Internationally acclaimed artists and performers taking part in the Festival join with cultural commentators and academics to explore, debate and challenge issues inspired by the programme for Festival 2012, in this early afternoon series presented in collaboration with British Council Scotland.
The series launches today, 12 August with writer and journalist Robert McCrum’s provocative keynote address exploring the meaning of ‘Britishness’ in an increasingly fragmented, multi-nation UK.
In What Does it Mean to be British? McCrum, associate editor of The Observer newspaper and author of Globish, argues that Britishness can be redefined for the modern age and act as a passport to a renewed and vigorous participation in global affairs.
The debate, chaired by Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council, will analyse what McCrum has termed the ‘seven ages of Britishness’, which he will argue has culminated in modern Britons throwing off the taint of imperialism to becoming citizens of a new world of innovation and opportunity.
In The Four Nations of the United Kingdom, Monday 13 August, a distinguished panel of creative writers meets to explore the voices of the four nations of the United Kingdom. Irish playwright Frank McGuinness, Scots poet and novelist Jackie Kay, writer and Wales’ first National Poet Gwyneth Lewis and English poet Lavinia Greenlaw come together for a series of readings and to discuss the distinctive voices that comprise the United Kingdom today, in a debate chaired by Scottish poet Don Paterson.
Other events in the series cover diverse and fascinating topics including the ways in which the Olympic Truce can be applied today, the influence of the Classical world on modern culture, the role of satire in literature and the role of myth and fairytale in Scottish and European traditions with participants including theatre director Matthew Lenton, Scots Makar Liz Lochhead, Vice Chair of the Organising Committee of The Commonwealth Games Scotland Louise Martin and composer James MacMillan.
Lloyd Anderson, Director British Council Scotland, said:
“Encounters is a timely series of debates that addresses some of the biggest questions of our times.
“The changing political status of the UK nations is leading to fundamental realignments in identities. This raises the question of how a British identity will relate to national feeling in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the future.
“British Council Scotland is delighted to present this series in partnership with the Edinburgh International Festival.”
Sally Hobson, Head of Programme Development at Edinburgh International Festival co-curates Encounters. She added:
“This is the third year we have worked with the British Council on a series of talks delving into the inspirations and ideas behind the programming of this year’s Festival. They have become an important part of our engagement with audiences who enjoy exploring the resonances of the Festival across society and their lives with leading thinkers from across the arts, academia, media, literature and politics. This year sees a superb line up of people who will share with us memorable encounters and leave us with much to think about long after the Festival has finished.”
Encounters take place at The Hub, from 2.30pm and are priced at just £6.