The Scotsman, a newspaper and news website based in Edinburgh, has announced its first round of Fringe First winners for this year's Fringe. It's a momentous time as the festival has about two weeks to go, and the awards are one of artists' most coveted forms of recognition.
This year's winners so far are England and Son which plays the Roundabout @Summerhall, Funeral at Zoo Southside, A Funeral For My Friend Who Is Still Alive at theSpace @ Niddry Street, The Grand Old Opera House Hotel and Heaven both of which play Traverse Theatre, and JM Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K at Assembly Hall (which is also a Playbill Pick).
The Fringe First awards are the oldest at the Fringe, and celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. Launched in 1973, the awards are given to new writing debuting at Fringe. Scotsman arts editor Allen Wright and Fringe administrator John Milligan came up with the idea of the Fringe First Awards to help revive new work at the festival 25 years after it started.
Since then, the awards—which are only the recognition without any financial reward or other such opportunity—have become a driver of crowds at the festival, and have been a good indicator of seeing work before it grows like Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag. Winners are announced in three rounds over the course of the festival as The Scotsman's team of critics, led by the newspaper's chief theatre critic and chair of the awards Joyce McMillan, pack in seeing as many of the eligible shows as possible. According to the Fringe website, there are 291 registered shows tagged as new writing this festival.
For those interested in a look back at the Fringe Firsts' history and the shows that met acclaim at the festival ahead of launching on to other stages, there is a free photography exhibition on the south side of St. Andrew Square in New Town throughout the festival. It is titled The Fringe Firsts at 50.
The University of Edinburgh sponsors the Fringe First Awards.