Edinburgh International Festival launch: Theatre programme's scale impresses

The most striking feature of the 2022 Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) theatre programme, at first glance, is its sheer scale.

In 2022 there will be 12 major shows in the general theatre programme, and at least three theatre pieces presented as part of the special Refuge event at The Studio, which focuses on themes of displacement and migration.

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The theatre programme is dominated by work from Scotland, the Netherlands and Australia, and features three huge Scottish premiers. These are the National Theatre of Scotland show Burn, a solo reflection on the life of Robert Burns performed and co-created by Alan Cumming; the long-delayed return of Liz Lochhead’s acclaimed 2000 version of Medea, directed by Sir Michael Boyd and starring Adura Onashile; and Muster Station Leith, a post-apocalyptic piece staged at Leith Academy by site-specific theatre legends Grid Iron, as the culmination of a recent EIF community programme.

Alan Cumming, who is set to star as Robert Burns in his solo dance theatre debut during the Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: Edinburgh International Festival/PA Wire

The mighty International Theatre Amsterdam and their acclaimed director Ivo van Hove arrive in Edinburgh for a festival residency, performing three shows, including van Hove’s own adaptation of the Hanya Yanagihara novel A Little Life.

As part of the Australia-UK cultural season, Belvoir Theatre of Sydney brings Counting And Cracking, a story of migration between Sri Lanka and Australia, while performer and co-writer Julia Hales appears in You Know We Belong Together, her own story of a Down’s Syndrome woman who dreams of appearing on Home And Away.

Add two shows from France by James Thierree and Sergio Blanco, unique immersive experience Dreamachine by UK group Collective Act, and major new EIF commission The Book Of Life, from Canada’s Volcano Theatre and the Woman Cultural Centre, Rwanda, and you have a festival theatre programme of unique range, both geographical and aesthetic, with mighty Australian circus show Pulse thrown in for good measure, to lift the spirits, and dazzle the senses.

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