Setting the stage - Edinburgh International Festival
- Anna Millar
- 2 April 2009
As the curtain rises on this year’s Edinburgh International Festival programme, Scottish themes take centre stage
EIF artistic director, Jonathan Mills, referred to the ‘menace and magic’ of this year’s festival programme, as he unveiled the highlights last week. In keeping with 2009’s Homecoming celebrations the Edinburgh International Festival launched works rich in Scottish themes, while also boasting a roster of global talent.
Mills explained that this year’s line-up had in part been themed on the Enlightenment in a bid to explore Scotland’s identity on a world stage.
Classical performances include a celebration of George Frideric Handel, with Handel’s incredible Judas Maccabaeus re-imagined for the Opening Concert while elsewhere in the programme, Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel makes a much-anticipated appearance. Never short of spectacle, a Romanian adaptation of Faust (pictured), showcasing a 110-person cast will also feature.
Avant-garde New York theatre company Mabou Mines, who enjoyed success in Edinburgh in 2007 with Dollhouse, return with a radical new version of Peter Pan, Peter and Wendy with other highlights including a production of Macbeth and Der Fliegende Hollander.
Closer to home, other works include a collection of pieces by Scottish Ballet and a new adaptation of the 1590 text by the Renaissance Scottish writer Robert Henryson, The Testament of Cresseid. Across at the Lyceum, Rona Munro’s The Last Witch tells the story of Janet Horne, the last woman to be executed for witchcraft in Scotland. Produced by the Traverse Theatre, the piece will be directed by Traverse director Dominic Hill, who earned rave reviews last year for Peer Gynt.
Other highlights include a new version of St Kilda, Island of the Birdmen. In dance, one of the festival’s hottest tickets is likely to be l’enfant terrible Michael Clark, who returns to Scotland for the first time in 20 years with a new production. Elsewhere, the Royal Ballet of Flanders showcase The Return of Ulysses.
Mike Russell, the new culture minister, commended the programme’s ‘firm roots and broad vision’.