Druid and Walsh Bag Third Edinburgh Fringe First

23rd August 2010 by Maura McHugh

Penelope by Edna Walsh

Irish theatre company Druid and playwright Enda Walsh have won their third Edinburgh Fringe First Award in four years for Penelope, which is currently running at the Traverse Theatre as part of Culture Ireland’s annual showcase at the Edinburgh Festivals. The award-winning duo’s previous collaborations, The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom, were both recipients of the prestigious award [in 2007 and 2008 respectively] for outstanding new writing.

Minister for Culture Mary Hanafin, who saw the production at its première in the Galway Arts Festival, said:

“When I was in Edinburgh at the Irish showcase this week, I saw just how competitive the largest arts festival in the world is. Warmest congratulations to Enda Walsh, Druid and the wonderful cast and creative team – to win one Fringe First is a major success; to win three in a row is extraordinary.”

Eugene Downes, Chief Executive of Culture Ireland, said: “Once again, Edinburgh is proving the perfect global showcase for Enda’s distinctive brilliance, vividly realised in Druid’s staging. And there’s been a very strong overall response so far to the productions in our Edinburgh showcase this year, with several break-out hits in addition to Druid.”

Penelope was a sell-out hit when it premièred in Druid Lane Theatre at this year’s Galway Arts Festival and received rave reviews and standing ovations. Following its current run at the Traverse Theatre, the production will then run at the Stage Theatre Festival in Helsinki, marking Druid’s debut on mainland Europe. It returns to Galway and Dublin before it transfers to New York this autumn and to London and Washington in early 2011.

Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council, said: “The Arts Council is delighted to congratulate Druid, one of the key theatre companies it supports, on winning yet another international award for its work. Once again, this demonstrates Irish Theatre’s international standing, and shows that Ireland still enjoys a deserved reputation for excellence when it comes to the arts.”

Garry Hynes, Artistic Director of Druid said “Edinburgh was the city for Druid’s first international tour in 1980. Thirty years ago, on that visit, we won the Fringe First and today it is just as thrilling as it was back then, it’s a real testament to Druid, Enda, Mikel and the cast that we’ve won our third award in four years performing these extraordinary plays.”

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