

The films will encompass the full range of the EIF’s usual offerings, with a strong emphasis on music, but reflecting its movement in recent years to incorporate contemporary genres with a performance from Honeyblood at the Leith Theatre alongside archive performances from the Usher Hall.

The launch will take place at 9.30pm and the light installation will be turned on as night falls. The venues illuminated by outdoor lighting with hundreds of beams of light reaching up into the night sky as well as being lit from within by glowing lanterns.

The two theatre works being staged are Ghost Light, a “personal love letter to the Scottish stage”, from the NTS, available Sat 8 to Fri 28 August and Declan, a new take on the 2019 Traverse EdFringe hit Mouthpiece, available Mon 24 – Sun 30 August 2020.

Ghost Light

Ghost Light is directed by filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach who co-conceived it with the NTS artistic director Jackie Wylie and dramaturg, Philip Howard.

The film uses moments from NTS theatrical performances past, present and yet to come with scenes from writers including J.M. Barrie, David Greig and Jackie Kay brought back into existence by a cast of Scottish actors including James McArdle, Siobhan Redmond and Thierry Mabonga.

National Theatre of Scotland – Ghost Light. Pic: Peter Dibdin

A ghost light – the single bulb left burning on a stage when a theatre is empty that is the central image of The Light Shines On theme – is followed from the Festival Theatre auditorium, to the wings, dressing room and on into the foyer.

Along the way it reveals glimpses of plays and performances previously staged by the NTS that remain alive in the memories of the audiences who loved them, as well as shining a light on new pieces of theatre that will emerge on stages in the future.

Co-creator Jackie Wylie, said that the film “celebrates all that is joyous and brilliant about Scottish theatre-makers and the rich array of talent that exists off stage as well as on it.” She added that the collaboration resulted in “something uniquely filmic and theatrical, which yearns for the National Theatre of Scotland’s return to stages across Scotland and beyond.”


The Traverse’s new production of Declan uses excerpts of Kieran Hurley’s original text for Mouthpiece blended with footage filmed in real Edinburgh locations and original animations and audio.

Declan. Image by Stewart Armstrong.

The show is directed by Lorn Macdonald who also revisits the role of Declan he played in the original 2018 production. It includes additional performance elements from Angus Taylor, winner of The Stage Award for his performance as Declan in the Traverse’s 2019 EdFringe production.

Lorn Macdonald says: “revisiting the character in this new way has been both surreal and exciting. With the Traverse’s support I’ve been able to work with new collaborators, and having the opportunity to work with Angus Taylor and explore Edinburgh through the eyes of Declan has been a unique and exciting experience.”

The Telephone

Scottish Opera bring a new adaptation of Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera, The Telephone (8-28 Aug). This one act romantic comedy for two singers and a chamber orchestra, was filmed at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh with soprano Soraya Mafi and baritone Jonathan McGovern.

The 1947 work is updated to modern-day Edinburgh – Ben has met Lucy for a quick drink before he has to catch a train. What Lucy doesn’t know is that Ben is about to propose, but she can’t tear her eyes away from her mobile…

Director, Daisy Evans says “The Telephone is a story that resonates with us all, too often do our eyes drift to our phone screens as notifications pop up, friends call and social media beacons.”

Soraya Mafi in The Telephone, Scottish Opera Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic

Scottish Ballet is bringing a series of films, old and new, to My Light Shines On. These include new films of new and recent work by Nicholas Shoesmith, Helen Pickett, Sophie Laplane and Alexander Whitley, as well as three existing digital performances.

Music plays a major part of My Light Shines On. International work comes from the West African supergroup Les Amazones D’Afrique, there is contemporary folk music from Breabach, a collaboration of pioneering folk performers led by fiddler Aidan O’Rourke and a double bill of choruses from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana recorded in lockdown by the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

Princes Street Gardens

The major physical interaction is a sound installation, broadcasting classical music throughout Princes Street Gardens on weekday lunchtimes from Monday 10 to Friday 28 August.

Each 40-minute specially recorded performance will be audible throughout the gardens, allowing socially distanced audiences to enjoy the music whilst having a picnic or taking a walk. Videos of the full concert series, recorded behind closed doors in The Hub, will be available on the EIF YouTube channel.

EIF Website:
YouTube channel @edinburghintfestival
Facebook: @EdintFest.
Twitter: @edintfest


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