Edinburgh 2022: Spotlight Canada

News release March 27th 2023

Edinburgh 2022: Spotlight Canada

Spotlight Canada is a programme of work supported by the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom, in partnership with Canada Council for the Arts and Canadian Heritage. The projects reflect the rich diversity of Canadian talent being showcased throughout all of the major festivals in Edinburgh this August, and The High Commission of Canada is proud to be supporting this work.

In addition to the work being officially presented as part of the festivals, the High Commission of Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service’s team has been working hard with eleven extraordinary Canadian companies for their Pitch Session on 22 August – more information to be found through this link.

We thank our partners at the various organizations and venues for their hard work after two challenging years, as well as their staff, producers, and artists. It is good to be back!

We encourage you to experience the exciting array of Canadian performances and art in Edinburgh this year. Below is a listing of the shows being presented as part of Spotlight Canada.

For full listings of all the Canadian work in Edinburgh this August, please check out our Canada @ Edinburgh 2022 brochure online through this link (English only), or hard copies to be picked up at various venues throughout the city of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Art Festival

Tell Me of Your Boats and Your Waters – Where Do They Come From, Where Do They Go?
Nadia Myre

25 July – 25 August, 10:00-18:00, Edinburgh Printmakers, Union Canal

General view of Hopetoun warehouse, c.1900 to 1930. Digital image of ED_7623. © Courtesy of HES (Francis M Chrystal Collection).

Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Printmakers present newly commissioned work from Montreal-based artist Nadia Myre responding to the 200th anniversary of the Union Canal.

The project – across print, installation and sound – explores reference points spanning Scotland and Canada, migratory routes started on the canal, indigenous story-telling, archival research methods, pattern, prose and song. The artist’s research began with the encounter of Tales Of Nanabozho in a local library in Montreal – a book published in 1964 by Scottish-born émigré Dorothy Marion Reid after moving to Canada, who recounts stories of Nanabozho, a prominent trickster character to the Anishinaabe*, provoking questions of authorship and voice reverberating into the present. As an Algonquin member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, Myre’s work sited alongside the canal and in Gallery 2 at Edinburgh Printmakers brings to the fore the decolonial impulse inherent in the artist’s practice, imprinting and entangling materials with meaning.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Age is a Feeling
Haley McGee, produced by Soho Theatre

3 – 28 August, 12:10, Summerhall

Written & performed by Haley McGee. Produced by Soho Theatre.
Your life from the day of your 25th birthday through to your death. Seminal moments. Rites of passage. And all the things unsaid.
Inspired by hospices, mystics and trips to the cemetery, Age Is A Feeling wrestles with our endless chances to change course while we’re alive. A covert rallying cry against cynicism and regret. A call to seize our time.
From Haley McGee – ‘Fearless, raw talent’ (CBC) – creator of sell-out The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale. ‘Brilliantly entertaining, witty and poignant’ (Lyn Gardner). Directed by Adam Brace.

Famous Puppet Death Scenes
The Old Trout Puppet Workshop

3 – 28 August, 18:30, Assembly Roxy

Behold: the eternal masterwork of puppetry for adults returns to Edinburgh! Willingly undergo a heart-wrenching parade of theatrical demises that will severely exacerbate your fear of death! All your favourite scenes: Edward’s Last Prance by Samuel Groanswallow, The Feverish Heart by Nordo Frot, Why I Am So Sad by Sally, and the unforgettable Bipsy’s Mistake from Bipsy and Mumu Go to the Zoo by Fun Freddy! ‘As funny as it is inventive’ (Guardian). ‘Poignant, profound, imaginative, utterly delightful’ (BritishTheatreGuide.info). ‘Visually stunning and endlessly entertaining’ (LA Times).

Bill Coleman

17 – 28 August, 14:20, Dance Base

Three performers dive into our felt experiences of the natural world, dancing on a circular, hand-woven in Mongolian felt floor, surrounded closely by spectators who are welcome and indispensable to this unique visual and auditory experience. Created by choreographer Bill Coleman in collaboration with dancers and with kindergarten children, Felt asks us to recall the wonder of life and experience a performance as we might a community gathering. Live musical accompaniment. Please come prepared to respectfully participate and enjoy the experience. No experience required. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Something in the Water
Scantily Glad Theatre

3 – 28 August, 20:00, Summerhall

Enter into a wacky world of sea monsters in high heels and angry mobs with tiny pitchforks’

When Grumms transforms from a normal girl into a squid monster (‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ meets ‘The Muppets’), they must hide their secret identity in order to pass in society. Stunning video projections, puppetry and physical comedy combine in this absurd exploration of gender and growing up “normal”.

Winner – Best Theatre, Adelaide Fringe 2021.

One Arrival
Double bill: Gaurav Bhatti and Vikram Iyengar

5 – 14 August, 14:00, Dance Base

One is inspired by the search for the divine in the poetry of Sufi mystic Bulleh Shah, a beacon in times of religious strife between Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs. With intolerance, fundamentalism, and identity politics on the rise, his poetry is more relevant than ever. Performed by Canadian dancer Gaurav Bhatti.

The Bangla saying ‘there’s as many paths as there are perspectives’ inspires Arrival. Varied Indian spiritual music and dance help interrogate relationships with a higher power while thoughts about religion are punctuated by doubt. From obedient and devout to mischievous and insistent, Iyengar asks us to reach into ourselves to arrive somewhere else.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Bordering on Inhumane

Matthieu Aikins, Sally Hayden & Polly Pallister-Wilkins

24 August, 14:00, Edinburgh College of Art

Deemed by Sally Rooney as the ‘most important work of contemporary reporting’, My Fourth Time, We Drowned explores Sally Hayden’s staggering investigation into the migrant crisis across North Africa. In The Naked Don’t Fear the Water, journalist Matthieu Aikins follows his friend Omar as he flees his war-torn country. And in Humanitarian Borders, Polly Pallister- Wilkins interrogates the humanitarian responses to border violence. A vital event for our times, chaired by Esa Aldegheri.


Consolation for Our Times

Michael Ignatieff

20 August, 19:00, Edinburgh College of Art

The historian and political theorist Michael Ignatieff began writing a book about consolation before the first lockdown. Now, our lives changed by Covid-19, and with over 80 million refugees fleeing conflicts worldwide, On Consolation feels spectacularly timely. He explains what we can learn from key figures through history who responded creatively to a crisis in conversation with broadcast journalist Allan Little.


Faeries, Tales and Friendship

Aisha Bushby, Elle McNicoll & Ross Montgomery

28 August, 13:30, Edinburgh College of Art

‘A forest doesn’t need to be out in the middle of nowhere. It could be right next door in a well-known city’. Have you ever looked outside and imagined another world might exist alongside ours? Or seen a shard of light and thought it could have been a trace of magic? In this event, incredible authors Aisha Bushby, Elle McNicoll & Ross Montgomery talk about their magical books and the inspiration behind them with Siân Bevan.

Failure, Fame and Family
Martha Wainwright

13 August, 20:30, Edinburgh College of Art

It’s difficult to imagine acclaimed singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright as anything other than a singular success. Yet as the youngest member of a talented – often quietly cutting – musical family, Wainwright has long considered herself a failure in comparison to her brother and parents. Wainwright talks to Karine Polwart about her hilarious memoir, Stories I Might Regret Telling You, and her life as the black sheep of a famous family.

Family First
Claire Fuller and Miriam Toews

29 August, 16:15, Edinburgh College of Art

To misquote Tolstoy, every family is happy in its own way – and two new novels from Claire Fuller and Miriam Toews suggest some surprising opportunities for joy. Fuller’s Costa Award-winning Unsettled Ground hurls middle-aged twins into a world they are ill-equipped to face after the death of their mother. Toews’s Fight Night is narrated by nine year old Swiv, whose grandmother teaches her to fight and have a good time. Fuller and Toews come together in conversation with Lee Randall.

Miriam Toews is appearing remotely.

History, Memory, Poetry

Jay Gao & Alycia Pirmohamed
13 August, 18:30, Edinburgh College of Art

How does identity shift through generations? Can we ever write free from historical trauma? How do we live in the moment? These are just a few of the questions posed by Alycia Pirmohamed and Jay Gao in their anticipated debut collections, Another Way to Split Water and Imperium. These innovative young poets are brought together to discuss lyrical experimentation, the impact of memory and writing across cultures with artist Tice Cin.

Living in the First Draft

Sheila Heti
24 August, 14:15, Edinburgh College of Art

From acclaimed author of Motherhood, Sheila Heti, comes a convention-defying and one-of-a-kind novel. In Pure Colour, Mira and Annie are wrenched apart by love and loss. Readers are left to consider a single question: what if our world is just a first draft, made by an artist and set to be destroyed? Join us, and Heti, as we try to answer it.

Sheila Heti is appearing remotely.

Parallel Worlds and Artistic Possibilities
Emily St John Mandel
20 August, 16:30, Edinburgh College of Art

Emily St John Mandel’s newest book, Sea of Tranquillity, spans several centuries and the breadth of the universe. From a teen in British Columbia to a detective in a black-skied city, the sound of a violin shakes the world of all those who hear it. Readers of Mandel’s previous novels – including Station Eleven – know that this is a writer of incredible imagination and skill; if you’re not yet a Mandel reader, join her and Heather Parry to find out for yourself.

The Past, Present and Future of Blackness
Tsitsi Dangarembga & Esi Edugyan
29 August, 16:30, Edinburgh College of Art

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Black and Female brings together essays on the ‘nervous condition’ of being a Black woman in a supposedly post-colonial world. Esi Edugyan’s Out of the Sun comprises five essays on Afrofuturism, immigration and the concept of ‘passing’. Today, they turn their insight and critical eyes towards the myriad issues of race and being for a conversation not to be missed. Chaired by editor Ellah Wakatama.

Private Lives
Alexander MacLeod
20 August, 20:15, Edinburgh College of Art

Bestselling Canadian writer Alexander MacLeod’s second short story collection, Animal Person, brings together eight stories in which it’s impossible to predict how the cards will fall. A traveller steals suitcases from airport conveyor belts; a young pianist struggles at his recital; a lonely man finds solace in his pet rabbit. Join us to hear how MacLeod conjures deep emotion from unlikely circumstances.

Alexander MacLeod is appearing remotely.

Publishing to Change the World

Lennie Goodings
28 August, 12:15, Edinburgh College of Art

Virago has been publishing for nearly 50 years with Lennie Goodings at the heart of things for most of them. Accruing a catalogue of charming stories, creative relationships and groundbreaking books by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Goodings has in effect chronicled the changing status of women in Britain: playing a role in shaping a more equal society. A Bite of the Apple recounts memories from a lifetime in publishing.

The Resilience of Queer Love
Danny Ramadan & Pajtim Statovci
29 August, 13:00, Edinburgh College of Art

Can relationships last against the backdrop of war? Danny Ramadan’s The Foghorn Echoes shows us the forbidden love of two boys in war-torn Syria. Pajtim Statovci’s Bolla takes us to 90s Kosovo, where a newly married Arsim falls in love with a Serbian man. Today, they discuss their tender and powerful books with Andrew McMillan and ask how we can truly discover ourselves when around us there is nothing but destruction.

Stories of Exile
Vesna Goldsworthy & Kim Thúy
14 August, 15:30, Edinburgh College of Art

Meet citizens of exile in two startlingly topical novels about the traumas of displacement. Serbian writer and poet Vesna Goldsworthy follows a daughter of the elite from a Soviet satellite state to London in the 1980s. But freedom swiftly leads to heartbreak in Iron Curtain. Kim Thúy’s Em is a sensitive portrait of children swept up in the Vietnam War. The two come together to explore departure and belonging with poet Heather H Yeung.

Edinburgh International Festival

The Book of Life
Volcano, Canada & the Woman Cultural Centre, Rwanda
13-16 August, 20:00; 14 August, 14:00 Church Hill Theatre

In a disharmonious world, The Book of Life finds a humane way forward full of hope.

During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, one million people were killed in 100 days. The unthinkable became commonplace and a country was torn apart.

A quarter of a century later, Rwandan artist and activist Katese asks how it is possible to rebuild a deep understanding of life in the aftermath of such loss. In collaboration with award-winning theatre group Volcano, Canada and her own Woman Cultural Centre, Rwanda, she has crafted an inspirational theatre work exploring resilience, reconciliation and healing.

The Book of Life dwells on life, not loss. It is a contemplation of new families forged in grief, including Ingoma Nshya, the internationally acclaimed Women Drummers of Rwanda, who have shattered the cultural norms that forbade women from taking part in this profoundly joyful art form. They perform on stage against a backdrop of live shadow puppetry, as Katese creates an uplifting show that includes letters from survivors and perpetrators, addressed to those who are gone.

Bruce Liu
22 August, 11:00, The Queen’s Hall

The winner of the 2021 Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, among several other accolades, Canadian pianist Bruce Liu is a major new keyboard talent. He demonstrates a penetrating insight and maturity well beyond his years and brings a joyous freshness and spontaneity to his revelatory performances.

For his Edinburgh International Festival debut recital, he brings together music to astound and to captivate. Liszt’s grand fantasy on Mozart’s Don Giovanni pushes its pianist to their limits with its breath-taking technical demands – and concentrates all the drama of Mozart’s opera into a brief piano work. No less virtuosic is Ravel’s exquisite Miroirs, five beguiling musical meditations on the natural world.

Liu opens his recital with a selection of elegant yet vivid character pieces by Rameau, and the delicacy and tenderness of Chopin’s own witty reimaginings of a Mozart aria.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

Framing Agnes

Directed by Chase Joynt

13 August, 18:10, Edinburgh Filmhouse
17 August, 13:30, Vue Omni

This bold exercise in narrative experimentation employs a blend of fiction and nonfiction to investigate the legacy of Agnes, a pioneering transgender woman who participated in gender health research in the 1960s. From the eponymous character’s story, director Chase Joynt builds a careful study of transness, utilising the format of a staged talk show to explore topics related to gender, race and class, weaving in the past to build a poignant reflection on the present.

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