Love letter to Scottish theatre part of digital Edinburgh International Festival

A “personal love letter to Scottish theatre” from the National Theatre of Scotland and a new take on Kieran Hurley’s hit play Mouthpiece feature as part of this year’s digital Edinburgh International Festival.

Edinburgh International Festival 2020
Ghost Light. Photo: Peter Dibdin

With this year’s arts festival unable to go ahead live due to Covid-19, the organisers Of the Edinburgh International Festival have come up with videos and other digital work in partnership with Scottish artists and national arts companies, spanning the worlds of theatre, music and dance.

It launches on Saturday 8 August with a series of digital commissions, under the banner of “My Light Shines On”, which will premiere on Edinburgh International Festival’s YouTube channel at 9:30pm.

The line-up features films of original performances in venues including the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, The King’s Theatre, Leith Theatre, The Hub, Usher Hall and The Queen’s Hall.

The films include Ghost Light, a personal love letter to Scottish theatre from the National Theatre of Scotland, directed by award-winning filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach and co-conceived with National Theatre of Scotland artistic director Jackie Wylie and dramaturg Philip Howard.

Ghost Light will draw on moments from Scottish theatrical performances past, present and future with works from writers including JM Barrie, David Greig, Rona Munro and Jackie Kay, and original composition by Patricia Panther. Actors involved include James McArdle, Siobhan Redmond, Thierry Mabonga and Anna Russell-Martin.

Another film will be Scottish Opera’s modern-day interpretation of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Telephone, starring Soraya Mafi and Jonathan McGovern, filmed in the bar of the King’s Theatre.

My Light Shines On also features an outdoor light installation in which Edinburgh’s festival venues, including the Usher Hall, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Bristo Square and the Castle Esplanade, are being illuminated by hundreds of beams of light, reaching up into the night sky.

Each venue is also being lit from within by glowing lanterns, which shine and pulse behind closed doors, celebrating the people and artists who play a key role in the festival community. Scottish lighting designers Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes were commissioned to design the project.

As part of the wider festival, Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre will present Declan, a new take on Kieran Hurley’s acclaimed play, Mouthpiece, which was a hit at the 2019 festival. Exploring the play’s central character, it blends footage of Edinburgh with performance, sound, cinematography and animation to place audiences in 17-year-old Declan’s shoes to see Edinburgh as he experiences it.

Directed by Lorn Macdonald using text from Mouthpiece, it will be available to watch through the Traverse and Edinburgh International Festival websites for a limited period from 24 August. It is part of Traverse Digital Festival 2020.

The International Festival is partnering with all of Edinburgh’s August festivals, including the Fringe, to create Faces of Edinburgh Festivals, a collection of portraits and interviews that shine a light on the people who help to transform Edinburgh into the “Festival City” every summer. This rich pool of stories about the individuals who bring the festivals to life, from performers and technical staff to taxi drivers and business owners, will be on display on posters across the city and on the Festivals Edinburgh website.

From 25 September, The Portal, a new podcast from composer Martin Green, theatre director Wils Wilson and playwright David Greig, is an audio tale of love, music, drugs and deceit. It features an original score from Martin Green – fresh from winning an Ivor Novello Award for his River Tyne sound installation, Aeons – with contributions from James Holden (WARP/Border Community) and BBC Folk Award-winner Brìghde Chaimbeul. The Portal will be available on all major podcast platforms including Apple, Spotify and Google.

On Saturday 8 August at 9:30pm, a one-hour gala film hosted by journalist and TV presenter Kirsty Wark and cellist Su-a Lee will preview the My Light Shines On activity on the International Festival’s YouTube channel to mark what would have been the opening of the 2020 festival. The film features famous faces from festivals across the years, and collaborations with Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Fergus Linehan, festival director of Edinburgh International Festival, said: “For the first time since lockdown, orchestras, ballet companies, traditional musicians, theatre ensembles and designers have come together to perform in and light up the venues they love. This has been achieved with great care to ensure the safety of all involved. It represents a cautious but essential step towards the re-emergence of the performing arts in our country.”

See the full programme at

Share via
Send this to a friend