IT WAS almost inevitable that the coronavirus pandemic would be the target of the Edinburgh family of arts festivals – and equally inevitable that the organisers of those very festivals, as well as the artists, performers, musicians and actors who make them what they are, would react accordingly.
That is precisely what happened.
As a rule, pause and play can’t be pressed at the same time, but for its 2020 iteration, the Edinburgh Festival has managed a rich, bold and innovative program of mostly interactive and online activities with a visual treat here and there for the citizens of the capital and the visitors who wanted to come anyway.
The theaters may be dim, but the artistic light still burns bright, as the program makes clear.
My Light on Show Shines
My Light Shines On is not only the supertitle for much of the multimedia offering at the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) this year – the program is presented by Kirsty Wark, and also features the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s cellist Su-a Lee – but also a lighting project that will illuminate popular festival venues across the city.
The project was produced by Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes, Scottish lighting designers, who are also responsible for the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry and the Electric Glen in East Renfreshire.
The source is the practice of what is known as “ghost lighting,” where, as all theaters currently are, a light is left on in a theater even though the venue is “dark,” And if you’re wondering where the title comes from, it’s a line from Primal Scream’s 1991 album, Movin ‘On Up.
A counterpart of sorts to the 2019 hit Mouthpiece by Traverse Theatre, written by Kieran Hurley and a sharp dissection of class and culture in the capital of the country.
Here, Lorn Macdonald, actor of the Mouthpiece, turns to the director to rework the two-parter to concentrate on the character he played, Declan, a 17-year-old aspiring artist.
He fills in the life and experiences of Declan using footage shot on the streets of Edinburgh, animation and elements of the Mouthpiece script. The resulting film is part of the 2020 Traverse Multimedia Festival and will be available later this month on demand.
As of 24 Aug.
World Book Festival in Edinburgh
Recently, the Booker Prize-winning “Girl, Woman, Other” author became the first British woman of color to reach the top of the UK. Charts in paperback. Her book, which follows the lives of twelve predominantly black women over a period of years in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, is extremely timely.
She addresses her work with the First Minister in this special event, broadcast from the Edinburgh International Book Festival studio in Edinburgh, who has written warmly about Evaristo and is himself no stranger to the forum of the book festival. There is no question that there will also be a dialogue about the problem that dominates the mind of Ms. Sturgeon during her day job, namely the current coronavirus public health emergency.
While registration is required for anyone who wants to ask a question through the Q&A function or participate in the chat room, the event can be viewed online for free. And if you miss the gathering, for the duration of the book festival, it and most of the many other authors’ activities will remain online.
22 of Aug., 8:30 p.m.
Les Amazones D’Afrique: A live virtual gig.
A ‘as live’ appearance by Les Amazones D’Afrique, the multilingual, politically aware female group that mixes hip-hop and R&B with their Malian homeland’s traditional sounds.
The band released its second album, Amazones Force, earlier this year to great acclaim and an army of young talent. A true supergroup – founding member is Mariam Doumbia of Amadou & Mariam, and frequent helpers include the great Angélique Kidjo.
On August 8, beginning at 9:30 p.m., you can catch the band as part of the My Light Shines On series. On the YouTube channel EIF.
Starting on 8 Aug.
Festival of Edinburgh Art
Edinburgh’s streets will be (mostly) free of crowds, buskers and whatever you want to call the people who keep shoving flyers under your nose this year, but the special atmosphere of the festival streets will be restored to some degree by a series of outdoor interventions by the Edinburgh Art Festival (EAF) as part of its “Around The City” program