NE company wins Best of Fringe award

Peter Lathan

NE women’s theatre company, Open Clasp, has won the Carol Tambor Best of the Fringe Award for its production Key Change (reviewed in Newcastle last year).

The award was first presented by the Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation in 2004 and is now regarded as possibly the most prestigious drama award at the Edinburgh Fringe, for it offers the winning company or performer a New York première with all expenses covered, including visa costs, travel and accommodation for the cast and crew, transportation of props, publicity and venue expenses. The New York run coincides with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters convention, which brings some 4,000 producers and presenters to New York City.

All the productions given four or five stars by The Scotsman’s team of reviewers are considered for the Award. The only other criterion that must be met is that productions must be new to New York.

Carol Tambor is a painter but also a theatre enthusiast. She had been coming to Edinburgh for years and felt that, as she told Three Weeks magazine in 2012, “New York deserved to see a bit of the magic that draws me to Edinburgh every year, and I worked out I could afford to bring one show there each year.”

Open Clasp makes theatre from a female point of view and all of its work is inspired by and developed with young women from the north of England.

In January last year, Dilly Arts commissioned Open Clasp to work with women from the Young Offenders Institution at Low Newton Prison in Durham to devise their own play based on their own stories, a play which they performed to other women in the prison. It was developed into a full professional production by writer Catrina McHugh, director Laura Lindow, choreographer Holly Irving and the cast.

The Edinburgh revival, at Summerhall under the Northern Stage umbrella, was produced in association with Newcastle’s Live Theatre where it will be performed on 11 and 12 September.