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New Edinburgh Fringe awards to support shows striving for social impact

Neshla Caplan and Adam Kashmiry in Adam. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge Neshla Caplan and Adam Kashmiry in the 2017 production Adam. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
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Two new awards are being established for this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with an aim of helping productions achieve a greater social impact.

Created by philanthropist David Graham, a patron of the Edinburgh Fringe, the Sit Up Awards were inspired by Graham’s experience of being an audience member at the National Theatre of Scotland’s 2017 production, Adam.

The play tells the story of a trans man’s journey from Egypt to Scotland and featured a digital choir of transgender performers.

Graham said it prompted him to set up a scheme that would help companies staging work that had social change at its heart.

“So often the momentum ends with the curtain coming down. That need not be what happens,” he said.

The Sit Up Awards will comprise two prizes. The main winner will receive a £1,000 cash prize and £4,000-worth of in-kind support to amplify the production’s social impact. This could mean funding education materials, enabling outreach work or helping to finance further performances.

A second prize of £1,000 will also be given to a show that encourages audiences to engage with a specific issue.

To be considered, plays must raise awareness of an issue, have undertaken significant research into an issue or have attempted to change specific attitudes or behaviours.

Both prizes will be awarded at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

The inaugural judging panel includes Graham, Park Theatre artistic director Jez Bond, Adam creator Adam Kashmiry, Celia Tennant from non-profit organisation Inspiring Scotland and creative producer Rhea Lewis.

The panel will be chaired by Robert Iles, co-founder of reviews site UK Theatre Web, who helped set up the awards with Graham and Clean Break trustee Alice Millest.

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