One of the big winners was 1927’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (pictured) at the Underbelly, which won the Carol Tambor Award (and means that the production will automatically transfer to New York), a Total Theatre Award for Best Emerging Company, and a Fringe First (See News, 17 Aug 2007). Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a theatrical cabaret which combines live music and performance with animation and film, taking the audience on a journey to the wild woods and shipwrecked seas, from the weird underbelly of the suburbs to the tweedy world of the old rich, through dreamscapes into waking nightmares.
The Total Theatre Award for Best Original Work by a Collective/Ensemble went to Get Your War On (Assembly Aurora Nova), Best Physical Performance to Woyzeck (Assembly Aurora Nova), the Total Theatre Award for Experimentation to The Smile Off Your Face (C Soco), Best Small Scale Work to News From Nowhere (Traverse) and England (Traverse at the Fruitmarket Gallery), and finally the Total Theatre Award for Significant Contribution went to Jos Houben, currently appearing in The Art of Laughter and a founder member of theatre group Complicite.
Amnesty International awarded its 2007 Freedom of Expression Award to Clare Bayley’s The Container, which also won a Fringe First in the first week of the festival (See News, 10 Aug 2007). The production deals with asylum, racial and religious persecution and is staged in an actual container lorry, with the audience shut inside the enclosed space for the performance.
Whilst the Scotsman ran its Fringe Firsts, another Scottish newspaper was busy with its own awards. The Herald has awarded Herald Angels across the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe for the past ten years, and as with the Fringe Firsts, Herald critics decide which acts, performers or artists they think are deserving of recognition every week. In the case of outstanding performances, an Archangel may be presented. A final award - the ‘Little Devil’ - is presented to those who demonstrate “the show must go on” attitude when adversity strikes.
The Archangel went to Philip Howard, who steps down this year as artistic director of the Traverse Theatre, for his tenure and creativity in the role. Angel winners were: the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela; Concerto Italiano for their “masterclass” performance of Monteverdi at Greyfriars Kirk; Siren by Ray Lee; Kenny Young and the Egg Plants; Bob Kaper for his autobiographical, multimedia tale Big in Japan (or Three Steves and A Bob); Uninvited Guests for It Is Like It Ought to Be; and Vanishing Point for Subway. The ‘Little Devil’ went to John Moran and His Neighbour, Saori. An accident involving boiling soup meant that Saori was unable to perform for the first few shows and so Moran performed solo.
In The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence, Best Ensemble went to New York-based theatre company Shalimar for La Femme Est Morte or Why I Should Not F**k My Son (Pleasance Dome), Best Solo Performer to Madi Distefano for Popsicle’s Departure 1989 (Assembly Rooms), Best Actor was Garry Cooper in Long Time Dead (Traverse) and a rare joint Best Actress award went to Eugenia Caruso and Janet Bamford in Truckstop (the Zoo).
Finally, the much-sought-after if.comedy (Intelligent Finance) award (formerly known as the Perrier Prize) went to veteran stand-up Brendon Burns for So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now, 11 years after first coming to the Fringe, with Tom Basden winning Best Newcomer for Won’t Say Anything. The Panel Prize for the show which most captured the comedy spirit of the Fringe this year went to Arthur Smith for Arturart at the Institute of Zoo Logic. In addition to the main trophy, Burns receives £8,000 plus the chance to headline the Intelligent Finance Comedy Award Shows in the West End. Basden and Smith win £4,000 and will also appear in the West End.
The 2007 Edinburgh Fringe, the world's largest arts festival and now 61 years old, closed yesterday with a record-breaking 1.7 million tickets sold, an increase on last year of 10.8%. It featured 2,050 shows (304 of which were absolutely free) across 250 venues with an estimated 18,626 performers taking to the stage. It was the first Fringe under new artistic director Jon Morgan (See News, 26 Mar 2007). The Fringe’s parent event, the Edinburgh International Festival, opened on 10 August and continues until 2 September.
- by Tom Atkins