Letters Home: A new collaboration between the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Grid Iron Theatre Company

The Edinburgh International Book Festival today announced an exciting new collaboration with multi award-winning Scottish theatre company Grid Iron, which will form the centrepiece of the 2014 Festival. 

The Book Festival has commissioned four internationally acclaimed writers to produce brand new pieces of short fiction, inviting them reflect on the themes of identity and home in the form of letters between different characters. These letters have been adapted into a promenade theatre production which will be directed by four of Scotland's leading theatre artists alongside co-ordinating director Zinnie Harris.

Performances of Letters Home, which is supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, will take place at the Book Festival from 9-25 August* with audiences moving between scenes in buildings in and around Charlotte Square, returning to Charlotte Square Gardens for the finale.

Letters Home have been penned by four leading writers who originate from Commonwealth countries but who have spent much of their careers living and working away from home; each has a different perspective on what ‘home’ might mean. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Nigeria is the bestselling author of Orange Prize-winning Half of a Yellow Sun; Kei Miller is the acclaimed Glasgow-based Jamaican poet whose PhD thesis was on Caribbean epistolary fiction; Kamila Shamsie, the brilliant Pakistani-British author, was included in Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2013; and Christos Tsiolkas, the Australian author whose family emigrated from Greece, drew on his cultural experiences in his bestselling novel The Slap. Their pieces build into a stunningly moving evocation of dialogue as it has shaped relationships all over the world, and throughout the history of humankind.

Directing the pieces are Ben Harrison, Joe Douglas, Michael John McCarthy and Alice Nelson who, with co-ordinating director Zinnie Harris, designer Becky Minto, lighting designer Colin Grenfell and composer Philip Pinsky, create a verbal, visual and musical journey in and around Charlotte Square Gardens.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said 'As the world’s leading literary festival, Edinburgh always strives to present events in innovative and imaginative forms. This is an ambitious project and we are thrilled to be working with four visionary writers and their exciting interpretations of our brief and with Grid Iron who have created an extraordinary piece of theatre which will premiere at the Book Festival in August.  The result is surprising, compelling, and at times very moving.'

Judith Doherty, Co-Artistic Director of Grid Iron, said 'Grid Iron are first and foremost a new writing company, it is at the heart of everything we do, so to be working alongside Edinburgh International Book Festival and the four extraordinary writers they have commissioned for us is truly a privilege. To be able to bring such rich and varied voices from around the globe together with such an exciting group of Scotland-based artists is an incredible opportunity.'

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said 'The Edinburgh International Book Festival has grown rapidly in size and scope to become the largest festival of its kind in the world and now is a key and hugely popular event in the August Festival season.  I am pleased the Scottish Government’s Expo fund allows them to develop further still and commission what is an exciting and innovative project which will explore new ways of forging dialogue between literature and the theatre.'

Grid Iron is a multi-award winning theatre company committed to producing exciting new work in a variety of spaces and locations. During the 18 years they have been producing they have amassed 27 awards and a further 19 nominations covering all aspects of their work from acting, writing and use of music to design, stage management and technical excellence. (www.gridiron.org.uk).

Tickets for Letters Home will be available from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Box Office from Thursday 5 June (www.edfringe.com) and from the Edinburgh International Book Festival from Tuesday 24 June (www.edbookfest.co.uk or 0845 373 5888).  Full details of the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme will be announced on Wednesday 11 June 2014.

*There will be no performance on Tuesday 12 or Tuesday 19 August.

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