Irene Larraza: “the work of Basque creators can coexist on an equal footing with that of first-rate creators from around the world”

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.

2019-08-20

Basque arts have left their mark on the Scottish cultural landscape: in the winter it was music, in the spring it was film, and in the summer it was Basque performing arts and literature. The #ScotlandGoesBasque programme brought Basque performing arts and literature to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh International Book Festival From August 7th to 18th. 

Basque arts have left their mark on the Scottish cultural landscape: in the winter it was music, in the spring it was film, and in the summer it was Basque performing arts and literature. The #ScotlandGoesBasque programme brought Basque performing arts and literature to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh International Book Festival From August 7th to 18th. This has been the jewel in the crown of #ScotlandGoesBasque, the programme that the Etxepare Basque Institute has been working on throughout the year. It’s been a busy couple of weeks with numerous events in a short amount of time. It was also an excellent opportunity for the 48 artists who traveled to Scotland to present their work to a diverse audience from around the world, and to see what’s going on in other places in their respective disciplines. It also gave them a chance to foster relationships with industry professionals in order to gain exposure for their work.

“This is the first time we’ve promoted a programme of this type, a programme centred on different disciplines, all in the same place and at the same time. It’s been an intense and productive week. We’re really pleased with the outcome,” said Irene Larraza, Director of the Etxepare Basque Institute. With regard to the Basque artists at the Fringe and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Larraza said that "the Edinburgh experience has shown us that the work of Basque creators is on an equal footing with that of first-rate creative talent from around the world and that the talent elsewhere has nothing on the culture we create here. It’s something to be proud of.”

The first Basque artists to arrive in Edinburgh were part of the Fringe programme: from 7-10 August, Tio Teronen Semeak performed their montage FreshCool at the Royal Mile Mercat, heart of the street show festival. From the 8th to the 11th, the company Krego-Martin Danza, Akira Yoshida and Proyecto Colectivo HQPC took their show Basque Showcase to one of the stages at Dance Base, Scotland´s National Centre for Dance; and on 9 August, on the same stage following a performance of Basque Showcase, was the world premiere of Atlantik 1050, a fusion of traditional Basque and Scottish dance. In addition, until the 25th of this month, the Bilbao group 2Theatre will be performing Interbeing: Stories From a Current War.

As for literature, the presence of Basque writers at the Edinburgh International Book Festival was extended from 10 August until yesterday, 18 August. They took part in different sections of the festival and, together with musicians, brought a broad sample of contemporary Basque literature and various aspects of Basque culture to Edinburgh; they also had the opportunity to share their work and discuss related topics with other writers. Tickets were sold out for several of the events featuring Basque writers, which shows the enthusiasm for Basque authors in Edinburgh. Iban Zaldua and James Robertson presented their book containing a collection of letters written by the two under the Chejov vs. Shakespeare project; Harkaitz Cano and Danele Sarriugarte, together with musicians from Tio Teronen Semeak, accompanied a literature and poetry reading finishing off with a tasting of Rioja Alavesa wines; the show Scotland Goes Bertsolaritza! was the perfect way to introduce audiences to this very particular art form: Uxue Alberdi, with collaboration from Danele Sarriugarte, encouraged the audience to help her create her ‘bertsos’, there was even time for Uxue and Antton Fernández to riff their verses off one another; Uxue Alberdi also worked with Scottish poet Ciara MacLaverty and folk singer and harpist Rachel Newton on Throwing Voices, a very moving event featuring local language, culture and tradition.

Some of the writers had the opportunity to reflect on their work with other authors. Harkaitz Cano shared his thoughts on stage with Nigerian poet Jumoke Verissimo; Miren Agur Meabe did the same with American writer Zinzi Clemmons, as did Bernardo Atxaga with British translator Margaret Jull Costa. Last but not least, Eider Rodriguez, read excerpts from her work and taught a master class on translation together with Margaret Jull Costa.

Following the Edinburgh festivals, the next activities in the #ScotlandGoesBasque programme will take place at the university: On 16 and 17 October, a seminar entitled “Limited or unlimited space? Minority languages and media in the digital context” will be held at the University of Edinburgh; and from the 17th to the 19th, documentaries will be screened at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow, showing the Europa Transit ´itinerant embassy´, created as part of the European Cultural Capital Donostia / San Sebastian 2016.

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