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Edinburgh Fringe award set up in memory of actor Filipa Braganca

Filipa Braganca in Angels. Photo: Rosalind Furlong Filipa Braganca in Angels. Photo: Rosalind Furlong
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A new award for the best female solo performance by an emerging artist at the Edinburgh Fringe has been announced by Gilded Balloon.

The Filipa Braganca award has been set up in memory of the actor, who starred in Henry Naylor’s award-winning productions of Echoes (2015) and Angel (2016).

Braganca died in Australia in 2016, half way through a second world tour of Echoes, which had just completed dates at the Brisbane Festival and Melbourne Fringe.

She was 25 when she was cast in the two-hander Echoes and had just graduated from Drama Studio London. She played Samira, a radical schoolgirl who runs away to join Islamic State.

The production was a critical and commercial hit, and subsequently toured the world for over a year, with Braganca’s performances helping the show collect 11 major international fringe awards.

In 2016, Braganca returned to collaborate with Naylor on Angel at the Edinburgh Fringe, about a Kurdish woman reputed to have shot and killed more than 200 Isis fighters in northern Syria.

In a statement announcing the award, the Gilded Balloon said: “At a time when many commentators were fanning suspicion towards the Muslim community, she resisted, portraying a young Jihadi schoolgirl with warmth, humanity and intelligence.

“It was an astonishing – and brave – performance that reduced audiences to gales of laughter one minute, and tears the next.”

Karen Koren, the artistic director of Gilded Balloon, which produced both Echoes and Angels at the Edinburgh Fringe, said: “Filipa Braganca made an impact on everyone she met. She was warm, bright, funny and beautiful, inside and out.

“Her acting was sensitive, meaningful and performed with incredible depth. She was destined for great things; her talent was boundless and she cared deeply about world issues. I hope that this award in some way keeps her memory alive.”

The recipient of the inaugural Filipa Braganca award will be announced by Naylor at the final Scotsman fringe awards ceremony on August 25, 2017.

The award organisers have drawn up a longlist of eligible shows. Companies that believe their production may have been overlooked should contact press@gildedballoon.co.uk.

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