Arts diary: All aboard the spaceship!

THE Edinburgh International Festival launched its 2013 programme on Tuesday.

This year’s big theme is artists’ relationship with technology, from new steel-framed pianos in the 18th century to more modern inventions like radio, television and the internet. But were you paying attention? Test yourself with the Arts Diary’s fun EIF quiz!

Some of the following 13 things (see what we did there?) are real events at this year’s festival. The others are figments of our imagination. But which is which?

1. A production of Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera, set on a doomed spaceship.

2. A contemporary music group from Cologne playing the music of Frank Zappa.

3. An experimental jazz improv performance in which the entire score is based on live Tweeting by the audience.

4. A one-man production of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, by a performer who previously staged a one-man King Lear.


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5. The Tiger Lillies’ provocative take on themes from popular dystopian science fiction movies, from Dawn of the Dead to Soylent Green, featuring frequently obscene lyrics about dismemberment, death, and the end of the world.

6. A Chinese production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, with a live score by two of the country’s best known heavy metal bands.

7. An ambitious new science fiction theatre show which transforms Edinburgh International Climbing Arena in Ratho into an alien planet, with the audience as futuristic space colonists.

8. An exciting interactive opera taking place in various secret locations around Edinburgh’s “hidden city”, in which the audience have to find the opera singers using text messages and GPS technology.

9. A famous experimental New York theatre group interacting with a 1964 film of Richard Burton performing Hamlet on Broadway, imitating every nuance of the original show to create a new live version of a film version of a live theatre show.

10. An exciting new production of Macbeth, set on a doomed spaceship.


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11. Brian Eno playing the music of Frank Zappa, on a smartphone.

12. Frank Zappa, brought back to life as a hologram, playing the music of Patti Smith. On the spoons.

13. A celebration of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who featuring the BBC SSO and Sylvester McCoy. On the spoons.

Clue: six of these are real, and you can read more about them at (and buy tickets from 23 March, unless you’re a festival friend or patron, in which case you can buy them now). The rest are made up.

All aboard the sequel!

Will Trainspotting 2 finally get made? Yes it will, in time for the film’s 20th anniversary in 2016, according to numerous media reports this week.


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The source of the story: Danny Boyle, director of the original film. Except that this is the same Danny Boyle who has been talking about making a Trainspotting sequel for years (Irvine Welsh’s own sequel was published way back in 2002). Boyle said more or less the same thing in 2009 as he did this week. What has changed since then? Not much. Boyle says the original cast are up for it, but he also said that four years ago. At the time, Ewan McGregor’s involvement still seemed to be in doubt. And it still does. “I wouldn’t want to do a poor sequel, but at the same time, I would always read it if I was sent it,” McGregor told the Daily Record in January, in yet another repeat of the “is Trainspotting 2 being held up by Ewan McGregor’s reluctance?” story which even McGregor, pictured, now seems to be getting thoroughly bored of (he hasn’t been asked or sent a script, was his exasperated response to the same question back in 2011).

In fact, the only new development is that the cast are – the Arts Diary can exclusively reveal – slightly older. Back in 2009 Boyle said: “I just want to wait until the actors are in their forties. I could make it now, but the problem is they all look the same. I want them to look ravaged by the passing of time.”

Given that make-up and special effects can transform Guy Pearce into an old man, Brad Pitt into a baby, and Sigourney Weaver into a giant blue alien, this always seemed like a delaying tactic on Boyle’s part. Was he really just waiting for McGregor to stop being cross with him about the Leonardo DiCaprio thing? Or could John Hodge just not come up with a decent script?

What is the headline, then? “Director, feeling confident, sets himself actual deadline.” Yep, pretty much that.

andrew eaton-lewis