Edinburgh Fringe cancelled: How will we cope?

Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been cancelled due to concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was never a case of if but when.
The world’s biggest arts festival, and the Edinburgh International Festival, will not take place for the first time in 70 years.

In fact, all five of Edinburgh’s August festivals were due to welcome more than 4.4 million people and 25,000 artists.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Fringe society, said the decision was not one that was taken lightly. McCarthy held out hope, though, that they would find ways of “uniting people” under a fringe umbrella.

“It’s too early to say what this will look like, but we are confident that as a collective we can find a way to reach through the walls that currently surround us and inspire, cheer and connect.”

Mark Monahan writes brilliantly in the Telegraph on the inevitability of the 2020 Fringe cancellation: “It was, above all the sheer scale of the Edinburgh Fringe that made it so unlikely to survive lockdown… This means that the amount of forward-planning required is simply colossal, and essentially takes all year. Shows must be written, rehearsed and produced. PRs hired, schedules created, venues assigned (built, even), brochures compiled and printed (in their tens of thousands).”

The effects of coronavirus on the cultural sector has been devastating, with more casualties, closures and job losses to come.

Never before has the theatre landscape shifted so dramatically. Theatres, arts centres and concert halls have all closed their doors indefinitely.

If we are honest, this pause does allow us all to get off the roller coaster and think differently about how the Fringe should and could operate. Sky high accommodation, absurd venue hires, so-called PRs, questionable producers. It was also reaching fever pitch and coming in for regular criticism from audiences and critics alike.

Artists have been saying that the event was becoming increasingly unsustainable and increasingly elitist unless there was a fundamental change to the business model.

Indeed, McCarthy herself said that complacency over the event’s success was the biggest threat to its future.

Kasia Kaminska

Kasia Kaminska

After years of rising costs, hyper-demand and expansion, a new, more cautious fringe landscape could emerge.

Longer term, the big venues won’t be rubbing their hands, tickets will not be sold. Edinburgh Fringe has never been a level playing field and in an era when money for producing and promoting shows is tight, hit shows productions are increasingly programmed by many venues.

Is talk of resilience optimistic?

In this regard, fragile economies like the Fringe and the tireless theatre-makers that prop it up could take years to recover, with anxieties about Covid-19’s legacy and the combined blow of Brexit could prove tricky to rebound before the landscape returns to pre-pandemic health, though.

But as we have learnt in just a few short and cruel weeks, the devastation of this global health crisis on the world, let alone the wider theatre ecology, from Broadway, to the West End have been very difficult to predict and the effects will be no easier to foresee when we eventually do emerge from it.

So where does this leave the Fringe?

The knock-on effects of this will probably last two years, and I believe that this particular period of despair and pent up lockdown demand will prove a healthy trial with a surge of bold, dazzling new work to follow.

Baby Reindeer will play a strictly limited season at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End

Baby Reindeer
  • Following award-winning, sell out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Bush Theatre, Richard Gadd’s Tour De Force one-man show will play a strictly limited season at The Ambassadors Theatre in the West End
  • A harrowing story of how one act of kindness plunged Richard Gadd into six years of relentless stalking and harassment
  • Tickets go on sale for the production today with over 500 tickets per week priced at £25 or less

“I did question whether I deserved it. Where did my wrongdoing stop and hers begin?”

When award-winning comedian Richard Gadd offers a stranger a free cup of tea, he has no sense of the nightmare to come. One act of kindness. Six years of torment.

The sell-out smash hit of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Baby Reindeer is the “blistering” debut play (The Daily Telegraph) from Richard Gadd (Monkey See Monkey Do, Netflix’s Sex Education). Directed by Olivier Award-winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam), this is a chilling personal account of compulsion, delusion and obsession. Some admirers simply won’t be shaken off. “A haunted, haunting hour.” (The Guardian).

Baby Reindeer will play a strictly limited London run at the Ambassadors Theatre ahead of a New York transfer to BAM in May 2020.

Richard Gadd said: “Baby Reindeer has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences of my life. With an incredible team behind me, I have pushed myself to ridiculous limits in a show I find incredibly hard to say and do. The show is about the past six years of my life. An incredibly complicated, messy, confusing, and ultimately challenging period of time at the hands of a serial stalker hell-bent on ruining my life. It is a period of my life that I still look back on to this day with much unease. How did it get as bad as it did? How was it allowed to go on for so long? Why was there no help for me? I feel a moral duty to let people know the terrifying reality of going through something like this. I am absolutely delighted to be in the West End at such a prestigious venue like the Ambassadors. It is all a dream come true.”

Francesca Moody said: “It has been truly incredible to watch the success of Richard’s remarkable theatrical debut in Edinburgh and then at the Bush Theatre. Baby Reindeer is one of the most original and brilliant pieces of theatre I have ever seen and I passionately believe that it should be experienced by as many people as possible. I am thrilled to be partnering with Sonia Friedman Productions to bring Baby Reindeer to the West-End and a wider audience.”

Sonia Friedman said: “In the early 2000s, I produced, programmed and oversaw dozens of productions at the Ambassadors Theatre. It occupies a special place in my heart as the venue where I learned to push the boundaries of what is possible in commercial theatre. SFP is thrilled to be returning with this extraordinary play featuring a truly break-out performance from Richard Gadd. Baby Reindeer is the first of several remarkable works my creative development team and I have sought out to bring to this beautiful and intimate venue. We are excited to present this original, vital, small-scale work which demands to be seen by a wider audience in London’s West End.”

***** ‘A haunting, unsettling monologue about the nature of obsession’ – Evening Standard

**** ‘…tightens its grip with terrible inexorability’ – The Guardian

***** ‘A majestic performance – a reckoning, an exorcism’ – The Stage

**** ‘A master narrator full of intelligent insight and sheer descriptive power.’  – The Scotsman

**** ‘Utterly compelling’ –

**** ‘Baby Reindeer will follow you all the way home.’  – Financial Times

WINNER Fringe First 2019

WINNER Stage Edinburgh Award 2019

FINALIST Offwestend Award for performance and video design


FINALIST Mental Health Edinburgh Award

Baby Reindeer will play at the Ambassadors Theatre from April 2nd – May 2nd 2020. Over 500 tickets each week will be priced at £25 or less.

Two HOME-produced Edinburgh Festival hits come back to HOME in October

Co-produced by HOME, double Scotsman Fringe First winner Javaad Alipoor brings Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran, the second part of a trilogy of plays confronting modern life in all its unpredictability, to the venue where it was made, HOME Manchester, 23 October – 2 November 2019. 

The first play in the trilogy, The Believers Are But Brothers, co-commissioned by HOME, which was subsequently adapted for a one-hour TV special on BBC4, featured a WhatsApp group unique to each performance. For Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran, Alipoor and co-creator Kirsty Housley, inspired by the stories powering waves of unrest sweeping across large swathes of the world, have created a play about climate change anxiety, the collapse of political certainties, and how privileged kids behave on Instagram. 

While the leaders of certain countries preach an austere form of nationalism and religion, their children enjoy the fruits of their parents’ riches and privileges; social 

media means that the poorest can see how the rich are living. All around the world more and more people, like their countries, are running out of steam, and their ruling classes are only out for themselves. Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran, one of six HOME-produced shows at Edinburgh in 2019, performed by Alipoor and Peyvand Sadeghian, asks how did we get here, and what might come next. 

The gap between rich and poor is getting ever larger around the world, and social media is accelerating this ever-deepening divide. In the global south, the children of elites and post-colonial dictatorships flash cash, dollar signs, bottles of Bollinger, and infinity pool holidays while people languish under sanctions and dictatorships. 

“Photographs have always done something weird to how we tell stories,” says Javaad Alipoor. “As Susan Sontag pointed out, they have a way of freezing time, and making things look like they start, stop or at least pause at certain places. 

“It’s not that the way we tell the story of our lives on Instagram or by photo is any less truthful than any other way we curate ourselves, but it’s so easy to publish – about 1.8 billion pictures are uploaded to social media every day. That’s 657 billion a year, which is to say, every two minutes human beings share more photographs than existed in total a century ago. And so this is also a show about history, and the way it feels like it is catching up with us.” 

Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran is a Javaad Alipoor and HOME co-production in association with Traverse Theatre Company, which is co- commissioned by Diverse Actions, Theatre in the Mill, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Battersea Arts Centre, and Bush Theatre. 

PERFORMANCE CALENDAR Wed 23 October 2019, 19:45 Thu 24 October 2019, 19:45 (caption sub-titled performance) Fri 25 October 2019, 19:45 (audio-described performance; press night performance) Sat 26 October 2019, 14:15, 19:45 Mon 28 October 2019, 19:45 Tue 29 October 2019, 19:45 Wed 30 October 2019, 19:45 (British Sign Language-interpreted performance) Thu 31 October 2019, 14:15 Thu 31 October 2019, 19:45 Fri 1 November 2019, 19:45 

Sat 2 November 2019, 14:15 Sat 2 November 2019, 19:45 

TICKETS £12.50 (concessions £5-£10.50) @home_mcr #RichKidsPlay 

Edinburgh Festival 2019 Hit Class, from playwright, actor, director, broadcaster and activist Scottee, comes to Home Manchester 

The third and final show in a triptych of works which began in 2013 with The Worst of Scottee and continued with Bravado, which played at HOME in 2017, Class comes to HOME Manchester, Wed 23 – Sat 26 October 2019. Class is a show for the middle classes. It isn’t made for working-class audiences, for they already know the story Scottee – a HOME Associate Artist – unfolds. 

Scottee grew up around mould, mice and clothes off the market. After a chance meeting with some posh kids, his Mum teaching him to talk properly on the phone, and successfully persuading his parents to take him off free school meals, Scottee knew he didn’t want to be common. 

Co-commissioned by HOME and one of one of six HOME-produced shows at Edinburgh in 2019, Class, created by Scottee with acclaimed director Adele Thomas, uncovers what it is to be embarrassed about where you’re from, how you can pretend to be posher than you are, and explores why we all get a thrill playing god with green tokens from Waitrose. 

Directed by Sam Curtis Lindsay and based on Scottee’s personal experiences, Class will be Scottee’s final solo show, for he will no longer be delving into his past and will instead be working on more collective-based works. In 2018, Scottee set up Working Class Artists Group with Bryony Kimmings (whose solo show I’m a Phoenix, Bitch is at HOME Tue 26 Nov – Sat 30 Nov 2019). WCAG represents 33 artists working in theatre who cause trouble to get the sector to listen to working- class artists and their needs. 

PERFORMANCE CALENDAR Wed 23 October 2019, 19:30 Thu 24 October 2019, 19:30 (press night performance) Fri 25 October 2019, 19:30 Sat 26 October 2019, 19:30 

TICKETS £14-£16 (concessions £5-£12) @home_mcr #Classshow 

Traverse Festival 2019 receives exceptionally strong audience, critical and award reception

Traverse Theatre
  •  Audience numbers reach nearly 36,000
  • Over 40 five-star reviews across the programme
  • Mouthpiece wins the coveted Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, facilitating a New York transfer
  • A total of 13 award wins and four shortlistings

The Traverse Theatre has delivered an exceptionally strong and well-received Festival programme, celebrating resilience and action in the face of today’s challenging times. The range of stories and artists, both emergent and established, speaks to our year-round commitment to new writing and has resulted in us being hailed as the best for original plays’ (The Times) and a cornerstone of the Edinburgh Fringe (The Independent), putting the Traverse at the heart of this international cultural celebration.

Audience numbers and reactions reflected the strength of the programme – with total numbers topping last year, reaching 35,754 across the 256 production performances. Particularly strong critical praise saw Traverse Festival 2019 receive a total of 42 five-star reviews, and overwhelming audience demand for several productions resulted in additional performances for EnoughMouthpiece, Burgerz and Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster.


Of the record-breaking seven productions bearing the Traverse Theatre stamp, several immediately move on to further engagements with audiences elsewhere: Crocodile Fever  (Traverse Theatre Company in association with Lyric Theatre, Belfast) will tour to The Lyric, Belfast (3-8 September);How Not to Drown (ThickSkin and Traverse Theatre Company, in co-production with Tron Theatre and Lawrence Batley Theatre) will tour to Tron Theatre, Glasgow (11-14 September) and Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield (16-19 September); What Girls Are Made Of (Raw Material and Traverse Theatre Company, in association with Regular Music) will tour to Live Theatre, Newcastle (4-6 September), Soho Theatre, London (9-28 September) and Melbourne International Arts Festival (3-31 October); and Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran (Javaad Alipoor and HOME, in association with Traverse Theatre Company) will tour to HOME, Manchester (23 October-2 November).

Other Traverse Festival 2019 shows with upcoming tour dates include Trying It On (UK tour, 3 September-31 October); Until the Flood (Arcola Theatre, London, 4-28 September); and Burgerz (UK tour, 9 October-23 November).


Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award:

  • Mouthpiece

Fringe First Awards:

  • Enough
  • How Not to Drown
  • Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran
  • The Patient Gloria
  • Until the Flood

The Stage Edinburgh Awards:

  • Angus Taylor and Shauna Macdonald in Mouthpiece
  • Dael Orlandersmith in Until the Flood

Herald Angel Awards:

  • Dritan Kastrati in How Not to Drown
  • The Patient Gloria

Total Theatre Awards:

  • Travis Alabanza in Burgerz (Emerging Company/Artist)
  • Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster (Innovation, Experimentation and Playing With Form)

BroadwayWorld Edinburgh Fringe Festival Awards:

  • Crocodile Fever (Best Production)

In addition, there was a SIT-UP Award shortlist for How Not to Drown; a Holden Street Theatres Award shortlist for Mouthpiece; and a Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award shortlist for Burgerz.

Linda Crooks, Traverse Executive Producer, says:

“The success of the Traverse’s 2019 Festival programme must be attributed to the exceptional work of the artists on our stages, the crucial stories they have chosen to tell, the selfless teams who have supported them and our fantastically enthusiastic and open-minded audiences who have once again championed the Traverse and our work throughout the month – we thank them all unreservedly.

We are delighted that so many of the productions will be shortly moving on to further life around the country and the world, taking these vibrant and important stories far beyond the Traverse’s walls – and we are particularly thrilled to have again won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award which will bring Mouthpiece to a New York audience. We are already looking forward to Traverse Festival 2020 and the insightful, innovative and occasionally outrageous productions it will bring!”



Edinburgh Festivals Diary – Day 4

Edfringe 2019

My last day in Edinburgh, always a combination of joyous celebration for my sleep-deprived carcass and much sorrow. 

To the Pleasance for the big Fringe First Awards Ceremony – there were a couple of performances from this year’s Fringe First winning shows, The Patient Gloria and Bobby & Amy, and a closing performance by SK Shlomo, who had also been nominated for the Mental Health Fringe Award. 

oyce McMillan and Stephen Fry at the Fringe First Awards Ceremony

Joyce McMillan and Stephen Fry at the Fringe First Awards Ceremony

Stephen Fry was on hand to help critic Joyce McMillan present awards to the final week of winners.

Later at Pleasance Courtyard, I became aware of a member of the audience snatching a programme from the hand of a young usher. 

‘But I want to sit THERE.’ She hissed, before taking a seat next to me and then putting her head in her hands.

‘Oh my god… I was so horrible to that young man, wasn’t I?’ She asked. 

‘ You were an asshole.You ought to get a grip and go and apologise — immediately.’ I replied.

She did. 

Civil breakdown is never far at this stage of the festival. But there is no excuse for such bad behaviour; the Pleasance, like many fringe venues, relies largely on volunteers. 



Anyway, ThisEgg returned to the fringe with dressed, based on the true story of a woman’s response to being sexually assaulted at gunpoint. This is a delightfully layered four-woman show which weaves it’s strands together with accomplished skill and which — like so many shows on the fringe — takes a beautifully messy approach to telling an important story. 

I cried twice watching dressed; tears of pain and joy. I loved it. I loved the costumes, I loved the singing and I loved the degree of self revelation and personal risk taking; a highlight of my week. 

I bump into Producer Denise Silvey, she has four shows on the fringe this year, one of which is ‘Late Lunch With Christopher Biggins’, at Pleasance Dome. 

Late Lunch With Biggins featuring Ian McKellen

Late Lunch With Biggins featuring Ian McKellen

I learn that Ian McKellen will be the special guest, alongside Loose Woman and journalist Kaye Adams. Biggins shines in the role of cheeky chat-show host and it’s all rather a lot of fun. 

In the late afternoon I head to Bryony Kimmings’ sold out show ‘I’m A Phoenix, Bitch’, co-directed by Kimmings and Kirsty Housley.

This mind-blowingly good piece of theatre is about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength. Combining ethereal music, personal revelation, clever live film and art installation. 

Kimmings invites us into her recent traumas and marriage breakdown in an on-stage memory palace of dazzling live art: The stage becomes the site of the painful memories. 

I'm A Phoenix, B*tch © Rosie Powel

I’m A Phoenix, B*tch © Rosie Powel

There’s no two ways about it, ‘I’m A Phoenix, Bitch’ is an unostentatious, meticulously crafted ninety-minute performance that is profoundly touching, intimate and powerful. She has given us something, once again, much to long cherish.

You cannot to wrong with a bit of rimming.

The fringe is overdue a new hero and my final show of the day is Post Popular by Lucy McCormick. 

I sat on the front row at this X-rated show – which is excellent in about 37 different ways – that constitutes what I reckon has to be 2019’s definitive Superstar-Has-Landed moment. She is flanked by two largely mute boy toys in tiny pants – and they all sing and dance terrifically. 

Basically, Post Popular is a comedy about history’s famous women – the joke is that there are only four of them: Eve, Boudica, Florence Nightingale & Anne Boleyn.

Lucy McCormick: Post Popular - Holly Revell

Lucy McCormick: Post Popular – Holly Revell

What follows is an outrageous mishmash of cabaret vignettes. Indeed, McCormick’s willingness to look kinda silly while she’s doing her thing is what makes her so compelling. As a final statement she drops her pants while singing ‘Search For The Hero Inside Yourself’ before pulling a Cadbury’s Miniature Hero out of her vagina. 

Thank you, Lucy: I’d never seen a vagina in real life. Now I have. *thumbs up emoji*

So, that’s all, folks. 

It may be time for a digital detox and go off-grid: no blogs, no theatre, no tormenting. I’m removing social media apps from my iPhone (including WhatsApp) and taking some time out.

It feels like the right time to step back and take a rain check for a while. 

See you on the other side, guys. 


Edinburgh Festivals Diary – Day 3

To Assembly Hall for a very special EIF performance. Ian McKellen is celebrating his 80th birthday by performing extracts across his career, from Gandalf to Shakespeare and a brilliant revival of his panto dame Widow Twankey. 

The actor has already performed at 80 venues, raising £2 million for theatre charities by the time the current run ends in Orkney.

All profits from the tour will be used to support regional theatres and local drama provision. In Edinburgh, proceeds will support a bursary for an Edinburgh resident to study performance, as well as contributing to the refurbishment of the Drama Studio at Leith Academy, as part of the International Festival’s residency partnership with the school.

The show is a ebullient love letter to theatre and it is fifty years since McKellen last trod the boards at this somewhat intimate setting. 

If that wasn’t enough, next month he starts an 80-date west end run at the Harold Pinter theatre, raising funds for theatre charities. It was an unforgettable afternoon of recital, high jinks and reflection. 

Sir Ian McKellen shaking his bucket

Sir Ian McKellen shaking his bucket

As well as donating ticket sales, McKellen collects funds in a bucket after every performance  and wherever he goes, donates the takings to a cause specified by the organisation. 

I spot him on the stairs with collection bucket and hand over my loose change.

‘Carl! You get everywhere…’ said the octogenarian. 

‘Like dry rot?’ I suggested, smiling.  

‘Well, yes,’ he laughed, ‘but don’t worry, I still like you. Now give me your bloody money!’ 

Later, I head to Summerhall for Moot Moot.

You sometimes wonder what the second house Friday night at Glasgow Empire would have made of today’s Fringe acts and in Moot Moot’s case the answer is probably ‘torn to shreds’.

Moot Moot 

Moot Moot

It’s not entirely deserved, because their presentation is stylish and their creation of the world’s dullest radio chat show hosts ‘Barry and Barry’ are useful idiots, but their point about the futility of the format for meaningful discussion is made in the first five minutes and doesn’t survive even an Edinburgh hour.

After lunch I head to the Lyceum for Hard To Be Soft. Cast across fifty minutes and four episodes, the piece looks behind the masks of violence and masculinity to the inner lives of Belfast people.  

Hard To Be Soft, Lyceum Theatre

Hard To Be Soft, Lyceum Theatre

Belfast street life and religious ritual collide with liturgical dance and verbatim performance. Choreographer Oona Doherty exudes a powerful authority in this EIF-show that ranges from solo interludes, to electric all-female hip hop crew to solo rooted in pitiless vastness. Quite something. 

Taking time out from a relentless schedule is crucial. As is hydrating. I use the early evening to unwind, before heading back to Summerhall. 

Gavin Jon Wright and Daniel Portman star in Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair's Square Go

Gavin Jon Wright and Daniel Portman star in Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair’s Square Go

Square Go, one of a number of shows this year exploring toxic masculinity, revels in a charged, fun and occasionally demented adolescent energy as the Roundabout becomes a wrestling ring. Gary McNair and Kieran Hurley’s two-hander returns and it really is a highly entertaining and brilliant hour of Scottish banter.

My WhatsApp pings – a message from Park Theatre’s Founder and Artistic Director Jez Bond. 

‘Right so tonight I will be at Abbatoir after my last show – about 11pm. Wanna join?’ 

‘Absolutely. See you later – don’t get too excited.’ I replied. 

So, I walked to the Underbelly’s members bar at George Square – you need a shiny black card to slip in after dark – to be greeted warmly by Jez and his colleague Mark Cameron. The place is a kind of Soho House style for performers and industry folk in Bistro Square

I have a large glass of white wine and stand outside on the terrace – on my best behaviour, of course. My eyeballs usually freeze spending time in these kinds of places. But it was good to meet and chat with the cast and crew of fringe hit Four Woke Baes and see Jez. 

Anyway, I’d rather scratch my eyes out than see a show at 11.55pm. But Richard Gadd’s intense 65-minute Baby Reindeer, also at Summerhall, was a hot ticket. This was one of thing several additional late night performance added due to demand. Jon Britain’s production is angry, revelatory and visceral. 

Baby Reindeer. Photograph: Andrew Perry

Baby Reindeer. Photograph: Andrew Perry

It tells Gadd’s shocking experience of being stalked by a woman he met while working in a bar in London. Gadd delivers blistering insights into the horrifying failures of the police system. 

(The police said they were unable to help.)

A transfer to Bush Theatre was announced in the wee hours of Friday morning – lucky London. 

Ian McKellen On Stage runs from 20 September to 5 January 2020.

Hard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer is at the Southbank Centre on 11 October. 

Baby Reindeer runs at London’s Bush Theatre, from 9 October to 9 November.


2019 Total Theatre Award winners announced

Total Theatre Awards 2019

Since 1997, the Total Theatre Awards have been recognising innovative and artist-led performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Today the winners of the Total Theatre Awards 2019 were announced. Over the course of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe 25 peer assessors, comprised of artists, producers, programmers, curators, critics and academics assessed 403 shows across the first 11 days of the festival, from which a shortlist of 27 nominated shows was announced on 15 August 2019.

 Following this, the nominated shows were viewed by a panel of 21 judges who have awarded seven awards across five categories – one Total Theatre & Theatre Deli Award for an Emerging Company / Artist; two Total Theatre, Rose Bruford & Theatre in the Mill Awards for Innovation, Experimentation & Playing with Form; one Total Theatre & Cambridge Junction Award for Physical/Visual Theatre; two Total Theatre & Jacksons Lane Awards for Circus; and one Total Theatre & The Place Award for Dance.  Following shortlisting an additional 57 eligible late opening (post short listing) shows were Assessed and Judged, resulting in a further 3Judges discretionary Awards being awarded; alongside one award for Significant Contribution.

Speaking about the award winners, Co-Directors Jo Crowley and Becki Haines said;

 Today we celebrate 27 shortlisted artists, 7 award winners, 3 judges discretionary awards and a significant contribution. These visionary artists and theatre makers show the ability the sector has to carve essential discourse with society; gently and urgently provocating with immense skill, sensitivity, consideration, craft and care. In so doing, the shortlisted and winning artists collectively offer vital reflections, perspectives and insight into our society and times. They also remind us of the necessity for collective action across a spectrum of challenges and experiences to affect necessary change.

In 2019 Total Theatre Awards process has continued to rigorously re-evaluate what performance is by championing collective conversation between peers that culminates in the recognition of some of the worlds leading artists across this festival.  Taking time for this carefully considered peer discourse, debate and dialogue, we can explore and reflect upon the vital role contemporary live performance, theatre makers and independent artists play.

The details of all the winners below:

The Total Theatre Award Winners 2019 are:

 Total Theatre & Theatre Deli Award for an Emerging Company / Artist

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza

Hackney Showroom (England)


Total Theatre & Cambridge Junction Award for Physical / Visual Theatre

Working On My Night Moves

Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan with Zanetti Productions (New Zealand)


Total Theatre & Jacksons Lane Award for Circus


Nikki & JD (England)



Circumference (England)


Total Theatre & The Place Award for Dance

Seeking Unicorns

Chiara Bersani / Associazione Culturale Corpoceleste (Italy)

Dance Base

Total Theatre, Rose Bruford College & Theatre in the Mill Award


Innovation, Experimentation & Playing with Form

Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster

Battersea Arts Centre and BAC Beatbox Academy (England)


Tricky Second Album

In Bed with My Brother (England)


Judges Discretionary Award

The End

Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas (England)


Scottee: Fat Blokes

Scottee & Friends Ltd (England)


The Forecast

Amy Bell, presented by The Place (England)

Dance Base

Significant Contribution Award

Jessica Brough and Fringe of Colour


Richard Gadd’s Fringe First Award-winning Edinburgh hit transfers to London

I looked at her, wanting to laugh.  Wanting her to share the joke.  But she didn’t.  She just stared.  I know then, in that moment – that she had taken it literally…’

When Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner Richard Gadd (Monkey See Monkey Do) offers a free cup of tea to a stranger, what appears to be a trivial interaction has ramifications far wider than he could ever have imagined.

Fresh from a sell-out critically acclaimed world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where the production was awarded a Fringe First, Baby Reindeer is an unmissable debut play and chilling personal narrative exploring obsession, delusion, and the aftermath of a chance encounter.

Directed by Olivier Award-winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam), and presented by Francesca Moody Productions in association with Bush Theatre, SEARED Productions and Julie Clare Productions, Baby Reindeer opens at the Bush Theatre on 9 October (Press night 11 October).

***** ‘A haunting, unsettling monologue about the nature of obsession’ – Evening Standard

**** ‘Jon Brittain’s production tightens its grip with terrible inexorability’ –  Guardian

***** ‘A majestic performance – a reckoning, an exorcism’ – The Stage

**** ‘A master narrator full of intelligent insight and sheer descriptive power.’  – Scotsman

***** ‘Utterly compelling’ –

***** ‘As taut as a classic thriller’  – The National

**** ’Baby Reindeer will follow you all the way home.’  – Financial Times

***** ‘Courageous, compelling and deeply affecting’  – British Theatre Guide 

**** ‘The stuff of nightmares’-  Independent

‘An exquisitely crafted 65 minutes’  – Lyn Gardner, Stage Door

Richard Gadd is a multi-award winning writer, performer, and actor. His show, Monkey See Monkey Do, won the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe where it was also nominated for a Total Theatre Award for Innovation. The show subsequently had several sell-out runs at London’s Soho Theatre, toured the UK and Europe, and had a run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where it was nominated for the 2017 Barry Award and was broadcast on Comedy Central. He subsequently developed a scripted television project based around Monkey See Monkey Do with Kudos Film and Television and Channel Four.

His previous shows Waiting for Gaddot, Breaking Gadd, and Cheese & Crack Whores were also fringe hits and all went on to three-week runs or more in the Soho Theatre. The former won the Amused Moose Best Show Edinburgh Fringe 2015 and was nominated for a Malcolm Hardee Award for Innovation. In addition, Richard won a Chortle Comedian’s Comedian Award 2017, as well as being nominated for an Off West End theatre award for Best Performer in the same year.

Richard is also a successful actor, who starred opposite Daniel Mays in the BAFTA-nominated BBC2 single drama Against the Law. Other key acting credits include C4’s Humans Series 3 and lead roles in BBC3’s Clique Series 2, and E4’s Tripped Series 1. Recently, Richard played a lead role in Sky Arts’ film One Normal Night. Richard is currently filming alongside Stephen Graham and Daniel Mays, in Sky One’s new six-part comedy series Code 404.

In addition, Richard is also a writer who has written episodes of Netflix smash-hit Sex Education, as well as Ultimate Worrier for Dave and The Last Leg for Channel Four where he is also one of their correspondents.

Richard has other scripted projects in development with Clerkenwell Films, Me & You Productions, Balloon Ltd. Fulwell, and Filmwave. He also recorded his own pilot for BBC Radio 4 with Dabster Productions, The Richard Gadd Show, which aired in July 2018.

Jon Brittain is a playwright, comedy writer and director. His critically acclaimed play Rotterdam earned him a nomination for the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards and won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. Other work includes the critically acclaimed Billionaire Boy: The Musical, the cult hit Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho and its sequel Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows, and the Scotsman Fringe First Award-winning A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad). He directed John Kearns’s Fosters Award-winning shows Sight Gags for Perverts and Shtick, and the follow-ups Don’t Bother, They’re Here and Double Take and Fade Away, Tom Allen’s Both WorldsIndeed and Absolutely, Mat Ewins’s Actually Can I Have Eight Tickets Please, and Tom Rosenthal’s Manhood. For TV he has been a staff writer on Cartoon Network’s The Amazing World of Gumball and on Netflix’s The Crown.



Edinburgh Festivals Diary – Day 1

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Scotland’s capital city: this year 3,841 shows feature in 323 venues.

It is one of the the most important events in the theatre calendar.

I arrived in town and headed for Fringe Central and bumped into West End Producer flyering near Pleasance Dome.

‘Did you miss me, dear?’ I asked.

‘Yes, dear! I’ve been looking for my Willy.’ he laughed.

WEP, as he is known in theatrical circles, is making his Edinburgh Fringe debut with West End Producer (and Guests) – Free Willy! 

‘How has it been?’ I asked.

‘Well, numbers are low and the competition is huge. But, finally, I’m beginning to enjoy myself, dear.’ WEP explained.

I arrive at Fringe Central: a resource developed for Fringe participants. During the festive they offer well over 100 free events designed to help participants and performers  make the most out of their Fringe experience.

Roots by 1927 Theatre Company at the Church Hill theatre, Edinburgh.Photograph: Murdo MacLeod

Roots by 1927 Theatre Company at the Church Hill theatre, Edinburgh.Photograph: Murdo MacLeod

Anyway, having collected my media pass, I dash across the meadows to Church Hill Theatre to see Roots. An International Festival show blending early cinema techniques, animation and live performance by 1927, the theatre company behind Golem.

This is a fresh take on 13 folk tales, or “folk jokes” as the company calls them. This is a charming, challenging and very memorable show, thanks to a combination of offbeat humour, stunning music and emotion.

Kitchen brawls don’t tend to end well for women. Crocodile Fever – presented in association with the Lyric Theatre – at Traverse, wipes the floor with the patriarchy, though.

Dwyer Hogg with Lucianne McEvoy as Alannah.Photograph: Lara Cappelli

Dwyer Hogg with Lucianne McEvoy as Alannah.Photograph: Lara Cappelli

Meghan Tyler’s gruesome play is set during the 1980’s in rural Northern Ireland and focuses on a reunion of two sisters. The snapping, crackling script whizzes by and the whole thing is kind of absurd, but also, truly unmissable.

One of the lovelier things about returning to the festival is catching up with old friends, bumping into former acquaintances and saluting the hardworking people that keep the city firing on all cylinders; bar staff, taxi drivers, cafe owners, and more.

I head for coffee and read newspapers at my favourite hotel.

I spot the manager

‘Welcome back’ he said.

‘It’s good to be back,’ I said, ‘you having fun?’

‘Thanks, Mr Woodward! I’m absolutely loving it!’ he replied. He catches me reading The Daily Mirror.

‘Oh dear…’ he said.

‘Don’t judge, I read them all.’ I replied.

‘Do you know what, I often see many, many people walk in here for breakfast with a Financial Times…. and a Daily Mirror inside!’ He laughed.


The rest of the day was spent with Stephen Fry. Fry brings the nine-hour epic cut into three stage shows of his Greek legends book Mythos to the EIF as the opening dates of a UK tour – his first since hitting the road with Hugh Laurie forty years ago.

Basically, Men focuses on the Trojan War and Odysseus’s journey home. Heroes explores the legends of Hercules, Theseus and Perseus and, finally, Gods takes us back to the origins of the Greek pantheon.

I’m not saying Mr Fry’s decision to perform three shows about the same topic go on a bit – but good grief. There are 20 minute intervals, thankfully. And light relief in this well  structured lecture-slash-performance-slash-seminar come when things get interactive when the audience play ‘Mythical Pursuits’ and pose questions to his ‘oracle’. Absolutely ideal.

Stephen Fry in Mythos: A Trilogy – Gods. Heroes. Men at Edinburgh International Festival (Photo: David Cooper)

Stephen Fry in Mythos: A Trilogy – Gods. Heroes. Men at Edinburgh International Festival (Photo: David Cooper)

To be fair, the man is a walking encyclopaedia and a national treasure,  (Fun fact: the Milky Way is derived from when Hera woke and realised that she was breastfeeding an infant that wasn’t her own, she shoved him off and the spurting milk became the Milky Way.)

The Fringe and the International Festival both run until 26 August.


Cardboard Citizens launch campaign challenging Fringe audiences to no longer be Bystanders to homelessness

Cardboard Citizens Bystanders Andre
  • Campaign Citizens Do asks Fringe audiences to take direct action to help tackle homelessness in Edinburgh and beyond.
  • The campaign runs alongside Bystanders by UK’s leading homelessness theatre company Cardboard Citizens which premieres at Edinburgh Fringe.
  • Citizens Do is supported by leading local and national homeless charities; The Museum of Homelessness, Crisis, Cyrenians and Shelter Scotland.

Today, the UK’s leading homelessness theatre company Cardboard Citizens supported by local and national charities including; Crisis, Shelter Scotland, Cyrenians and The Museum of Homelessness launched Citizens Do, a campaign to challenge Edinburgh Fringe audiences to no longer be bystanders to homelessness.

The campaign calls on Fringe audiences to take a series simple actions to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness in Edinburgh and across Scotland. Participants who sign up to support Citizens Do will receive three daily actions ranging from the personal to the political, from buying a homelessness person a cup of tea, to signing a petition to call for the creation of a formal, unified approach to recording homeless deaths in Scotland.

Citizens Do runs alongside Bystanders, a new production at the Fringe by Cardboard Citizens which tells the true-life stories around homeless lives and deaths and the causes of both. After last year’s revelations by The Bureau for Investigative Journalism on the largely unreported and unrecorded scale of homeless deaths in the UK – with the staggering reality of 800 homeless men and women having died between October 2017 and March 2019 –Bystanders gives those unheard voices the stage in true-life stories told with authenticity, wit and sadness.

The combined objective of Bystanders and the Citizens Do campaign is to challenge audiences to no longer see homeless people as invisible, or consider homelessness as an inevitable problem. Audiences are called on to take direct action collectively to improve the lives of homeless people, to be more than just a bystander.

Michael Chandler, Director of Social Change, Cardboard Citizens said: “Through signing up to Citizens Do, we hope our audiences will go out and make a difference in Edinburgh at what can be a challenging time of year in the city. We hope that this campaign can inspire Fringe audiences to take small, achievable actions to improve the lives of some of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable residents, and perhaps be inspired to make a change in the cities and towns where they live.”

Ewan Aitken, CEO, Cyrenians, said: “Cardboard Citizens do amazing work raising awareness of the tough realities of homelessness through their fantastic productions, with Bystanders promising to be an unmissable show this summer.

We’re delighted that they’re using this opportunity and the considerable platform provided by the Fringe to give audiences a means to help those affected by homelessness. Join us by signing up to the Citizens Do Campaign and help make a real and lasting difference.”

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, Crisis, said: “When some people are struggling, it has an impact on our whole society – and when people are dying because of homelessness, we know things have to change. That’s why it’s imperative that we all work together to end homelessness for good. The Citizens Do campaign inspires us all to take action – whether that’s stopping for a chat with someone sleeping rough and offering to buy them a coffee or sandwich, or tackling the root causes of homelessness. We know that homelessness isn’t inevitable – and together, we can end it once and for all.”

Citizens Do is live now and participants can sign up via 

The Fringe campaign is a development of an award-winning campaign launched by Cardboard Citizens at Soho Theatre, in which audience members and others sign up to receive a series of simple actions to improve the lives of homeless people. The first iteration of Citizens Do won the 2019 Best Digital Campaign award at the National Campaigner Awards, given by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation.

Bystanders runs from 31st July – 25th August, 11:30am, Summerhall (Tech Cube 0), tickets via