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Roadkill wins Amnesty Edinburgh Award

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Roadkill, Cora Bissett’s play about sex-trafficking in Scotland for Ankur Productions, has won the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

This is the play’s third award of the fringe, having already picked up a Herald Angel and a Fringe First. Mercy Ojelade, who plays the trafficked girl, is also nominated for Best Actress at the Stage Awards for Acting Excellence.

Presenting the award, chair of the judging panel Neil Cooper said: “Roadkill takes its audience on a trip that is just beyond their own doorstep, in a harrowing and uncomfortable but unflinchingly brilliant piece of work that looks at sex trafficking in cities just like this one. Any accusations of novelty in a site-specific piece are offset by the fusion of a creative team who pulled together sound design, video and animation alongside a trio of stunning performances that move and terrify.”

This is the eighth year of the awards, with a total of 64 potential winners whittled down to a shortlist of four. John Watson, Amnesty’ Scottish programme director, explained that the awards exist because of the power of theatre to engage with its audience.

“If you want to somebody to accept the rights of another person, you have to get them to understand and know about that person and care about them,” he said. “The contribution of theatre in building that empathy is extraordinary and is exemplified by this short list.”

Speaking to The Stage after the awards ceremony, director Cora Bissett explained how she came to create the piece: “I met a young girl, who had been trafficked in Glasgow. I spent some time with her, she stayed in my flat for a little while and it just brought things monumentally home to me and had a profound effect on me.

“I wanted to create a piece of theatre that in some way emulated the impact that experience had on me. The Scottish Refugee Council have had an enormous feedback from people who have seen the show, phoning up the next day saying ‘Is this true? Is this really happening in Scotland? Is it as bad as is made out in the show?’ And sadly they have to say yes, it is.”

The other three nominees were Lockerbie: Unfinished Business, Speechless and No Child.

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