The Edinburgh Fringe has always had a reputation for embracing the unconventional and ground-breaking, of course, but initial figures from the Total Theatre Awards suggest that innovation is more at the fore than ever. Founded in 1987, the Total Theatre Awards aim to recognise work that’s pushing at the boundaries of traditional theatre, and where spoken text is only one of the elements at play. Previous winners include Grid Iron, Improbable, Tim Crouch, bac and Ontroerend Goed.

This year a record 417 shows – of an overall total of 2,453 presented at the 2010 festival – are being considered for the Awards, following an unprecedented number of applications from companies. That’s a 56% increase on last year’s total. Shows will now be assessed in line with the awards’ rigorous procedure, combining peer assessment and a judging panel drawn from all areas of the theatre industry to find the most innovative work at the Fringe. Shortlists are announced on 19 August and winners on 27 August.