Human rights proclaimed a major theme of the festival as Amnesty International announces Freedom of Expression Award shortlist

Amnesty International (today) announced that four plays have been short listed for its prestigious Freedom of Expression Award . They are:

  • The Chronicles of Long Kesh by Martin Lynch (Green Shoots Productions, at the Assembly)
  • Palace of the End by Judith Thompson (Royal Exchange Theatre Company, Manchester, at the Traverse)
  • The Chronicles of Irania by Maryam Hamidi and Catrin Evans (A Moment’s Peace, at the Pleasance)
  • Year of the Horse by Tam Dean Burn (Burnt Goods With Tron Theatre and Made in Scotland Showcase, at the Assembly)

A record 63 performances entered for the award this year, showing that human rights remains a major theme of the festival.

All four plays are now being reviewed by a judging panel comprising Neil Cooper of the Herald and Joyce McMillan of the Scotsman newspapers; academic, artist and researcher Stephanie Knight; Sam Friedman of Fest magazine and Amnesty International Scotland Director John Watson. The winner will be announced at a special Amnesty event on 27 August.

The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award is given to an outstanding Fringe play that carries a human rights message, in association with Fest magazine. Last year’s winner, Deep Cut, went on to be performed at the Tricycle Theatre in London and the 2007 winner, The Container, recently completed a sell-out run at the Young Vic in association with Amnesty International.

Amnesty International Scotland Programme Director John Watson said:

“We’ve been hugely impressed this year, not just by the quality of entries but by the sheer number of performances that are highlighting human rights themes at the festival.

“The arts have a unique power to take an audience into someone else’s world and allow them to empathise with someone whose story is completely different to theirs. It’s this ability to engage, inform and mobilise people on human rights issues that we want to celebrate with the Freedom of Expression Award.

“When performers exercise their own right to freedom of expression to help us campaign for the rights of others, the partnership between Amnesty and the arts can be very effective.”

This year Amnesty is reinforcing its Freedom of Expression message at the Festival by campaigning for Dr Binayak Sen, an Indian doctor facing trial on trumped-up charges that Amnesty believes are a response to his activism, speaking out on behalf of the poor and marginalised. If convicted he could face a life term in jail. Amnesty is asking people to fill in one of its Action Cards or go to to send an appeal to the Indian authorities.

Activists will be out on Edinburgh’s streets this year with Amnesty’s Protect the Human placards, asking festival-goers to take their own stand for human rights by posing for a photo brandishing an Amnesty banner demanding justice for Dr Sen. All the photos will be displayed on Amnesty’s Flickr Stream.

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