Summerhall announces a wealth of music, performance and visual art in 2019 Fringe programme
Rachael Young's NIGHTCLUBBING
Famed multi-arts venue takes on climate change, mental health and indigenous issues in a powerful and diverse festival offering
In the eight years since their first foray into the Fringe, Summerhall have firmly established themselves as host to some of the most provocative, avant-garde works to be found anywhere in Edinburgh during the festival season. Their 2019 offering is shaping up to be no different, with works and performances that tap into some of the most prescient issues of our time, as well as testing unexplored frontiers of potential within their respective mediums. Diversity similarly remains a strong hallmark of its programme, which this year will encompass artists from 14 countries and see the venue and its off-site campuses play host to national showcases such as Taiwan Season, Start to Finnish, Big in Belgium, Pro-Helvetia's Swiss Selection Edinburgh and Indigenous Contemporary Scene's programme focusing on Canadian indigenous work.
As a popular live music hub outwith August, Summerhall's music line-up is a particularly heavy-hitter during the festival. Headliners on their music programme this year include Scottish singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph, who will be staging a performance of her acclaimed album From When I Wake The Want Is, crafted as a visual spectacle in association with renowned Glasgow production house Cryptic. New York art rockers Bodega will be blowing the roof off with songs off Witness Scroll, while SAY nominee Siobhan Wilson will perform music from her recent album The Departure and Cat Le Bon will close the programme with her sonic sounds on Sun 25 Aug. They're joined by American songwriter Peter Broderick, following on from his well-received performance at this year's Celtic Connections, wherein he pays homage to the songs of influential composer Arthur Russell.
Comprising the bulk of their programme, Summerhall's performance line-up features work that pushes the envelope of traditional theatre. Darkfield will once more be parking their signature shipping container at the venue's entrance, and will be enticing audiences into its eerily dark interior with the promise of releasing them from the horrors of their own mind in COMA. Meanwhile in the Courtyard, Jo Fong and Sonia Hughes will be staging six-minute conversations and encouraging audiences to join in, whatever the subject matter, in Neither Here Nor There. Controversial theatre-makers Forced Entertainment will contemplate time travel in To Move In Time, while the show must go on in Pathetic Fallacy, wherein its creator, Anita Rochon, decides not to travel for work as a means of countering climate change, necessitating a new person to fill her role every day. Rachael Young, the first recipient of the new Eclipse Award, will be bringing two shows to Summerhall; NIGHTCLUBBING and OUT
Never one to shy from the political, this year also features charged works that delve into current pressure points in our society and around the world. Award-winning theatre company LUNG returns to Summerhall with Who Cares, a scathing indictment of the UK's care system and the traumatic toll of austerity. Ahmed El-Attar, the director of the Arab Arts Focus season and one of the many artists who were denied visas to attend the Fringe in 2017, stages his play Before the Revolution, which explores the simmering anger in the lead-up to the Egyptian revolution.
The personal, though, is always also political, and this year's programme features several works which exist at this crossroads. As part of CanadaHub, Deer Woman follows an indigenous women's quest for revenge after her sister goes missing, while Phosphorus Theatre finds former child refugees in the UK reclaiming their extraordinary tales in Pizza Shop Heroes. National Theatre Wales's Cotton Fingers will see one woman journey from Ireland to Wales for an abortion, as The Happiness Project explores our need for non-sexual contact in our increasingly digital age. Meanwhile, performance artist Louise Orwin poses difficult questions about female sexuality and violence in Oh Yes Oh No, and Nathaniel Hall discusses contracting HIV from his first sexual encounter in his autobiographical solo show First Time.
Summerhall's visual arts programme takes on a particularly green streak this year, which sees the activist troupe Extinction Rebellion (XR) take over two spaces in the basement for a month of performances, films and exhibitions highlighting the existential threat of climate change. Similarly, Beyond Borders will be presenting The New York Times: Carbon's Casualties, a series of portraits by New York Times photographer Josh Haner, which illustrate the devastation that ecological disaster has already wreaked upon our planet. Finally, artist Andrew Sim will be adorning the walls of the Meadows Gallery with his first solo show, which features a personal account of what it means to be a queer person in 2019.
Summerhall, Wed 31 Jul–Sun 25 Aug. Tickets are on sale now at festival19.summerhall.co.uk.