The revival of the Edinburgh International Festival couldn’t be more timely – Brian Ferguson
The announcement in November 2017 that Irishman would oversee three more festivals ensured a crucial period of stability. Or so it seemed.
It has been nearly two years to the day since the darkest hour of FEI and its sister festivals, when they were forced to end their scheduled 2020 programs as the pandemic swept the world.
A few weeks earlier, the festival hoped to unveil its lineup. I was one of the journalists already briefed on the line-up.
It says a lot to Mr. Linehan and his team, as well as to the reputation of the event, that the program they have just announced is significantly more impressive than the one they were forced to abandon.
Last summer’s timid revival for the FEI, Fringe and some of the city’s other big events was a surreal experience for performers and audiences alike. There was huge relief when live events returned, but a lot of apprehension and caution. Edinburgh’s famous festival atmosphere was there in small pockets, but the city undoubtedly lacked its usual round-the-clock electricity.
This year is the big comeback and all indications are that Edinburgh will be largely back to its old self in August.
The EIF will start and end in style, including a music, theater and dance show to kick off the festival inside Murrayfield Stadium and a huge free outdoor show by the Philadelphia Orchestra on the final weekend. .
Elsewhere there’s plenty to fire the imagination, including a reimagining of The Jungle Book as a dance performance, Alan Cumming’s new show inspired by Robert Burns, a promenade theater production created with the help from Leith Academy staff and pupils, a dazzling line-up to reopen the Leith Theater for concerts for the first time in three years, and the festival’s biggest showcase of Australian culture.
But 75 years after the event was launched to bring people together in the aftermath of World War II, EIF’s extensive strand of programming exploring issues of refugees, migration, internationalism and Identity couldn’t be more timely or timely.