Record number of entries for Amnesty theatre award

Freedom of Expression at heart of world’s largest arts festival

Amnesty International today announced a record number of entries for its Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with 85 productions nominated.

The award, now in its tenth year, recognises outstanding theatre productions which raise awareness and understanding of human rights. Last year’s winner was Cora Bissett’s Roadkill, a powerful production about human trafficking in Scotland. The play also won this year’s Best Production gong at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland.

John Watson, Amnesty International's Scottish Programme Director and one of the Award judges, said:

“Theatre has a very special ability to engage people – not just to inform but to challenge our opinions and how we see the world. This year we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of people across the Middle East and North Africa – from Egypt to Syria, Libya to Bahrain – taking to the streets to demand freedom of expression. People have been jailed and tortured just for speaking out. Freedom of expression is at the very heart of the Edinburgh Festival and there is no more fitting place to promote freedom of speech and campaign for those who are having this, as well as other basic human rights, denied.

“Year on year we have seen an increase in entries to the Award and we are delighted that so many productions at this year’s festival have chosen to explore human rights issues.  It is very fitting that during Amnesty’s 50th Anniversary year, we have a record-breaking number of entries."

All entries to the Freedom of Expression Award are visited by Amnesty reviewers and a panel of professional theatre critics. The winner will be announced at a special awards event on Thursday 25th August. The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award is presented in association with Fest magazine

There were 63 entries in 2010, other short-listed productions included:

Lockerbie: Unfinished Business, written & performed by David Benson and directed by Hannah Eidinov,

Speechless, a joint production by Shared Experience and Sherman Cymru, (2008 Winners of Amnesty’s Award with Deepcut)

No Child, a joint production by Barrow Street Theatre and Scamp Theatre, written and Performed by Nilaja Sun and directed by Hal Brooks.

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.

Amnesty will be out on Edinburgh’s streets this year asking festival-goers to take their own stand for freedom of expression, in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Find out more /p>

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