The Best of Edinburgh is an important cultural event that occurs in Lower Manhattan every November. An annual showcase in New York City of the best new play(s) from the largest performing arts festival in the world, the event is designed to expose American audiences and theatre professionals to innovative theatrical work that they would otherwise never have the chance to see.
Every August in Edinburgh, more than 1500 productions are mounted in a three week period. Companies from Britain, Europe, and all over the world travel to Scotland to perform at the festival. In fact, last summer there were more performers in Edinburgh than athletes in Athens. While the 2004 festival had more than 1 million ticket buyers, few of them were Americans. And though many of the works performed at the festival go on to tour different parts of the globe, few of them end up on our shores.
The Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation produces The Best of Edinburgh showcase in order to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to experience the best new work from the festival. To narrow the enormous field, the winners are selected from the productions that receive four and five star reviews from Scotland’s largest and most respected newspaper, The Scotsman. The foundation staff then coordinates the publicity and marketing campaigns, and prepares the venue for the showcase. In early November, the winning production(s) plays five performances at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Performing Arts at Pace University in lower Manhattan to audiences made up of invited theatre professionals, students, and the general public.
In 2004, two solo plays were featured in The Best of Edinburgh. The first, Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles by Mark Jenkins, starring Christian McKay, was an intimate exploration of the Faustian myth that for so long has clouded Welles’ reputation. The second play was Sisters, Such Devoted Sisters written and performed by Russell Barr. Sisters… was an unnerving theatrical experience, combining a sickening crime story from Glasgow’s gay underworld with a touching comic narrative about a young man blowing up pigeons, shoplifting and then creating an unlikely identity for himself.
Best of Edinburgh 2004 was an unqualified success. The showcase received astounding attention from the press with prime placement in publications like The New York Times, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine. New Yorkers turned out to support the work and the showcase played to healthy audiences for each of its five performances – 774 patrons in total. And more than 80 theatre professionals attended the event. Rosebud has booked a North American tour and Sisters… is slated to return to New York this year, both as a direct result of the showcase.
Building on the success of The Best of Edinburgh 2004, this year’s showcase promises to be an impressive event. With renewed commitments from both the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Pace University, The Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation looks forward to The Best of Edinburgh 2005.
For more information, you can visit www.caroltambor.com/award, or contact Kent Lawson, President of the Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation, at 212-987-1304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carol Tambor publishes a monthly newsletter, which announces worthy shows coming to New York, along with occasional information about London theatre and, of course, the Edinburgh Fringe.