August 2021: Ten Moments From Week 4

At the end of the fourth and final week of our August festivals season, we pick a further ten highlights from across our festivals family.

1. Field OF Dreams

EIF - Field

Directed by Christine Devaney and featuring an ensemble of Edinburgh-based performers, Field was a durational outdoor dance-happening conceived in a physically distanced world for the Edinburgh International festivals. With the majestic Arthur’s Seat as a backdrop, performers responded to the surrounding landscape and each other by following a series of movement and live sound scores. Two inspiring groups made guest appearances: Dance Base’s PRIME, Scotland's first semi-professional dance company for the over 60s, and Lyra, an Edinburgh-based company making live performances for and with young people.

2. On The Seventh Day

Art - St Giles

obuyile, a new composition for four cellists created an intervention in the urban landscape by Thulani Rachia – invited as part of curator Tako Taal’s six new commissions for public and digital spaces during the Edinburgh Art Festival. The title of the work is in Thulani’s mother tongue isiZulu and translates as the one who returns. The melodies expressed a difficulty in voicing the brutality of the built environment in urban spaces towards certain bodies, culminating in a score which maps an ongoing journey of healing from trauma. Spanning a week, fragments of the composition were heard over six days combining to create a full score on the seventh day in the city’s St Giles Cathedral.

3. An Island Life

Film - The Road Dance

This week saw the Audience Award for best film presented to The Road Dance - whose cast joined us for the world premiere in Filmhouse, home of the 2021 Edinburgh International Film Festival. Inspired by a true story, the film offers a believable window on the rhythms of Hebridean life at the turn of the twentieth century as it tells the story of a young woman coming of age in a small island community. Commenting on the film, Variety said: “It’s an awfully long way from Louisiana to the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, but for Richie Adams, it was a journey worth taking. The American filmmaker …has made the most expansive, ambitious film of his career in ‘The Road Dance’.”

4. Bobby’s Award 

Fringe - Myra2

This week Myra’s Story - the 5-star sell-out Fringe show telling the tragi-comic tale of a homeless Dublin street drinker - was presented with the highly-prized Bobby Award at the end of its final performance in Assembly George Square Gardens. The Bobby Award, fashioned after the iconic Greyfriars Bobby statue, is awarded by the leading culture publication Broadway Baby to the best of the best at the Fringe. In front of a full-house on Sunday, writer and director Brian Foster, award-winning actor Fíonna Hewitt-Twamley, and Assembly Festival’s Artistic Director, William Burdett-Coutts, received their ‘Bobby’ from Richard Beck, Editor of Broadway Baby.

5. A Literary Homecoming

Book-  Sturgeon Stuart

Douglas Stuart’s life was turned upside down when his debut novel Shuggie Bain was declared winner of the 2020 Booker Prize. Overnight, the New York-based fashion designer, who grew up in Glasgow, became an international literary bestseller. This week the Edinburgh International Book Festival welcomed him home for his first live, in-person discussion about the book that has won a million readers’ hearts – interviewed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who continued her annual tradition of interviewing a leading writer at the Book Festival.

6. Should auld acquaintance be forgot This online conversation presented a unique opportunity to hear Emeka Ogboh discuss the themes of his Edinburgh Art Festival and Talbot Rice commission, Song of the Union. Emeka’s sound installation, Song of the Union, sited in Edinburgh’s Burns Monument, responded to the ongoing theatre surrounding the UK’s departure from the European Union. It featured the recorded voices of citizens from each nation state of the European Union, singing in their mother tongue, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – a song attributed to the poet Robert Burns (1759-96) and sung in the European Parliament on the 29 January 2020, marking the moment of Britain’s final withdrawal from the European Union. As the Times commented: ‘Taking on the words and the spirit of Burns, it does what a memorial should do: provide a space for appropriate sadness, while valuing the thing which is lost and mark its passing in a way which should not be forgotten.’

7. Cumming Of Age

EIF - Cummings

Middle-aged polymath Alan Cumming explored the mores of aging and raged against the rejuvenescence machine in his Edinburgh International Festival appearance. In song obviously. Winner of Tony and Olivier Awards, and a recipient of multiple Golden Globe and Emmy nominations, Cumming is a star of television, film and theatre, including the acclaimed Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs at the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival. In her review of the show, renowned critic Joyce McMillan wrote: “His aim in this show.. is not to excoriate the times, but to celebrate life, not least with some superb stories about stars ranging from Billie Jean King to Sean Connery; and with the help of a terrific four-piece band, he does it well, at a time when a little celebration – and sense of renaissance – has never been more necessary, or more welcome.”

8. Crystal Clear Audiences at the Film Festival were thrilled this week that comedy legend Billy Crystal's Here Today held its UK premiere as the closing film of the 74th edition.Crystal, who directs for the first time in 20 years, produced, co-wrote and starred in the film alongside Tiffany Haddish. Speaking in advance of the screening, Billy Crystal said: "I'm thrilled that Here Today has been selected to close the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2021. To have an audience sit inside a cinema together and share the experience of this film after these unusual times makes me very happy.”

9. A Callow Youth

Fringe - Callow

Stage and screen star Simon Callow made a special appearance, with a live-streamed one-man show from the city’s Traverse Theatre, to discuss the highs and lows of his 50 years in the industry. Part of the ‘Shedinburgh’ programme at this year's Fringe - which sees actors, artists and theatre-makers appearing in specially-constructed sheds – the Four Weddings & A Funeral star reflected that: “My professional life started in Edinburgh, in 1973, so of course it is in Edinburgh that I will present Being an Actor: Fifty Years On for the very first time.”

10. A Climate For Change

GIA logo white on Green

‘If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security.’ That was Sir David Attenborough’s stark warning to the UN Security Council earlier this year. In a special series of events at the Book Festival, attention was turned to those who offer positive calls to action and creative perspectives for protecting our planet. In Youth Voices of Climate Change, 24 year old Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, founder of Intersectional Environmentalist Leah Thomas, and UK ornithologist and author Mya-Rose Craig, talked about fighting for a future that’s worth living for, with The New York Times’s Elizabeth Paton. Find this and other events in the series HERE

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