Matthew Bourne will premiere his new dance theatre piece Dorian Gray, based on Oscar Wilde's 1891 gothic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, at this year's Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), which runs from 8 to 31 August 2008. Other theatre highlights of the 62nd annual festival programme include a new play by David Harrower for the National Theatre of Scotland.

Set in the image-obsessed world of contemporary art and politics, in Bourne's version of Dorian Gray, the title character is a beautiful London 'It boy', in icon of beauty and truth in an increasingly ugly world. This alluring young man makes a pact with the devil.

It's one of only a handful of times the novel has been adapted for the stage. John Osborne wrote a version in 1975 which was subsequently filmed for the BBC and starred John Gielgud, but besides this there have been few productions of note.

Dorian Gray, which marks the EIF debut for Bourne's New Adventures company, reunites the director/choreographer with the team behind 2003's double Olivier Award-winning Play Without Words: designer Lez Brotherston, composer Terry Davies and lighting designer Paule Constable. The company will be led by Richard Winsor (Edward in Edward Scissorhands, Angelo in The Car Man) as Dorian, Michela Meazza as Lady H and Aaron Sillis as Basil Hallward. Other cast members include: Scott Ambler, Ashley Bain, Jared Hageman, Chris Marney and Shaun Walters.

Commissioned by Sadler's Wells, where New Adventures is a resident company, Dorian Gray runs at Edinburgh's King's Theatre from 22 to 30 August 2008 as part of EIF before its London dates at Sadler's Wells from 2 to 14 September. It will also tour to Plymouth (where it previews 14-16 August), Norwich and Newcastle, finishing on 27 September 2008.

Bourne is internationally famous for his now legendary take on Swan Lake with its all-male corps de ballet, and other New Adventures dance productions. His musical theatre credits include Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady and Oliver!, which he'll be co-directing and choreographing for its new run in 2009 at Drury Lane (See News, 26 Mar 2008).


Now in his second year as EIF artistic director, Jonathan Mills has chosen as this year's theme an exploration of the changes and challenges facing 21st-century European communities. "Festival 08 invites you to embark upon an exciting and often confronting journey along these cultural borders and beyond" he said. "Artists from Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bosnia and Georgia are juxtaposed with work from Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine, Israel and Iran - all countries with particular challenges on their own borders."

The festival boasts three world premieres, two European premieres and ten UK premieres. Vicky Featherstone will direct David Harrower's 365 One Night to Learn a Lifetime for the National Theatre of Scotland, which focuses on young people living in practice flats as they prepare to leave care. Other notable theatre debuts include a Bosnian take on Nigel Williams' play Class Enemy by East West Theatre Company, and a new adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell Tale Heart written by Barrie Kosky and starring Martin Niedermair.

More than half a million people plan their August holidays each year around a trip to Edinburgh. The granddaddy of them all, EIF is just one of some six festivals that overtake the Scottish city in August. The others are the Book Festival, Jazz & Blues Festival, Visual Arts Festival, the Military Tattoo and, of course, its main spin-off, the Edinburgh Fringe which, on its own, qualifies as the world's largest arts festival, with over 1,500 shows presented annually.

EIF tickets for 2007 go on sale to the public on Saturday 14 April 2007. To access the full 2007 Edinburgh Fringe programme - as well as online booking - visit the festival website.

- by Theo Bosanquet & Terri Paddock