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Edinburgh play commissioned under BBC’s controversial Debut scheme cancelled

A poster for Hoard by Bim Adewunmi, which was supposed to be at the Pleasance during Edinburgh Fringe, but has been cancelled A poster for Hoard by Bim Adewunmi, which was supposed to be at the Pleasance during Edinburgh Fringe, but has been cancelled
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A play commissioned by the BBC as part of a controversial initiative for debut playwrights at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been cancelled.

Hoard, by journalist Bim Adewunmi, was meant to have opened this week at the Underbelly as part of Debut, a joint initiative between the BBC and production company Avalon. Four high-profile people – including Adewunmi, comedian Frank Skinner, actor Katherine Parkinson and director Beryl Richards – were selected for the project.

However, Adewunmi has revealed on Twitter that her play was cancelled.

“It is with real and pure fucking sadness that I tell you Hoard will not be going up to Edinburgh this month after all,” she said.

“We’re still exploring other production avenues, so please keep your fingers and everything else crossed,” she added, claiming she was “heartsick”.

In a follow up tweet, she joked that anyone who had seen the play’s previews at the Bush Theatre in London last month should “tell a friend, who might also be a theatre producer”.

No reason was given for the cancellation.

A spokeswoman for the project said: “Unfortunately, Hoard isn’t going to be performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August as previously anticipated, however the team is keen to explore other production avenues.”

When it was announced, Debut was criticised for not working with emerging talent and instead selecting people who already have a profile within the industry.

Defending the scheme, BBC director of arts Jonty Claypole said: “We are keen to explore Debut’s potential to be something bigger, working with emerging as well as established talents, which is why when we announced it we asked writers who are interested in developing the initiative further to get in touch.”

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