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Edinburgh International Festival begins at Speed of Light

Category: Scotland

Published: 9th Aug 2012 00:04:45

An open-air light show involving hundreds of runners in special LED suits is the opening event of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The 66th festival kicks off with Speed of Light, which sees volunteers running around Arthur's Seat, the landmark hill close to the city centre, in the dark.

The festival's opening concert at the Usher Hall will take place on Friday.

Its three-week run will also include major shows at the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston.

The massive "warehouse" Lowland Hall space, which is normally used for agricultural events, will stage three productions which were deemed too big for the conventional theatres used by the festival.

The centre, about eight miles from the city centre, near Edinburgh airport, will be transformed to stage a powerful new Polish production of Macbeth set in the Middle East.

It will also house a "subversive" take on My Fair Lady by Swiss director Christoph Marthaler and a four-hour epic based on a Jules Verne short story by French director Ariane Mnouchkine and her Theatre du Soleil.

The festival, which runs from 9 August to 2 September, will include performances of dance, opera, music and theatre.

The programme will involve performances by almost 3,000 artists from 47 nations.

A new production of Gulliver's Travels produced in collaboration with Irish musician and composer Shaun Davey will get its premiere and violinist Nicola Benedetti will join the London Symphony Orchestra at the Usher Hall as they perform the complete Szymanowski and Brahms symphonies.

Other highlights include morning music sessions at the Queen's Hall, as well as four performances of Prokofiev's Cinderella by the Mariinsky Ballet and orchestra.

Elsewhere there is a new staging of Electra by the Japanese theatre director Tadashi Suzuki - his first visit to the UK in three decades.

NVA's Speed of Light, which begins on Thursday night, is one of the most anticipated shows in Edinburgh.

Hundreds of runners in light suits will form shapes and streams of light in the peaks and valleys of Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags, as they follow choreographed routines in the dark.

An audience of walkers with specially-designed light sticks will climb the steep western edge of the hill accompanied by a specially-designed soundtrack.

The event is part of the London 2012 Festival which is the artistic element of the Olympics.

Organisers said "the individual is unspectacular - watching one person run is not interesting but the collective is breathtaking".

Festival director Jonathan Mills said: "There is great excitement about Speed of Light, our community participation project near Arthur's Seat.

"It brings sport and science and art and environmental sculpture all together in one big celebration of community.

"There are Olympian elements to the Edinburgh Festival every year but I think, especially, we are scaling the heights in 2012."

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BBC News, 2012. Edinburgh International Festival begins at Speed of Light [Online] (Updated 9th Aug 2012)
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