Polska Arts in Edinburgh

Aleksandra Zawada, "Lovers III (Kitagawa Utamaro)", mixed media on board from the Here/Now exhibition

On the 11th of August, Grzegorz Jarzyna's performance opened the Edinburgh International Festival as the first Polish production to begin the event to date. The dramatic staging was streamed live by The Guardian on the 13th of August, 2012

Showings of 2008: Macbeth are part of the Listen / Touch / See: Polska Arts in Edinburgh programme, which visits the city’s 4 festivals is coordinated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. The events in Edinburgh offer a total of 180 performances, concerts and installations from the best contemporary Polish artists, offering the widest variety of Polish cultural events in the UK since the Polska Year! project.

Other Polish highlights in Edinburgh this summer include a series of concerts with music by Karol Szymanowski and Witold Lutosławski. The simultaneous Fringe Festival hosts a selection of 12 theatre performances. Troupes and artists from Poland on the Fringe programme include: The Song of the Goat Theatre, Teatr Biuro Podróży, neTTheatre, komuna// warszawa, KTO Theatre, Theatre ZAR, and others.

A large number of rising stars of the Polish jazz scene also take part in Edinburgh’s Jazz&Blues Festival. The acclaimed Aga Zaryan performs along the side of the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, the Maciej Obara Quartet, Marcin Masecki’s project Profesjonalizm, Mitch&Mitch and Their Incredible Combo and the various projects conducted by Raphael Rogiński.

In the visual arts, Robert Kuśmirowski takes his telling installation Pain Thing to a former Veterinary Department laboratory, and a roster of young Polish artists present their works at the Royal Scottish Academy with the Here / Now exhibition.

The current selection continues a historic tradition of Poland’s presence in Edinburgh. In the past, audiences had the luck of witnessing perfomances by the legendary figures of Tadeusz Kantor and Jerzy Grotowski, some of the greatest revolutionaries of 20th century theatre. Since the 1990s, the Festival was visited by such acclaimed Polish theatres as TR Warszawa, Provisorium, neTTheatre, Biuro Podróży, Teatr Kana, Wierszalin and Song of the Goat, which garnered numerous awards as well as special mentions of the Festival.

On the 4th of June, 2012, Jonathan Mills, the artistic director of the Edinburgh International Festival visited the Adam Mickiewicz Institute to launch the programme of this year’s tremendously rich edition of the event. Mills honoured the presence of Polish art at the festival, and underlined the significant role that Poland plays in voicing the contemporary European identity through culture.

The Edinburgh International Festival was launched in 1947, borne out of a post-war urgency for the building of new and free European community. Its founders were striving to "provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit." Sketching out this political context and underlining the public character of his decisions as an artistic director of the EIF, Jonathan Mills honoured the strong Polish presence while addressing the historic role played out by Poland and the symbolic place it continues to occupy in contemporary thiniking about European identity.

The 2012 edition of the Edinburgh International Festival features artists from India, Brazil, Japan, Ireland, Chile, Romania, North America, Germany, Poland, Russia, France, and across the UK. The EIF audience is also international – the events of last year’s festival were visited by spectators from 74 different countries. Addressing this truly international group, Grzegorz Jarzyna's play comes alongside the works of such theatrical geniuses as Arien Mnouchkine, who brings her Theatre du Soleil with a witty new production entitled Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir and Marthaler, who will stage his My Fair Lady: A Speech Laboratory.

Special attention this year is also given to two outstanding Polish composers - Karol Szymanowski and Witold Lutosławski. Szymanowski’s four major works are performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, and conducted by Valery Gergiev in a series of three concerts, which juxtapose the composer’s pieces with those of Brahms. The concerts are preceeded by a panel discussion entitled Szymanowski’s Homeland – Europe’s Forgotten Orient. Jonathan Mills deems the composer perfect for our times, as an artist who continued to look to the East as well as the West for inspiration and solid musical reference. The LSO concerts promise to pursue making this great composer’s work known and cherished by a growingly international audience. The works by the more contemporary Witold Lutosławski are presented in Edinburgh by the magnificent Cleveland Orchestra, and the ensemble plays under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst.

For a full programme of Polska Arts in Edinburgh, see the the project’s official website: www.culture.pl/edinburgh

Editor: SRS

Source: press release

Thumbnail credits: Macbeth, Teatr Biuro Podróży in Edinburgh

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