Summerhall celebrates its most successful festival fringe to date – five years after the year-round Edinburgh venue opened. The festival programme this year boasted 132 shows in a programme that took 10 Fringe Firsts, four Total Theatre awards, the Holden Street Theatre Award which will see Scorch head to Adelaide Fringe in Australia, an Amnesty International High Commendation for Counting Sheep, the site specific immersive play about the 2014 Ukrainian Maidan uprising, and the Asian Arts Award for 4D Cinema.
Sam Gough, Summerhall’s General Manager commented:
“We are absolutely delighted that so many of the wonderful shows here at Summerhall have received so much recognition. We’re proud of ALL the shows which have engaged and delighted new and existing audiences at our beautiful, idiosyncratic venue. This year we have brought together an incredible collection of companies and artists, and whilst some will ask how many, how big, or how much more… we want to focus on celebrating the quality of the work. We’ll also remember the incredible collaborations and friendships that have been made in a space that is relatively new – but now feels so established at the heart of the biggest arts festival in the world.”
2016’s programme explored issues across the board: the housing crisis under the microscope from Cuncrete (Rachael Clerke) and Letters to Windsor House (Sh!t Theatre); the end of the world in Heads Up (Kieran Hurley) and World Without Us (Ontroerend Goed); political V personal in Faslane (Jenna Watt), On the Conditions and Possibilities of Hilary Clinton Taking Me as her Young Lover (Arthur Meek) and E15 (LUNG); gender politics in Two Man Show (RashDash) and Scorch (Prime Cut); terrorism in the ‘impossible-to-get-a-ticket-for’ Us/Them (BRONKS), incarceration in Doubting Thomas (Grassmarket Project); The Road to Huntsville (Stephanie Ridings) and A Man Standing (Theatre de L’Ancre); site-specific works (I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow (FK Alexander), Counting Sheep (Lemon Bucket Orkestra) and A Hundred Homes (Yinka Kuitenbrouwer); all alongside sell-out returns for Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons and Every Brilliant Thing both in the Paines Plough Roundabout.
This year Summerhall built on its existing partnerships with Northern Stage, Paines Plough Roundabout, Big in Belgium, Aurora Nova, Show & Tell the Taiwan Season, and also welcoming work from Made In Scotland. 2016 also saw the start of an exciting new partnership with Made In Adelaide.
The visual arts programme spurred debate, with displays of an incredible wealth of material from the influential Artists Placement Group, alongside a new installation from Mark Fell, the UK premiere of work from Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, and Tamsyn Challenger’s Hyper Bowl answering to the hyperbolic language and star ratings that pop up across the festival fringe in August. All the displays are open to September.
The venue looks forward to the autumn with all the festival exhibitions open until September, a continuing programme of Nothing Ever Happens Here… the live music programme that during the festival welcomed Grandaddy, Eska and Kathryn Joseph amongst many more bastions of popular music, to the building.
From 28 October running all the way through November Summerhall announces Festival of Ian Smith: A Celebration of Death. An eclectic mix of art, music, performance and installation – all investigating, challenging, confronting or celebrating death. A collaboration between Summerhall and Mischief La Bas, the project is a development of the Festival of Ian Smith curated by Angie Dight of Mischief La Bas and held at CCA in Glasgow in August 2015. Ian Smith, Artistic Director of Mischief La Bas, took his own life in 2014 after a severe battle with depression.
For Summerhall this is a great way to bring together three strands – performance, visual art and live music. In presenting challenging, brave and engaging work on this important subject, celebrating life by celebrating death, we hope to bring some of the August festival spirit of openness, surprise and experimentation to Edinburgh in the autumn.