30 August, 2008

What the Papers Say Today

Only two days to go till the end of the Festival 08 however the press coverage is still as extensive as ever with many new reviews in today's papers.

The announcement of the fireworks starter for the The Bank of Scotland Fireworks Concert featured in quite a few of the papers today including The Edinburgh Evening News and The Herald. Competition winner, Morgan Bevis, was also featured on STV.

There is a large feature in The Herald about the Herald Angels, the last batch of which were awarded this morning. Recipients from the EIF programme included Valery Gergiev, the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Ivan Fischer, Matthew Bourne and Vera Alexander who received the Little Devil award. Vera - a long time usher at The Queen's Hall - has already featured in the papers quite a bit recently for rebutting a thief's attempts to steal the takings from the venue's cloakroom.

The Scotsman features a story about a protest that happened at The Queen's Hall yesterday during a performance by the Jerusalem Quartet. The story reports that the protest was ‘countered by a standing ovation'.

There is also some coverage in the Edinburgh Evening News of a cash injection into the King's Theatre which is to be used for a revamp of the venue.

I Went To The House But Did Not Enter
‘The Hilliards bring it off immaculately; as with the whole show, there's not a detail misplaced'. The Guardian****
‘A beautifully presented experience to be savoured'. Edinburgh Evening News****
‘Will seep into the memory for some time to come' The Scotsman*****

Deca Dance 2008
‘This is a show to relish, more than once if at all possible'. Edinburgh Evening News****
‘Deca Dance served as a wonderful introduction to Batsheva's talents.' The Scotsman****

Budapest Festival Orchestra / Ivan Fischer
‘We have a terrific new violin virtuoso among us in the form of József Lendvay Jr...enthralling improvisation...powerhouse performance.' The Guardian*****

Wolpe!
‘A fascinating and vital pointer to festival futures that's to relish.' The Herald****

Jerusalem Quartet
‘This was playing of high expressiveness'
The Herald****
‘This was a brilliant performance by the quartet under trying circumstances, which was rewarded with rapturous applause.' The Scotsman*****

The Whirling Dervishes of Turkey
‘A fascinating performance...solemn yet joyful, it resonated with a compelling calm.' The Herald

Herald Angels - Vera's Victory

It was the last morning of breakfast and bubbles today as the final batch of Herald Angels were dished out at The Festival Theatre. Once again the EIF featured heavily with Valery Gergiev, the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Ivan Fischer, and Matthew Bourne all being honoured with Angels. The Little Cherub award went to Kyna Bowers whose family were delighted when her name was announced. (Kyna is pictured with her award)
However it was the recipient of the Little Devil Award who really stole the show. Vera Alexander, veteran usher at the Queen's Hall, flirted with fame recently when she fought off a criminal who was trying to steal the cloakroom takings. As he stuffed the notes up his top Vera was reportedly grabbing them back. She refused to give an inch and in the end the would be thief ran off with nothing. She had the audience in stitches when she was called up to receive her award saying: 'it's an ugly wee thing isn't it'.

Read the story by the Daily Record here.

New Vid - I Went To The House But Did Not Enter

Hear an interview with EIF Director Jonathan Mills about this production by Heiner Goebbels with music from the Hilliard Ensemble.
video

29 August, 2008

Getting Fired Up For The Fireworks

Sunday night's firestarter was revealed today at Edinburgh Castle as pint sized Morgan Bevis, aged nine, from Livingston. The youngster won a competition on Radio Forth to set off the huge display by doing her best impression of the fireworks. As she got acquainted with the all-important button she also met the creative brains behind the fireworks Wilf Scott and Keith Webb. There was a host of media there to witness the event including the BBC and STV so Morgan will no doubt enjoy being a mini celebrity for the next few days. To hear an interview with Morgan (with fireworks impression) and Keith Webb from Pyrovision click here.


The Bank of Scotland Fireworks Concert takes place on Sunday 31 August from Edinburgh Castle with music provided by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

27 August, 2008

New Ruhe Video Clip

We have an new video to offer you from one of our most critically acclaimed shows Ruhe. With music from Collegium Vocale Gent, the show also features two stunning performances from Dirk Roofthooft and Carly Wijs who play post war volunteers from the SS discussing their past lives.
video

Festival Award Winners Announced!

The winner of this year's EIF Award is theatre company Belt Up (Nothing to See/Hear), a bright young theatre company from York who caught the attention of the judges after a lengthy run of hugely popular shows. Members of the company received the award this morning from Festival Director Jonathan Mills (pictured below).
The group had a heavy schedule for their fringe appearances with two shows a day, sometimes three, for 20 consecutive days as well as a month of rehearsals before their first show but their hard work paid off as the company developed a cult following during the fringe. Audience members who enjoyed the shows signed up for text alerts and were notified of 'secret' free shows. These proved so popular that regular audiences of 100 began turning up and friendships were spawned between dedicated fans. As a result the group became one of the hits of the fringe and drew the attention of the Festival Award judges.
The group have now been given £5,000 to develop a new project which will be seen at one of the Behind the Scenes workshops in 2009. Jonathan met with the company yesterday and discussions got underway as to how the Festival can work with the company to develop ideas. The award is provided by Ewan Brown, a long term supporter of Edinburgh International Festival and Vice Chair of the Festival Board. Jonathan Mills was responsible for selecting the award winner after a series of recommendations were made by panel members who were charged with scouring the fringe. The panel members were Roy Cross, Director of the British Council Scotland, critic Neil Cooper, Cindy Sughrue, Chief Executive of Scottish Ballet, Tony Reekie, Director of Imaginate, David Levin, Theatre Director and Sally Hobson, Head of Programme Development at EIF.

26 August, 2008

Queen's Hall Series

This series is proving to be a beacon for those in search of world class quality music amid the plethora of shows that a typical Edinburgh festival season offers. Consistently good reviews and all round admiration for the well picked programme have firmly secured this series as a winner. Yesterday saw violinist Rüdiger Lotter and his early music ensemble Lyriarte joined by Irvine Arditti. To hear what the audience had to say after the performance click here.
Soloists from the Budapest Festival Orchestra played today to a packed audience and tomorrow sees mezzo soprano Katarina Karnéus perform with Johan Ullen on piano.
Other highlights still to come from the Queen's Hall Series include The Jerusalem Quartet and the Beaux Arts Trio.
To listen to the top picks of the Queen's Hall Series from some of the UK's most well known arts critics click here.

They Like!

It may be the last week of the Festival (awwww) but the reviews are still pouring in. Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray and Król Roger have proved to be hits amongst the critics as two more fours stars reviews and one five star were published today. Król Roger was awarded four stars in The Herald with Michael Tumelty calling it a 'musical masterpiece'.
He writes: 'The performance, conducted by Gergiev at his molten best, is pulsatingly atmospheric and erotic...A phenomenal piece, played to the hilt by this great company.'

Dorian Gray also received five stars from The Metro and four stars from The Independent.
In The Metro it says: 'Performed by an outstanding cast...The only question is how can Bourne possibly top this.'
Zoe Anderson of The Independent writes: 'In a brilliantly creepy moment, Dorian takes his double's hand, resigned and almost tender...Although Bourne is a deft storyteller...his gift is for showing character through movement...The cast are terrific.'
For tickets to Dorian Gray click here.
For tickets to Król Roger click here.

Check out the video below for a just released preview of Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray.
video

25 August, 2008

Guardian Gongs

As great as it is to acknowledge and humbly bow for the big prestigious Festival awards, it's the obscure and often zany ones that sometimes offer a little comic relief...so here are some of the Guardian's gongs as chosen by Brian Logan.

The Hercule Poirot Award
The dance hit of this year's Featival came from Rosas 'with an awe-inspiring programme by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, set to the music of Steve Reich'.

The What The Papers Say Award
EIF productions hit the headlines for a variety of reasons during Festival 08. Some of the most notable stories were the sad death of Mahmoud Darwish, whose epic poem - penned after a near death experience - was staged just four days after his death. It also mentions the State Ballet of Georgia: 'Then, as Russian bombs fell on Georgia, prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili hit town with Giselle but found herself talking about war, not art'. The 'extraordinary Anchiskhati Choir of Tbilisi' were also praised.

The Leonard Cohen Award
TR Warszawa's production of the dark Sarah Kane play and National Theatre of Scotland's 365 were mentioned in this category. 'Sarah Kane's never-knowingly-cheerful suicide poem, 4.48 Psychosis joined in as did the National Theatre of Scotland's 365, about the unhappy plight of children in care'.

The Noah's Ark Award
'Recipient: The Scottish weather. We Scots spend our lives rebutting the accusation that our country is anything other than a sun-kissed paradise. And then it goes and rains - an awful, awful lot.'

To read the full article click here.

New Vid - Class Enemy

For those unlucky people who missed East West Theatre Company's brilliant production of Class Enemy here is a new video for your viewing pleasure.
video

Guest Blogger - Keith Bruce from The Herald

Every Saturday morning during the Festival, The Herald newspaper presents its Angel awards at The Festival Theatre, with the support of the Bank of Scotland. This coming Saturday its usual line up of Angels, Archangel (for sustained contribution to the festivals over the years), and Little Devil (for demonstrating commitment to the principle that the show must go on) will be joined by a fourth award, the Wee Cherub. Only one Wee Cherub winner will be chosen, the writer of the best review published as part of The Herald's Young Critics scheme.
Each year, after the Festival programme is announced, Herald critics visit a number of Edinburgh schools to talk to pupils about writing reviews. The students then attend a festival performance and submit reviews to a proper deadline, with the best one from each show appearing in The Herald alongside those of the professional writers. This year four young people - Eleanor Morton from Royal High, Scott Clair of Holyrood High, Kyna Bowers of Boroughmuir High, and Joanna Ramasawmy of Broughton High - have had their work published during the Festival. On Saturday, one will become the Herald's first Wee Cherub.

To read Joanna Ramasawmy's review of The Budapest Festival Orchestra click here.
To read Kyna Bowers' review of Mortal Engine click here.
To read Scott Clair's review of 4.48 Psychosis click here.
To read Eleanor Morton's review of The Tell-Tale Heart click here.

Fireworks Tix Frenzy

The last batch of tickets for the Bank of Scotland Fireworks Concert went on sale at 10am on Sunday morning. The first ticket hungry punters arrived at 4am (!) to ensure they got their tickets. By the time Hub tickets had opened more than 300 people were waiting in line.


This may not be surprising to those who have seen the show before as it involves more than 100,000 fireworks, four tonnes of explosives and hundreds of firing sequences including the now famous fireworks waterfall. Last year more than a quarter of a million people watched the spectacular show which is the largest event of its kind in Europe. The Festival 08 finale takes place on Sunday 31 August and there are a mere handful of tickets left for a lucky few who still want a spot in Princes Street Gardens. To buy tickets phone The Hub on 0131 473 2000.

Acclaimed firebrand Romanian conductor Nicolae Moldoveanu leads the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in an exuberant programme of music for Hungarian Dances by Brahms and Slavonic Dances by Dvořák. Forth 1 and 2 will be broadcasting the Concert live on the night, enabling members of the public to tune in and experience the full atmosphere of the event from wherever they choose to view it. The Concert will be streamed live on stv’s website, www.stv.tv/fireworks, and broadcast on stv later in the evening at 10.20 pm. The programme will be hosted by one of stv’s most well-known faces, Scotland Today presenter Louise White.

24 August, 2008

Gonnae No Dae That!

There were a few unimpressed ladies at the opening night of 365 who were left rather confused by an unexplained order from two members of the public. They were told to wait outside the ladies toilets despite there being plenty of free cubicles. Patiently they waited to see what the reason for their inconvenience was. And waited. Then an unmistaskable cheeky grin belonging to a well known Scottish (male) comedian appeared. 'Apologies Ladies' he bellowed and then the trio (the two members of the public must have been minders!) left leaving the ladies scratching their heads in bemusement.

On a serious note, the play was received very well by the critics being awarded four stars by The Scotsman and The Herald. See post below for a more detailed analysis of the critics’ response. Festival Insider was there to speak to audience members after the opening night finished. To listen to what they had to say click here.

23 August, 2008

A Few Good Angels


EIF were awarded a few good angels and a Little Devil today at today's prestigious Herald Angel Awards. On behalf of the absent Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos, our Christopher donned an extravagant moustache (not disimilar to the virtuosic Lakatos') and accepted his Angel. On behalf of Rosas dance company (of choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker) fellow dance company Bal Moderne accepted an Angel for the company's Steve Reich Evening production. Rosas also took home a Little Devil for the 'show going on' in spite of sprinklers going off in the theatre on opening night. The third Angel went to film installation Looking for Tazieh - for their intense audio visual experience about a Persian Shi'ite passion play. The crowd were also treated to a live bluegrass showdown from Fringe newcomers Ed and the Shortbus, who hail from Richmond, Virginia. For more on today's Herald Angels, click here.

22 August, 2008

Today's Press

Includes a large feature in The Guardian on Philippe Herreweghe and his love of Bruckner in their classical section. Philippe Herreweghe performs Bruckner's mass in E minor with Collegium Vocale Gent next Tuesday 26 August at The Usher Hall.
The Times carried a feature on The National Theatre of Scotland's latest offering 365. The feature was based around an interview with Vicky Featherstone and drew a comparison with past smash hits from the company. It also explained the extensive research that has gone on into the subject of practice flats and the inspirations behind the play. 365 opens tonight at The Edinburgh Playhouse and runs until Monday 25 August.
Many publications including The Times, The Herald and The Scotsman featured stories about the record breaking ticket sales of Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray. More than 11,000 tickets have been sold for the show which runs for eight nights (until Saturday 30 August) at The King's Theatre.
There were also a number of features and comment pieces on Valery Gergiev's decision to return to Ossetia to conduct a memorial requiem. He conducted the London Symphony Orchestra last week and on Sunday 24 August will conduct The Mariinsky Opera and Orchestra in Aleko: Semyon Kotko (Act III) at The Usher Hall.
In The Scotsman random awards, Class Enemy was given the title of Most Entertaining Swearing in an EIF show.
To view some TV footage from the BBC click on these links: Dorian Gray and Class Enemy.

New Reviews
Class Enemy
‘This updating by Haris Pašović is subtle but significant.' The Guardian ****
‘a fascinating work-in-progress exploration...the production is illuminated by two or three magical performances.' The Scotsman ***
The Times ***
Mischa and Lily Maisky
‘Showing a maturity beyond her 21 years, Lily Maisky was an equal partner in a gritty and thrilling performance.' The Scotsman ****
The Herald ***
Alfred Brendel
‘On full display was the sheer artistry that makes everything Brendel touches look so simple.' The Scotsman ****
‘Schubert's big B flat Sonata, which completed the programme, was one of his last, most moving and far-ranging masterpieces.' The Herald ****
Jidariyya
‘This is a spiritual and metaphysical journey that seems almost the antithesis of thrilling theatre, yet it exerts a curiously strong hold.' The Independent ***
Ruhe
‘Few choirs could stand the scrutiny of this intimacy and few performances match those of the actors, with Roofthooft's in particular the best to be seen at this or any other festival.' The Herald *****

21 August, 2008

Critic's Picks

We have been speaking to some of the country's most well known arts critics about the Festival 08 programme and have gathered up their top picks to help with any difficult ticket buying decisions. To listen to Joyce McMillan from The Scotsman, Robert Dawson-Scott of The Times, Andrew Clark from the Financial Times and Margaret Willis who writes for Dancing Times click here.

New Honorary President Announced



Last night, Wednesday 20 August, at the Usher Hall, Festival Director Jonathan Mills announced Sir Charles Mackerras as the new Honorary President of Edinburgh International Festival Society. To read Jonathan's full speech, click here.

Sir Charles was thanked for the wonderful performances he has brought Festival audiences over 56 years . His first appearance at the EIF dating back to 1952 at the Empire Theatre (now the Edinburgh Festival Theatre) with Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, conducting his own arrangement of Arthur Sullivan's Pineapple Poll. He returned in 1958 as Music Director for a season of 12 ballet premieres. In more recent years he is renowned for his performances at the Usher Hall with orchestras including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hanover Band, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Soloists who have shared the Festival platform with Mackerras include Christian Zacharias, Felicity Lott, Sarah Walker, Philip Langridge, John Williams, Bryn Terfel, Ian Bostridge, Lisa Milne and Simon Keenlyside. In 2006 Mackerras conducted the seminal series of Beethoven's Nine Symphonies.

Sir Charles Mackerras, Honorary President of the Edinburgh International Festival Society said: "I am absolutely delighted to be named as Honorary President of the Edinburgh International Festival Society. As a genuine Scotsman, it is a great honour to be given this position and to follow on in such distinguished footsteps. Since my debut at the Festival in 1952 it has always played a very important part of my musical life and to have a continuing relationship with the Festival is a great honour indeed."

20 August, 2008

Cross Cultural Exchanges

Scotland can now boast one more Irn Bru addict as one of our South African colleagues today joined the flock after just one sip (or 'sup' as she would say) of the good stuff. During an innocent conversation of the staff kitchen variety it was recently revealed to some long time converts that our dear press tickets coordinator had never tasted the golden nectar. Obviously a can was swiftly organised, and with anticipation it was presented.


Worried glances were exchanged. Did she like it? Did she want the bucket? Who knew?!
Then a smile.

Naturally, she loved it! And immediately identified it as a potential hangover cure - a fact that took us years to work out. Why stop when you're on a roll though? so...we're thinking buckfast tomorrow. This is not a hint for ticket hungry hacks by the way although she says you are welcome to try.

**Update**

Another cross cultural exchange happened in the EIF press office just minutes later (what a day!) when our lovely Polish pictures editor exclaimed 'Hey guys, look, I'm eating a haggis!'
After thoroughly enjoying her roll'n'haggis we decided to break the bad news i.e. haggis content. However she was already well aware of the facts and we now suspect this may be what led to her dinner of choice as she went on to tell us about some Polish home favourites: brains and kaszanka (google it). Ah well....just another day of cultural learnings.

What the Paper's Say Today

The spotlight shines on theatre today, as the papers interview writers / directors for new productions Class Enemy, 365 and I went to the house but did not enter. Today's Herald features an interview with Nigel Williams about his 1978 play Class Enemy, which has been adapted by Bosnian theatre company East West Theatre Company to be set in contemporary Sarajevo. Class Enemy opens tonight at the Royal Lyceum Theatre and runs through to Saturday 23 August. Three Weeks talks to Scottish playwright David Harrower today about the process of writing 365 - the latest production from The National Theatre of Scotland about child poverty in the UK. 365 makes its World Premiere at The Playhouse this Friday 22 August and runs through to Monday 25 August. The Daily Telegraph speaks with theatrical innovator Heiner Goebbels about his new music theatre piece I went to the house but did not enter and about how theatre should give you something ‘completely marvellous and completely inexplicable'. I went to the house opens at the Royal Lyceum Theatre on Thursday 28 and runs until Saturday 30 August. In the world of music, The Herald interviews mesmerising opera singer Christine Schäfer in anticipation of her Edinburgh Festival debut in Saturday's Queen's Hall recital. And The Independent previews the Pavel Haas Quartet who will perform work by Janacek and Prokofiev this Friday at The Queen's Hall.

New Reviews
Le roi David
‘Sylvia Bergé held us in thrall; very impressive' The Financial Times ****
‘Ingeniously orchestrated, daringly combined and, at its most tender, really rather moving' The Times ****
Susan Bullock / Malcolm Martineau
‘communicated with consummate artistry and range of expression' The Scotsman*****
‘This concert was in a class of its own. A flawless recital.' The Herald *****
The Monteverdi Choir / Orchestra Revolutionnaire et Romantique
‘Choral singing of impeccable beauty' The Scotsman ***
4.48 Psychosis
‘a sophisticated and stimulating rendering of the play' Fest Mag ****
Giselle
‘unquestionably impressive' Fest Mag ****
London Symphony Orchestra: Prokofiev
‘ phenomenal technical prowess and unfailing musicality' Evening News *****

19 August, 2008

Today's Press Clippings

As Festival 08 welcomes a new fleet of international artists, the papers preview this week's anticipated opening productions.
Metro Life boasts a cover story on East West Theatre Company and an interview with Haris Pašović about directing plays while under siege from Serb forces in Sarajevo. Pašović's Festival 08 offering transports Nigel Williams' play, Class Enemy, set in South London in the late 1970s to post-war Sarajevo. Class Enemy opens at The Royal Lyceum Theatre tomorrow and runs through to Saturday 23 August.
See The Guardian's festival photos of the week taken by Murdoch Macleod - featuring Mortal Engine's amazing laser dance show - here. Metro gave Mortal Engine five stars today calling it ‘terrifying, beautiful, unique and absolutely unforgettable'. The Scotsman agreed, giving it four stars and calling it ‘Utterly captivating and, that most illusive of theatrical goals, utterly unique'. Mortal Engine closes tonight at The Edinburgh Playhouse, to hear what the audience thought of last night's performance, click here.
The Scotsman profiles New York duo Nancy Walsh and John Clancy, who present the first of two performances today at The Hub titled ‘Captain Overlord's Folly or the Fool's Revenge' as a result of winning the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival Award. For ticket info about these two limited ticket events, click here.
The Financial Times gave Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra's Prokofiev Seven Symphonies concerts five stars today. Gergiev returns to EIF next week to conduct the Mariinsky Opera Company in their staged opera Król Roger at The Festival Theatre.
There is also a feature story in The Australian (Australian National Broadsheet) with Jonathan Mills about programming EIF 08, click here to read it.
New Reviews...
Steve Reich Evening
‘consistently commands, challenges, enlightens and uplifts' The Guardian *****
4.48 Psychosis
‘an electrifying performance by the leading Polish actress Magdalena Cielecka' The Times ****
‘a remarkable, powerful piece of work' The Financial Times ****
Jidariyya
‘I have experienced one of the great joys of theatre; finding myself quite in love with a production, affected to the heart, without having noticed how or when it so won me over.' The Financial Times *****
Le Roi David
‘a rich panoply of emotions' The Scotsman ****
Leonidas Kavakos / Enrico Pace
‘intense intimacy' The Scotsman ****
‘a volatile tour de force' The Herald ****

Captain Overlord Arrives

Edinburgh received it's first performance of Captain Overlord's Folly or The Fool's Revenge yesterday amid a flurry of press hype and speculation. After turning many head's in previous fringe performances the company were last year awarded the inaugral Edinburgh International Festival Award. The event which took place in The Hub was a combined workshop and show created specially for the Behind the Scenes series. Roughly, the plot saw a 19th century play hijacked by a gang of evil clowns who are then driven from the stage by a trio of theatre critics and academics. To hear the show's creators Nancy Walsh and John Clancy of New York based John Clancy Productions talk about this performance, click here.

Click here to read an article in The Scotsman titled 'Keeping the Show on the Road', interviewing the pair about bringing this show to Edinburgh.

18 August, 2008

What the Papers Say Today

The papers are peppered with Festival 08 as a week of World Premieres fast approach and the reviews just keep on coming.
Australian dance company Chunky Move made a splash in the papers with images from the UK premiere of this hi-tech, laser dance show Mortal Engine. The review in today's Herald read; ‘if the technology was impressive, the flesh and blood dancers were outstanding'. To hear a behind-the-scenes interview with the choreographer Gideon Obarzanek click here.
The hotly anticipated World Premiere of Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray graced the cover of Metro Life Festival today, featuring an interview with the London born choreographer, who leapt to fame with his all-male Swan Lake chorus, about adapting Oscar Wilde's classic to London, here and now. The Independent on Sunday profiled the lead dancer Richard Windsor about this, his sixth, Bourne show.
The Scotsman features an interview with German composer / director Heiner Goebbels about his EIF return with the World Premiere production I Went to the house but Did Not Enter, which collaborates with the Hilliard Ensemble - the British vocal chamber group renowned for its accomplishment in early and new music. This month's Classical Music magazine interviews The Hilliard Ensemble, about their new role as speaking, moving singing actors in avant-guardist Heiner Goebbels' latest production.
Yesterday's Scotland on Sunday peels back layers of the National Theatre of Scotland's latest World Premiere production 365 - which opens at The Playhouse this Friday - and interviews director Vicky Featherstone and three youngsters about how they overcame their tragic beginnings. The Sunday Times also focused on this, the latest from the team behind Black Watch and The Bacchae, interviewing the writer David Harrower.
Yesterday's Scotland on Sunday follows arts writer Mark Fisher and The Sunday Times arts writer Anna Burnside to Belgrade where they interview East West Theatre Company about their adaptation of Nigel Williams' play Class Enemy, which opens at the Royal Lyceum Theatre this Wednesday and runs through to Saturday.
Today's Independent interviews choreographer and artistic director of Israeli's Batsheva Dance Company, Ohad Naharin, about the upcoming EIF production Deca Dance 2008 which features the ‘greatest hits' of the company's past 18 years of contemporary dance productions.
Looking at Tazieh
‘One of the most magisterially brilliant works of art ever shown at the Edinburgh Festival; and the chance to see it is a privilege not to be missed' The Scotsman *****
‘this astonishing display of wordless poetry is a humbling portrait of culture at one with its sense of grief' The Herald ****
Belcea Quartet
‘Exhaustive and fulfilling' The Scotsman *****
‘Here - in sound, rhythm, humanity and consistency of presentation -
they were keenly unified' The Herald ****
Roby Lakatos & Ensemble
‘Terrific stuff from a band that makes playing exceptional music seem as natural as breathing.' The Herald *****
‘hugely spirited performance' The Scotsman ****
4.48 Psychosis
‘Watching 4.48 Psychosis can be almost unbearably harrowing. But when it is staged as brilliantly as it is here, it also feels profound, moving - and unforgettable.' The Daily Telegraph
‘thrilling theatre' The Guardian****

I Went To The House But Did Not Enter - Rehearsal Pics

More wonderful pictures to whet your appetites. These dark, brooding images are from yesterday's rehearsals of I Went To The House But Did Not Enter. This intriguing play investigates the ambigous role of 'I' and is based on three revered works - T.S. Eliot's 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock', Maurice Blanchot's 'The Madness of the Day', and Samuel Beckett's 'Worstward Ho'. The play, performed in English, is by Heiner Goebbels with the Hilliard Ensemble. It opens on Thursday 28 August and runs until Saturday 30 August at The Royal Lyceum.

Hot off the Press...

come the latest production pictures from the National Theatre of Scotland's new play - 365. The anticipation is growing, tickets are flying out the door and the performance is nearing perfection. Take a look at the latest pictures from today's rehearsals. The show opens on Friday 22 August and runs until Monday 25 August at The Edinburgh Playhouse.

17 August, 2008

Photographers Revved up After Mortal Engine

The first full rehearsal of Mortal Engine got underway today at The Edinburgh Playhouse as Australian dance company Chunky Move practiced the dance and light extravaganza for the first time on Scottish soil. Around ten photographers and two film crews attended the rehearsals. With the motion sensors and trip wires activating the special light and laser effects, the ground breaking show had provoked a lot of curiosity. At one point photographers who had clicked onto the fact that front centre of the stalls was the best vantage point for pictures, were jostling for space in what can only be described as a polite pile up. Suffice to say, afterwards no one was surprised at the hype generated by this production and many left vowing to buy some of the remaining tickets. In a rare gesture, the assembled crew, staff and press burst into unexpected applause at the end of rehearsals. Especially impressive was the scene where lasers are used to simulate a tunnel. Below are some of the picture from today's rehearsals. The show opens tonight and runs until Tuesday 19 August. Click here to buy tickets.
**Update** click here to listen to the audience response to the opening night.



Rubber Ducky

Expect the unexpected is the mantra of many EIF staff and thankfully so, after the stage sprinklers went off at The Festival Theatre before a performance of the Steve Reich Evening recently. After the crowd had been ushered outside and then back in again, the stage appeared to have been dried off. As below stage leakages, electrics and other factors were given the all clear the dancers returned but they were not taking any chances. Reports say many bounded on, towels in hand, and did a bit of precautionary mopping during the show which demonstrates another of our ingrained mantras: the show must go on. Spare a thought for the stage crew however whose faces must have been a picture as water rained down on the very stage they had painstakingly worked to perfect. A scurillous rumour - yet to be confirmed but nonethless spreading quickly through festival circles - is that the stage crew of The Edinburgh Playhouse, upon hearing of the sprinkler dilemma, sent a rubber duck in a taxi to their (slightly damp) comrades at the Festival Theatre!
Response from a nameless EIF lass: 'I wish we had a taxi budget like theirs', to which came the reply, 'Any more taxi budgies and they wont have a taxi budget'.

16 August, 2008

Sweeping the Angels




While performers, producers and festival folk milled around the Festival Theatre at this morning's Herald Angel Awards, The Herald's Arts Editor Keith Bruce presented EIF with four Herald Angel awards. Our Festival Director (and fearless leader) Jonathan Mills collected an award on behalf of The State Ballet of Georgia for their spirited unforgettable productions of Giselle and Mixed Bill. Jonathan also accepted an Angel for programming the critically acclaimed Song and Civilisation choral music series at Greyfriar's Kirk. Another Angel went to Scottish Opera's for their witty opera production The Two Widows which closed on Tuesday this week. And the final shiny gold statue went to, the lead actress in TR Warszawa's Dybbuk and 4.48 Psychosis (now showing at the Kings Theatre), Magdalena Cielecka. Magdalena gracefully accepted an award on behalf of the hard-working young company from Poland. Her fresh smiling face, far removed from the gripping character on stage in last night's premiere of 4.48 Psychosis, drew smiles from the crowd. Though it was the young company causing a stir at the Traverse with their show 'Once and for all we're gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen' who drew the biggest smiles at today's Angels. A young performer who accepted the prize gave a breezy thank you speech that included thanking 'God. And I'd like to thank my brother, not that he did anything'. Three members of the young company were spotted on their complementary Bank of Scotland Fireworks Concert fold out seats and binoculars outside the theatre post-ceremony. After the presentation, the crowd was treated to a performance from the African Chilren's Choir, who also took away an angel for their show in St Andrew's and St George's church in George St.

15 August, 2008

Jidariyya Interviews

In light of the latest show to open at Festival 08 - Jidariyya by the Palestinian National Theatre - we have added two exciting new audio features to the multimedia gallery. An indepth interview (click here) with Reem Talhami, a singer from the Jidariyya cast, provides an insight into the value of bringing a major production from the Palestinian National Theatre to Edinburgh for Festival 08. Following on from the play's first night we have interviews with audience members (click here) who give their opinions on the emotive production in the moments after the show. Jidariyya will show at the Royal Lyceum Theatre at 8pm until Sunday 15 August.

14 August, 2008

More Shiny New Things

The latest additions to the multimedia gallery of the EIF website include interviews with two of Scotland's most noted classical music critics, Ken Walton and Carol Main, (click here to listen) and a look ahead to the second week of Festival 08 from Director Jonathan Mills (click here to listen). We also have a new video to show off. It's a preview of the Sarah Kane play 4.48 Psychosis which is being performed by TR Warszawa and opens this Friday 14 Aug at The King's Theatre. The cutting-edge Polish company have already received rave reviews for their first offering, Dybbuk, as you can read in the entry below and big things are expected for their next venture. To buy tickets for 4.48 Psychosis click here.



Psychosis, dir. Grzegorz Jarzyna from Vvoi on Vimeo.

Artists Without Borders

Emotions were running high at the Edinburgh Playhouse as the State Ballet of Georgia took to the stage for the last section of their Mixed Bill show: the Georgian dance, Sagalobeli. In what must have been very difficult circumstances, the dancers valiantly performed without any apparent nerves, and like all their performances before, brought the house down.
On the second last night of the ballet company’s four night run at the Playhouse, audience members witnessed a moving moment. At the end of the show a group of young Russian fringe performers approached the stage and presented the Georgian dancers with flowers. This poignant act surely shows how art and artists can transcend all borders.

13 August, 2008

Gabriela Montero Vs. Phil Kaye

Two veritable creative genuises came briefly together yesterday when infamous Scottish comedian Phil Kaye requested a song from Queen of improvisation, Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero. What other song could he possibly name but Flower of Scotland. In a thrilling tour de force Ms Montero accepted the challenge but not before prompting a few bars from Mr Kaye who was then joined (rescued?) by the rest of the audience. She did not disappoint and fans were treated to a beautifully artistic rendition of Scotland's national anthem.

NEWSFLASH - EIF Team Storm Through Sunday Post Quiz

Four humble members of EIF staff have just raised the bar for staff quiz teams everywhere after storming their way through The Sunday Post's weekly quiz. As an added bonus they also raised an admirable amount of money for chosen charity Barnardos (who played a significant part in realising the production of 365 - opens on Friday 22 Aug at The Edinburgh Playhouse).

After romping their way through the initial high brow questions on such topics as Great Britons, Olympic Games flag colourings, famous Greek battlehorses and Wham! lyrics, it became clear that earlier (rebuffed) bribes of chocolate cake and money were not necessary for this band of closet quiz buffs. An impressive run of quickfire answers was halted momentarily by uncertainty over a water-based Robert Burns question (yes, that ol' chestnut) however keen to meet their next obstacles with the same vigour garnered by their earlier success, a tactical team decision was taken: they would return to the tricky conundrum at the end.
This proved to be the right choice for the eager quizmeisters and a further run of successful retorts ensured a very respectable score was reached - no mean feat as regular Sunday Post readers will know (for official scores you'll have to wait till Sunday).
With the pressure off, the team returned to the Burns song question which, no matter how wildly they guessed, ultimately left them in somewhat of a pickle. And in a pickle they remained (it was Afton Water by the way) before happily embracing the achievement of their past gains. With proud grins and a new found sense of triumph they returned to their respective desks. Read all about it in this week's Sunday Post folks.

Dudamel charms the press pack

Gustavo Dudamel, the fiery, passionate and animated young conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra effortlessly charmed the assembled press pack at the Usher Hall yesterday. The 27 year old's love of and utter devotion to his work was immediately obvious as he began to talk about his chosen career and the path that led him to it. To listen to the press conference click here.

The orchestra, with Dudamel at the helm, then undertook rehearsals (see picture below) in the hours before the show to perfect their performances. Reports filtering back to the press office from attendees suggest the audience were so enthusiastic in their appreciation of the show that raucous applause, cheering and sporadic standing ovations were witnessed in the stalls. Anyone would think it was a ceilidh!

Unfortunately for Edinburgh fans the sold out performance was for one night only and Gustavo Dudamel, with orchestra in tow, was whisked off to London for their next performance at the Royal Albert Halls.

12 August, 2008

What the papers say today ...

The Scotsman gave the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir five stars today praising the versatile ensemble and the diverse programme of Baltic choral works. The Herald also appreciated the Monday night Usher Hall concert, featuring 13 women, 13 men, in two ranks conducted by Paul Hillier, giving it four stars and calling it pure, beautiful, luminous and dream-like.

Paul Meyer and Eric Le Sage made quite an impact with their Monday morning concert at the Queen’s Hall. The Scotsman gave the duo four stars for their approach to the Brahams, Martinu, Berg and Lutoslawski repertoire and The Herald was duly impressed with how they liberated the music from its formal structure, creating a ‘rhapsodic sense of flow’.

The Greyfriar’s Kirk ‘Songs of Civilization’ programme of choral music kicked off on Monday night with The Music of Buhurizade Mustafa Itri Efendi, The Herald’s Michael Tumelty found the concert ‘hypnotic, ritualistic and blatantly foot-tapping.’

On the theatre front, reviews keep pouring in for Dybbuk and The Tell-Tale Heart – which both wrapped up last night. The Daily Telegraph commended Jonathan Mill’s theatre programme this year calling Dybbuk ‘theatre that asks tough, profound questions’. The Polish company TR Warszawa will present Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis from this Friday through to Sunday at the King’s Theatre.

Metro gave The Tell-Tale Heart four stars today, commenting on the Australian production’s suspenseful interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous story. To hear our audience reviews of this production from opening night, click here.

The Financial Times gave Nina Ananiashvili’s Giselle five stars in today’s paper. The State Ballet of Georgia will perform their second EIF production tonight at the Playhouse, Mixed Bill. To hear our audience reviews of Giselle, click here.

The Metro talk about EIF pushing major artistic boundaries this year by presenting new work from some of the world’s most mind-bending arts practitioners.

There was also an obituary in the Financial Times today for Mahmoud Darwish – the Palestinian poet whose epic poem of life and death has been adapted for the EIF production Jidariyya. And a feature in The Herald on Jidariyya including an interview with director Amir Nizar Zuabi.




Mixed Bill Pics

That famed saying 'the show must go on', was never more evident than this afternoon when The State Ballet of Georgia headed straight back to the practice barres after completing three (critically acclaimed no less) shows of Giselle. Photographers, journalists, a film crew and Playhouse staff watched in awe from the stalls as the highly skilled dancers performed pirhouette after pirhouette under the watchful eye of Nina Ananiashvili. The ever elegant Mrs Ananiashvili was being interviewed right up to the point where the curtain went up and then oversaw rehearsals from the stalls giving commentary using a micophone. Never had so many people wished they spoke Georgian!
Here are some pics from today's rehearsals show. Mixed Bill opens at the Playhouse tonight and finishes tomorrow (Wed 13).




11 August, 2008

The Reviews Come Pouring In

As the journalists who have descended in Edinburgh put pen to paper, the reviews are coming in thick and fast. Here are some snippets of the reviews so far.
Dybbuk
The Times: ‘a tantalizing evening turns riveting…the acting is impeccable…a most striking start to the festival proper.’
The Metro: ‘Visually it is a triumph.’
The Scotsman: ‘Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production (of his adaptation) is intense, slow-burning, drenched in the language of theology and mysticism, but ultimately intensely rich and rewarding.’
The Herald: ‘It’s pulse…is set by Cielecka, a spellbinding blur of a presence in a haunted world.’
Time Out London: ‘Hauntingly powerful’

Tell-Tale Heart
The Guardian: ‘Niedermair performs it to perfection…Sickening then soothing, this is the stuff of fevered nightmares.’
The Metro: ‘an incredibly intense performance…’
The Scotsman: ‘the design and lighting – around a single human figure perched on a steep staircase – are a small revelation’
The Herald: ‘It’s as if all your fireside Halloweens have come at once…a deliciously wicked rendering of a dark-hearted flight if self-destructive fancy’.

Giselle
The Guardian: ‘Her arms and hands, even in moments of stillness, never stop dancing.’
The Herald: ‘Her act two defence…has greatness – of soul, and virtuoso technique – in every gesture, every step.’
The Scotsman: ‘Ananiashvili was the picture of youthful excitement – no mean feat at 45’

The Two Widows
The Times: ‘It’s an engrossing piece, and this colourful, unpretentious Scottish Opera staging by Tobias Hoheisal and Imogen Kogge…gets the balance about right between sincerity and flippant visual gags.’
The Herald: ‘With Smetana’s opera The Two Widows, which opened at the festival on Saturday night Scottish Opera has struck gold…Coming to Glasgow soon. Miss it not.’
The Daily Telegraph: ‘Jane Irwin sang superbly as the disconsolate widow, with Kate Valentine delightfully spirited as her pert opposite number, and able support from their problematic menfolk, Nicholas Folwell and David Pomeroy.’

The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
The Daily Telegraph: ‘The Edinburgh Festival Chorus was immaculate, Hannah Gordon the most genteel of narrators.’
Edinburgh Evening News: ‘Maestro HK Gruber directed with a high level of enthusiasm that was raw and uncompromising.’
The Guardian: ‘Some were excellent, especially Anthony Dean Griffey, the only American, who sang Jim Mahoney in a powerful yet sweet tenor and got every word across.’

There is also a preview of Scottish National Theatre’s 365 in The Independent. The Herald also carried features on The Istanbul Music and Sema Group and Messiaen 100.
Nina Ananiashvili held a press conference yesterday. She expressed her opinions about the Russia-Georgia situation. The Scotsman published a picture of her on their front page. The Herald and The Times also used her comments in their stories. For more information about how this situation has affected the Festival 08 programme click here to see our press release.

We have a new audio feature up on our website. Hear what the audience had to say about Giselle at the Edinburgh playhouse last night by clicking here. And the first three of our Join The Critics reviews are also in. Visit the Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny page, the Tell-Tale Heart and The Two Widows pages to read them.

09 August, 2008

And we're off!

The Festival is upon us and we have hit the ground running thanks to the well oiled machine behind the EIF. Friday was a calm day by all accounts and at the end of the Opening Concert the crowds were all smiles - to hear the audience feedback check out our latest audio feature. The press pack headed to the Blue Bar of the Traverse Theatre afterwards for a press reception and obligatory wine. The following day a pack of photographers were treated to a preview of TR Warszawa's Dybbuk at the King's Theatre as rehearsals took place in the run up to the opening night which takes place tonight. This was the first chance to get photographs of the cast in Scotland and you can have the exclusive first peek at the press pictures of the production below.

The picture at the top is of Andrzej Chrya (Poland's answer to Jude Law apparently) and below it is Renate Jett. Pictured below as the demonised bride is Magdalena Cielecka and in the red and blue ensemble is Director, Krzysztof Warlikowski.
Other members of the press were also privvy to rehearsals for Giselle and The Two Widows. All reports trickling into the press office from these lucky spectators are extremely positive.
Press coverage we received in the last few days (that we know of) includes:
  • A feature on The Two Widows during STV's 5.30 show and an interview with Jonathan Mills on their news program
  • A feature which included footage of Class Enemy and Jidariyya on the BBC news
  • A story about the Usher Hall being ready and open for business on BBC Radio Scotland's Newsdrive and a Festival opening story on their Lunchtime News
  • Stories about the Festival opening on BBC Radio Manchester, Galaxy 105, Forth One, Westsound, BBC Radio Northamptonshire and Borders Radio
  • And BBC Radio Scotland also included interviews with Jonathan Mills, Giselle Allen and Hannah Gordon

There was a very large picture of Jonathan Mills sweeping the Festival Theatre stage on page 4 of The Times yesterday and the accompanying article also focused on the EIF's enhanced internet presence this year (hear hear!). There was a newstory about this year's increased ticket sales on the BBC website and a quirky story about Jonathan Mills on the Scotsman website. During this frenzy of press coverage media relations manager Susie Burnet has maintained a calm exterior throughout. She said: 'It's fantastic to at last get things underway after all the months of planning. It makes it all incredibly worth it.'

Today saw the start of The Queen's Hall Series with the Ysaye Quartet performing and the Borderlines series of discussions also kicked off with 'The New Europe Should Prefer The New Atheism' at the Usher Hall. Tonight's performances include Naji Hakim, The Two Widows, Dybbuk, Giselle, The Tell-Tale Heart and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.