ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards 2007

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The ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards go to the ten things that we, the ThreeWeeks editors, believe make the Edinburgh Festival extra special in any one year. Winners can be people, plays, companies, venues or even whole festivals. The awards were presented in 2007 at a gathering at the C Venue on the last Sunday of the festival.

1. Baba Brinkman for ‘Rap Canterbury Tales’ (Roman Eagle Lodge)
We love shows that mix genres here at ThreeWeeks. And we love shows that present the classics in an entirely new way. Baba Brinkman’s ‘Rap Canterbury Tales’ achieves both these things, presenting some of Chaucer’s classic stories in a totally innovative way. Although this is not the first time the show has appeared at the Fringe, this year it especially thrilled our ThreeWeeks reviewer who gave it 5/5 and declared it a definite Editors’ Award contender on the spot. The improvised freestyling, new to the show this year, especially impressed. For mixing the genres, for presenting old favourites in a totally new way, and for doing some fine freestyle rap, Baba Brinkman is our first winner of 2007. babasword.com

2. Sarah Kendall for ‘My Very First Kidnapping’ (Assembly @ George Street)
Sarah Kendall has been performing stand up at the Edinburgh Festival since 2001, and has won numerous fans among the ThreeWeeks team over the years. But this year her show was especially interesting. Called ‘My Very First Kidnapping’, it was a much more theatrical show telling the darkly comic true story of how she believes she and a friend very nearly became a victim of one of Australia’s most notorious serial killers. Of Kendall, and her co-stars Joanna Neary and Justin Edwards, our reviewer commented "each character is acted out brilliantly and every scene is side-splitting". A unique concept brilliantly delivered with great comic effect. sarahkendall.com

3. Ontroerend Goed for ‘The Smile Off Your Face’ (C SoCo)
When our reviewer was told we were sending him to C SoCo to be tied up, blind folded and entertained one-to-one by the actors from Ontroerend Goed, he left with a mixture of excitement and fear. Back at ThreeWeeks HQ we wanted to know if this company would deliver a quality show from a concept which had "potential Editors’ Award winner" written all over it. His response: "traditional theatre fucks off outside for a fag during this innovative show – ignore the terrifying description in the Fringe guide and go – there’s nothing else like it". A brilliant concept brilliantly done. Hurrah. ontroerendgoed.be

4. Edinburgh International Festival
Core to the ThreeWeeks ethos is the idea that Edinburgh’s festivals should constantly be looking to reach, engage and enthuse new audiences, both through their marketing, but also their programming. We feel that in 2007 Jonathan Mills did exactly that through his debut programme as director of the Edinburgh International Festival. The introduction of a visual arts strand; the expansion of the backstage series; the inclusion of more workshop performances; the launch of an initiative designed to provide a formal link between the EIF and the Fringe; and the inspired programming of Fringe favourites Tiger Lillies to provide a totally unique take on one of the Festival’s featured composers, Monteverdi all helped ensure that this year’s International Festival was not only exciting, but also engaging to whole new audiences, from the Fringe and beyond. And that, we feel, is something to celebrate. eif.co.uk

5. Painting Music (C too)
Back to fusing genres which, as we already said, is something we love at ThreeWeeks. This show fused classical music and visual art – and in doing so providing a totally new way to enjoy both genres. A painter created unique visual interpretations of music as it was played live. The show scored a perfect 5/5 from our reviewer, who observed "’Painting Music’ provided a unique way to enjoy afresh old favourites, but in a very different way; and to encounter new pieces with the interpretive help of a painter". The concept and delivery of this show alone make them definite Editors’ Award contenders, though the whole thing was sealed by these guy’s morning show where children are encouraged to paint while experiencing some classical sounds. paintingmusic.co.uk

6. I AM Productions for ‘Sylvia’s Ball’ (The Green Room)
This moving piece also won a 5/5 review from our reviewer, who wrote "this passionate, richly allegorical multimedia show is both funny and heartbreaking, combining energetic performances with video footage of genuine cancer survivor Syliva… the positive, holistic message of the piece meant it is impossible not be moved". A moving piece of theatre, integrating multi-media in an brilliant way, to create a real Fringe highlight. greenroompresents.com

7. The Spiegel Garden
In recent years the Spiegel Garden has become one of the real hubs of the Edinburgh Festival, and for good reason. In that enchanted corner of George Square Gardens, the Spiegel team have created a social environment that just seems to epitomize all that is exciting about the Edinburgh Festival, and especially the Edinburgh Fringe. So much so, that if I meet any Fringe first timers the first place I take them is the Spiegel Garden – half an hour there and they soon get what this Festival is all about. Add to that the brilliant programming these guys deliver every year, which include a host of musical, comedy and cabaret acts that should be headlining the biggest venues in the land – Camille, Meow Meow, Mikelangelo, Tripod and Orkestra Del Sol to mention but a few – and these guys are definite winners. Long live Spiegel Garden, the heart of the Fringe. spiegeltent.net

8. Penny Dreadfuls for ‘Aeneas Faversham Returns’ (Underbelly)
Sketch comedy is a big part of the Fringe comedy programme these days, and that, in our opinion, is a good thing. But few sketch comedy shows quite match this one. And again, it’s the quirkiness and originality that excites Team ThreeWeeks. In the words of our reviewer: "the range of sketches demonstrates unrivalled imagination, spanning from the surreally clever to the quite simply hilarious. Every character provides cause for laughter, and the lack of props is testament to the chameleon-like abilities of the four actors. Impeccable comic timing ensures that no gag goes astray, and every facial expression adds delight to a cleverly scripted and focused show. Simply unmissable". If these guys don’t have a prime time TV show within three years, then the world is an even more messed up place than I thought. pennydreadfuls.co.uk

9. Auto Auto (Pleasance)
Every year prior to the Festival I meet a plethora of publicists, performers and Fringe companies who do the three minute sales pitch for their shows. But with so many shows on offer it’s hard to keep them all in your head. But each year a small number stand out and stick. This was one of those shows this year. I’m a sucker for percussion anyway, but percussion beat out on a car, now that’s my kind of show. But once again, would a concept with so much potential equal a quality show? Well, a 5/5 review and words like "it’s a loud, funny, physical symphony" tell us it did. An ambitious production brought to Edinburgh through a collaboration of both Pleasance and Assembly, Christian Von Richthofen and his colleagues Rolf Clausen and Kristian Bader brought to the Fringe a totally unclassifiable extravaganza – our very favourite kind of Fringe show. More smashing up of cars at the Edinburgh Festival I say…

10. Seven Dwarves
The big story at the start of the Festival this year was a somewhat depressing one – the collapse of the Understairs company which left numerous shows without a venue to perform in at the last minute. But from that chaos and disappointment comes what should be the big story for the end of the Festival. One of the companies affected – Seven Dwarves – decided that rather than give up, they’d take on the unenviable task of running the venue where they were due to perform, and offer all the other companies due to perform there the opportunity to take on their original slots without any further investment. Ask any venue manager – running a Fringe venue is stressful enough with a year’s preparation. To pull this off with just a few week’s notice is remarkable. And to do so under the circumstances these companies found themselves in back in July is, as far as we can see, the very essence of the ‘spirit of the Fringe’. And on top of all this, the guys from Seven Dwarves tell us they have actually enjoyed the whole experience, and plan to return next year running more venues, and a special initiative to develop and champion new playwriting. All in all, I can’t really think of anyone more deserving for our tenth and final ThreeWeeks Editors’ Award.

Words: Chris Cooke – Award presentation pictures: Kat Gollock