Edinburgh International Festival programme launched

The audience numbers will be limited, covid measures will be in place, but The Edinburgh International Festival will be back, with proper performances in front of real people in real, not virtual, theatres. The full programmefor the 2021 Festival was launched this week, Bella Caledonia are very pleased to see some of our favourites leading the line-up and look ahead to some of the highlights.

August will see the return of Lament for Sheku Bayoh Written and directed by Hannah Lavery this incredibly important show will have the freedom to build on last year’s digital performance, free from restrictions on social distancing and movement. The story of the 31 y-old gas engineer from Kirkcaldy, killed in police custody in 2015 is told in the form of a “keening” or lament through Lavery’s powerful and poetic writing by actors Saskia Ashdown, Patricia Panther and Courtney Stoddart, accompanied by the music of Beldina Odenyo.

Stunning, and quite frankly brilliant, singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph performs at Festival Park on the opening weekend. Joseph’s songs can be unsettling in their dark simplicity at times and though reviewers often place her in some imagined place of “weirdness” she is very much a traditional songwriter and performer. I often think what it is that stuns reviewers is that she just so bloody good at it.

Bella favourite Karine Polwart returns to the Festival with a one-off collaboration with jazz musician Dave Milligan ahead of their album to be released later this year. The old quadrant setting is a return to Polwart’s roots of playing in intimate small Edinburgh venues.

Niqabi Ninja is a graphic-novel style revenge story written in reaction to the 2012–2014 mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square, Cairo. For this years festival, it will be transformed into a multi-media walk through your city in five venues across Scotland for the duration of the Festival. The soundscape through the landscape is written by Sara Sharaawi and directed by Catrin Evans. Performed to small intimate groups its an oft-brutal look at state violence against women.

We can’t imagine a Festival (or an Edinburgh) without Neu Reekie.  Their show on 12 August has still to announce the line-up but we are expecting their usual eclectic and exciting array of names. Previous shows have included the likes of Irvine Welsh, Margaret Atwood, Primal Scream, Young Fathers, Charlotte Church, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Shirley Manson.

Neu Reekie regular Hollie McNish is joined by Nigerian artist Wana Udobang at the old quadrant for a spoken word show, part of the Toast To the People series running throughout the festival. A Toast To The People matches two international spoken word performers to appear together in a collaboration with Edinburgh Book Festival.  Udobang is a storyteller, media presenter, poet and filmmaker who’s brilliant albums have led a spoken word renaissance in Africa and across the world. We cant wait to see her alongside McNish whose intimate and personal poetry has endeared her to Scottish audiences to the point that tickets for her shows here are like gold dust.

Full programme and ticket details HERE



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