News Story

The National Theatre of Scotland returns to the Edinburgh International Festival with Burn and Medea, the first productions to be announced as part of the 2022 International Festival.

As people across Scotland and beyond prepare for Burns Night, the Edinburgh International Festival and National Theatre of Scotland celebrate the life and legacy of Robert Burns by announcing Burn, starring Alan Cumming, which premieres at the 2022 Edinburgh International Festival. Scotland’s national theatre company also brings a brand-new staging of Liz Lochhead’s powerful adaptation of Euripides’ Medea to this year’s Festival. These two theatre productions are the first to be announced as part of the 2022 International Festival, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

Burn is a creative collaboration between Scottish artist Alan Cumming and the Olivier award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). Co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh International Festival and New York City’s The Joyce Theater, this powerful new piece of dance theatre challenges the traditional ‘biscuit tin’ image of Scotland’s national bard and explores his personal struggles and spectacular successes.

Performed by Alan Cumming in his solo dance theatre debut, Burn features the music of acclaimed contemporary musician and composer Anna Meredith, with visually arresting set and video design by Ana Inés Jabares Pita and Lewis den Hertog.

Alan Cumming’s trademark blend of cabaret, storytelling and song has made him an International Festival favourite, with recent performances including Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age in 2021 and Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs in 2016. He also appeared as the god Dionysus in the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of The Bacchae at the 2007 International Festival.

Adura Onashile pictured from the shoulders up, looking directly into the camera with an unflinching gaze.

Adura Onashile

© Peter Dibdin

Former Scots Makar Liz Lochhead makes her International Festival debut with her modern adaptation of Medea, in a contemporary re-telling packed with lyrical intensity and poetic flair. The title role is played by award-winning performer Adura Onashile, with the production directed by Michael Boyd, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Lochhead’s Medea was first staged in Glasgow in 2000 by Theatre Babel, before going on to tour nationally, as well as visiting the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in both 2000 and 2001, where it played to critical and audience acclaim.

The National Theatre of Scotland returns to the International Festival following Hannah Lavery’s Lament for Sheku Bayoh in 2021 and its acclaimed film Ghost Light for the Festival’s 2020 digital programme. Previous Festival performances include Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road, Tim Crouch’s Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation, Midsummer, Realism and The James Plays.

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director of the Edinburgh International Festival said:

“It is always a joy to see the National Theatre of Scotland’s work in the Edinburgh International Festival’s theatre programme, and I am especially pleased to welcome them back with these two tremendously exciting works in our 75th anniversary year. The calibre of the artists involved is exceptional, from former Makar Liz Lochhead to award-winning performers in Adura Onashile and Alan Cumming and two of our most celebrated theatre artists in Michael Boyd and Steven Hoggett.”

Alan Cumming said:

“I think all any artist wants to do is tell a story. And If I have one regret in my artistic life it would be that I did not become a dancer and be able to tell a story completely, with my entire body. Robert Burns has always fascinated me. Through his work I feel he tells us the absolute truth of who we are as Scots, but the more I researched him the more I realised I didn’t know the absolute truth of him. Burn is my attempt at trying to tell more of his story using my whole body.”

Ticket information will be announced in spring 2022, along with full details of the 2022 Edinburgh International Festival programme.