News: Landmark Edinburgh Fringe For The Pleasance

The Edinburgh Fringe 2018 has seen the Pleasance present its biggest-ever programme with 5,537 performances of 270 productions. With record ticket sales and a trophy cabinet of awards that include Fringe Firsts and both annual Edinburgh Comedy Awards, the eclectic programme celebrated newcomers alongside acclaimed international artists.

In only its second year of Pleasance at EICC, audience numbers have trebled with people flocking to high profile acts such as Reginald D Hunter, Cirque Berserk!, Daniel Sloss and the Scottish Ensemble. The EICC also won Best Venue at this year’s Accessible Edinburgh Festivals Award. Overall, ticket sales this year at Pleasance have increased by 10% since 2017. The famous Pleasance Kidzone and the family programme continues to grow and flourish with over 55,000 tickets sold.

The organisation’s artist development platform Pleasance Futures put over £135,000 of direct support into new productions and initiatives, including youth theatre group the Young Pleasance, graduate companies Clay Party and The Network, and the recipients of the Charlie Hartill Special Reserve Fund the Comedy Reserve and Freeman. The Pleasance’s Festival Volunteer Programme saw over 230 talented individuals from across the country and beyond join for a unique experience at the heart of the Fringe community.

Anthony Alderson, Director of the Pleasance, said, I see Pleasance as one large family and this is reflected in both the acts who form our amazing programme and the staff who inject Pleasance with its contagious personality. This year’s Fringe we have hosted over 200 premieres and seen over 100 acts making their Pleasance debuts. I’m thrilled to welcome them to our fold. Pleasance represents every generation from the toddlers in Kidzone, to Young Pleasance, the newcomers in the Comedy Reserve, to those doing their debut hour and the more established companies and playwrights who have graced Pleasance with their presence over many a year. It has been a wonderful festival and I’m already looking forward to planning the next.

It’s been a remarkable year for awards at the Pleasance across comedy and theatre. Pleasance dominated The Edinburgh Comedy Awards with Ciarán Dowd (pictured) winning Best Newcomer and Rose Matafeo taking home Best Comedy Show. Furthermore, Pleasance was home to more than half of the thirteen nominations. Alex Edelman, Kieran Hodgson, and Felicity Ward were among those nominated for Best Comedy Show. And, those nominated for Best Newcomer included Olga Koch, Sarah Keyworth and Sindhu Vee. Last year’s Best Newcomer, Natalie Palamides, returned to the Pleasance with her new show Nate, winning the ‘Innovation, Experimentation and Playing with Form’ category at the Total Theatre Awards.

The two Edinburgh Comedy Awards nominees Sarah Keyworth and Alex Edelman were also recognised with Herald Angels. Teatr Biuro Podróży was also awarded the Herald Archangel Award for their sustained and valued connection with the Edinburgh Fringe. After first performing at the Fringe in 1995 with Carmen Funebre, it was especially fitting that the award came to the company this year as they returned with the production to the Pleasance at EICC alongside its new partner piece Silence.

In the final week The Archive of Educated Hearts and Power Play: Funeral Flowers both received renowned Fringe Firsts from The Scotsman. Both pieces were performed in unusual site-specific spaces a shed and a new town flat respectively. Power Play: Funeral Flowers was also awarded the Filipa Bragança Award for an outstanding solo theatre performance by an actress - a sought-after award for which White by Koko Brown was also shortlisted. Shortlisted for the SIT-UP Awards which consider the social impact at the heart of productions were both Power Play: The Empty Chair and Freeman. The Charlie Hartill Special Reserve Fund recipient, Freeman, was also shortlisted for the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Fringe Award alongside White with Silence making the longlist. Better Together was also awarded the SIT-UP Award for Audience Engagement while Sirens and When You Fall Down: The Buster Keaton Story received the Three Weeks Editors’ Choice Awards and Sparks was named Best New Musical by Musical Theatre Review. Elise and A Clown Show About Rain were shortlisted for the Mental Health Fringe Award, which Electrolyte took home. Electrolyte was also shortlisted for the Holden Street Theatres Award to transfer to the Adelaide Fringe which was won by Build a Rocket.

Back for its second year, the Indies are Pleasance’s very own in-house awards named after founder Christopher Richardson’s black Labrador, Indie. In Pleasance’s true family spirit, these are voted for by the performing companies themselves with the Spirit of the Pleasance Award going to the person or company who has gone out of their way for their fellow performers. This year, the award went to William Andrews for his support of other companies and his uplifting spirit. The other winners include Sheeps: Live Loud Selfie Sex Harry Potter for Best Comedy, Cabaret or Variety Show; Sarah Keyworth: Dark Horse for Best Comedy, Cabaret or Variety Newcomer; Toby Thompson: For the Record for Best Theatre, Family, Music or Dance; Electrolyte for Best Theatre, Family Music or Dance Newcomer; and Short & Curly: Young at Start for Best Poster Design.

The Fringe’s longest-running fundraising partnership between Waverley Care and the Pleasance has this year smashed through the £500,000 target. At the beginning of August, the unique partnership was £25,000 short of half a million pounds mark. With bucket collections, text donations and the ticket sales from incredible annual events such as The Tartan Ribbon Comedy Benefit and Amusical, Waverley Care can continue to raise money and awareness of HIV and hepatitis C in Scotland.



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