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 2019 at a gathering at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall Library on the last Saturday of the festival.

1. Pianodrome
We deliberately set the ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards up all the way back in 2005 with no specific categories or genre remit. This was because we wanted to be in a position to give awards to the sort of things that aren’t typically celebrated in that way at the Festival. And it’s why this year we have two awards going to venues rather than performers or shows. Our first winning performance space has won praise from every ThreeWeeks team member that’s had the good fortune to be assigned a show to review there. They like its quirkiness and welcoming nature, they are impressed with the level of work that’s clearly gone into creating this space, and they appreciate its location too, far away from the frenzy of the Fringe down there in Leith. And on top of that, of course, there is the excellent programme of events that were staged there as part of this year’s Festival. Our first winner is Pianodrome.

2. Eleanor Dillon Reams for ‘Honeybee’
Here at ThreeWeeks we love self-starters and it strikes us that our next winner is definitely one of those. She is the creator and performer of a one person spoken word theatre show that arrived at the Fringe without a full-on whistles-and-bells publicity machine and emerged triumphant nonetheless. Our reviewer described this show as being “at once beautifully, intricately wrought and yet entirely honest, with a truth at its pulsing heart that you cannot help but be moved by”. He was clearly blown away by the talented force behind it, who, he wrote: “offers us something we need: nourishment for the psyche, something sweet, but not cloying. We leave united, uplifted, inspired”. Wow. Our next winner is Eleanor Dillon-Reams for ‘Honeybee’.

3. Ivor Dembina for ‘Old Jewish Jokes’
Our next recipient is the creator of a show that isn’t actually new to Edinburgh this year, and which members of the TW team have seen and loved before, both here in Edinburgh and down in London. We possibly should have acknowledged this show with an Editors’ Award before, but when our reviewer submitted their 5/5 critique for this year’s performance, we knew now was the time. It’s a show that has much to say about Jewish humour and one that amply demonstrates it, while also touching on the more serious topics of censorship and the Holocaust. And, of course, it goes without saying, it’s full of brilliantly performed gags. As that 5/5 review enthused, this comedian’s “perfectly-crafted method of telling a joke – either from his own experiences or from a Jewish joke book – will have you howling with laughter”. Our third recipient is Ivor Dembina for ‘Old Jewish Jokes’.

4. Fine Mess for ‘A Wake In Progress’
Death and grief are difficult subjects, though these themes are nevertheless often raised by Fringe shows across the genres. Having seen quite of few of those over the years, we feel pretty strongly that it takes a very special approach – and a very special team – to make a really good production that deals with this topic. This year we definitely found one of those. And it was a properly interactive piece of theatre: the performers took the time to get to know their audience, gathering stories and anecdotes from them to use in the show. The result, as our reviewer pointed out, is that its viewers almost inevitably relate to the piece of work playing out before them. “Cleverly, with our own memories forming part of the patchwork proceedings, we cannot help but be involved”, he wrote. “I thought I wasn’t moved, until suddenly, I was”. Our next winner is A Fine Mess for ‘A Wake In Progress’.

5. Chamäleon Productions in association with Aurora Nova for ‘Raven’
When we were perusing our programmes and press releases ahead of this year’s Fringe we noticed a lot of shows with themes revolving around women, childbirth and motherhood, and much as we would like to have seen all of them, I don’t think we managed it. Thank goodness, though, that we did manage to see the show created by our next winners. It’s a compelling and clever blend of theatre, comedy, circus and storytelling that explores how women deal with being working mothers, the way society perceives and judges their choices, and the misogyny they often face. Said our reviewer: “When it all comes together it’s incredibly powerful, and I was wholly unprepared for the effect it would have on me.” Our next winner is Chamäleon Productions in association with Aurora Nova for ‘Raven’.

6. Garret Millerick
We often explain – when giving out our Editors’ Awards each year – that there are myriad reasons why we might give someone an award. Sometimes it’s for one specific show. Sometimes it’s for a series of consistently great shows presented over a number of Fringe seasons. Our next act very much falls into that latter category, as we’ve been watching and appreciating his work – both in Edinburgh and London – since about 2011. Along the way we’ve called him “undeniably honest and hilarious”, “passionate about apathy”, “full of bitter anecdotes” and “fantastically loud”. On seeing his 2019 Fringe show, our reviewer called it a “mind blowing set”, praising his material for being “tight, funny and irreverent”, before handing it an unequivocal five out of five. Our seventh winner is Garrett Millerick.

7. The Greenhouse
OK, when explaining why the criteria for the ThreeWeeks Editors Awards are so vague we said that we were celebrating two venues this year. So let’s now celebrate the second. Many of those involved in the Fringe – performers, producers, punters and so on – are surely, and rightly, concerned about the so called climate crisis that is currently unfolding around us. With that in mind it was great to see a venue seek to demonstrate that the Fringe community can help address this crisis not just through what they say on stage, but also in how they build that stage. And everything around it too. BoxedIn Theatre achieved this by constructing the Festival’s first ever zero-waste venue, where all the sets, all the props, and even the walls and roof of the venue itself, were all made out of recycled materials, which will be recycled once again next week when the Festival is over. It was a brilliant and inspiring project that presented a great programme of events as well. Our next winner is The Greenhouse.

8. Simon Caine
As previously said, there are various reasons why we might decide to hand out any one of our Editors’ Awards, and sometimes there are a multitude of reasons behind just one of them. This is the case with our next winner. Earlier we said we love it when people take on the beast that is the Fringe single-handedly and independently, and this act definitely does that. He also helps others who are doing the same by posting lots of useful info on his website. We got to know about him through various means: his podcasts, his touring work, and the Edinburgh Fringe Food Bank collection he organises. With all that in mind, we’ve been trying to get a reviewer to his Edinburgh shows for a number of years. But to date we’ve been defeated in that mission, by bereavement, illness and, um, idiocy. But finally, this year, it happened. We got the reviewer in. The result, a 5/5 score. We were not surprised. Our eighth winner is Simon Caine.

9. Peter Hudler
Musicians doing longer or full runs at the Fringe are still the exception rather than the norm. But we are big fans of the music strand of the Festival, so we love it when our readers have many more opportunities to see the shows our music reviewers rave about. And with that in mind, it’s been great to see our next winner return to Edinburgh each year in it for the longhaul. So he’s already a ThreeWeeks favourite for that simple reason, before we even get to his amazing skills on the cello. And the fact that his approach to playing this instrument is, in so many ways, unconventional, is yet another thing we love at ThreeWeeks. This year our reviewer felt that this man should actually be described as a “stunt cellist” because of his guitar-like handling of the instrument at one point in the show. But she also praised his technical skill and genre-diverse programme, which features everything from baroque to rock. We really hope he keeps coming back to the Festival with those full month runs. Our next recipient is Peter Hudler.

10. Brush Theatre
And so to our final award. And a company that have been bringing quality shows to the Fringe for a number of years and delighting rooms full of children – as well as our reviewers – in the process. So, what have our writers said about the work of this group at Festivals past? Well, their 2016 show was “a charming delight, that’ll be cherished by children and parents alike”. In 2018 our reviewer was won over by, in her words, “a clever, thoughtful and well-structured show for young audiences, performed with gusto”. This year’s show, a second magic-whiteboard based piece, yet again impressed our reviewer, it being, she said, an “engaging and imaginative children’s theatre production”. Our final award for 2019 goes to Brush Theatre.

Words: Caroline Moses – Award presentation pictures: Kat Gollock