Mark Thomas up for Amnesty Award

Edinburgh show shortlisted

Mark Thomas has become the first comedian ever to be shortlisted for an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The award, now in its eighth year, is given to ‘an outstanding production carrying a human rights message’.

Of a record 92 nominated shows, Thomas’s Extreme Rambling Show, about his walk along the 450-mile Israeli Separation Barrier made the four-strong shortlist.

The judging panel called it ‘an incredibly accomplished piece of storytelling’, adding: ‘The walk itself was an audacious act and a fascinating frame around which Thomas could essentially research the human costs, on both sides, of the West Bank wall.’

The other shortlisted productions are the physical theatre piece Release, about three inmates just out of jail, the plays Sold, about human trafficking, and The Wheel, about the horrors of living in a war-torn country.

John Watson, Amnesty International's Scotland Director, said: ‘It’s heartening to see so many artists tackling human rights themes in their productions at the Fringe this year. It’s testament to the power of the arts to inform, challenge and inspire audiences to approach an issue from a new perspective.

‘This is the first time I can recall a comedian being shortlisted for the award. It’s encouraging to see that Fringe performers across all disciplines are addressing human rights issues and that comedy audiences are being challenged as well as entertained at the Festival.’

Amnesty’s festival campaign is this year for the UAE 5, five men detained in the United Arab Emirates and charged with ‘insulting officials’ after calling for democracy and criticising the government. To join the petition calling for their release, text the word ‘freedom’ and your name to 81222

The winner of the Freedom of Expression Award will be announced on Thursday

Published: 22 Aug 2011

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