For more than 15 years, Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Award has highlighted the very best of human rights themed theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Award honours a production that shines a spotlight on a crucial issue of relevance to Amnesty’s human rights campaigning, and also inspires activism or action. This year I’m proud to say I have been asked to be one of the judges of the award.
I’ve been asked to take part because of my work as editor of The Grind, an independent journal of the arts that I founded in 2013. The Grind championed new and emerging talents in the Scottish creative scene through digital publications, events, podcasts, and social media. I recently put The Grind on hiatus, but its influence lives on through the many artists, poets, writers, and photographers who found a home there.
It is an honour to play my part in Amnesty’s hugely important work – giving a voice to those who do not have one is something I have been passionate about for a long time, even before establishing The Grind. Today, Amnesty’s work is more important than ever and it is vital that performances tackling difficult human rights issues are encouraged, supported, and celebrated. This is also a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the incredible atmosphere that the Festival brings to Edinburgh. I’ll be attending theatrical shows with a particular focus on human rights, reviewing the performances and ultimately helping to pick an overall winner.
The 2016 Freedom of Expression Award was presented to Cora Bissett and David Greig’s The Glasgow Girls – a fantastically inspirational true story of schoolgirls who became human rights campaigners to stand up for their classmate who experienced unfair treatment at the hands of the Home Office. The production continued beyond the Fringe, touring across the UK and visiting schools in Scotland – inspiring a new generation of young activists.
Other notable winners include:
2015 A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
Powerful theatre that explored challenging themes including the long-term impact of child abuse and rape.
Mark Thomas’ award-winning show considered timely issues including the erosion of our rights to privacy.
A searing work based on a horrific gang rape in Delhi in 2012 and the real experience of women whose lives have been shattered by gender-based violence.
To nominate an Edinburgh Festival Fringe production or learn more about the Freedom of Expression Award 2017 contact:
Gordon Johnstone – Digital and PR Account Manager