The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), billed as the world's biggest cultural extravaganza, turns 70. It shares its birthday with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is sponsored for the first time by the British Army.
The EIF opens with an "epic outdoor spectacle," and closes with a fireworks concert. In between, festivalgoers will be treated to programs that provide "a platform for the flowering of the human spirit." The phrase introduced the festival in the aftermath of World War II.
The Fringe festival was inaugurated in 1947 when a number of theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform during the official festival. An army reservists' drill hall, which once boasted its own rifle range, is being turned into a venue for the 2017 edition. One of its main events will be an army-sponsored piece of performance theatre following the lives of new recruits. Called 5 Soldiers: The Body that is the Frontline. The army collaboration with Sumerhall, one of the city's most radical arts centers, is part of an army strategy to broaden its appeal and support. An army spokesman told Britain's Guardian that there were some anxieties about whether critics would see the shows as propaganda.
The festival's has long been associated with the armed forces via the Edinburgh tattoo, a traditional, militaristic pageant of precision marching, pipe bands and acrobatic motorbike displays held every year on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.
Date written/update: 2017-07-13