13 stand-out shows at the Edinburgh International Festival
Jonathan Mills


The interaction of art and technology is the inspiration for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), which was launched in Edinburgh.

The festival’s director Jonathan Mills said that this year’s programme “explores how artists think about their world, mediated through technology”.

WOW247 was at the EIF launch in Edinburgh on a snowy March morning, and here we run through some of the highlights of this year’s festival, which runs from August 9 to September 1.

Jonathan Mills
[Director Jonathan Mills at the launch of the Edinburgh International Festival 2013 – PA]


“Is it Scott Shepherd or is it Richard Burton?” asked Mills as he introduced this production of the Shakespeare tragedy by New York theatre company The Wooster Group. Revisiting the 1964 Broadway production of Hamlet starring Richard Burton that was beamed across 2,000 American cinemas at the time, this version mixes the film footage and live performance (with Shepherd in the titular role) in a manner which is sure to breathe fresh life into the Danish play.


The stand-out operatic work at this year’s EIF is surely Fidelio, a radical reworking of Beethoven’s only opera, which tackles the timeless struggles against oppression and barbaric injustice. Opéra de Lyon re-imagine the story on board a doomed spacecraft as it hurtles towards infinity – “the metaphor of going nowhere” as Mills puts it.

La Belle et la Bête

On the 50th anniversary of Jean Cocteau’s death, the Philip Glass Ensemble will bring the minimalist master’s meticulous score to bear on a digitally remastered screening of the French film-maker’s 1946 romantic fantasy.

The Poet Speaks

While Philip Glass is in town, EIF have also enlisted him in a tribute to Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, along with punk legend Patti Smith, who will recite both her own and Ginsberg’s poetry, with a musical backing provided by Glass.

Leaving Planet Earth

And now for something completely different… This site-specific production from the acclaimed Grid Iron theatre company leaves from the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and takes the audience out to Ratho climbing centre on the outskirts of Edinburgh for a “journey to a new earth”.

Histoire d’Amour

Mills introduced this stage adaptation of the Régis Jauffret novel as “a contemporary take on the idea of love in the internet age” and Chile’s Teatrocinema combine live action and cinematic projection on their return to Edinburgh.

L.A. Dance Project

Benjamin Millepied, the French choreographer who worked with his wife Natalie Portman on Black Swan, brings his L.A. Dance Project to Edinburgh, a new initiative that also draws on the talents of composer Nico Muhly, art consultant Matthieu Humery, producer Charles Fabius and film producer Dimitri Chamblas.

The Tragedy of Coriolanus

EIF has lured the European première of this new version of the Shakespearean play by the Beijing People’s Art Theatre. Intriguingly, this “epic” production will include two of China’s most popular heavy metal outfits – Miserable Faith and Suffocated.

Ensemble musikFabrik

Frank Zappa is the subject of this musical tribute from German group Ensemble musikFabrik, fronted by percussionist Dirk Rothbrust. As well as interpretations of Zappa’s own often avant-garde music, there will compositions by Edgard Varese and John Cage.

Leonardo da Vinci – The Mechanics of Man

Holyrood Palace is the setting for this exhibition of the Renaissance artist’s studies of the human body, which was a roaring success at Buckingham Palace last year. Mills remarked that the works demonstrate just “how prescient da Vinci was in capturing the human body”.

Beckett at the Festival

Pan Pan and The Gate, two Irish theatre companies who are closely associated with the work of Samuel Beckett, will perform five works which were originally written for TV, radio or fiction. The Beckett “strand” to this year’s EIF will also feature a day of special film screenings.

City Noir

The RSNO perform a suite of works inspired by “film noir, big-band jazz and the movies of David Lynch”, which includes a world premiere of Tod Machover‘s Festival City – an  attempt to gather “sonic memories of Edinburgh” to help shape an orchestral work, between now and August.

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert

The one you just can’t miss if you’re in Edinburgh at the end of the festival. Virgin Money recently reaffirmed their backing for the popular event, and this year’s soundtrack for the Castle pyrotechnics is Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Browse the full programme of the Edinburgh International Festival at www.eif.co.uk

Tickets for the Edinburgh International Festival go on sale to Festival Friends and Patrons tomorrow (March 13), before the general sale opens on Saturday, March 23.

Watch the EIF 2013 trailer:

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