News - Edinburgh International Festival Programme

This article is from 2007.

When Worlds Collide

UK Premiere of new work by The Wooster Group heads up Edinburgh International Festival programme.

Words: Allan Radcliffe

As this issue of The List hits the shops, the covers are being whisked off the programme for the 2007 Edinburgh International Festival. One of the highlights of the first programme with Jonathan Mills at the helm is the UK premiere of La Didone, the latest work by legendary New York-based theatre ensemble, The Wooster Group, in a series of performances sponsored by this very magazine.

For more than 30 years, under the directorship of Elizabeth LeCompte, The Wooster Group has been among the most innovative performance companies in the world, combining text, music, movement and film to create innovative forms of theatrical expression, often staged in spectacular found spaces. Key works include radical interpretations of Hamlet, Chekhov’s Three Sisters and O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones.

The Group’s La Didone transports the opera of the same name by 17th century composer Francesco Cavalli to a world fragmented by rapid-fire video imagery and split open by the shriek of the electric guitar. The shipwreck tale of Aeneas and Dido, performed live by classical singers, is counterpointed throughout with another Italian cultural landmark, Mario Bava’s 1965 sci-fi/horror B-movie Planet of the Vampires.

Musical director Bruce Odland - charged with weaving the baroque era and 21st century into a seamless soundscape - was delighted by his collaboration with the group. ‘The process is amazing; it’s like waking meditation,’ he says. ‘Everything was done as collaboration, from the performance to the music and all aspects of the design. Liz LeCompte is the most minute observer of what’s going on in the workshops and she can tell you exactly what she wants.’

Odland believes Edinburgh audiences will be thrilled and provoked by this piece. ‘Essentially we’re presenting a slice of centuries side by side - an artificial baroque space that’s slashed open by modern life and the glitches where these two eras intersect. But the connections the audience brings to this piece will be very active.’

For further details of this year’s programme visit

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