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A big rush on as winners try to grab their Herald trophies

The foyer of Edinburgh's Festival Theatre would have been bustling anyway, with theatre-goers arriving for a full day watching The James Plays, but Saturday's Herald Angel awards added a whole extra layer of activity, with performers rushing off to do their shows immediately after collecting their trophy, or arriving during the ceremony immediately after their performance.

triumph: Olwen Fouere was awarded a Herald Archangel immediately before appearing at the Traverse for her solo tour de force. Picture Gordon Terris
triumph: Olwen Fouere was awarded a Herald Archangel immediately before appearing at the Traverse for her solo tour de force. Picture Gordon Terris

Add in a link to the other side of the world, and a post-event beer-tasting courtesy of sponsor Heverlee, and it made for an exciting hour or so.

Alasdair Bayne of Heverlee found himself at the centre of this storm, presenting our awards and certificates as well as his own gift of bespoke glasses to our winners, until the occasion was brought to a musical conclusion by singer and accordionist Jana Vebrova from the Lenka Vagnerova Company. The company is an Angel-winner on the Fringe for La Loba at Zoo Southside, in which she appears with dancer Andrea Opavska. Vebrova also has her own concert at the same venue this Friday evening.

Our last arrival was Caroline Bowditch, Glasgow-based but Australian-born, who was onstage at Dance Base with her show Falling In Love With Frida (award collected by Claire Hicks) while the rest of the awards were made. She revealed her Angel-garlanded show may now be travelling to Frida Kahlo's South American home after its exposure in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh-based pianist Steven Osborne was awarded a Herald Angel for his appearances in the opening concert of the Festival's Greyfriar's series playing Messiaen's Quartet for the End Of Time and at the Queen's Hall playing Tippett, Britten and Beethoven. Osborne had departed to play concerts in Australia immediately afterward, so sent a video "selfie".

"I feel a bit like Bono phoning in my acceptance speech because I'm too fabulous to attend but I am in Tasmania at the moment so it's a bit tricky to pop down," he said.

"I am really grateful for this award, thank you so much for it. It always means so much to me playing in the Edinburgh Festival, as I grew up going to concerts there and I just have such great associations with the Queen's Hall particularly. I want to say a big thank you to Jonathan Mills for inviting me and for having done so a number of times over the last years. It is really wonderful to have this ongoing association with the Festival and I want to wish him the very best in what he is going on to do."

Australia's Back to Back Theatre were also Angel-winners from the Festival programme for their challenging show Ganesh Versus The Third Reich. Although the company has returned home, Scots performer David Woods, who had joined them as a guest artist, was able to collect the award before performing a lunchtime show with his own company, Ridiculusmus, at Summerhall on the Fringe.

Dead Centre were also on stage at the Traverse at the same time as our awards, performing the Angel-winning Lippy, a show about how we understand stories of a tragedy, like the tale of four Irishwomen who starved themselves to death which inspired the work. However co-director Ben Kidd was with us, and underlined the importance of such recognition to small companies like his.

The artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Laurie Sansom, was at a family wedding on Saturday, but his Herald Angel for The James Plays, presented only minutes before the curtain went up, had a fine substitute recipient in the writer of the acclaimed historical dramas, Rona Munro. She took the opportunity to pay tribute to the director of the trilogy for his key role in keeping the project on track, in partnership with the Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain, at points when the scale of it seemed impossible.

Our Archangel this week, the supreme Herald award made to those who have made a sustained contribution to the Edinburgh Festivals, was received by Irish actor Olwen Fouere immediately before she appeared on the mainstage at the Traverse in her solo tour de force, riverrun. Fouere's International Festival appearances span 25 years and work for directors Steven Berkoff, Patrick Mason and Calixto Bieito, but this staging of the words of James Joyce, created for the Galway Festival and already a hit in Dublin and London, is her first solo show on the Fringe.

And before we sampled the Belgian beer, there was an Irish accent to the boozy tale that won our Little Devil award for embodying the ethos that the show must go on. Former Angel-winner comedian Andrew Maxwell was assaulted by a full pint at the start of his Assembly Rooms show, when an audience member made a pre-planned ale-wasting comment on his views on Scotland's referendum. Maxwell was game enough to remove his sodden shirt and perform the gig in the "taps-aff" style favoured by Glaswegian lads at the merest glimpse of sun.

His acceptance speech about the importance of the Edinburgh Fringe as a place where comedians take their place alongside all the other arts showed him to be, as we knew, as thoughtful chap as well as a trouper.

www.herald-events.com/heraldangels

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