Celebrating 75 years of bringing artists from around the world to the Scottish capital, the Edinburgh International Festival have announced a programme with collaboration, sustainability, and connectedness at its heart.
With COVID restrictions set to (hopefully) be a thing of the past come August, the 2022 EIF season sees 14 venues host 87 unique events, with over 2,300 artists coming from six continents. Despite the magnitude of programme, the festival has looked for ways to make the festival more sustainable – encouraging collaborations and piloting residencies in an attempt to make the festival more sustainable by keeping artists in Edinburgh throughout the whole month. With so much going on, there is too much to list them all here, so here are just a few standouts from the festival programme.
The festival opens big on 5 August with MACRO, a free event that will welcome a huge audience of 15-20,000 spectators to enjoy variety of Scottish musicians and Australian dancers and circus performers at Murrayfield. This co-production with Adelaide Festival marks the first of many exciting UK-Australia collaborations, including (but not limited to) the Chineke! Chamber Ensemble and S. Shakthidharan’s multi-lingual play, Counting and Cracking.
Taking up residence in Edinburgh throughout August is Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, who are set to offer an exciting triad of theatre productions. Performed in Dutch with English supertitles, the IAT’s programme sees three novels adapted for the stage – including Hanya Yanagihara’s brilliant A Little Life, with an award-winning performance from Dutch actor Ramsey Nasr. Another exciting show embracing theatre in other languages is When You Walk Over My Grave. Performed in Spanish, the drama/auto-fiction sees Franco-Uruguayan playwright, Sergio Blanco, contemplate his life in his final days.
The residency pilot programme also sees the festival welcome a number of orchestras in residence, including the Philharmonia Orchestra. Conducted by Douglas Boyd, the orchestra will set the stage for Welsh-Ukranian soprano Natalya Romaniw’s performance of Rusalka. Following on from this, they will offer a concert performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio at Usher Hall.
There is also plenty of local talent to enjoy this year. Following the success of their 2021 Fringe project, Doppler, Grid Iron are now at the EIF with Muster Station: Leith, an immersive show that will take audiences through the halls of Leith Academy. At the Festival Theatre, Scottish Ballet will have their world premiere of Coppélia, a contemporary adaptation that replaces Dr. Coppelius’ life-size doll with AI. Following various successful collaborations throughout the pandemic, the dancing company have teamed up with dance filmmakers Jess and Morgs once again to help bring this story into the digital age.
Also returning to the EIF are the National Theatre of Scotland, with two exciting theatre productions. Third time’s the charm for former Scots Makar, Liz Lochhead, who will finally be making her EIF debut three years after her adaptation of Medea was first announced (and subsequently cancelled due to COVID). Directed by Michael Boyd, the one-woman production will star Adura Onashile and be performed throughout the festival to a standing audience at The Hub. Another NTS treat is Alan Cumming and Steven Hoggett’s much anticipated Burn, a dance-theatre show about the life of Robert Burns. Featuring music from previous EIF performer Anna Meredith, the show will go on to tour Scotland.
Some of the festival’s favourite venues become centre stage once again, including Leith Theatre. With a line-up including Ibeyi, Arab Strap, Kae Tempest, and Princess Nokia – among others – the music sessions promise an eclectic series of contemporary music nights. Usher Hall once again welcomes audiences to enjoy a series of spectacular orchestral performances, while Queen’s Hall will start off most days with an intimate morning recital with some of the most exciting classical performers around today.
One particular programme that stands out in this year’s line-up is the Refuge series. A collaboration with the Scottish Refugee Council, the season features 15 events that features stories and encourage conversations about (im)migration, identity, and refugeehood. Farah Saleh, who is currently on tour with her dance show PAST-inuous, will debut a new work called A Wee Journey, featuring music composed by Oğuz Kaplangi.
For those who cannot make it to Edinburgh this year, or are still a bit uneasy about being back in crowded theatres, At Home will make sure you won’t miss out. Supported by abrdn, the festival’s digital programme will give audiences the chance to see and hear interviews, music sessions, and performances recorded around the capital.
Despite the trials of the past couple of years, Fergus Linehan is certain to leave a lasting impression as he ends his term as Festival Director with this exciting programme. Before taking over the role, violinist Nicola Benedetti will perform Bruch’s G minor Concerto alongside the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in what is sure to be a magical evening of music.
With so much to enjoy this year, both in-person and online, make sure to get your tickets when general booking opens on Friday 8 April.
Edinburgh International Festival runs from the 5-28 August.