2015's Amnesty International Freedom of Expression award, in association with Fest, has been won by A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, Annie Ryan’s adaptation of Eimear McBride’s best-selling book.
Stephanie Knight, one of the Freedom of Expression Award judges, said: “Girl Is A Half Formed Thing is an astonishing piece of theatre, beautifully crafted. Aoife Duffin’s acting is exceptional; the design elegantly echoes the shadows within the protagonist’s psyche and the externalisation of her profound trauma, abuse, neglect, and courageous survival. This is an extremely moving work that truly deserves to win the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.”
The Freedom of Expression award is given to an outstanding play at the Edinburgh Festival carrying a human rights message. In addition to the overall winner, judges also awarded Highly Commended status to two other productions, Tar Baby and Trans Scripts.
Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International Scotland Programme Director said: “Tar Baby is an important and urgent piece about race relations in the US which skilfully addresses core, universal truths about racism which can be equally applied in the UK and globally."
She continued: "Trans Scripts raises important themes about the repression and abuse faced by the transgender community. The personal stories of trans women shared in this production highlight their individuality without ignoring their own unique challenges and pain.”
Entries for the Freedom of Expression Award are visited by Amnesty International reviewers and a panel of professional theatre critics. The judging panel comprised: Joyce McMillan of The Scotsman, Neil Cooper of The Herald, Catherine Love of Fest, Stephanie Knight, an independent artist-researcher, and Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International Scotland, Programme Director.
In addition to the Freedom of Expression award, Amnesty are also at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to campaign for the release of 29-year-old cartoonist, Atena Farghadani. In June, Iran sentenced Atena to more than 12 years in prison, after a trial that lasted just half an hour. A petition has been launched by the organisation: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/Amnesty-in-Scotland
Amnesty's work at the festival is supported via a partnership with Fest Magazine.
The following productions were shortlisted by the judges:
A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Traverse Theatre
Produced by The Corn Exchange in association with Cusack Projects Ltd. Directed by Annie Ryan. Written by Eimear McBride and adapted for stage by Annie Ryan. Performed by Aoife Duffin.
Counting Stars, Assembly George Square Studios
Produced by Scott Hurran for Ecclesia Theatre. Directed by Scott Hurran. Written by Atiha Sen Gupta. Performed by Bunmi Mojekwu and Joe Shire.
Fake It ‘til You Make It, Traverse Theatre
Produced by Soho Theatre. Directed by Bryony Kimmings. Written and performed by Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn.
Labels, Pleasance Courtyard
Produced by Michael Woodman and Worklight Theatre. Directed by Katharina Reinthaller. Written and performed by Joe Sellman-Leava.
Smash It Up, Summerhall
Produced by Mr and Mrs Clark Productions. Directed by Gareth Clark, Marega Palser & Catherine Bennett. Written by Gareth Clark, Mr and Mrs Clark and Bosch. Performed by Gareth Clark, Marega Palser and Steven George Jones.
Tar Baby, Gilded Balloon
Produced by Platt Productions. Directed by Melissa Crespo. Written by Desiree Burch with Dan Kitrosser. Performed by Desiree Burch.
Trans Scripts, Pleasance Courtyard
Produced by Paul Lucas Productions, Gail Winar and Pleasance Theatre. Directed by Linda Ames Kelly. Written by Paul Lucas. Dramaturg Morgan Jenness. Performed by Calpernia Addams, Carolyn Michelle Smith, Catherine Fitzgerald, Jay Knowles, Bianca Leigh, Rebecca Root and Gail Winar.