|James McArdle, Andrew Rothney and Jamie Sives in the James Plays|
A HISTORICAL trilogy from two of Britain’s national theaters and a new stage adaptation of “All Quiet on the Western Front” are among the higher profile offerings on tap for the 2014 Edinburgh Intl. Festival, the three-week program of theater and music to which the simultaneous Edinburgh Festival Fringe was founded in response.
This year’s edition, kicking off four days and one century after Britain declared war on Germany, focuses on the theme of military conflict, representing the eighth and final line-up of a.d. Jonathan Mills before he hands over the reins to his incoming replacement Fergus Linehan.
The anniversary is addressed most directly in “Front”, an adaptation of the Erich Maria Remarque novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” presented from the point of view of both sides of the trenches. Belgian helmer Luk Perceval is reworking the wartime classic to create a multilingual production featuring German, Flemish, French and English speakers for the Thalia Theater, Hamburg.
In a flagship collaboration between the National Theater of Scotland and the National Theater of Great Britain, “The James Plays” is a historical trilogy by Rona Munro about James I, James II and James III of Scotland. The 15th-century epic stars James McArdle, Andrew Rothney and Jamie Sives (“Game of Thrones”), as well as Sofie Grabol, star of the original Danish version of “The Killing.”
Among other international collaborations is Russian helmer Vladimir Pankov’s “The War”, a “sound drama” in which a group of Parisians discuss art and beauty in the face of a mounting international conflict. The Russian-language perf. is presented by the Chekhov Intl. Theater Festival and Pankov’s SounDrama Studio from Moscow.
Seen last year in Los Angeles, Chicago and at Gotham’s Under the Radar festival, “Ganesh Versus the Third Reich,” by Australia’s Back to Back Theater, centers on the elephant-headed god Ganesh trying to reclaim the Hindu swastika from the Nazis. Other perf on the war theme include Benjamin Britten’s opera “Owen Wingrave” directed by UK helmer Neil Bartlett, and “Patria!” by flamenco guitarist Paco Peña who commemorates the execution of playwright Federico Garcia Lorca in the Spanish Civil War.
Away from the war theme in the £10.5million ($17.4 million) festival, students from Gotham’s Juilliard School will join their counterparts from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London for Tom Cairns’ staging of Thomas Bernhard’s little seen “Minetti,” which stars Gotham-born Peter Eyre as an actor preparing for a comeback in “King Lear.”
One of the more left-of-center offerings, “Delusion of the Fury,” is already poised for a stint in New York: The music/theatre/dance work by Californian composer Harry Partch, staged by helmer Heiner Goebbels with Ensemble musikFabrik, is a co-production with Lincoln Center, where the title is also in for US dates.
Also on the docket are offerings from Handspring Puppet Company, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (pictured, above).
The Edinburgh Intl. Festival runs Aug. 8-31. The city’s other fest, the Fringe, will announce its own slate later this spring.
© Mark Fisher 2014
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