Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows inspired by the African-American civil rights struggle, the brutal regime of Ugandan president Idi Amin and a soldier’s love letters written from the front line during the Second World War will be part of the official showcase of Scottish work at this year’s event.
Work drawn from the music of controversial indie music figurehead Morrissey and troubled Hollywood icon Judy Garland will feature in the £560,000 celebration of home-grown of music, theatre and dance.
The 24 shows in the Made in Scotland programme, unveiled ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Fringe in August, will include a live performance of the soundtrack of an acclaimed BBC Scotland wildlilfe, as well as new music inspired by a 900-year-old celebration of St Magnus, Orkney’s patron saint, and new “Gaelictronica” versions of 17th and 18th century Gaelic songs.
The line-up will also provide a platform for a drama based on a former police officer’s experiences of dealing with domestic disputes, a show featuring more than 120 trans performers from around the world and a play which one of Syria’s leading artists is working on.
Made in Scotland was instigated by the Scottish Government in 2008 to help raise the profile of home-grown work on the Fringe and help shows secure a life after the festival, with 65 shows going on to tour 35 countries to date.
This year Dundee-based writer Jaimini Jethwa’s play The Last Queen of Scotland will see her explore her family’s expulsion from Uganda in 1972 and her return to the country after realising she had grown up knowing of her homeland.
Theatre-maker Cora Bissett, whose previous work includes Fringe hits Glasgow Girls and Roadkill, will focus on the story of an Egypt-born “boy trapped in a girl’s body” who embarks on an epic journey to Scotland for the right to change his body.
Award-winning Syrian artist Nihad Al Turk, who recently donated some of his work at to an art school that helped him settle in Scotland after fleeing his home country, is one of the team working on The Sky Is Safe, which explores the relationship between a Syrian refugee and a privileged westerner who meet on the streets of Istanbul.
Woke, which is billed as “a new story about the 20th-century African-American experience,” will focus on two female activists who become involved in the civil rights struggle some 42 years apart.
The Last Post is inspired by the real-life letters written by Second World War signaller Dennis Marshall to his fiancee.
Gary McNair’s Letters to Morrissey recalls a teenage obsession with the former frontman of The Smiths while (I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow will see performer FK Alexander performing to a recording of the last time Judy Garland sang her career-defining song for the last time in public.
Adam McNamara’s Stand By, which promises to “show the modern-day police service laid bare,” revolves around four officers sitting in riot van waiting to enter a flat where a man is wielding a samurai sword.
Musical highlights are expected to include a new audio visual experience created by Gaelic electronica duo Whyte and composer Donald Shaw leading a live creation of the soundtrack to the BBC series Scotland’s Wild Heart, accompanied by footage of the programme, which was shot extensively around the Highlands.
Fringe chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “This is an auspicious year for the Fringe as it celebrates its 70th anniversary.
“A festival which started because eight companies, six of whom were Scottish, simply wanted to present their work to audiences.
“Seventy years on and the Made in Scotland showcase provides an incredible opportunity for Scottish based artists across dance, theatre and music to highlight their work at the Fringe, supporting them to take advantage of the opportunities presented by a festival of this scale and internationalism taking place in Scotland.
“As well as providing a platform to raise their profile and connect with local and international industry and media, Made in Scotland opens up opportunities for onward international touring, giving shows a life beyond the Fringe.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Made in Scotland is an integral part of the Fringe, showcasing excellent, bold and innovative work from Scotland to local, national and international audiences.”