ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards 2009

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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 2009 at a gathering at the Sweet Heart on the last Sunday of the festival.

1. Mervyn Stutter for 18 years of ‘Pick Of The Fringe’
The great thing about the Edinburgh Festival is that it is so big, eclectic, erratic and chaotic. The bad thing about the Edinburgh Festival is that it is so big, eclectic, erratic and chaotic. The challenge for the all important ticket buyer is how to navigate that huge programme of events; for the performer, the challenge is standing out from the crowd and having a chance to tell audiences what your show is about. By reviewing over 1800 shows, we hope ThreeWeeks helps in meeting those challenges in some way; but we are also big fans of all the other festival ventures that similarly provide some kind of map to the Fringe. Our first winner is probably the longest running of these ventures. Because while ThreeWeeks – at 14 years old – is going through those tricky adolescent years, this Fringe institution is now old enough to vote. Yes, every year for eighteen years now hundreds of performers have had the opportunity to reach a new audience, while thousands of ticket-buyers have been able to sample a suitably eclectic hand-picked array of great Fringe acts, thanks to one show and one man. The first Editors’ Award goes to Mervyn Stutter for his ‘Pick Of The Fringe’. mervynstutter.com

2. Newbury Youth Theatre for the ‘The Lost Letters Of Mr Corrigan’
One of the great things about the Edinburgh Fringe is that it provides a place for young aspiring actors to perform and develop, and to enjoy being part of such a big cultural festival. For these groups the experience for the participants is as important as the output. Though sometimes that output is brilliant in itself. We’ve noticed in recent years that the output of our second winners, Newbury Youth Theatre, has been of a particularly high quality, not least with this year’s 5/5 show ‘The Lost Letters Of Mr Corrigan’. To be able to achieve such quality with each new generation of young people is particularly noteworthy, and makes Newbury Youth Theatre a definite winner of one of our ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards. newburyyouththeatre.co.uk

3. Le Navet Bete for ‘Zemblanity’
Our next winners are real favourites amongst the ThreeWeeks review team. Our reviewer loved their show last year so much that she became their number one fan, which led to a few tense days this year when that person – now a ThreeWeeks sub-editor – had to wait to find out what our new reviewer would make of their 2009 show ‘Zemblanity’. Fortunately we loved that too, and these brilliant clowning guys won their second 5/5 rating from ThreeWeeks. As this year’s reviewer said: "the massively talented and energetic Le Navet Bete are reinventing the clown". That in itself is something to be celebrated, and celebrate it we do with an Editors’ Award. lenavetbete.com

4. Good Sense Of Humour for the Five Pound Fringe
Just before the Festival we receive a barrage of press releases and phone calls selling us shows. We try to listen and digest as much of the information as possible, trying to decide which shows, performers and events to champion as we prepare the ThreeWeeks preview edition. Some ideas, though, require no time to digest. When someone said "have you heard about the new Five Pound Fringe", we immediately responded "that’s brilliant". Responding to the many concerns about ever rising ticket prices at the Festival, and the big gap that exists between the free show strands and the big venues, a Five Pound programme is a much needed addition to the Edinburgh Fringe. And for making it happen the guys at Good Sense Of Humour definitely deserve their ThreeWeeks Editors’ Award.

5. Hugh Hughes for ‘360’
This guy is a real success story of the Edinburgh Fringe. Having won much acclaim for his show ‘Floating’ in 2005, he’s subsequently toured the world with that show and another Fringe hit, ‘Story Of A Rabbit’. But despite those successes, he’s not rested on his laurels, and this year he treated us to another new show, and another 5/5 one at that. Sitting somewhere between theatre and comedy, ‘360’ was one of our favourite shows this year, so now seems as good a time as any to give an ThreeWeeks award to Mr Hugh Hughes. hughhughes.me

6. Aindrias De Staic for ‘The Summer I Did The Leaving’
One of the great things about the Fringe is how many shows there are that are really hard to categorise. They get slotted into comedy or music or theatre, but really they are a mixture of the three. "Cabaret" you might say – though even that term possibly doesn’t properly communicate the great mash up of genres that occurs in these shows. Our next winner is one of those shows. Our reviewer wrote "this guy transforms the Gilded Balloon’s Wee Room into a mental safari where one minute we’re in Glastonbury, another the Highlands, another the old Spiegeltent with him atop it playing a reel or a gypsy jig. Bonkersly brilliant". For mixing it up, keeping us entertained, and being bonkersly brilliant, we thought Aindrias De Staic deserved one of our Editors’. aindrias.com

7. Eric for ‘Tales Of The Sea: A Submariner’s Yarn’
The Fringe is renowned for encouraging comedians to experiment with their writing and performance, not least by crafting a one hour show often hung together on a certain theme. Unlike the club circuit, that one-hour need not be joke after joke, gag after gag, there’s time to share opinions, thoughts or stories. Our next winner is an example of the real potential of the one-hour Fringe comedy slot to become a epic experience, where intrigue, suspense and sadness really can sit alongside laughter. It helps that our next winner, Eric, has had a fascinating life, and it’s that life that provides the source material for this show. First performed last Festival, and back this year to much acclaim, Eric’s ‘Tales Of The Sea’ was a real favourite of ours, and a very worthy winner of an Editors’ Award. ericdotcom.co.uk

8. 2headedpigeon Theatre Company for ‘The Inconsiderate Aberrations Of Billy The Kid’
I think it’s fair to say this show divides the room. But if, like our reviewer, you like it, then you’ll almost certainly love it. And if the Fringe isn’t the home for love it or hate it theatre, then I don’t know where is. It’s ‘Family Guy’ meets ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ meets Woody Allen as far as our reviewer was concerned, which is a pretty impressive mixture of comparisons. For pushing the boundaries, and having much musical fun in the process, we reckon 2headedpigeon Theatre Company definitely deserve their Editors’ Award. 2headedpigeon.co.uk

9. Village Theatre for ‘The Bone House’
Late night theatre that freaks you out. Now that is what the Fringe is about. Beginning as a lecture, moving into theatre, and ending with a communal freak out in the dark, Village Theatre have created a dramatic piece that can proudly sit among the Fringe’s comedy and music dominated late night programme. As our reviewer wrote: "No theatre event has ever scared me before this: this play told a story, made me laugh, made me sad and scared the living daylights out of me. It was everything that theatre should be". And that, we reckon, deserves an Editors’ Award.

10. Creole Choir Of Cuba
And onto our final winner this year. We’ve been hugely excited about what’s been going on down at St Georges West in the last two festivals, with the brilliant World Festival programme proving the Fringe is as international as the International Festival ever will be. Out of everything we reviewed there this year, this got us the most excited. As our reviewer said, "phenomenal, spectacular, simply brilliant, they sing with passion, dance with style and have woven together a flawless show that is best described as mesmerising". Definite award winner.

Words: Chris Cooke & Caroline Moses – Award presentation pictures: James Robertson