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Six shows given Fringe Firsts as Edinburgh awards get underway

Nassim at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
Nassim at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
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Shows about racism, radicalisation, poverty and Morrissey are among the winners of the Scotsman’s Fringe First awards at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Two of the six winning shows presented with this first batch of awards are playing at the Traverse Theatre, the new-writing venue that often dominates the list of winners.

Nassim, by Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour, is performed by a different actor for every performance who has never read the script before, and Letters to Morrissey describes Gary McNair’s experience as a teenager who wrote to the Smiths frontman Morrissey asking for advice.

There were also two wins for Assembly with Baxter Theatre’s The Fall, which re-enacts the moment when a statue of Cecil Rhodes was removed from the campus at the University of Cape Town, and Brian Parks’ satire on capitalism, Enterprise.

Commenting on the win, Baxter Theatre artistic director Lara Foot said: “At the time of commissioning this work, I knew that it would have an effect on the community of Cape Town and South Africa at large. What I was not expecting, was how relevant this play is to the international community and that it speaks to the effects of colonialism at a global level. We are delighted to share this important work with the audiences in Edinburgh.”

Enterprise’s director David Calvitto said: “This recognition is so gratifying for all of the Enterprise company. Brian Parks' comedy is most similar to walking a tight rope. And after many weeks of practicing three feet off the ground, it's so good to finally be airborne.”

Summerhall, which bagged a total of 10 Fringe Firsts last year, more than any other venue, has claimed one award so far this year for Javaad Alipoor’s The Believers Are But Brothers, which looks at young men being radicalised and travelling to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State.

Elliot Warren’s play Flesh and Bone, playing at Pleasance, also bagged an award. It looks at poverty in an east London high-rise. The company behind the production, Unpolished Theatre, was the recipient of Pleasance’s Charlie Hartill Special Reserve Fund for theatre.

Warren said: “I am so proud of Flesh and Bone, we all are, to have it win this award feels like a very significant and satisfying reward for such a cracking process that has been vivacious, devoured by all and at break-neck speed.”

Winners of the Fringe First awards are announced each Friday during the fringe. The judges are Joyce McMillan, Mark Fisher, Susan Mansfield, Jackie McGlone, Fiona Shepherd, David Pollock and Sally Stott.

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