Edinburgh International Festival: Highlights of the 2020 'My Light Shines On' programme

The Edinburgh International Festival has revealed plans to stage a dramatic revival – four months after calling this year’s event off.

Monday, 3rd August 2020, 9:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 8:18 am
Honeyblood at Leith Theatre. Picture: Ryan Buchanan
Honeyblood at Leith Theatre. Picture: Ryan Buchanan

Actors, musicians, dancers, orchestras have returned to venues across the city to stage performances in lockdown for new films which will be released over the next few weeks.

Visitors to Princes Street Gardens will be able to hear audio recordings of concerts, while the festival, which dates back to 1947, will be stage a spectacular light show above the city this weekend to remind the world about Edinburgh’s cultural celebration.

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HIGHLIGHTS

My Light Shines On: Inspired by Primal Scream’s lyrics in Movin’ On Up, the city’s night sky will be lit up on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night by beacons propelled from venues across the festivals, including the Festival Theatre, the Usher Hall, the Traverse, the Royal Lyceum, The Stand and Summerhall.

The festivities will get underway on Saturday with the screening on the BBC Scotland channel and on the EIF YouTube channel of a new one-hour film celebrating the city’s festivals.

The My Light Shines On programme will feature specially-recorded performances by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera, interviews with actors Fiona Shaw and Alan Cumming, music from Honeyblood and Aidan O’Rourke, poetry from Michael Pederson and Jenny Lindsay, and comedy from Jay Lafferty, Jo Caulfield and Daniel Sloss.

Chamber Music Soundscapes, Princes Street Gardens: Lunchtime visitors to the historic park will be treated to audio recordings of concerts by the likes of mezzo soprano Catriona Morison, pianist Angela Hewitt, tenor Nicky Spence and members of the BBC SSO and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Ghost Light: James McArdle, Siobhan Redmond, Thierry Mabonga and Anna Russell-Martin will be appearing in a “loveletter to Scottish theatre”, created by the National Theatreof Scotland. Director Hope Dickson Leach’s film, shot on location around the Festival Theatre, will feature extracts of work by Peter Pan creator JM Barrie, playwright David Greig and Scots Makar Jackie Kay.

The Telephone: Scottish Opera has turned Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera The Telephone into a one-act Edinburgh-set romantic comedy, filmed in the bar at the King’s Theatre. Soraya Mafi and Jonathan McGovern play young lovers Lucy and Ben in the production, which features 27 different orchestra players.

Declan: Kieran Hurley’s hit Traverse Theatre play Mouthpiece – which explored the relationship between a teenager from an Edinburgh housing estate and a struggling playwright – has been turned into a film, directed by the original production’s star Lorn Macdonald, which “confronts the city’s exclusion of sections of its population from its world-famous cultural offerings and demands change”.

John Byrne: The Paisley-born, Edinburgh-based artist has been commissioned to create a brand new work based on the historic theatrical tradition of always leaving a “ghost light” illuminated on stage, which inspired the rebooted 2020 festival’s theme of My Light Shines On. The Ghost Light, a new painting by Byrne, who created the iconic mural on the ceiling of the King’s, will be decorating Edinburgh’s theatres and concert halls this month.

Fiddler Aidan O'Rourke on stage in Leith Theatre. Picture: Midhaela Bodlovic

Faces of Edinburgh Festivals: A photographic project will see the faces of the people “who work tirelessly to make the festivals happen”, from backstage crew to waiters and taxi drivers, appear on posters across the city and in the pages of The Scotsman.

Actor and director Lorn Macdonald has turned the Traverse Theatre play Mouthpiece into a new film, Declan, partly filmed on location around Edinburgh.
Soraya Mafi and Jonathan McGovern filmed Scottish Opera's new adaptation of The Telephone in the bar of the King's Theatre. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic
Broadcaster Kirsty Wark and classical musician Su-a-Lee will be presenting a new film celebration of Edinburgh's festivals, which will be unveiled on Saturday.
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