So that was it, the 60th year of the Edinburgh Fringe, and as the companies start to leave one by one, the posters are taken down, and the venues are emptied to let the university departments move back in, I share a bitter feeling of disappointment with probably a lot of people: there was so much rubbish! This was the worst Fringe festival ever, quantity but not quality.
Where was the theatre? A lot of comedy (too much for my taste), a lot of terrible musicals, kids' shows, a lot of amateur theatre of the worst kind. Where were the young, talented theatre companies, people with passion, a vision. Yes, they existed, but by the end of the day, the choice was to see the best of average Fringe, and not to be surprised or enchanted by new, fresh ideas, new plays, a new theatre language, apart from a very few groups.The Best Newcomer award was specially reinstated and awarded to And Even My Goldfish who were equally pleased and surprised to receive the award. "We came here as a scruffy bunch of reprobates from Leeds (UK) who thought they could do theatre a bit, and now we'll leave as a scruffy bunch of reprobates from Leeds who other people think can do theatre a bit."
The 2006 Total Theatre Awards for excellence in physical and visual performance were also given to Farm In The Cave for Sclavi/Song Of An Emigrant, NIE (New International Encounter) for Past Half Remembered, Hoipolloi & Hugh Hughes for Floating and Inspector Sands & Stamping Ground TheatreforHysteria.
The Total Theatre Award for Innovation was presented to Will Adamsdale and Chris Brance for The Receipt and the Total Theatre Award for Significant Contribution to Physical and Visual Theatre/Performance was presented to the Battersea Arts Centre.
The 2006 Writers' Guild And List Festival Awards were presented to Reginald D Hunter who won the Best Comedy Writing award for Pride and Prejudice and Niggas, a comedy show with a message. Simon Brodkin won the Best Comedy Newcomer award for Everyone But Himself and for theatre Gregory Burke won the Best Theatre Writing award for his highly celebrated play about the legendary Scottish regiment, Black Watch. The Best Theatre Newcomer award went to Adam Rapp for Finer Noble Gases.
And in spite of all the mediocre programme, there was a small, fine venue, a precious jewel among all the money-making, rubbish-selling big venues:Aurora Nova, a part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival since 2001, Aurora Nova has grown from a hidden gem at the edge of town to become one of the most critically acclaimed and exciting venues at the very heart of the festival. This year's vintage programme celebrated the variety of movement expression in unparalleled range and quality.
Featuring undisputed masters of the form such as Derevo from Russia and Germany's Renegade Theatre to Fringe favourites Jo Strømgren, Darren Johnston, Stamping Ground and CoisCéim, the lineup also included many highly talented newcomers to Edinburgh from across Europe eager to make their mark on the largest Arts Festival in the World. Is it a surprise that most of this year's prize winners and nominees come from Aurora Nova? So, after all , there still seems to be hope. And maybe, next year another two or three venues will strive for quality and bring back some of the magic that surrounded the Edinbburgh Fringe.
And on we move. Back to our homes, broke and tired, back to work, back to our theatre and new dreams and plans for the season to come. Or should I maybe take a break? The Dublin Fringe Festival is about to start in a few days…