Revealed: The first Fringe First winners of 2013

As The Scotsman’s Fringe First awards mark their 40th anniversary, arts editor Andrew Eaton-Lewis reveals 2013’s first eight winners.

[Owen McCafferty’s Quietly]

THIS is an important year for The Scotsman Fringe Firsts, the longest-running and most prestigious theatre awards at the festival. Every year since 1973, the newspaper has been giving out these prizes, helping to launch countless careers in the process. Now we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary.

The awards have remained much the same for four decades – a set of simple plaques, given out once a week during the Fringe, the number of winners varying according to the number of shows that made a strong enough impression on our panel of judges – a panel once led by the late Allen Wright, Scotsman arts editor and founder of the awards, and now led by our chief theatre critic, Joyce McMillan.

• 40 years of The Scotsman Fringe First awards

The principle behind the awards remains simple – to recognise outstanding new writing premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe. The Fringe, of course, has changed beyond recognition since 1973. That year, there were a few dozen new plays; now there are hundreds. But we still do our very best to get around them all – throughout this festival our reviewers will see well over 800 shows.

We’ll be announcing more winners on Friday, 16 and Friday, 23 August. And we hope you’ll join us for some of the special anniversary events described elsewhere on these pages.


Owen McCafferty’s profound play at the Traverse looks at the shockwaves, years later, of a Loyalist bomb attack on a Belfast pub.

MORE INFO: Listing | Scotsman review


The PR man for a new Shell oil pipeline goes head to head with an ancient Irish goddess in Donal O’Kelly’s memorable monologue, which he is performing at the Hill Street Theatre.

MORE INFO: Listing


George Brant’s searing monologue at the Traverse is the story of a woman whose desk job is to pilot drones – that kill people thousands of miles away in Afghanistan.

MORE INFO: Listing | Scotsman review


If you liked Chalk Farm, go and see this tremendous, politically engaged show at Summerhall, in which profit is put before community with disastrous results.

MORE INFO: Listing


Two middle-aged men are brought together by a shared passion for Shirley Bassey in Philip Meeks’ poignant play at the Gilded Balloon Teviot.

MORE INFO: Listing


As featured on our front cover yesterday, David Harrower’s play at the Traverse is a compelling monologue – written for Taggart star Blythe Duff – about a woman whose new life as a gallery owner was made possible by the profits from organised crime.

MORE INFO: Listing | Scotsman review


In David Greig’s brave, thoughtful play at the Traverse, a church minister struggles to bring together the fragile and vulnerable people in her community, in the wake of a mass killing by an Anders Breivik-type figure.

MORE INFO: Listing | Scotsman review


Yael Farber, the woman behind last year’s smash hit Mies Julie, put together this powerful show inspired by the horrific 2012 gang rape in Delhi. You can see it at the Assembly Hall.

MORE INFO: Listing | Scotsman review

A hotheaded awards extravaganza!

Elizabeth McGovern

ONCE again, The Scotsman will be hosting the biggest, most exciting awards show of the festival – this year it’s at Assembly Hall on the Mound, 23 August, at 10am.

Today we are thrilled to announce that Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern, above, will be joining us as special guest presenter, as well as closing the show with a set by her excellent country folk band Sadie and the Hotheads – who are playing at the New Town Theatre, 17-25 August, at 11.45pm every night.

We’ll be announcing more live acts soon. Come join us on Friday 23 August for a morning of live music, performances from award-winning shows, and tearful speeches, as a whole host of prestigious theatre awards announce their 2013 winners

Celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, our Fringe First awards recognise outstanding new writing premiered at the Fringe. We’ll be announcing our final week’s winners on 23 August.

Every year Carol, a long-time Fringe enthusiast, puts up the money for one Fringe show to be performed in New York, including travel, accommodation and marketing support.

All the way from Australia, this annual award supports one Fringe company each year to take their show to the Adelaide Fringe.

This award supports one winning company to take its show to next year’s Brighton Fringe.

The Glasgow venue is well known for championing emerging artists; the winners will get the chance to restage their show there in 2014.

To claim your FREE tickets, pick up a copy of today’s Scotsman (9 August), fill in the form on page 11 and take it to any of Assembly’s box offices. First come first served, so act fast!