We’ve reached the halfway point between Festivals and with that comes a whole new list of recommendations. This month, you can revisit old favourites, see classics in a new light through adventurous retellings or discover ground-breaking new work.
Love Beyond (Act of Remembrance) in Manipulate Festival
Manipulate Festival returns to Edinburgh this month for its annual celebration of visual theatre and animated film. Love Beyond (Act of Remembrance), the finale of the festival, offers a poignant depiction of an unexpected love story.
This intimate one-man show comes from the renowned Glasgow-based theatre company Vanishing Point, whose previous work includes International Festival shows The Destroyed Room, Wonderland and Interiors. It has an international reputation for bold, ambitious shows that are both visceral and visual, and this looks to be no exception.
The story focuses on Harry, a sign-language user who is suffering from dementia. As the story progresses, Harry loses his ability to remember the day-to-day as he’s overwhelmed by memories of loved ones from his past. Despite his carer’s determination to communicate with him, as Harry loses his memory, he also loses his use of sign language, creating a moving exploration of isolation.
Love Beyond (Act of Remembrance) is at the Traverse Theatre from 10–11 February 2023. The performance incorporates BSL, visual language (sign mime/ visual vernacular) and oral dialogue. It intends to present an equal experience for d/Deaf audiences and hearing audiences.
Florence Price String Quartet No 1 by Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Florence Price’s music has undergone a renaissance in recent years, following the 2009 rediscovery of some of her original manuscripts in an abandoned house in Illinois, almost 50 years after her death. Largely forgotten in the classical music world for the second half of the 20th century, her compositions are now praised for their mixture of typical classical music influences, jazz rhythms and African spirituals, reflective of the America in which she was composing. You may have heard her First Symphony performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra at the 2022 Festival – its Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin has played a central role in restoring some of her music to the canon.
This month, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra is delving into one of her more pared-back works, at least in terms of instrumentation – her 1929 First String Quartet. This composition is a balance of different styles, with influences ranging from Tchaikovsky to traditional spiritual melodies. The simplistic nature of her rediscovered manuscripts allows plenty of room for artistic interpretation, so this Festival favourite orchestra is sure to bring its own flair to this piece.
The performance is part of the orchestra’s digital season, consisting of four specially conceived music videos filmed in Edinburgh’s iconic Leith Theatre – the backdrop to some of our own digital At Home programme.
Macbeth: An Undoing at The Lyceum
British playwright Zinnie Harris has built a reputation for her feminist retellings of classic works, including Oresteia: This Restless House, performed at the Festival in 2017. She’s been hailed for moving away from a patriarchal perspective, creating worlds that are ‘both contemporary and timeless’.
She returns to Edinburgh this year with her retelling of Macbeth, looking at the story from Lady Macbeth’s point of view. This isn’t Harris’s first time rewriting a Jacobean heroine – her Duchess (of Malfi) was performed at The Lyceum in 2019, with her Duchess praised for providing a ‘defiant centre’ to the drama.
Macbeth: An Undoing takes the familiar tale of Lady Macbeth’s downfall and asks what elements of the story have been left untold. Maintaining all the thrill of Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy while challenging what we know of the original play, this is set to be another triumph from the renowned playwright and director.
Macbeth: An Undoing is at The Lyceum from 4–25 February. There are BSL Interpreted, captioned and audio described performances as well as touch tours. Macbeth: An Undoing is supported by The Stephen W Dunn Theatre Fund.
Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes by The Philharmonia Orchestra
Our 2022 resident orchestra The Philharmonia are bringing a beloved children’s favourite back to life in London this month. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, first published in 1982, was turned into a film in 2016, weaving the quintessesntial Quentin Blake illustrations into a two-part animated film. The orchestra is performing the soundtrack live, alongside a screening of the film.
Composed by Ben Locket, the score is inventive and whimsical, providing young children with a perfect introduction to orchestral music. Adults will recognise familiar voices among the film’s cast – including Tamsin Greig, Rob Brydon and Dominic West.
Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes is at the Royal Festival Hall on 12 February. It will be a relaxed performance.
Anna Meredith at Celtic Connections
Anna Meredith is among the most innovative music artists in the UK. As well as writing her own solo albums, she composes for shows and art installations and has created an app in which listeners can explore her single ‘moonmoons’ through augmented reality. Most recently, she created the soundtrack for Alan Cumming’s 2022 Festival show Burn. Her live shows are always memorable, inspiring events – her performance at the 2021 Festival was dubbed ‘undiluted maximalism from a true innovator’.
This month, she’s bringing her eclectic and inventive sound to the final week of the 2023 Celtic Connections Festival. Accompanied by her virtuosic band on guitar, drums, cello and tuba, plus support acts that are yet to be announced, this is the perfect opportunity to see this genre-defying artist in her element.
Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby by Rambert
Rambert is one of the UK’s most prestigious and daring dance companies, with a 97-year history of telling stories in unexpected ways. Their Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer took up his position in 2018 and is working to push this legacy even further. Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby is set to be a milestone performance for this new era, combining the storytelling of television with the thrill of live performance.
Choreographed by Swan Pouffer and written by Steven Knight, the creator of the award-winning TV series, this piece of dance-theatre brings the story of the enigmatic antihero Thomas Shelby to the stage. Featuring the familiar characters from the show and music from the soundtrack, the set and costumes create an immersive depiction of post-war Britain. With its almost acrobatic choreography and thrilling narrative, this show has already enjoyed a sell-out run in Birmingham, where the story is set, and is now touring the UK.
Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby is at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh from 28 February – 4 March. There is a BSL interpreted and audio described performance with a touch tour.
Sound of the Underground by The Royal Court Theatre
A new take on a night at the theatre comes to London this month. Travis Alabanza, creator of the sell-out show Burgerz at previous Edinburgh Festival Fringes, takes over The Royal Court Theatre for a raucous night combining theatre, cabaret and manifesto in a celebration of London’s underground club culture. It is co-created and directed by Scottish artist Debbie Hannah, who was previously the Incoming Artistic Director at Ediburgh's Traverse Theatre. If you enjoyed Alan Cumming transforming The Hub into a cabaret club in 2016, and later Leith Theatre in 2018, this might be the night out for you.
The Royal Court Theatre is known for supporting new writing, seeking out new stories and supporting young talent. In 2017, their International Playright’s Programme saw six new works from six different countries come to the Festival, each with a unique point of view. Travis Alabanza is one of the most distinct queer voices in the UK right now, known for their work exploring life beyond the gender binary, and this show marks their Royal Court debut.
Though The Royal Court may seem a world away from London’s underground scene, for Alabanza this isn’t the case. In 2021, they said: “I got into theatre from the clubs. I always say the best theatre you’ll find is in the London cabaret and queer scene”. Alabanza is bringing the underground into the spotlight while staying true to their roots, examining gender and art with eight drag icons.
Sound of the Underground is at The Royal Court Theatre, London from 19 January – 25 February. There are captioned, BSL interpreted, audio described and relaxed performances.
Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos by The English Concert
The Brandenburg Concertos are some of Bach’s best-loved works, providing a perfect introduction to baroque music as each concerto demonstrates a different style from the era with different orchestrations. For fans of our 2022 At Home programme, this performance creates a hybrid of two of our concert recordings: the orchestra behind Saul with the music of The Brandenburg Concertos.
Bach is thought to have written these concertos to showcase the variety and instrumental strength of the Cöthen Court Orchestra. Likewise, these performances are an opportunity to get to know the talented musicians of The English Concert, with principals from the wind and string sections taking the solos alongside guest solo harpsichordist Jean Rondeau.
The performances take place at Bath Abbey on 18 February and Wigmore Hall, London on 21 February. For those who can’t make it to a live performance, recordings of both Saul and The Brandenburg Concertos are still available to watch online.
Which of these performances are you most excited for? We’d love to hear about your cultural explorations! Share with us on social media using #EdIntFest.
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