The first winners of this year\'s prestigious Fringe First Awards, celebrating high quality new drama at the Edinburgh Festival, have been announced by The Scotsman newspaper today (8 August 2008).

Amongst the winners is The New Electric Ballroom, the new play written and directed by Irishman Enda Walsh and presented by Druid Theatre company at the Traverse. The four-hander, about three sisters living in a small fishing village and mourning lost love, is a companion piece to last year’s The Walworth Farce, which transfers to the National Theatre next month. Mikel Murfi, who directed Walworth, appears in the new piece alongside Rosaleen Linehan, Val Lilley and Catherine Walsh.

It’s one of three wins for the Traverse in this first round of Fringe Firsts. Prizes also went to its theatre’s UK premieres of Deep Cut, Sherman Cymru’s verbatim drama about the death from gunshot wounds of Private Cheryl James at Deepcut Barracks, directed by Mick Gordon, and Architecting, the new “requiem for modern America” from New York-based ensemble The TEAM, co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland.

This week’s two other Fringe Firsts go to Stefan Golaszewski’s Stefan G Talks About a Girl He Once Loved at the Pleasance, and another one-man play, Tailor of Inverness, the story of a Polish man in the Second World War, written and performed by Matthew Zajac at the Assembly @ George Street.

The Fringe First Awards were established in 1973 when there was concern that the Fringe was not attracting the right quantity and quality of shows. The awards are announced weekly during the festival, with the next round winners being announced next Friday 15 August 2008. There is no fixed number given and the only requirement is that the work must be new - having had no more than six performances in the UK, prior to the Fringe.

- by Terri Paddock