Kirsty Wark is joined by writer and critic Paul Morley, crime writer Denise Mina and comedian and writer Mark Thomas to discuss some of the biggest events at this year's Edinburgh Festival. Under the microscope this month: Grid Iron's site-specific theatre extravaganza Leaving Planet Earth, Margaret Atwood's new novel MaddAddam and a retrospective of work by pioneering Korean-American video artist Nam June Paik.
Two of the landmark productions at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival take their audiences on a journey into outer space. Opéra de Lyon’s production of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio - a story of loyalty and justice centring on political prisoner Florestan and his courageous wife Leonora - is set on a doomed spacecraft which is hurtling towards infinity.
In his first outing as an opera director, conceptual artist Gary Hill brings Beethoven bang up to date, with singers on Segways interacting with film projections.
Image © Bertrand Stofleth.
Leaving Planet Earth
Site responsive theatre company Grid Iron are renowned for their innovative approach to staging, having produced work in underground vaults, pubs and swing parks. Their latest production is perhaps their most ambitious to date, as they take their audience on a journey to ‘New Earth’. Leaving Planet Earth– by Catrin Evans and Lewis Hetherington – sees mankind embark on a mass migration to a new planet, having depleted Earth’s resources and created chaos and instability.
Those who decide to make the jump are guided through a programme of acclimatisation exercises, but perhaps life on this new planet is not for everyone.
Image © Douglas Chalmers.
Margaret Atwood's futuristic series of novels began with Oryx and Crake in 2003, which was followed by The Year of the Flood in 2009. Now the trilogy concludes with the publication of MaddAddam.
Set in a post-planetary pandemic America, in which a handful of remaining humans battle for survival, MaddAddam could be read as a kind of warning to mankind. Atwood has distanced herself from the sci-fi genre, insisting she is working in the realm of ‘speculative fiction’, and towards the end of the book, she explains that her seemingly slapstick speculation is in fact based on up-to-date scientific research.
Transmitted Live: Nam June Paik Resounds
Widely regarded as the founding father of video art, Korean American artist Nam June Paik’s (1932-2006) work is celebrated in this new exhibition at Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery.
Paik was the first artist to use the moving image in his work, and throughout his career he was fascinated by mass media and its impact on our lives. His approach to his materials was subversive and playful – creating work by dismantling television sets and setting fire to pianos.
So how influential was he in changing the direction of art in the 20th century?
Image © Chris Park / Talbot Rice Gallery.
David Greig’s new play is set in the aftermath of a mass shooting which has left many dead, and a small community shocked. The play centres on Claire, a priest, who has survived the atrocity, and who endures a maelstrom of emotions as she attempts to make sense of it.
Greig researched the play in Norway following Anders Breivik’s attacks on the island of Utoya in 2011, and integral to the production is live music from a choir, who represent the gunman’s targets as well as providing a change of tone.
Tonight’s musical guest is Nadine Shah, whose folk-blues sound has been compared to PJ Harvey and to 1970s era Marianne Faithfull. Shah’s influences include Nina Simone, Maria Callas and Mariah Carey and her lyrical songs of love and loss also draw on abstracts of William Hogarth and Frida Kahlo.
Tonight Shah performs a track from her debut album, Love Your Dum and Mad - a Sunday Times album of the week – as well as the classic torch song Cry Me A River.
|Executive Producer||Pauline Law|