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Shakespeare takes centre stage at next year’s Edinburgh Festival

Two Shakespeare plays will be at the heart of next year's Edinburgh Inter-national Festival.

Versions of the Bard’s Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be staged at the EIF next year, marking its place as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, a feature of the Cultural Olympiad that will accompany the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The Shakespeare festival lasts for five months of 2012 and involves more than 1000 artists and partners across the UK, including the EIF. It was launched in London yesterday by its producer, the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Three productions at this year’s EIF, which this week reported a 3% drop in box office income despite a generally warmly received Eastern-themed 2010 programme, were Shakespeare plays: Wu Hising-Kuo’s King Lear, The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan, based on Hamlet, by the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe, and The Tempest by the Mokwha Repertory Company.

However, the last Shakespeare in English at the EIF was Troilus and Cressida, directed by Peter Stein, in 2006.

In 2012 the festival will stage a Polish take on Macbeth by TR Warszawa, directed and adapted by Grzegorz Jarzyna, which draws parallels with the “war on terror” and has been described as a “nightmare of carnage and destruction”.

The production has “spectacular pyrotechnics, immersive video effects and an extraordinary, layered soundscape playing tricks on the ear -- Shakespeare’s web of politics, ambition and the supernatural is transformed into a contemporary living theatrical film”, the EIF said.

Jarzyna had a festival hit in 2008 with Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis.

The version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is directed by Dmitry Krymov, produced by the Chekhov International Festival in Russia.

Jonathan Mills, the director of the EIF, said: “We are delighted to be a part of such a global celebration of Shakespeare. He remains an inspiration for artists from around the world, as demonstrated in the 2011 Festival by companies from across Asia.

“We look forward in Festival 2012 to presenting two exciting directors’ interpretations of his work, which bring yet more international perspectives on one of the UK’s greatest cultural treasures.”

In addition to the two Shakespeare plays, the EIF has announced Speed of Light, a major new commission that will involve a light show, powered by cyclists, on Arthur’s Seat.

The EIF in 2012 will run from August 10 to September 2.

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