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Summerhall dominates first round of Fringe First awards

Kieran Hurley in Heads Up at Summerhall Kieran Hurley in Heads Up at Summerhall
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Summerhall has bagged half the Fringe First awards given out by the Scotsman newspaper in the first week of the Edinburgh Fringe.

The venue hosts three of the six productions recognised in the awards, which celebrate new writing on the fringe. There were also wins for the Traverse, C Venues and the Gilded Balloon.

Two of the Summerhall-based productions are from companies that found their Edinburgh Fringe feet at the Traverse: Kieran Hurley’s Heads Up and World Without Us from Ontroerend Goed.

The third award for Summerhall went to the Lemon Bucket Orkestra in association with Aurora Nova for Counting Sheep.

The Traverse, which often dominates the opening week list, secured just one award, with its co-production of Adura Onashile’s Expensive Shit.

The Gilded Balloon has one nod, with Angel by Henry Naylor from Pipeline Productions, as does C Venues, with The Interference by Lynda Radley performed by Pepperdine Scotland.

Scotsman critic and chief judge of the Fringe Firsts Joyce McMillan said that Summerhall was really challenging this year, describing the venue as a federation of some of the strongest forces on the fringe.

She said: “A lot of those companies began or developed their fringe careers at the Traverse. They are moving on but still coming to the fringe and taking that great work with them. In that sense it is a tribute to the Traverse, that all these great artists they helped develop are moving on.”

Describing the Traverse’s programme as risk-taking for its use of previously unknown and untried playwrights, she added that Expensive Shit touches one of the major themes of this year’s fringe: gender.

She said: “Gender is always a theme, but the mood this year is very much one of anger from women writers and performers in a time when some people are arguing the feminist revolution is over, but in some ways things are getting worse.”

It is a theme also reflected in Lynda Radley’s The Interference, about date rape, and Angel by Henry Naylor about a female fighter in Northern Syria whose life has been threatened by the coming of Islamic State.

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