The 9th Summerhall Festival Programme is announced today by the year round Edinburgh arts venue. The programme is full of exciting, invigorating and fresh theatre, music and visual arts. Whilst the venue grows into its reputation for hosting new, avant-garde and personal work, it also begins to create partnerships with artists. The Eclipse Award, Fringe of Colour, Autopsy Award and a series of annual artist in residence positions see Summerhall actively supporting artists making new work and responding to our world.
The programme encompasses work from 14 countries, with topics ranging from parents to health, migration and global politics. Collaborations, artist bursaries and brand new and award-winning work come together all under one roof – with Army @ The Fringe and CanadaHub presenting the best of work from their worlds in offsite venues for their 3rd year respectively. Summerhall also welcomes back Taiwan Season, From Start to Finnish and Big in Belgium, Paines Plough’s Roundabout and a new Swiss showcase, Pro Helvetia’s Swiss Selection Edinburgh and Rose Bruford College, whose Upper Church space also hosts some of the new ICS programme focusing on Canadian Indigenous work. The performance programme will also see more women than men appear across the venue’s twenty-two performance spaces.
Summerhall’s live music programme Nothing Ever Happens Here goes from strength to strength with the building currently hosting two associate artists, Harry Harris and Little King and after the upcoming mini-festival Southern Exposure this June, Fringe is the next linchpin in the venue’s music diary. With club nights, gigs and theatre collaborations it’s set to be a frenetic month in the Dissection Room.
Headliners include Kathryn Joseph performing ‘From When I Wake The Want Is,’ in collaboration with Cryptic; New York’s art rockers Bodega roll into town with live album ‘Witness Scroll’; staying true to a different kind of pop-culture, American iconography, Scotland’s best known up-and-coming musicians, Start To End perform Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ in its entirety which is bound to be a banging night out; and Cate Le Bon’s fifth studio album, ‘Reward’ has won Le Bon huge acclaim and its sonic sounds will leave the venue and audiences alike, shaking.
Scottish songwriter Siobhan Wilson performs songs from ‘The Departure’; Emma Pollock returns with a welcome indie rock fix while folk favourite Rachel Sermanni also brings back her sound to Summerhall; and following Celtic Connections 2019, renowned composer and songwriter Peter Broderick brings his unique take on the work of Arthur Russell.
Ambition is never far from the Summerhall Performance Programme; 21 – Memories of Growing Up (Mats Staub, part of Swiss Selection) have created an epic visual collage of people of all ages from around the world recalling turning twenty-one; Cardboard Citizens: Bystanders tell a series of stories exploring the lives and deaths of homeless people; and COMA from dark shipping container mavericks Darkfield, offers a placebo and a promise to save audience members from the horrors that lurk within their own mind.
Article 11 return to CanadaHub after their campaign to rematriate remains from the National Museum of Scotland was successful. Expect the Canadian activists to have further plans for their time in Edinburgh this August alongside their show, Deer Woman; and after the tremendous success of Fringe First and Amnesty International award-winning verbatim ‘Trojan Horse’ LUNG return with Who Cares – an examination of the failures of the UK care system and the impact of austerity.
Director of the Arab Arts 2017, a programme who saw many artists caught up in a visa shambles that left many unable to perform at the 2017 Festival, Ahmed El-Attar, director of the Arab Arts Focus season, returns with his own work this year, Before the Revolution – a new theatre production that sensitively looks at the stalemate, apathy and anger which preceded the Egyptian Revolution; funny, intimate, political, powerful and patient, Neither Here Nor There from Jo Fong and Sonia Hughes is a series of six minute conversations starting in the Summerhall Courtyard that prompts audiences to join in the chat (whatever it may be); and Grace Jones will permeate the building in the first of two productions from Rachael Young – the visually stunning NIGHTCLUBBING is a visceral live music performance that will start a revolution, whilst OUT performed with marikiscrycrycry defiantly challenges homophobia and transphobia in a duet that carves out a new space embracing personal, political and cultural dissonance.
The multi-award winning Cumbernauld Theatre return after 2017’s The Gardener with LipSync – two people on stage, both telling the same story with the story’s true owner restricted to a lip-sync; 8:8 from Mercimax is performed by both professional and non-professional actors to toy with our judgements of strangers; No Way Back company’s latest work FrontX tells the stories of its cast of street performers; and Pizza Shop Heroes from Phosphoros Theatre – the team behind ‘Dear Home Office’ – brings a new show about former child refugees settled and working in the UK.
Volcano Theatre Company will throw a dance party for a divided nation in The Populars; Paul Smith of Maximo Park fame makes his fringe debut contributing the music for Hold On Let Go, Unfolding Theatre’s follow-up to ‘Putting The Band Back Together’; and Paines Plough Roundabout Islander from Helen Milne Productions is a piece of Scottish folk theatre with an ethereal live soundtrack toying with folk-lore and the edging out of Island communities.
Ridiculusmus are back for a final time at the Edinburgh Fringe with Die! Die! Die! Old People Die!, a show-title that’s been ruffling unexpected feathers alongside a programme of their greatest hits; James Rowland’s series of one-person plays about life, death and love are performed as a story circle with the opportunity to see Team Viking, A Hundred Different Words for Love and Revelations back to back each Sunday night over four hours; and ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ co-writer and performer Jonny Donahoe returns with his first solo show in five years, Forgiveness.
2019 is a British Council Edinburgh Showcase year and Summerhall plays host to Louder Is Not Always Clearer (Mr and Mrs Clark) by Deaf artist Jonny Cotsen, exploring his relationship to his hearing family, and his Deaf self; the extraordinary Rosanna Cade returns to the halls of Summerhall in Moot Moot (Cade and MacAskill, Take Me Somewhere) with Ivor MacAskill; and Extremely Pedestrian Chorales, performed in the Rose Bruford space, sees Karl Jay-Lewin and Matteo Fargion celebrate the joys, dance and beauty of the pedestrian. Another award-winning Scottish theatre maker, circus tour-de-force Ellie Dubois presents the dolphin love story of Like Animals (SUPERFAN, Tron Theatre) made with Kim Donohoe and Peter Lannon; and Rachel Mars does exactly what it says on the tin (and some long dead artists’ letters) with Your Sexts are Shit.
National Theatre Wales present Cotton Fingers about a woman travelling to Wales from Ireland for an abortion and Alan Harris’ For All I Care, a one woman show about two very different women. The Czech Republic’s Spitfire bring us their interpretation of life in New York; Miss AmeriKa follows a woman who doesn’t belong taking to the subway; Where to Belong from Ellie Keel Productions sees a Jewish-Lebanese, Brazilian and gay Londoner, Victor Esses return to São Paulo with his partner in 2019; and Close to home, Edinburgh’s Creative Electric explore our need for non-sexual contact in an obsessively digital era in The Happiness Project (Army @ The Fringe).
Award-winner and director extraordinaire Ursula Martinez joins writer and performer Laura Murphy in Contra (Aurora Nova) asking why are we so obsessed with how to visually process a body?; mass hysteria is addressed in The Afflicted by new Scottish company group work and ThickSkin; while Working On My Night Moves sees Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan perform their ode to the search for Utopia; and Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas return with not one, but two pieces, the end of their trilogy, ONE and a new piece, THE END.
Trevor Lock finally admits he’s been doing performance art all this time and moves to Summerhall with his deconstructed stand-up COMMUNITY CIRCLE; Forced Entertainment’s To Move In Time by Tim Etchells looks at the possibility of one person moving back and forth through time, performed by stage legend Tyrone Huggins; Paines Plough and Theatre Clywd bring three shows in co-production to the Roundabout, Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair’s Square Go returns to Summerhall for the second time; and the fabulous Brigette Aphrodite (Boundless Theatre & Boom Shakalaka Productions) performs her punkesque Margate coming-of-age story, Parakeet.
‘Once and for All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen’ broke the theatrical form in 2007, and 12 years later Kopergietery (Big In Belgium) return with a brand new work, Buzz from a now grown-up company; the Taiwan Season takes on male bonding in BOUT (Chang Dance Theatre); and Made for d/Deaf audiences, Fish (Shinehouse Theatre) is an adaptation of a novel about the relationship between familial generations.
Louise Orwin’s Oh Yes Oh No looks at when politics don’t align with sexual fantasies; Class is smashed to smithereens by the women of SHIT (MILKE + Dee & Cornelius) – an award-winning play about class and misogyny performed by three stars of the Australian stage; and Traumboy (Daniel Hellman) and Traumgirl (Anne Welenc) tell the stories of a cis-male and cis-female sex workers, on alternate nights, one made in response to the other, looking at identity and the taboo of paying for sex.
Delving into the synapses, Passengers (Vacuum Theatre) looks at the psyche and its many and varied battles and powers; Cheryl Martin tells us how she survived growing up with severe depression in Alaska; Olivier Award Nominee Caroline Horton’s All of Me (China Plate, Cambridge Junction and The Yard) asks what happens if we sit together and embrace the darkness; and in Life Is No Laughing Matter Demi Nandhra brings her partner and dog with her onto the stage to enable her to perform through her acute anxiety and depression.
Chris Goode and Company use River Phoenix’s story to explore Chris’ turbulent queer life in the 90s – and where he is 25 years later in Narcolepsy – this will be year five in Summerhall for the Sh!t Theatre team who in 2019 Drink Rum with Ex-Pats (Soho Theatre, Show & Tell). Fringe First winning Emma Frankland returns with a new show Hearty, traversing people’s fascination with trans-lives and the bio-tech of HRT.
Harry Clayton-Wright has created an extremely personal look at his parents’ two approaches to the Sex Education of their queer son in a Brighton Fringe Award winning show; Catherine Graindorge follows through on her father Michel’s wishes to make a piece of theatre about his life in Before The End, in which she is able to uncover and process the grief of losing a parent; Autopsy Award Winner Leila Josephine’s Daddy Drag also hones in on her complex but unconditional love for her father; and in the award-winning Man on the Moon Keisha Thompson looks at the existential, her relationship with her dad, where we’re from, and maybe where we’re going, into space?
Everything I See I Swallow (Shasha & Taylor Productions) brings circus back into the building to illustrate the push-pull in a mother-daughter relationship; when Anoushka Warden presented her play about her mum joining a cult, My Mum’s A Twat (Showroom) to her then boss at the Royal Court, Vicky Featherstone immediately put it into production, a new production of the play directed by Debbie Hannan will be presented this year; and The Desk (Reetta Honkakoski) uses physical theatre to explore the seductive power of cults.
Sisters or Cyst-ers? Catherine Hoffman’s Cyst-er Act is about wombs, cysts and poly-cysters; 2018 Dublin Fringe mega-hit concept-concert Everything I Do (One Two One Two) sees sister creative team employ music to dissect a bad breakup; and Appropriate sees Irish Co Galway writer and actor Sarah-Jane look at the cultural expectations on Irish women to marry through the lens of a woman who has just run out on her wedding reception.
My Name Is Irrelevant is spoken word performer Matthew Hall’s first solo show, produced by multi-award-winning Tortoise In A Nutshell; when a man sees no value in his own identity, where does he go to find one? WWII Poet Keith Douglas’ life story is told by Owen Shears (The Story of Books) in Unicorns, Almost; poet and lyrical wizard Sean Mahoney returns with Back of the Head with a Brick; Tröll (Trick of the Light Theatre) toys with family and online identities; Drone considers how a military drone must feel going about its daily business, performed by a cabaret style band; and is the earth flat for real? Umbrella Man (Teuchter Company, Colin Bramwell) sets out to prove it is.
Death appears in many forms in this summer’s programme; firstly with My Best Dead Friend (Zanetti Production) by Summerhall Melbourne Fringe winner, set in 90s NZ, the play is about friendship, unfulfilled love and a possum; and Resurrecting Bobby Awl’s (Avalon, BBC Arts) death mask adventures into the life of a man wiped out of history by Burke and Hare.
Ejaculation – Discussions about Female Sexuality – (edited here as it’s been blocked on every platform) is about the magic of the female sex organ; Nathaniel Hall contracted HIV from his first sexual encounter and is here to tell us all about it – and life now – in First Time; Twin Peaks (Mandy Tootill) is a one-person account of being diagnosed with Breast Cancer at 30; and When I Fall If I Fall (Claire Dowie, Face to Face Theatre) is a brand new work about dancing until you can’t any more.
In the Canada Hub programme some works tackle what happens when the creator can’t be on stage, in Pathetic Fallacy (The Chop Theatre) Anita Rochon is countering the Climate Crisis by not travelling internationally for work; in Start To Finish, Ali & Alpo ensured the making must go on after Alawad was deported from Finland during the creative process; and dancer Lewys Holt pairs two shows Footnotes and Phrases in a dance exploration of communication and confusion.
In the Courtyard audiences will find Swallow the Sea Caravan Theatre chock-full of stories and happenings for little’uns; Catherine Wheels join forces with Honolulu Theatre for Youth with Sparkle which celebrates diversity and the power of believing in yourself for audiences 3+; and or slightly bigger children, First Piano on the Moon is Summerhall Resident Will Pickvance’s latest love affair with the ivories.
Remaining true to its interests the Summerhall Visual Arts programme sees artists cast an eye over current political shifts, taking a stand in the public debate on the challenges we face. Extinction Rebellion (XR) have been invited to take over two spaces in the basement of Summerhall, curating a month of performance, visual art, films and documentaries. The overall aim of the exhibition is to invite the public to engage with XR’s three demands; to tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, to call on governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and to create a Citizens Assembly to oversee the process.
Fresh from an appearance at the Venice Biennale, Alan Smith‘s exhibition references the spirit of many of his works made over the last fifty years. The exhibition starts from his most recent work The New World including the work shown at the biennale and a selection of earlier ones will be presented alongside coming together in a poetic exhibition that by coincidence looks at his own illness and terminal prognosis.
Jane Frere, creator of the chalk drawings that adorn the foyer outside Anatomy and beneath the Dissection Room, seen by thousands of people over the last two years, returns to Summerhall with EXIT – 100 Days of Khaos, a piece in direct response to Brexit, and the 100 day countdown to the initial planned date the UK would leave the EU.
Beyond Borders present The New York Times: Carbon’s Casualties, New York Times photographer Josh Haner’s portraits of landscapes around the world and the ongoing affect on them caused by Climate Change; Glasgow International exhibitor Andrew Sim takes over the Meadows Gallery with his first solo show – a personal account of the challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community and learning what it means to be a queer person in 2019; AND Summerhall Director Robert MacDowell programme the Laboratory Galleries with another in his series of Beuys exhibitions.