'Roadkill' and 'Lockerbie: Unfinished Business' shortlisted for Amnesty Freedom of Expression award

Amnesty International today added 'Roadkill' and 'Lockerbie: Unfinished Business' to the shortlist for its Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Fringe. The award, given to an outstanding play carrying a human rights message, will be presented on Thursday 26 August.

Cora Bissett’s 'Roadkill', from Ankur Productions/Pachamama Productions at The Traverse Theatre is a powerful production that tells the real-life story of a girl sex-trafficked from Nigeria to Scotland. Set largely in a basement flat, it combines strong performances, animation and music to chilling effect.

'Lockerbie: Unfinished Business', written & performed by David Benson and directed by Hannah Eidinov, is also based on a true story, this time of Jim Swire, father and justice campaigner. Performed at the Gilded Balloon Teviot, the play follows his quest for the truth after the death of his daughter in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Freedom of Expression Award judge Stephanie Knight said of 'Lockerbie: Unfinished Business':

“David Benson gives a well-crafted, commanding performance which has powerful moments of intensity as the audience awaits each development and discovery of Jim Swire’s.  It is a thoroughly researched piece that underscores the integrity of a father and justice campaigner whose intelligent reasoning leads to the conclusion that justice is yet to be achieved.”

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

“'Roadkill' removes the audience from the safe confines of the theatre and into the claustrophobic nightmare of one young woman’s experience of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The intimate living room setting, on an everyday street, combined with innovative multimedia and theatrical elements, envelop the audience and demand recognition of the close proximity of this sinister world.

“The fact that both of these shortlisted plays are based on real events underlines how theatre can help explain the simple human stories behind complex human rights issues.

“But to do this artists must be free to express their views and in much of the world, governments seek to censor critical views. Amnesty is here at the Fringe to celebrate free speech but also to defend the right to freedom of expression, wherever it is under threat.”

Entries for the Freedom of Expression Award are visited by Amnesty reviewers and a panel of professional theatre critics. The eventual winner will be announced at a special awards event on 26 August. The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award is presented in association with The Fest magazine.

Recent winners of the Freedom of Expression Award include ‘Palace of the End’ by Judith Thompson, ‘The Container’ by Clare Bayley and ‘The Exonerated’ by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen. A total of 61 productions entered for the award in 2009.

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. This year the organisation is campaigning for Zarganar, who is one of Burma’s biggest comedians as well as a writer, actor, musician, poet and film-director.

He is currently serving a 35-year jail sentence for speaking out against the government. People can take action for him at www.amnesty.org.uk/zarganar.

Zarganar - whose name means ‘tweezers’ in Burmese - founded his own comedy troupe which performed satirical plays and sketches poking fun at the government. He has made numerous films, some of which have been banned in Burma. In 2006, he was excluded from the entertainment world by the authorities for an indefinite period, following an interview he gave to the BBC, criticising the regulations imposed by the junta on performances during a festival in Burma.

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 the people of Burma, by having their photo taken with the name of Zarganar, or one of many other Burmese prisoners that Amnesty is campaigning for, written on their hand.

  • Find out more about Amnesty events at the Edinburgh Festivals
  • Take action for Zarganar /li>

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