A guide to Edinburgh's success stories...
This month, thousands will converge on Scotland's capital for the annual celebration of new talent and hard drinking that is the Edinburgh Fringe. Whether it's a much-hyped opening or a last dash to flog handbills at the Waverley end of Princes Street, theatre hopefuls have one chance to shine.
As playwright Zinnie Harris put it in a Guardian interview back in 2002, an aspiring writer, "can go very quickly from just being a bod to someone who could put 'playwright' on their business card". We take a look at who has made the transition, after the last curtain has fallen, from festival flash-in-the-pan to bona-fide playwright...
Co-written with comedian Tim Minchin, Dennis Kelly's Matilda the Musical recently won a record seven Olivier Awards - including the coveted Best Musical. In 2009 Kelly got his first taste of Edinburgh awards glory, with a Fringe First for the decidedly less child-friendly Orphans, an uncomfortable comment on urban teenage violence.
Since Hickson's Eight (which incorporated an X-Factoresque audience vote-off) won a Fringe First award at Edinburgh in 2002, two more well-received plays have cemented her place as a member of festival royalty. Earlier this year she demonstrated that her finger remains firmly on the pulse when her most recent venture - about a group of soon-to-be-graduated Boys - premiered at the HighTide Festival.
Wade barely needs an introduction after the roaring (literally) success of Posh, revived at the Royal Court this year. A true prodigy, she had been receiving commissions since sixth form - her first play, Limbo, was staged at the Crucible in 1996 - but it was only after the discomfiting Breathing Corpses transferred to the Fringe that she really became a household name.
Blythe made her Edinburgh mark in verbatim theatre in 2010, winning a Fringe First with Do We Look Like Refugees? in the same year that another of her plays, The Girlfriend Experience, was picked up by the Royal Court. Two years on and London Road returns to the National Theatre, after a 2011 run so successful that they had to open a new temporary venue to accommodate it.
RoadKill, a brutal account of the realities of human trafficking, cleared up at the 2010 Fringe and was re-commissioned the following year by the British Council, before being given a 2012 Olivier Award. This and Glasgow Girls, her multimedia take on challenges to refugees' rights, have made Bissett a poster girl for political theatre.
Ones to Watch...
Luke Barnes, Chapel Street
This time last year Luke Barnes was staging his first play above a pub - appropriate, given that Chapel Street is, essentially, about a night on the tiles. He's bringing it back this year and, although reviews aren't spectacular, the buzz is that Barnes could be taking it back from the girls (Prebble, Stenham et al), heading the vanguard in a resurgence in male-written theatre.
Sabrina Mahfouz, One Hour Only
Performance poet Mahfouz got a fair bit of interest at last year's festival with her one-woman show, Dry Ice. It looks like 2012 could be her year however: word on the street is that One Hour Only - a two-hander set in an upmarket brothel - is something that goes a bit deeper than your average Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
Phil Porter, Blink
Porter has hit the ground running at this year's Fringe: already a recipient of the Bruntwood Playwriting Prize, his latest play, Blink, is being produced in collaboration with Soho Theatre. He's already had a personal tweet from critical heavyweight Lyn Gardner; this year might be the lift he needs to the heights of theatre super-stardom.
Yael Farber, Mies Julie
Actress, director and playwright Farber has timed this production well: hot on the heels of two high-profile UK productions of Strindberg's play (at the Royal Exchange and the Barbican), the Canadian's South African version gets a coveted 5* review in a national newspaper - only one week into the festival. Watch this space.
Sorry no reviews have been returned.
- Opera & Dance