November 25, 2019
By Travis Medland (Theatrical sales and development manager) -
This was our second consecutive year as supporting sponsor to the E.I.F and it’s an event we’re extremely proud to be associated with. We appreciate the festival's importance to the city history and understand it’s responsibility to unearth fresh and innovative productions helping to inspire the next generation of young talented performers.
For those who are a little unfamiliar with the celebrations. The festival dates back to 1947 and was introduced after the second world war in a way to help reunite countries and rediscover common ground through the world of performing arts. Edinburgh would go on to be the international stage for countries to showcase some of their nation's highly skilled artists in theatre, dance, opera, and music. I don’t know the exact reason to why Edinburgh was chosen to host such an occasion, I can only assume it was due to the city’s famous scenic delights, the highland surroundings, cobbled streets, historic buildings, and its famous castle.
I was lucky enough to experience and see so many outstanding performances that it really was very difficult to narrow this review down to just the two shows along with an honourable mention.
I would have to start with the opening.. This year saw the huge responsibility of the opening ceremony rest on the shoulders of Gustavo Dudamel and The L.A Philharmonics. The support was over 15,000 people strong and would have been labeled a sell-out if it wasn’t for the show being a free ticket event. The crowd consisted of people from all ages and backgrounds so I was a little unsure to how classical music was going to appease to the masses. But I need not worry, the orchestra would be performing a selection of carefully chosen movie song classics from the golden age of Hollywood taken from Robin Hood, Casablanca, Vertigo, Jaws, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Superman. Given the scale of production, I can’t imagine or think of a better place to hold the opening night than Tynecastle Park Stadium. The home of Edinburgh’s favourite football team Heart of Midlothian. This was an amazing show which was performed magnificently with fantastic onstage lightning timed perfectly with every high note, loud cymbal crash and rhythmic sections the band played.
The well deserved honourable mention.. I couldn’t have come away without giving a mention to a world-renowned show The Secret River. An extremely powerful thought-provoking stage adaptation to Kate Grenville's 2005 novel. This was a brilliantly structured and beautifully presented show that was both performed and cast perfectly. It was with great sadness to later learn the star of the show Ningali Lawford-Wolf had been taken ill and passed away during the tour.
A Master Of Story Telling.. Mythos; A Trilogy Of Men, Gods & Heros the legendary Our very own national treasure, comedian, actor and writer (the list is endless!) Mr Stephen Fry would be sitting a very large luxurious looking armchair while giving us his witty tongue in cheek rendition of the tales from ancient Greek mythology that were stylishly retold in his 2017 best-selling book. There was a projection screen behind him that occasionally showed short animations to help set the scene and at times he did include very brief audience participation. This was the most minimalist yet most entertaining show I’ve seen to date. He somehow managed to hold your attention while forcing your imagination to run wild with images of trojan horses and mythical creatures. At the end of the show, you were left with a deep and meaningful insight to what these stories truly represent. It was a wonderful show performance by one of the greatest storytellers of our time.
My final thoughts..I’m a little embarrassed to admit this was my first visit to the festival and with much envy from colleagues, friends and family and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The good news is, I was far from disappointed and I’m already looking forward to returning next year.
To see information and news on next years event, please click the following link; https://www.eif.co.uk/