City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Fringe Shows The Wheel and Sold Win Amnesty Award

By edg - Posted on 26 August 2011

Fringe 2011: Cast of Sold purvey their show at Pleasance Courtyard

The joint winners of the 2011 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award were announced yesterday. The winners of the award that honours productions fighting for human rights were Sold (view photos), directed by Catherine Alexander at the Pleasance Courtyard, and The Wheel, directed by Vicky Featherstone at the Traverse.

It is the first time in the award’s ten-year history, that Amnestry has announced two winners for the award.

“It’s a real honour to have a play like Sold acknowledged by Amnesty International," said Catherine Alexander, director of Sold. "I hope the award helps to bring Sold to a wider audience and that people are moved to do something about what they’ve seen. People are still living in slavery, even here in the UK, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to stand up and say that it has to stop.”

Vicky Featherstone, director of The Wheel, said: “I’m delighted to receive the Freedom of Expression Award. The Wheel is meant to be a challenging piece of theatre, not just intellectually but also politically and emotionally. Getting the approval of Amnesty makes me think that we must have got some of that right.”

Amnesty International Scotland Director and award judge John Watson said that with 92 productions in contention for the award there was unprecedented large number of entries this year.

It was also the first time that a comedian - Mark Thomas - was  shortlisted.

The other production that was shortlisted was The other Release by Icon Theatre at the Pleasance Dome.

Awards Jury comments

The jury for the Amnesty award were Joyce McMillan of the Scotsman and Neil Cooper of The Herald; academic, artist and researcher Stephanie Knight; Sam Friedman of Fest magazine and Amnesty International Scotland Director John Watson.

The judging panel said of the two productions:

The Wheel is a complex and epic story of how children can be corrupted by the ravages of war. By lurching through the centuries the way it does, it brings home the message that circumstances too often dictate how lives can go off the rails in a brilliantly performed, masterfully directed and profound piece of work that offers no easy answers except hope.”

"Sold is an ambitious, fast-moving show which combines a strong overview of the whole issue of slavery in human society with a series of powerful cameos of individual stories, involving trafficking into this country now. It's a memorable piece of agitprop drama which leaves us in no doubt that despite the increasing exposure of human trafficking in recent years, and widespread political debate on the issue, it is a problem that is not going away; in fact, if anything, it is growing worse, demanding real action from us all."

Amnesty's Edinburgh Festival Campaign

Amnesty’s 2011 Edinburgh Festival campaign is for the “UAE 5”, five men detained in the United Arab Emirates and charged with “insulting officials” after calling for democracy and criticising the government.

Amnesty is asking people at the festival to text (SMS) the word “FREEDOM” followed by their name to 81222 to join a petition, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the “UAE 5”, which will be presented to the United Arab Emirates’ embassy in London ahead of their trial, now set for the end of September. Amnesty campaigners are out on the streets of Edinburgh asking people to get involved.

The five men – blogger and political commentator Ahmed Mansoor, lecturer Nasser bin Ghaith and online activists Fahad Salim Dalk, Ahmed Abdul Khaleq and Hassan Ali al-Khamis - have been detained in the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi since April. In June they were charged under article 176 of the Penal Code, which makes it a crime to publicly insult the country’s top officials. None of the men is known to have advocated any violence or change of government.

Amnesty marks its 50th birthday this year.