Summer arts preview: Turn on, tune in, chill out

The festival season is upon us. But there's plenty besides dancing in a field to get excited about this summer: a new Mark Rylance spectacular, 'Toy Story 3', the return of Carlos Acosta, the National Gallery's forgeries...
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Dive: Improvisational film-maker Dominic Savage produces his first scripted drama for the BBC, with this coming-of-age tale about a teenage diver (fast-rising Aisling Loftus) whose Olympic ambitions are endangered by an unplanned pregnancy. Jul, BBC2

Identity: Ashes to Ashes' Keeley Hawes returns from metaphysical limbo to star in this zeitgeist-chasing crime series following an elite ID-fraud police unit. Jul, ITV

Meet the Amish: This four-part follow-up to anthropological reality series Meet the Natives follows a group of young Amish people as they leave their communities in the Midwest and travel to Britain. Jul, Channel 4

Vexed: Serving as a comic counterpoint to the BBC's recent, angst-ridden Luther, the network's latest detective series stars Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch as a pair of cops juggling case-cracking with some unresolved chemistry. Aug, BBC2

One to watch: Lucy Punch A gifted comic actress previously consigned to supporting roles, the 32-year-old Punch looks set to make her mark this year, with her top billing in Vexed matched by a reportedly scene-stealing appearance in Woody Allen's latest You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, playing the gold-digging lover of Anthony Hopkins.


Inception: The Dark Knight's Christopher Nolan could be just the man to invigorate a lacklustre blockbuster season with this dystopian sci-fi thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the leader of a group of spies who infiltrate people's dreams. Out 16 July

Toy Story 3: Having launched the CGI animation revolution, Woody, Buzz et al make a welcome return in this Great Escape-inspired threequel, in which they attempt to break out of a day-care centre where they've been dumped by their college-bound owner. Out 23 July

Scott Pilgrim vs the World: A dazzling trailer suggests the fanboys are right to be excited about this cult comic-book adaptation starring Michael Cera as a Canadian slacker muso on a mission to defeat his amour's seven dastardly exes. Out 13 August

The Maid A hit on last year's festival circuit, this Chilean black comedy offers an acerbic assessment of Latin American class divisions through the eyes of a frustrated live-in domestic threatened by the hiring of a younger "rival". Out 27 August

One to watch: Dakota Fanning Can the precocious child star cut it in adolescence? Time will soon tell: the 16-year-old follows up her befanged turn in Twilight: Eclipse (out 9 July) with an altogether grittier appearance as pioneering rock chick Cherie Currie in biopic The Runaways. Out 27 August


La Bête: Mark Rylance shows there is no rest for the West End's man of the moment as he segues from Jerusalem to 17th-century France in this Molière-inspired comedy co-starring Joanna Lumley. Sat-4 Sep, Comedy Theatre, London SW1 (tel: 020 7907 7071)

Pygmalion: Rupert Everett is the star draw of this year's Chichester season, playing hubristic phonetician Henry Higgins in a new production of George Bernard Shaw's social parable (aka My Fair Lady without the songs). 9 Jul-27 Aug, Chichester Festival Theatre (tel: 01243 781 312)

Caledonia: With this year's Edinburgh International Festival programme themed around the New World, Alistair Beaton dissects Scotland's disastrous bid to establish a colony in Panama in the 17th century. 21-26 Aug, Edinburgh Playhouse (tel: 0131 473 2000)

House of Games: Few films appear quite as ripe for stage adaptation as David Mamet's byzantine thriller about the relationship between a conman and his psychiatrist, here presented in a new version by playwright Richard Bean. 9 Sep-6 Nov, Almeida Theatre, London N1 (tel: 020 7359 4404)

One to watch: Mike Bartlett Recently acclaimed for chamber drama Cock, 29-year-old playwright Bartlett ratchets up the scale with state-of-the-capital play Earthquakes in London. Running at the National's Cottesloe from 28 July, it traces the lives of three sisters between 1968 and 2525. (Yes, 2525.)


Hard Rock Calling: For those not on their way to Glasto, this Hyde Park weekender makes up for its corporate-branded ambience with a top-drawer, heritage-slanted line-up headlined by Pearl Jam, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. Fri-Sun, Hyde Park, London (tel: 0844 847 2502)

Indietracks: Festivals don't come more delightfully niche than this three-day weekender combining organiser Stuart Mackay's twin loves of trains and indie-pop, where you can hear the buzz-gathering likes of Pains at Being Pure at Heart and Slow Club, and ride steam locomotives. 23-25 Jul, Midland Railway Centre, Derbyshire (

Summer Series: Pop gets posh at these annual open-air concerts set in the hallowed surroundings of Somerset House. The xx, Florence and the Machine and Gil Scott-Heron are among the performers. 8-18 Jul, Somerset House, London (

Green Man Festival: A bucolic haven for all things alternative, this year's bill includes everyone from fairytale harpist Joanna Newsom to art-rockers These New Puritans and electronic noisesters Fuck Buttons. 20-22 Aug, Glanusk Park Estate, near Abergavenny, Wales (tel: 0871 424 4444)

One to watch: John Grant The ex-frontman of cult indie-rockers The Czars stunned many with the release of his debut solo album in April, and you wouldn't bet against his heartbreaking, 1970s-inflected ballads stealing the show at Hard Rock Calling, Latitude and Green Man.


Cornelia Parker: Doubtful Sound Renowned for her surreal reconfiguration of everyday objects, for her latest show Parker brings together new and rarely seen work including "Perpetual Cannon", an installation composed of 57 brass instruments suspended in mid-air. To 19 Sep, Baltic, Gateshead (tel: 0191 478 1810)

Wolfgang Tillmans: A London resident for the past 20 years, the Turner Prize-winning photographer reflects on his longstanding relationship with the capital in his new show with a mixture of old, new, abstract and figurative work. Sat–19 Sep, Serpentine Gallery, London W2 (tel: 020 7402 6075)

Edinburgh Art Festival: No longer merely an adjunct to the city's theatrical goings-on during August, this year's festival includes an exhibition of new and recent work from irreverent Turner Prize winner Martin Creed at the Fruitmarket Gallery. 29 Jul-5 Sep, various venues (

Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries: The National Gallery gamely acknowledges its fallibility with this exhibition of fakes, forgeries and misattributed artworks it has acquired over the centuries, also offering an insight into the latest authentication techniques. 30 Jun-12 Sep, National Gallery, London WC2 (020-7747 2885)

One to watch: Alex Prager Inspired by both Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch, the 30-year-old American photographer's images of retro-styled heroines also evoke the colour-saturated artifice of Cindy Sherman. Her exhibition, Week End, is at Kensington's Michael Hoppen Gallery until 17 July.


Nederlands Dans Theater: Long regarded as one of Europe's most innovative troupes, NDT I celebrates its 50th anniversary alongside youth squad NDT II with two programmes including three works by founder and former artistic director Jiri Kylián. 6-10 Jul, Sadler's Wells, London EC1 (tel: 0844 412 4300)

Bolshoi Ballet: This year's summer season from the Moscow behemoth includes Spartacus and Don Quixote, while beyond the warhorses, there's the British première of Alexei Ratmansky's Russian Seasons, a celebration of Russian folk dance. 19 Jul-8 Aug, Royal Opera House, London WC2 (tel: 020 7304 4000)

Carlos Acosta's Premieres: The magnetic Cuban hunk presents his latest mixed programme incorporating his debut in Russell Maliphant's Two and a new work featuring digital artists and London chamber choir the Pegasus Choir. 28 Jul-7 Aug, Coliseum, London (tel: 0871 911 0200)

Quimeras: Bringing some abandon to the Edinburgh International Festival, this specially commissioned flamenco work from the Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company explores how the dance was brought over to Spain by North African immigrants. 2-4 Sep, Edinburgh Playhouse (tel: 0131 473 2000)

One to watch: Natalia Osipova On her last London visit, the 24-year-old Bolshoi star wowed critics with her performance as Kitri in Don Quixote, and, though casting is yet to be announced, it's a fair bet that she'll reprise the role for the first night of this year's run.


York Early Music Festival: Taking "Musical marriages" as this year's theme, the festival features artists including Barbara Schlick, Hopkinson Smith, I Fagiolini, The Sixteen and Fretwork exploring repertoire from Monteverdi's 1610 vespers to Schumann's Frauenliebe und -leben. 9-17 Jul, various venues (tel: 01904 658 338)

BBC Proms: The summer institution returns, with highlights including Plácido Domingo singing Simon Boccanegra and a recreation of the Last Night programme from 1910 – sans "Land of Hope and Glory", would you believe? 16 Jul-11 Sep, various venues, London (

Tête à Tête: This annual festival is a rough-and-tumble whirl of new operas and works-in-progress, including Scottish Opera's Baby O, for six- to 18-month olds, and Ergo Phizmiz's opera on Chris Evans, The Mourning Show. 5–22 Aug, Riverside Studios, London W6 (tel: 020 8237 1111)

Bliss: Rapturously received in its native Australia, Brett Dean's operatic adaptation of Peter Carey's first novel about an ad executive's visions of heaven and hell receives its European première. 2 and 4 Sep, Edinburgh Festival (tel: 0131 473 2000)

One to watch: Joyce DiDonato Undeterred by a broken leg and a plaster cast, the American mezzo wowed Covent Garden last year in The Barber of Seville. This summer she is set to take Edinburgh by storm, singing Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo and a recital of Caccini, Pergolesi, Leoncavallo and Granados.

Additional reporting by Jenny Gilbert and Anna Picard