Winner of Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award Announced

Cuckooed – Mark Thomas’ compelling show about friendships betrayed, corporate spying, and the erosion of our right to privacy wins the 2014 Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award.

Amnesty International declared that 2014 had been 'Another amazing year for theatre with a human rights focus at the Fringe' as the organisation announced the winner of its prestigious annual Freedom of Expression Award which is given to an outstanding Fringe production carrying a human rights message.

Cuckooed, produced by Lakin McCarthy in association with Traverse Theatre Company, won the 2014 award. The one-man show was written and performed by Mark Thomas, and directed by Emma Callander.

'It’s been another amazing year for theatre with a human rights focus at the Fringe. We seek productions with the power to inspire, inform, and even unsettle the audience with their honest look at human rights abuses. This year, the shortlist was packed with truly powerful works from talented writers, directors, performers and producers.

'Mark Thomas richly deserved the 2014 Freedom of Expression Award for Cuckooed. This should be compulsory viewing for everyone in the UK. The timely and very important issues include the erosion of our rights to privacy, and democratic activism without interference from the state, but ultimately it was about freedom of expression, which is the reason we created this award.'
Siobhan Reardon, Amnesty International's Scotland Programme Director

'This is the one to win; it’s great. This was a very inspiring experience and I feel very humbled. There is something really moving about winning this Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award in the week that we lost Helen Bamber.  It seems important we remember her – she was outstanding and if we could be a fraction of what she was like; then the world would be infinitely better.'
Mark Thomas, writer and performer of Cuckooed

'Cuckooed asks frighteningly pertinent questions about the nature of surveillance and the limits it places on our freedom of expression at a time when our right to privacy is being steadily eroded. In the simple but powerful way that Mark Thomas presents these ideas on stage, it also demonstrates the huge personal and emotional cost of these infringements on our freedom.'
Catherine Love of FEST magazine

The other shortlisted productions were:
City of The Blind/Horizontal Collaboration
Produced by Mhari Hetherington. Written and Directed by David Leddy. Performed by a company of actors including Claire Knight, James Mackenzie, Louise Ludgate, Shelley King, Adura Onashile, Keith Fleming, Neil McCormack, John Macaulay, Angela Darcy, and Wendy Seager.

Guinea Pigs on Trial
Produced by Louise Mothersole, Rebecca Biscuit, Jen Smethurst and Escalator East. Written by Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole. Directed by Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit Performed by Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole.

No Guts No Heart No Glory Produced by Common Wealth Theatre Company. Written by Aisha Zia. Directed by Evie Manning. Performed by Nayab Din, Seherish Mahmood, Freyaa Ali, Saira Tabasum and Mariam Rashid.

Produced by Ontroerend Goed with Vooruit, Theatre Royal Plymouth and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd. Dramaturgy by Joeri Smet, Mieke Versyp. Written by The Sirens. Directed by Alexander Devriendt. Performed by Charlotte De Bruyne, Aurélie Lannoy, Anemone Valcke, Marjan Deschutter, Karolien De Bleser and Verona Verbakel.

Produced by FoolsCap in association with Soho Theatre. Written by Clara Brennan. Directed by Bethany Pitts. Performed by Rosie Wyatt.
Amnesty’s involvement with the world’s largest arts festival is based on the celebration of freedom of expression and campaigning for the rights of people whose free speech is denied.

Amnesty’s 2014 Edinburgh Festival campaign is for Chinese poet and artist Liu Xia, who has been held under illegal house arrest in Beijing since October 2010. She is prevented from communicating freely with the outside world, banned from phone calls and using the internet.  She is in poor health, with severe depression and a heart condition. Her only crime is being married to democracy activist Liu Xiaobo – currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion”.  In October 2010, he became the first Chinese citizen to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Take action at:

Notes to Editors

The judging panel comprises: Joyce McMillan of the Scotsman, Neil Cooper of the Herald, Lyn Gardner of The Guardian, Catherine Love of FEST Magazine, Stephanie Knight; an independent artist-researcher and Siobhan Reardon, Amnesty International Scotland, Programme Director.

The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, now in its eleventh year, is presented in association with FEST magazine.

For further media information please contact:
Pauline Kelly, Amnesty Scotland: 0781 453 070
Follow us on Twitter: @AmnestyScotland

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