Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - shortlist announced

Amnesty International today announced the shortlist for its annual Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, now in its ninth year, is presented in association with FEST magazine. This year saw a record number of entries, with 112 productions nominated.

The award, given to an outstanding play carrying a human rights message, will be presented on Thursday 23 August at an afternoon reception (for invitees/media only, details below).

The short listed productions are:

  • Why Do You Stand There In The Rain? by Pepperdine University at C Venues
  • Mies Julie by Baxter Theatre Centre, South African State Theatre and Assembly at the Assemble Hall
  • All That is Wrong by Ontroerend Goed, Laika, Richard Jordan Productions and the Drum Theatre Plymouth at The Traverse Theatre
  • The Agony & Ecstasy of Steve Jobs by Mike Daisey at The Gilded Balloon
  • Theatre Uncut at The Traverse Theatre
  • The Two Worlds of Charlie F by The Bravo 22 Company at the Pleasance Courtyard

Shabnum Mustapha, Amnesty International's Scotland Director, said:

“This has been another record-breaking year for the Freedom of Expression Award and it is extremely heartening to see so many productions tackling so many different human rights themes at the Edinburgh Fringe.

"For the last nine years, the Freedom of Expression Award has recognised productions which are both outstanding in their own right - and have the power to communicate, inform, inspire and challenge our perceptions about human rights. This year is no exception and the fact that we have six productions on the short list acknowledges the incredibly high calibre of performances which we have seen during the judging process."

Neil Cooper, Writer and Critic for The Herald and one of the award's judges, said:

"The fact that there are six so very different works in the short list for this year's Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award speaks volumes about the range of concerns there are among artists  taking part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This isn't tokenism, however. Every production named on the short list isn't there because they tick the right boxes or are saying the right things.

Of course, what these productions are saying is important, but it is how they're doing it that is so vital, and makes for such a rich set of artistic experiences that may change the world yet."

Campaigning for free speech

Amnesty’s involvement with the world’s largest arts festival is based on the celebration of freedom of expression and fighting for the rights of people whose free speech is denied.

Our 2012 Edinburgh Festival campaign is on behalf of Burmese human rights defender and political activist, U Myint Aye.

U Myint Aye was imprisoned for the first time for his involvement in protests in 1974 and has been imprisoned repeatedly over the years for peaceful protest Most recently, he was involved in raising and distributing relief aid to survivors of cyclone Nargis, but was charged with providing funds for a bombing which took place in Yangon. He was tortured during interrogation and received an unfair trial. U Myint Aye was sentenced to life imprisonment plus eight years on charges which Amnesty International believes were fabricated.

Amnesty is asking people at the festival to sign a petition calling for the immediate release of U Myint Aye and all remaining prisoners of conscience in Burma.

About the Award

The Freedom of Expression Award is part of Amnesty’s annual Edinburgh Festival programme, and this year marks Amnesty’s 15th year at the Edinburgh Festival campaigning for freedom of expression.

Entries for the Freedom of Expression Award are visited by Amnesty International reviewers and a panel of professional theatre critics.

The panel of judges consists of Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), Neil Cooper (The Herald), Caroline Bishop (FEST Magazine), Lyn Gardner (The Guardian) and Stephanie Knight, an independent artist-researcher. This is the first year that Lyn Gardner and Caroline Bishop have joined the judging panel.

Recent winners of the Freedom of Expression Award include Quiconque's  Sold, written by Suzie Miller and directed by Catherine Alexander at the Pleasance Courtyard, and The National Theatre of Scotland's production of  The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Vicky Featherstone, at the Traverse,  ‘Roadkill’ by Cora Bissett, ‘Palace of the End’ by Judith Thompson, ‘The Container’ by Clare Bayley and ‘The Exonerated’ by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen.

The winner of the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award 2012 will be announced at a reception for invitees and media only, at 1pm on Thursday 23 August.

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