Week 1 – in association with Heverlee
The foyer of Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre would have been bustling anyway, with theatre-goers arriving for a full day watching The James Plays, but Saturday’s Herald Angel awards added a whole extra layer of activity, with performers rushing off to do their shows immediately after collecting their trophy, or arriving during the ceremony immediately after their performance. Add in a link to the other side of the world, and a post-event beer-tasting courtesy of sponsor Heverlee, and it made for an exciting hour or so.
Alasdair Bayne of Heverlee found himself at the centre of this storm, presenting our awards and certificates as well as his own gift of bespoke glasses to our winners, until the occasion was brought to a musical conclusion by singer and accordianist Jana Vebrova from the Lenka Vagnerova Company. The company is an Angel-winner on the
Fringe for La Loba at Zoo Southside, in which she appears with dancer Andrea Opavska. Vebrova also has her own concert at the same venue this Friday evening.
Our last arrival was Caroline Bowditch, Glasgow-based but Australian-born, who was
onstage at Dance Base with her show Falling In Love With Frida while the rest of the awards were made. She revealed that her Angel-garlanded show may now be travelling to Frida Kahlo’s South American home after its exposure in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh-based pianist Steven Osborne was awarded a Herald Angel for his appearances in the opening concert of the Festival’s Greyfriar’s series
playing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and at the Queen’s Hall playing Tippett, Britten and Beethoven. Osborne had departed to play concerts in Australia immediately afterward, so sent a video “selfie”.
“I feel a bit like Bono phoning in my acceptance speech because I’m too fabulous to attend but I am in Tasmania at the moment so it’s a bit tricky to pop down,” he said. “I am really grateful for this award, thank you so much for it. It always means so much to me playing in the Edinburgh Festival, as I grew up going to concerts there and I just have such great associations with the Queen’s Hall particularly. I want to say a big thank you to Jonathan Mills for inviting me and for having done so a number of times over the last years. It is really wonderful to have this ongoing association with the Festival and I want to wish him the very best in what he is going on to do.”
Australia’s Back to Back Theatre were also Angel-winners from the Festival programme for their challenging show Ganesh Versus the Third Reich. Although the company has returned home, Scots performer David Woods, who had joined them as a guest artist, was able to collect the award before performing a lunchtime show with his own company, Ridiculusmus, at Summerhall on the Fringe.
Dead Centre were also on stage at the Traverse at the same time as our awards, performing the Angel-winning LIPPY, a show about how we understand stories of a tragedy, like the tale of four Irishwomen who starved themselves to death which inspired the work. However co-director Ben Kidd was with us, and underlined the importance of such recognition to small companies like his.
The artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Laurie Sansom, was at a family wedding on Saturday, but his Herald Angel for The James Plays, presented only minutes before the curtain went up, had a fine subsititute recipient in the writer of the acclaimed historical dramas, Rona Munro. She took the opportunity to pay fulsome tribute to the director of the trilogy for his key role in keeping the project on track, in partnership with the Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain, at points when the scale of it seemed impossible.
Our Archangel this week, the supreme Herald award made to those who have made a sustained contribution to the Edinburgh Festivals, was received by Irish actor Olwen Fouere immediately before she appeared on the mainstage at the Traverse in her solo tour de force, riverrun. Fouere’s International Festival appearances span 25 years and work for directors Steven Berkoff, Patrick Mason and Calixto Bieito, but this staging of the words of James Joyce, created for the Galway Festival and already a hit in Dublin and London, is her first solo show on the Fringe.
And before we sampled the Belgian beer, there was an Irish accent to the boozy tale that won our Little Devil award for embodying the ethos that the show must go on. Former Angel-winner comedian Andrew Maxwell was assaulted by a full pint at the start of his Assembly Rooms show, when an audience member made a pre-planned ale-wasting comment on his views on Scotland’s referendum. Maxwell was game enough to remove his sodden shirt and perform the gig in the “taps-aff” style favoured by Glaswegian lads at the merest glimpse of sun. His acceptance speech about the importance of the Edinburgh Fringe as a place where comedians take their place alongside all the other arts showed him to be, as we knew, as thoughtful chap as well as a trouper.
Week 2 – 2014
Week 2- In association with Edinburgh Napier University
The five male dancers of New Zealand’s Black Grace company were en route to
Edinburgh Airport to begin their long journey home on Saturday morning, but they stopped off in the foyer of the Festival Theatre long enough to demonstrate why they were popular winners of one of this week’s Herald Angel awards. Instructed by choreographer Neil Ieremia to “get undressed”, the chaps stripped off their shirts and shoes and launched into a brief athletic routine that got Saturday’s event off to a flying start.
The week’s awards were sponsored by Edinburgh Napier University and presented by Dr Sandra Cairncross, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Creative Industries. “It is always a pleasure to be involved in handing out awards, especially when they are associated with innovation and creativity. We are very pleased to be involved in today’s awards and to be able to build on our relationship with Scotland’s creative arts sector and, indeed, our very close ties with all of Edinburgh’s festivals,” she said.
Alongside the dancers from New Zealanders, the Fringe was well represented in theatre and music. Actor Rosie Wyatt collected the award for Clara Brennan’s play Spine at the Underbelly, in which she gives a powerful solo performance as a young woman who is educated and politicised by an elderly lady with whom she seeks shelter. Both writer and performer create wonderfully well drawn characters in both the girl and the older women, although the latter never actually appears onstage in the drama, which has grown from a smaller piece that featured in the Angel-winning Theatre Uncut season.
Shona Reppe and Andy Manley won an Angel as creators of HUFF, a theatrical installation in the foyer of the Traverse theatre which imagines the world of the three pigs and the houses in which they seek shelter from the wolf. With video and sound as part of the 20 minute intimate journey, the work has proved immensely popular with audiences from eight to 80.
Clarsach player Catriona McKay dedicated the Angel that she won with her duo partner, fiddler Chris Stout, to the memory of her sister-in-law, who had died since their concert in St Andrew and St George’s Church, a regular date in the Fringe calendar which this year featured music from the Sally Beamish commission, Seavaigers.
Kim Finlay of The Outhouse in Barony Street Lane picked up the award to the venue, which regularly hosts some of the most vibrant music on the Fringe, with singers Lillian Boutte and Barbara Morrison joined this year by saxophonist Arturo Tappin. She said it was good to rewarded “for something we’d be doing anyway.”
The International Festival’s programme had an Angel-winner in Philippe Herreweghe, conductor of Collegium Vocale Gent, whose award was collected by the Festival’s planning director Roy Luxford, who delivered a message from the musician.
“The Edinburgh Festival 2014 will forever remain for me an unforgettable, tremendous experience: three of my most deeply cherished masterworks of the whole repertoire, for a highly inspiring audience of connoisseurs! It was also intensely stimulating to work both with my own ensembles and with the SCO. I thank them all for their patience with me,” he said. “I am very grateful as well to my friend Jonathan Mills, the most imaginative music director I ever met.”
Dancer and choreographer Akram Khan was the winner of the week’s Archangel award for a sustained contribution to the Festival having returned to present Gnosis a decade after his last appearance. In a video, he said: “I feel honoured and humbled by this Archangel award. I’d like to thank the Edinburgh International Festival, particularly Jonathan Mills, the wonderful audience, the Herald, and finally Mary Brennan, who has been a great supporter through her words, her kind words, generous words. For any artist it is always a privilege to be performing at the Edinburgh International Festival.”
Our Little Devil Award for going the extra mile went to Louisa Adamson, the production manager of The God That Comes, 2b Theatre Company of Canada’s rock’n’roll cabaret with Hawksley Workman, whose expertise in repairing and maintaining musical instruments and complex electronic equipment ensured the persistence of a fine show even after her own “mild electrocution”.
The morning concluded with the revealing of the winner of this year’s Wee Cherub award to the best of the Young Critics who submitted reviews of performances at this year’s Festival in the project The Herald runs in partnership with the EIF’s programme development department. Of the five published reviews of Khan’s Gnosis, the I-Culture Orchestra, Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, Exhibit B, and Owen Windgrave by pupils from Royal High, Broughton, Holy Rood, Portobello and Boroughmuir schools, Clare Masson of Boroughmuir was selected for her review of the opera which she described as “such a poignantly upsetting story of one man searching for peace.”