Edinburgh Festival is giving Ukrainian performers an important platform to tell their story – Steve Cardownie
Our summer festivals are in full swing and the city is once more playing host to a huge number of visitors from throughout the world.
With so many shows on offer, Edinburgh citizens and tourists are spoilt for choice as the city makes a welcome return to pre-Covid days, which bears testimony to the determination and professionalism of all those involved.
Last week I wrote about a group of young circus performers from Kyiv who had fled to the Czech Republic to escape the war in Ukraine and who had been taken under the wing of a similar circus group operating out of Prague.
They have collaborated to perform a show called ‘Boom’ which is now enjoying a run at this year’s Fringe, courtesy of Underbelly.
The performers from Prague form Cirk La Putyka which comprises of actors, dancers, acrobats and musicians along with production managers, technicians, doctors, make-up artists and other professionals, all of whom are dedicated to the “contemporary circus genre".
Over the 13 years of its existence, the company has created more than 30 projects and collaborated with more than 300 people from 25 different nationalities and given over 2,000 performances in 21 countries.
They have taken 17 students from the Kyiv Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Arts into their care and have got together to bring a performance to the Fringe which depicts the catastrophic outbreak of war in Ukraine and the perilous journey undertaken by refugees.
A representative of the company told me that they were outraged at what was happening in Ukraine and were quick to offer aid to fellow circus performers from Kyiv.
The opportunity then arose to work on a production which tells the story of the Russian invasion and its impact on the population, forcing millions of Ukrainians to flee to neighbouring countries where they were warmly received and given shelter.
Of course, many art forms come together to make up the Fringe programme, such as music, comedy, dance and theatre, all of which play their role in the biggest cultural festival in the world and performers from Boom told me that it provided them with a great international platform to tell their story.
In my many years as the Edinburgh City Council Festival and Events Champion, I attended a huge number of festival events every year and was always impressed by the manner in which promoters went about their business.
Given the magnitude of the Fringe in particular, it is inevitable that the road will not always be smooth. That the vast majority of shows are staged without a hitch is no mean feat and is the envy of many city authorities which would dearly love to be in that position.
It was important that our festivals bounced back this year and all early indications point to them having done so but much anticipated improvements to the infrastructure are being worked on to strengthen them even further and ensure their long-term future.
For now, I will just be grateful that we are up and running again and that young, energetic performers – such as those involved in Boom – will continue to be afforded a platform to tell their story.