Sold and The Wheel share Edinburgh Amnesty award
Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been split for the first time in its ten-year history.
Sold at the Pleasance, about human trafficking, and The Wheel at the Traverse, about the effects of war and violence, were joint winners for the award which recognises outstanding theatre on the fringe that carries a human rights message.
Announcing the decision, judge Neil Cooper commented: “Saying all the right things on stage is not enough. You can believe in the cause you are championing all you like, but if it doesn’t have total artistic integrity then you will do that cause more harm than good.
“This year’s very strong shortlist were very different in their approaches. In the end, those differences are what meant they could not be separated. Both tell very complex but very real stories about things which are going on right now, both on our own doorsteps and on the other side of the worlds.”
A record total of 92 productions declared themselves eligible for the awards this year. The shortlist of four also included a comedy for the first time – Extreme Rambling (Walking the Wall by Mark Thomas at The Bongo Club – as well as Release, by Icon Theatre at the Pleasance.
Sold company member Scott Durnell told The Stage: “It was a difficult production to put on the for actors. They were working with these deep stories of real people’s lives. The difficulty of telling these stories delicately and looking at real people’s stories, real people’s lives has been the real challenge with this piece.”
Zinnie Harris, playwright for The Wheel, told The Stage that getting this award is particularly important to her. She said: “Over my last few plays I have been looking at the effects of war and violence on women and children in particular, but in ordinary communities and with ordinary people.
“I am concerned about how we can protect the next generation from becoming brutalised. The play is set against the backdrop of war, but war is a metaphor for the violence which one might encounter in a domestic setting. It is nice also that the award goes to a proper play, there are so many ways of making theatre these days and it is often easier to get a political award by doing verbatim theatre or whatever.”