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Northern Stage production receives Edinburgh Fringe Festival award

  • Date: 3 October 2013
  • Area: North
Border Ballads performance

Border Ballads performance. Credit: Claudine Quinn

Northern Stage, an Arts Council National portfolio organisation, recently curated several productions in a temporary venue at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - Northern Stage at St Stephen's - showcasing some of the best new theatre from the north of England.

At the end of the festival The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project received the Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe Award. Decided at the discretion of the judges, the award is given to people, productions or performances recognised for outstanding talent, dedication and creativity, in memory of Jack Tinker, a lifelong supporter of the Fringe and long-serving theatre critic of the Daily Mail. The Scotsman newspaper described the production as one of the 50 must see shows at the Fringe.

The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project tackled Scottish independence through a political cabaret with an array of artists, writers, poets and musicians, each responding to the debate through the story of a foundling child, who on the eve of Scottish independence is found floating down the river Tweed in a Moses basket. Each subsequent night the child ages by five years and so by the end of 19 nights the foundling is 95 and the ballad is a record of her life and times. Curated by Northern Stage's new Artistic Director Lorne Campbell, the play featured a changing cast from both sides of the border. The critics' response has been enthusiastic and many of the shows have now been booked for tours and performances throughout the UK. 

Lorne Campbell said, 'There is a direct correlation between the investment we are able to put into reducing the personal financial risk that artists and companies take in coming to Edinburgh and the energy that those artists are able to put into creating the warmth, inclusiveness and sense of creative vibrancy that was recognised with the Jack Tinker Award. The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project is the type of immediate, responsive and politically current work that is only possible when drawing on the resources of a functioning community of artists who are able to be focussed on creative rather than economic imperatives. In programming and curating St Stephens we talk a great deal about how to create communities of artists and audiences and it is hugely gratifying to see the result of this effort in action and being recognised as such.'

Nicholas Baumfield, Senior Relationship Manager, North, Arts Council England commented, 'Northern Stage at St Stephen's is an excellent example of collaborative working with the participating companies sharing resources and working together to make it a successful programme for everyone. This year's result - The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project - was a very special theatre experience. The showcase does a fantastic job in promoting the artistic talent of the North and we are delighted to fund Northern Stage as one of the Arts Council's National portfolio organisations.'

At the 2013 UK Theatre Awards, Northern Stage's production of The Borrowers shared the award for best children's show with Mister Holgado by Unicorn Theatre in London.