ED2014 News ED2014 Week0 Edition

Mills plots a conflicted finale at the EIF this August

By | Published on Tuesday 24 June 2014

Jonathan Mills

Having noted the headlines of this year’s Fringe and Book Festival programmes, perhaps we should also run through the basics of this summer’s Edinburgh International Festival, which returns from 8-31 Aug, and which launched its programme back in March.

It’s Artistic Director Jonathan Mills’ last time at the helm, and 2400 artists from 43 countries will join him for a magnificent swan song, which ticks the ‘international’ box if nothing else. Theme wise the centenary of the outset of the First World War will have an impact, with the relationship between culture and conflict set to be explored. Says the EIF, this year’s programme “looks at the work of artists who in difficult and uncertain circumstances can transcend their surroundings to create work of great beauty and optimism”.

Meanwhile, with the Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow shortly before this year’s Edinburgh Festival, Mills has also made sure to invite artists from some key Commonwealth countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Indeed there is a whole strand of work
celebrating the 20th anniversary of democracy in the latter.

The stand out production in the EIF’s theatre programme is ‘The James Plays’, the first ever co-production between the National Theatres of Scotland and Great Britain, and the EIF. James McArdle, Blythe Duff, Andrew Rothney, Jamie Sives and Sofie Gråbøl will all star in the newly penned trilogy about James I, II and III of Scotland, written by Rona Munro and directed by NTS’s Laurie Sansom. Audience members will be able to buy tickets to see each play over a three-day period, or if they are feeling adventurous see the whole trilogy in just one sitting.

In the opera strand another co-production stands out, a collaboration with Aldeburgh Music that will see the staging of a notable work by that company’s co-founder, Benjamin Britten’s ‘Owen Wingrave’, a piece originally written for TV and first broadcast by the BBC in 1971. Playing to Mills’ conflict theme, the piece tells the story of a young man’s moral tussle with his family’s military history and expectations.

Elsewhere in the EIF’s programme of theatre, opera, dance, ballet and classical music festival-goers will find the likes of Stan Douglas, Luk Perceval, Heiner Goebbels, Nicola Benedetti, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lemi Ponifasio, Tom Cairns, Ute Lemper, Brett Bailey, Blythe Duff, Sofie Gråbøl, Mark Baldwin, Daniil Trifonov, Anne Sofie von Otter, Piotr Anderszewski, Oliver Knussen, Jordi Savall, the Kronos Quartet, Mariinsky Opera, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, the Handspring Puppet Company, the Paco Peña Flamenco Company and the Czech Philharmonic. Which is quite a lot to be getting on with. And of course there’ll be the customary opening concert and firework-filled finale.

Announcing his final programme earlier this year, Mills (pictured) said: “In Festival 2014 we bring together cultures from around the world to present an intense three weeks of intimate and epic theatre, dance, music and opera. We are working with a number of international co-producing partners to bring performances to the UK from around the world, from New Zealand to South Africa, ensuring the Festival retains its unique mix of artists and work which makes it an unmissable date in the global cultural calendar”.

He went on: “We are delighted to be working with a range of funders and partners to share with you what we believe is a fantastic Festival programme. From our core public funders, Creative Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council, to the many trusts, foundations, international partners and individuals who generously donate sums large and small, the commitment and passion of so many for this Festival remains truly inspiring. I look forward to welcoming audiences from Scotland and around the world to Edinburgh this August to share in compelling stories from artists who are exploring and transcending conflict to create the most sublime and optimistic work”.

More at www.eif.co.uk