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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 August 2005, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Cultural festival 'taking risks'
Festival Theatre Edinburgh
The festival will run for three weeks
The Edinburgh International Festival has begun three-weeks of music, theatre and dance, promising a "high-risk" event packed with original drama.

Its director Brian McMaster said the festival would deliver an unprecedented list of brand-new plays and shows.

Among the highlights are three new plays commissioned for the festival and written by Scottish writers.

The British premiere of opera The Death of Klinghoffer could be one of the most controversial productions.

'Relevant as ever'

John Adams' opera is a fictionalised account of the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, during which a disabled Jewish 69-year-old American tourist was shot by Palestinian militants while in his wheelchair and then thrown overboard.

It was condemned as "beyond contempt" by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Sir Brian, who stands down next year after 15 years in charge, defended the staging.

He said: "I think that it's a piece that deserves its British stage premiere. I think we should be doing it - and current events make it as relevant as ever it was."

New productions for the festival by Scottish writers include David Harrower's Blackbird, Shan Khan's Prayer Room and Chiew Siah Tei's Three Thousand Troubled Threads. It tells the story of an ethnic Chinese woman in Glasgow's cultural melting pot.

Complete works

The Prayer Room explores edgy cross-currents between Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Another work created especially for the festival is Nuts CocoNuts, directed by Jordi Milán.

It is a new English language version of an original show by Milán's company, La Cubana, which played to over one million people in Spain and South America.

The theatre programme also presents the complete stage works of Irish playwright JM Synge at the King's Theatre, including three opportunities to see a cycle of all six plays in one day.

Dance productions include Swan Lake, which brings together the American Pennsylvania Ballet with the Russian Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio.

Other collaborations include the Dutch National Ballet teaming up with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Scottish Ballet with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The festival closes with a fireworks concert on Sunday 4 September.

Festivals 'unity' call dismissed
05 Aug 05 |  Entertainment
Festival lures literary 'titans'
13 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Art imitates life in Edinburgh
08 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Hijack opera in Edinburgh line-up
17 Mar 05 |  Entertainment


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