Celebrating Votes For Women and other centenaries
With a number of important centenaries in 2018, Edinburgh’s Festivals have lined up an array of events, presentations and performances in celebration and commemoration of the anniversaries.
High on the agenda is women’s suffrage, with 2018 marking 100 years since the Representation of the People Act gave many British women the right to vote for the first time.
At the Fringe, the landmark anniversary will be celebrated in events ranging from theatre and comedy to exhibitions and seminars.
The National Records of Scotland will present for the first time records of Scottish Suffragettes and their interactions with authorities, detailing protests, arrests, hunger strikes and force-feeding in an exhibition which invites audiences to reflect on the public image of the Suffragettes and their often unconventional methods.
Amongst the theatre offering are two plays exploring the lives of historic female figures: Eglantyne at the Gilded Balloon and A Necessary Woman at Sweet Grassmarket. The former show tells the tale of Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children and an active campaigner on many causes including women’s suffrage, while the former joins iconic suffragette Emily Wilding Davison in a cupboard at the Palace of Westminster, where she plots an ambitious protest for the following day.
Bringing a personal connection to the line-up will be Peter Barratt, great-grandson of suffragette Alice Hawkins. In this spoken-word show at the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, Barratt will present an account of Hawkins’ life and campaigning: from shoe machinist to founder of her local suffragette branch and contemporary of the Pankhursts.
Across Edinburgh’s festivals, the feminist themes continue to run strong. The Book Festival line-up will see authors such as Dr Fern Riddell and Helen Pankhurst with Adele Patrick (pictured top), Theresa Breslin and Holly Webb, Diane Atkinson and Jane Robinson discuss new books which each explore aspects of the fight for women’s votes. And over at the Art Festival, work such as Victoria Crowe’s A Certain Light (pictured above, detail) presented alongside exhibitions by Bodil Maz and Catherine Martin are presented in recognition of a century of suffrage.
The RAF, Czech Independence, WWI, Leonard Bernstein
Women’s suffrage isn’t the only such milestone marked this year, with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo celebrating 100 years of the Royal Air Force (above) as well as the centenary of Czechoslovakian Independence, both of which feature strongly in this year’s programme.
The military theme is continued as the Edinburgh International Festival recognises the centenary of the First World War, opening on 3 August with the spectacular Five Telegrams: a multimedia performance which included communications from young soldiers found in the Imperial War Museum.
And in what would have been his 100th year, the work of renowned composer Leonard Bernstein is celebrated at the International Festival. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be joined by Nicola Benedetti (above) for a special concert of Bernstein’s work, while this year’s Virgin Money Fireworks Concert will close the festival with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra paying homage to the anniversary.
Edinburgh International Book Festival opens on Saturday 11 August 2018. The other four August Festivals are already underway.
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