SINCE 1973 The Scotsman’s world famous Fringe First awards have been recognising outstanding new writing premiered at the festival - here are our first winners of 2017.
The winners are announced each Friday during the Fringe – with the final week’s winners revealed at The Scotsman Fringe Awards at the Pleasance on 25 August.
Thank you to our judges, Joyce McMillan, Mark Fisher, Susan Mansfield, Jackie McGlone, Fiona Shepherd, David Pollock and Sally Stott.
And congratulations to all of our winners.
• WEEK ONE
In this remarkable show, one of six brought to Assembly this year by Baxter Theatre in South Africa, a cast of seven re-enact the moment, in 2015, when a statue of Cecil Rhodes was removed from the campus of the University of Cape Town – and the fierce debates that followed. Read Joyce McMillan’s review here.
Nassim Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour is joined by a different actor at the Traverse every day – none of whom sees the script before they perform it – for a quietly transformative show about human connection. Read Joyce McMillan’s review here.
Flesh and Bone
Elliot Warren’s blistering play, at Pleasance, blends Shakespearean language and East End slang with apparent seamlessness in the mouths of two people who live in abject poverty – cockney wide boy Terence and girlfriend Kelly, who works sex chatlines for extra cash. Read Susan Mansfield’s review here.
Letters to Morrissey
Gary McNair’s new show at the Traverse describes how, as a solitary teenager, he found solace in Morrissey and wrote to him (fruitlessly) asking for advice. It’s a rich, affectionate coming of age story. Read Joyce McMillan’s review here.
This show by New York writer Brian Parks, at Assembly, is a fast-talking satire on capitalism – timely, hilarious, and frightening. Read Joyce McMillan’s review here.
The Believers Are But Brothers Javaad Alipoor’s thoughtful and visually stunning show at Summerhall is a quest to understand people who have become radicalised through the internet, sometimes travelling to Syria to join the organisation that calls itself Islamic State. Read Joyce McMillan’s review here.
• WEEK TWO
Transgender experience is a key theme at this year’s Fringe, and it is powerfully expressed in this National Theatre of Scotland show at the Traverse, in which Adam Kashmiry tells his own story in a production directed by Cora Bissett and written by Frances Poet. Read the review here.
Apphia Campbell’s one-woman show at the Gilded Balloon tells the stories of two very different women – the 1970s black power activist Assata Shakur and, in the present day, a young, enthusiastic and naïve black student. See Joyce McMillan’s review here.
The Shape Of The Pain
This new show at Summerhall, by Rachel Bagshaw and Chris Thorpe, is an attempt to communicate what it’s like to live with complex regional pain syndrome, a condition created by a malfunctioning central nervous system. The narrative gives a human face to an extraordinary, and very poorly understood mental state.
A Super Happy Story (About Being Sad)
A big hit at the Pleasance, Jon Brittain’s show, featuring some very funny songs by Matthew Floyd Jones of Frisky and Mannish fame, brilliantly captures the way depression strikes regardless of how happy the circumstances, how perfect the moment, how well things are going. Read the full review here.
How To Act
Graham Eatough’s play for the National Theatre of Scotland, showing at Summerhall, is a disturbing study of power and its abuses in the arts and beyond. See Joyce McMillan’s review here.
For his perfectly pitched new show at the Gilded Balloon, Henry Naylor returns to the subject of Syria, after completion of his Middle East trilogy, to examine how we in the West view conflict and disaster across the planet through lenses provided for us by Western cameramen and photographers. See Joyce McMillan’s review here.
Belgian company Ontroerend Goed is back at its remarkable best in this show at Summerhall, in which the audience are as much characters as the company members themselves, assembling round a set of casino tables where a teller takes us through an escalating series of £1 million dice throwing gambles – teaching you as much about yourself as it does about the global money machine. Read the full review here.
• WEEK THREE
Education, Education, Education
As the title suggests, Wardrobe Ensemble’s new show at the Pleasance is set during the early days of Tony Blair’s “New Labour” government, and follows a young teaching assistant as he realises that the investment in education promised by Blair may not deliver on the transformational change it promised.
Showing at Underbelly, this new piece by The Last Great Hunt (creators of 2011 smash hit The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik) is an understated, insightfully written two-hander about best mates Corgan (Chris Isaacs) and Jimmy (Jeffrey Jay Fowler) as they talk about their feelings – or, more accurately, don’t talk about their feelings.
A sell-out hit for the Canada Hub showcase at King’s Hall, this unsettling, provocative show ushers the members of its audience through a series of rooms, interrogating and dividing you into gangs, then subdivisions, then cells – at any point you could inadvertently answer a question that determines where you will go next. The result is a disorientating view of the herd mentality, and of our personal contradictions.
(More) Moira Monologues
In this terrific sequel to Alan Bissett’s long-running hit, showing at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Moira Bell is now a granny – a turn of events that seems to bring out the best and the worst in her.
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story
2b theatre company’s show, also at Canada Hub, follows a group of Romanian Jewish migrants, driven out of Europe by a combination of extreme poverty, and savage pogroms against Jewish communities, as they arrive in Nova Scotia in 1908. It’s a timely show about how people go on to build new lives after horrific experiences,
Stand By Utter’s brilliantly crafted show, part of Army @ the Fringe, puts us in a van with four police offers sent to a firearms incident as they anxiously await instructions.