St Peter’s Seminary sound and light show heralded as big event of the year
It may be more than two years since the then First Minister Alex Salmond announced plans for a nationwide celebration of architecture and design.
But it is only in the past few weeks that the 12-month programme has begun to properly take shape on what promises to offer some of 2016’s most significant cultural highlights.
More than 430 different events will be part of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – YIAD, for short – which will incorporate a Festival of Architecture running the length of breadth of the country.
The range of events confirmed so far –with the promise of many more to come – offers an insight into how broad a church the initiative, backed with £800,000 of public funding, is going to be, with fashion showcases, design expos, outdoor art installations, light shows and film screenings all promised
Much of the advance publicity has focused on the rebirth of one of the nation’s most neglected but revered modern buildings.
Arts organisation NVA, which has led efforts to rescue St Peter’s Seminary for the past eight years, at Cardross, where a vast sound and light show –Hinterland – will be staged in the spring to get the Festival of Architecture under way and mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the towering concrete building.
It is thought almost 8,000 people will flock to the event, which will see audiences follow a lit trail through woodland before entering the ruined seminary building for what is boldly billed as “undoubtedly the hot ticket of the year”.
Fashion, design, science and technology will all take centre stage at the National Museum of Scotland this summer with the unveiling of ten new galleries - the latest phase of the Edinburgh attraction’s 15-year overhaul.
A two-day “Styling the Nation” celebration at the museum in November will see a special programme of fashion shows, speakers and live music, while the attraction will be staying open late to celebrate its 150th birthday.
Elsewhere in the capital, the National Galleries of Scotland will make its own contribution with a major exhibition celebrating Scotland’s greatest architects and urban designers. Pop-up expos will be created at Edinburgh Airport and The Mound, while St Andrew Square and the Royal Botanic Garden will be among the public spaces transformed by special installations.
When the year-long theme was confirmed by Mr Salmond in 2013 it was hoped that Dundee’s long-planned V&A museum would be open during 2016.
The timetable has since slipped a couple of years, but the city is stepping up the pace regardless with an international design festival due to be staged inside a converted printworks in May, during a month-long cultural extravaganza, which will also feature live performances, exhibitions and art shows.
Dundee is one of several parts of Scotland where historic buildings will be literally cast in a new light during special events in 2016, with others including Aberdeen and the Isle of Cumbrae, off the Ayrshire coast.
Other YIAD highlights are expected to include the biggest ever celebration of Harris Tweed, which will showcase the work of a host of world-class designers and producers in the Outer Hebrides and offer guided tours of the landscape that inspires them.
A contender for the grandest setting for an event will be Stirling Castle’s great hall, for In Vogue, which will feature lavish fashion shows dedicated to 16th century renaissance costumes, jewellery and textiles.
T IN THE PARK
T in the Park festival director Geoff Ellis will probably be glad to see the back of 2015 after no end of problems and controversy over the last 12 months, including nesting ospreys, a relocation and a political scandal into state aid funding.
He has gone some way to restoring faith in the event by apologising for the summer’s failings at Strathallan, pledging that lessons will be learned for 2016 and unveiling the Stone Roses as headliners. But the big test for the event’s reputation will come in July when the site infrastructure will be put to the test again.
Elsewhere in the country, fans have already been snapping up tickets to see headline slots from Madness at Belladrum in the Highlands and Runrig at the Hebridean Celtic Festival’s 21st birthday party in Stornoway, while football fanatic Rod Stewart’s tour of UK stadiums will take him to both Kilmarnock and Inverness.
There is plenty of anticipation and a healthy dose of uncertainty in the air as the Edinburgh Festival heads towards a double celebration.
The summer will see the 70th annual cultural celebration in Scotland’s capital since the city fathers instigated a new post-war event to provide a “platform for the flowering of the human spirit”.
First off the starting blocks and rolling out the red carpet will be the Edinburgh International Film Festival, one of three events to be launched in 1947.
The event’s new artistic director, Mark Adams, will present his first full programme since starting in the post in March.
He will be hoping to emulate the success of the festival’s 60th celebrations, when Sir SeanConnery, Sigourney Weaver, Charlize Theron, Alan Rickman, Tilda Swinton, Gabriel Byrne and Robbie Coltrane all appeared at the event.
Details of the big birthday plans are still firmly under wraps although, blogging from the Toronto International Film Festival recently, Mr Adams pledged: “It is going to be an exciting 70th edition, let me tell you here and now.”
Both the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe have said they will be holding their main celebrations in 2017, to mark the actual 70th anniversary, but both offer plenty to look forward to in 2016.
Fergus Linehan, who oversaw his first EIF programme in 2015, has admitted creating a rod for his own back with the success of the Harmonium Project, which saw nearly 20,000 people gather outside the Usher Hall for an opening night sound and light event. It will be a major surprise on an event on an even bigger scale is attempted this summer.
Some mouth-watering programme elements have already been announced, including a debut appearing from Scottish indie-rock favourites Mogwai, an opera production headlined by Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, a series of shows marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and a celebration of the great American playwrights.
Meanwhile it will be all change on the Fringe with a new chief executive expected to be announced early in the new year to replace Kath Mainland after her record-breaking tenure in charge since 2009.
Next summer will mark the first Fringe for two decades without the influence of Tommy Sheppard, who has stood back from the entertainment business after being elected as a Westminster MP. A major change is already on the cards for his biggest venue, the Assembly Rooms, which will become home to a new digital technology festival.
The National Theatre of Scotland was a long time coming after decades of debate, but it has rarely paused for breath since its spectacular launch across ten different locations nationwide.
For nearly ten years, the company has more than lived up to its founding principle of “theatre without walls” - staging almost 250 productions in more than 200 locations.
Ahead of the looming anniversary, NTS has announced the return of some of its most-popular crowd-pleasers, along with some intriguing new additions to its roster, including the first part of a cycle of plays honouring the memories of the 306 British soldiers shot for cowardice and desertion during the First World War
Rona Munro’s epic 2014 trilogy The James Plays, which wowed Edinburgh International Festival audiencs, will be touring the UK before heading to Australia and New Zealand.
The supernatural comedy-drama The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart and the raucous schoolgirl musical Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour will both of back in Scotland and touring internationally, while the NTS production of vampire drama Let the Right One In will be heading to South Korea for the first time.
But the biggest project of the year for NTS will be the planned unveiling of its first permanent new headquarters – in the Speirs Wharf regeneration area in north Glasgow – which will open in the summer if a £2 million fundraising campaign is successful.
Although no performances will be staged there in a bid to keep the original ethos of the company intact, it is hoped NTS will be able to nurture a whole new generation of acting and theatre talents.
The beginning of 2016 will see the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh round off its 50th anniversary celebrations with a new production of The Crucible, as well as a comedy inspired by a 17th century Scottish student executed for blasphemy and a brand new work from Liz Lochhead.
But a dark cloud still hangs over Glasgow’s theatre scene, and indeed the wider cultural sector in the city, due to continuing uncertainty over the future of The Arches venue since its controversial closure in June following a series of police raids. With a campaign under way to secure the reopening of the building, there is even pressure on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to ensure its rebirth.
Exactly two decades on from the release of Danny Boyle’s era-defining film, the Oscar-winning director will be reuniting the Trainspotting gang for its long-awaited sequel.
The film’s dream team of screenwriter John Hodge, producer Andrew Macdonald and author Irvine Welsh are all working on the film, which will be based on the 2002 follow-up novel Porno.
Original cast members Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner and Robert Carlyle have all signed up to return, with filming pencilled due to get under way in Edinburgh in the spring.
Boyle has admitted he is nervous about the task he is about to undertake, saying: “Obviously it’s worrying because people will kill us if we made a bad job of it. I will get absolutely crucified.”
But Carlyle offered a memorable reassurance recently when he declared that he had agreed to sign up thanks to “one of the best scripts I’ve ****ing read”.
Cinematic purists may also be fearful for a remake of an all-time Scottish cinema classic which is due to see the light of day in 2016.
But nearly 70 years on from the releasing of the Ealing classic Whisky Galore there have been rising expectations for the all-new version of Compton Mackenzie’s famous story, which was famously inspired by the true story of the SS Politician, which ran aground on the Hebridean island of Eriskay with 50,000 cases of the “Water of Leith” aboard.
Gregor Fisher, Eddie Izzard and John Sessions are among the cast assembled by Glasgow-born director Gillies Mackinnon, whose previous films include Small Faces and Regeneration.
The Scottish Government will be hoping to bring an even longer cinematic saga to an end in 2016 by finally delivering a full-time film studio, the case for which has been bolstered by US fantasy drama Outlander’s success in the Golden Globes nominations.
The Scotsman has been publishing stories about the case for such a facility for more than 80 years and it would be wrong to say the issue looks any closer to being put to bed as 2015 draws to a close, with several sites seemingly still in contention. With the Scottish Government still pursuing a radical overhaul of BBC Scotland, another turbulent 12 months for the screen sector may lie ahead.