Edinburgh international festival to feature tales of refugees and migration

01.04.22 | Press

Edinburgh international festival to feature tales of refugees and migration

The Guardian
Nadia Khomami, Arts and Culture Correspondent

Festival’s 75th anniversary will include stage reimagining of The Jungle Book following Mowgli’s journey as a climate refugee.

An adaptation of The Jungle Book that reimagines the journey of Mowgli through the eyes of a climate refugee is part of the programme at this year’s Edinburgh international festival, which shines a spotlight on themes of refugeehood and migration.

The outgoing festival director, Fergus Linehan, said the 75th anniversary programme was an opportunity to “pay tribute to our first artistic director, Rudolf Bing, a refugee of war in Europe”.

“2022 is a special year for the festival,” he added. “We hope that it will mark a turning point in the pandemic that has changed all of our lives for the past two years … And it is my final year as festival director as we hand the reins over to a new generation.”

Jungle Book Reimagined, by the internationally celebrated choreographer Akram Khan, is a magical retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s family classic featuring an original score and 10 international dancers. It follows a refugee child as he arrives in a deserted modern city where wild animals claim the streets as their own.

Other festival highlights include a modern adaptation of Medea by former Scots makar Liz Lochhead, in which a woman flees her country to a dangerous foreign land.

There is also Refuge, a series of 11 theatre, art, dance, film and conversations in collaboration with the Scottish Refugee Council; Counting and Cracking by S. Shakthidharan, which follows the journey of one Sri Lankan-Australian family over four generations, and The Traveller of Time, in which conductor Jordi Savall performs with musicians from Europe, the Middle East, China, India and north Africa to recreate the music in the travels of 14th-century Islamic scholar Ibn Battuta.

Returning to Edinburgh’s theatres and concert halls at a scale not seen since 2019, 14 venues will host 87 events and more than 160 performances from more than 2,300 artists, spanning classical and contemporary music, theatre, opera and dance.

The festival’s free opening concert at BT Murrayfield, called Macro, includes Australian contemporary circus powerhouse Gravity & Other Myths, First Nations dance company Djuki Mala, the National Youth Choir of Scotland and a number of Scottish musicians. Visitors are told to expect “a heart-in mouth” display of skill.

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Image: MACRO, Darcy Grant

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