Video: Underbelly Untapped award puts women at centre stage in 2018

All three Untapped productions leave Edinburgh with either a Fringe First or Edinburgh Stage award.

In the wake of the ‘Me Too’ movement, 2018 Fringe theatre opened up a platform for women, reinforced with the strength of their communities and a renewed sense of hope.

Years after events took place (in one case 400 years), stories are being told across festival theatres finally communicating undelivered stories and experiences that risked falling through the cracks.

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Supporting such theatre through to 2020 is the Underbelly Untapped Award, with additional support from New Diorama Theatre.

Dressed. Picture: ContributedDressed. Picture: Contributed
Dressed. Picture: Contributed

The award supports emerging companies and early-career groups to bring shows to the Fringe. This year, Untapped helped three shows make the journey to Edinburgh.

With hindsight, each is an award-winning performance, but together they organically form a cohesive narrative between their scripts. They capture the mood of this year’s Fringe with perspectives of women suffering sexual, physical or racial abuse in a male-dominated society.

Nouveau Riche’s Queens of Sheeba - performed by Veronica Beatrice Lewis, Rachel Clarke, Jacoba Williams & Koko Kwaku - picked up a Stage Edinburgh Award for their exploration into mysogynoir following the DSTRKT nightclub incident in 2015, where a group of black women were refused entry for the colour of their skin.

Breach Theatre picked up another Fringe First award this year for their verbatim retelling of the 17th Century rape trial of Agostino Tassi, accused of the rape of fellow Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.

In ‘It’s True It’s True It’s True’, Breach examine how far justice for rape accusers has come in 400 years in an emotional courtroom drama through English translations of the manuscripts recorded during the original trial in 1612.

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The third performance to be supported by Underbelly and New Diorama Theatre is ‘Dressed.’, from ThisEgg Productions.

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Through a cocktail of physical language, music and live sewing, ’dressed.’ retells the costume designer Lydia’s horrific experience of sexual assault during a home invasion and the journey she and her friends went on to rebuild her life.

Following the assault, Lydia turns to sewing and, bit by bit, she replaces her entire wardrobe with handmade clothes before fashioning the costumes for the Fringe First-winning production.

Aisling Galligan, Program Co-Ordinator at Underbelly, praised the three productions for hitting the mark with Fringe audiences this August.

“We’re really delighted with the success of them,” she said.

“This year there seems to quite organically have been a cohesive threat amongst them - we’ve had three shows that have very much put female stories and female performers at centre stage.”

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