Festival season returns with the welcome addition of an ‘Untapped’ award for marginalised artists - Steve Cardownie

It’s that time of year again as Edinburgh prepares itself for the start of the summer season of festivals and with more than 400,000 visitors coming to the city over the next three weeks, Edinburgh will once more cement its place as the leading arts festival city in the world.
Disability-led theatre company FlawBored production of "It's a Motherf*****g Pleasure"Disability-led theatre company FlawBored production of "It's a Motherf*****g Pleasure"
Disability-led theatre company FlawBored production of "It's a Motherf*****g Pleasure"

One of the major promoters, Underbelly will once more be putting forward their usual eclectic programme of events which promises to provide a diverse offering.

Part of their programme this year features three companies that will be the recipients of their “Untapped” award.

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In conjunction with New Diorama Theatre, Concord Theatricals and Nouveau Riche, the chosen companies, from a nationwide search and over 180 submissions, will receive £10,000 in cash alongside a package of paid for PR, (I should hasten to point out that this column is not part of the package, before that particular hare starts running) marketing support and an enhanced programming deal.

This is designed to “directly respond to the challenges experienced across the festival by marginalised and under-represented artists attending the festival.”

One of the productions is “One Way Out” which “explores young British Caribbean’s experiences of the Windrush crisis through the story of four young friends on the cusp of adulthood leaving college.

Inspired by true events of his own cousin receiving a deportation letter at the age of 19, it tells the important but often neglected story of young people being stripped of their legalities after having grown up in the UK and the impact that this turmoil has on younger members of the Windrush generation’s sense of identity.

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Another is “Dugsi Dayz” which is “a funny and authentic exploration of friendship between Somali girls” in a twist on “The Breakfast Club”. It sees four students stuck in detention, forming bonds through their shared heritage despite their different outlooks on life and their place in it.

The last is “It’s a M*******g Pleasure” which is described as a scathing satire on identity politics, those that monetise it and those that get themselves into knots about it.

Disability-led theatre company FlawBored, ask “what if disabled people were out to make as much money as possible from the guilt of non-disabled anxious people (like you)?”

This production premiered at VAULT Festival before a transfer to Soho Theatre in April of this year.

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Underbelly co-directors, Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, said that “Edinburgh Fringe is a special place for us, it’s where Underbelly started and where we’ve seen many incredible shows kick start their success in the industry,

"We have always been committed to supporting and developing new work at the Fringe and the ‘Untapped Award’ plays a crucial part in achieving this. We cannot wait to see what 2023 will bring.”

With over 3500 different shows on offer, this year’s Fringe promises to surpass previous festivals and the promoters must surely be anticipating sizeable audiences in the venues that are peppered throughout the city.

There is no doubt in my mind that Edinburgh is the only place to be at this time of year.

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