The Edinburgh International Festival in Edinburgh Scotland -- cited by The Guinness Book of Records as the largest arts festival on the planet -- will celebrate its golden anniversary with a smorgasbord of theatre, dance, opera and allied arts served daily Aug. 11-30.
The roster of four world premieres and 17 U.K. premieres includes John McGrath's new play, A Satire of the Four Estates based on Lyndsay's Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaites. Innovative director Robert Wilson will direct Miranda Richardson in his stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf's time-traveling, gender-shifting novel Orlando in collaboration with Ann-Christin Rommen.
Houston Grand Opera will present Virgil Thomson/Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts. German director Peter Stein will stage Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Robert Lepage will star in his own one-man adaptation of Hamlet, titled Elsinore.
Spanish director Carles Santos will offer his L'esplendida vergonya del fet mal fet in his native Catalan. Nottingham Players will present an English version of Botho Strauss' Time and the Room, directed by Martin Duncan.
In addition to all that, there is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, featuring dozens more performances from experimental, non-mainstream artists. The Fringe program runs to 142 pages. Among other things, this year's Fringe Festival showcases 200 Lothian school children, culled from three summer sessions of a circus school led by Cirque Surreal, in a special circus. The Edinburgh Festival occupies nearly every performance space in the city and still spills into the streets with buskers, dancers and singers using the city as a stage.
All three festivals (main, Fringe and film) began in 1947 as a symbolic gesture that aspired to reunite the war-torn people of Europe. Then called the Edinburgh Festival of Music and Drama, that festival featured international performance groups like the Vienna Orchestra.
The Fringe segment formed unintentionally when eight uninvited theatre groups performed in small buildings on the fringe of the festival. Initially dubbed the "festival adjuncts," the name fringe was concocted by a journalist reporting on the event.
For its 50th year, the Film Festival switches from its regular format, a retrospective of a single director's work, to examine a selection of 1947 movies. "Cinema was at a fascinating period of world history in 1947," said festival director Mark Cousins. "The war was over, and cultures were trying to get back to peace and cope with the trauma of war. It's really exciting to take that one year and look at movies through that cross section."
Fax on demand, a service sponsored by Edwards & Edwards, a ticketing agency, faxes you theatre listings; specific locations can be selected in the U.S. using touch-tone phones (1-800-689-3804). Edwards & Edwards also sells tickets for the Edinburgh Theatre Festival; call 1-800-223 6108.
You also can call the UK boxoffice direct at 011-44-131-225 5756. Its website is http://www.ed.ac.uk/~eif, but has been frequently down.
For tickets or information on the Festival Fringe, call 011-44-131-226 5138. Its website is http://www.presence.co.uk/fringe.