* Festival programme reflects conflict in 20th century
* Programme marked by "a certain soberness", director says
* Events in Edinburgh constitute major global showcase
EDINBURGH, March 18 Conflict and war in the 20th
century will be themes of this year's annual Edinburgh
International Festival (EIF) to mark 100 years since the
outbreak of World War One, the festival's outgoing director said
More than 2,400 artists from 43 nations have been invited to
take part in the festival from Aug. 8 to 31. Along with the
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the International Book Festival and
the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, combined they constitute
one of the world's biggest annual artistic showcases.
This year's EIF programme is marked by "a certain soberness
to remind ourselves of our place in the world and a certain kind
of reflectiveness to think about what we really believe in and
how history has shaped us", Jonathan Mills, the festival's
outgoing Australian-born director, told Reuters.
He noted that World War One started on Aug 4, 1914 "and we
are an August festival...There's a sense that this festival, of
all, feels it's come full circle".
The theme of conflict is embodied in several productions,
including the Flemish Thalia Theater production of "Front"
exploring trench warfare in World War One, Dmitri Shostakovich's
"Leningrad Symphony" commemorating the 900-day Nazi siege of the
Russian city in World War Two, and pacifist composer Benjamin
Britten's "War Requiem" on the futility of war.
South Africa will mark the 20th anniversary of the end to
apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela as president in
1994 with the Handspring Puppet Company's production of "Ubu and
the Truth Commission" and the world premiere of "Inala" by the
Ladysmith Black Mambazo dance company.
During his eight-year tenure at the head of the annual
August festival, founded in 1947 in the aftermath of World War
Two, Mills has broadened its offerings to attract top talent in
music, theatre, opera and dance on a global scale.
Irishman Fergus Linehan, who is a former director of the
Sydney International Festival, is head of music at the Sydney
Opera House and got his start in the Dublin theatre, takes over
the EIF next year.
(Reporting by Ian MacKenzie; Editing by Mark Heinrich; Editing
by Michael Roddy and xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx)