Karen Koren: A tribute to absent Fringe friends

Comedians held a tribute to Sean Hughes
Comedians held a tribute to Sean Hughes
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As we reach the midpoint of the 2018 Fringe, and a fair chunk of our artists squeeze in a merciful day off, it feels like a good time for reflection.

This week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about those that meant a great deal to me and also to the Festival, who are no longer with us.

This week saw Gilded Balloon host a tribute night to the late Sean Hughes. It was a night of stand-up, treasured memories and good old fashioned comedy, hosted by his former Never Mind the Buzzcocks co-star, Phill Jupitus, alongside good friend Owen O’Neill who co-wrote Parick’s Day with Sean, which they performed together at the Gilded Balloon, the year after Sean won the Perrier Award. Also in the tribute were fellow comics Joe Rowntree and Carl Donnelly, who were in a show with Sean at last year’s Festival, when he was clearly too ill to perform. We lost Sean on 16 October and his passing was a significant one to the comedy industry. He was the first rock star comedian, the one who graced the covers of NME, the one whose Edinburgh Comedy Award win changed the landscape of what comics and live comedy could do. He put Fringe comedy on the map, ushering in a whole new era that still dominates the landscape to this day.

Also in my thoughts, this week and always, is Filipa Braganca. Filipa was a phenomenally talented actor and activist who starred in the critically-lauded, award-winning productions of Henry Naylor’s Echoes and Angel.

Her life was cut tragically short in late 2016 and the young age of only 25, and last year we set up the Filipa Braganca Award in her honour. The award aims to recognise the best solo performance by an emerging female artist at the Fringe.

We had an incredibly enlightening and productive meeting of the judges panel the other day, which pulls together Scotland’s greatest theatre critics, all of whom had previously been touched by Filipa’s work – Jackie McGlone, Tim Cornwell, Thom Dibdin, Mark Fisher and Joyce McMillan.

We decide on the shortlist next Monday and we will present the award at the last Scotsman Fringe First Awards next Friday. I personally can’t wait to see who they award this special prize to.