Vanessa Kisuule and Lemn Sissay impart their wide-ranging experiences for an unforgettable A Toast to the People performance.
Join Vanessa Kisuule and Lemn Sissay for an electric night of performance poetry and spoken word in the International Festival’s Old College Quad venue. Both artists bring their wealth of diverse experiences to the event, which promises to be a memorable one.
Bristol-based Vanessa Kisuule is a writer and performer who has won over ten slam titles, including The Roundhouse Slam 2014, and has featured on radio and TV. She was Glastonbury Festival’s Resident Poet in 2019 and her recent poem on the historic toppling of Edward Colston’s statue, Hollow, went viral, gaining over 600,000 views on Twitter in three days. Kisuule is currently working on an essay collection and her debut novel.
She is joined by Lemn Sissay, a BAFTA-nominated, international prizewinning writer who was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2010. He has read on stage throughout the world: from the Library of Congress in the United States to the University of Addis Ababa, from Singapore to Sri Lanka, Bangalore to Dubai, from Bali to Greenland and Wigan library. Along with Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie and Margaret Atwood, he won a Pen Pinter Prize in 2019. He is Chancellor of the University of Manchester and holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Huddersfield, Manchester, Kent and Brunel.
A Toast to the People brings together two spoken word artists, each performing their own set of performance poetry that includes a specially commissioned piece inspired by Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s ‘A Toast to the People’. Following their sets, the two artists take part in an exclusive discussion about their work and the pervading issues and themes of today.
Please note that Safiya Sinclair was originally scheduled to perform on this date. We are very grateful to Lemn Sissay for stepping in to replace her.
In partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival
Made possible through the PLACE programme
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During priority booking, under-18s and disabled people are entitled to a 30% concession discount.
In our general sales period, recipients of pension credit, universal credit, employment and support allowance or jobseeker's allowance, full-time students, under-26s and disabled people are entitled to a 30% concession discount.
To minimise physical contact, our box office is closed. We encourage customers to book online or by phone, and to select the electronic ticket option when booking to facilitate contactless interactions with staff at our venues. In-person ticket collection will not be available.
We have introduced socially distanced seating plans to allow households and support bubbles to sit together while remaining at a safe distance from others. When you book online you will be asked to select a seating ‘bubble’ with the correct number of seats for your group. Disabled people may be accompanied by a support person outside of their household or support bubble.
Traceability will be especially important this summer to help prevent community transmission. For 21 days after your visit, we may be asked to share your name and contact details with NHS Test & Protect to help them identify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
The International Festival is working with the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and other relevant authorities to implement appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our audiences, artists and the International Festival team. These include shorter performances without intervals, physical distancing, regular cleaning, and contactless ticketing. Plans will be adjusted in response to public health measures as they evolve.
We ask that you arrive no earlier than 30 minutes before a performance begins. If you are using e-tickets please download them in advance so that they are available offline and ensure that your phone is sufficiently charged.
Our outdoor venues are covered with open sides, so you should come dressed appropriately for the weather; including suitable footwear for walking across grass.
International Festival staff will be available to assist you throughout your visit and to ensure that COVID-19 safety protocols are being met. Please bring your own mask with you to performances and wear it as directed by staff and signage. Hand sanitiser stations will be located around our venues.
In the interest of eliminating places where people can congregate, no food or drink will be available on site. Performances will run without an interval; with most lasting no more than 70 minutes. Toilets will be available and will be cleaned regularly.
At the end of each performance we will direct you to leave our venues swiftly from multiple exits to avoid congestion.
We appreciate your patience and ask that you please be mindful of others throughout your visit.
Ticket exchanges & refunds
We call upon each person’s sense of civic responsibility to do their part. If you or anyone in your household has had any recent COVID-19 symptoms, however fleeting, please stay home for everyone’s safety.
If you are unable to attend any event at the 2021 Edinburgh International Festival for any reason related to COVID-19, we will refund the full cost of the ticket to the lead booker. Refunds must be requested at least 24 hours in advance of the performance. Postage fees are non-refundable.
For extra peace of mind we’ve teamed up with Secure My Booking to offer Ticket Protection, which allows you to recoup 100% of the money you paid for your tickets if you are unable to attend an event that hasn’t been cancelled or rescheduled. Ticket Protection covers illness, accidents, travel delays, adverse weather, strikes and more. This optional extra costs £1.50 per ticket and is only available at the time of booking. For more information, please visit securemybooking.com