Summerhall confirms Edinburgh writing supremacy with four further Fringe Firsts

The Stage / Thom Dibdin

Summerhall has continued its awards domination at Edinburgh, garnering a further four Fringe First prizes.

This brings its tally of The Scotsman’s awards for new writing on the Edinburgh Fringe up to an unprecedented 10, more than half the 19 handed out this year.

Earlier this week, it also picked up four prizes at the Total Theatre Awards.

Two of this week’s awards have gone to pop-up venue Roundabout at Summerhall, with a nod to both Paines Plough for Growth and Prime Cut Productions for Scorch.

Sh!t Theatre’s Show and Tell has received an award for Letters to Windsor House, while One Hundred Homes from Yinka Kuitenbrouwer, a co-production between Richard Jordan Productions, Big in Belgium and Theatre Royal Plymouth, also took a prize.

At the Pleasance, Hoipolloi has been rewarded with a Fringe First for The Duke – another Theatre Royal Plymouth co-production. At Underbelly, The Stage Edinburgh Award winning Joan, a Milk Presents, Derby Playhouse and Underbelly production, has also been recognised.

Asked about Summerhall’s dominance this year, Scotsman chief critic and chairman of the judging panel Joyce McMillan told The Stage: “We have checked hundreds of shows everywhere, we have just worn ourselves out. But basically the Summerhall ones are much better and getting much higher scores from everyone.”

She continued: “It is astonishing to think that a venue which didn’t exist eight years ago is now the venue on the fringe at the moment.”

McMillan said there was “a real quality of artistic ambition about the work” at Summerhall and said they had “managed to be both interesting and achieve something in terms of artistic shape and quality”.

She credited part of the success of Summerhall to the physical buildings in which it is based, originally built as the University of Edinburgh Veterinary College, and used year round as offices for arts organisations and venue spaces.

“The Summerhall operation this year is almost more of a federation than a venue. If you look at the number of people involved there – Paines Plough with Roundabout, Aurora Nova, Northern Stage – a lot of people have come in under the Summerhall umbrella. It is just such a rambling physical place, apart from anything else, that they can find places to set up shop,” she said.