Supporting an extraordinary six shows with £50,000 direct investment at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the 2023 Charlie Hartill winners have been announced by the Pleasance Theatre  Trust. As Pleasance’s flagship fund offering unique and unparalleled support to theatre makers and  comedians across the UK, these long-standing accolades provide a unique package of direct investment and mentoring support available across the Fringe. The fund seeks to remove financial risk for companies and allow creativity to take centre stage. Usually offering four opportunities for artists, one for emerging comedians, one for emerging theatre companies and two for UK-based Black, Asian and Global Majority-led theatre shows, this year the fund is supporting an unprecedented six shows due to the overwhelming quality of talent presented. 

Past Charlie Hartill theatre winners have gone on to incredible successes. Current New Diorama Theatre Artistic Director David Byrne won the fund in 2009 with his theatre company PIT, and 2017 winners Unpolished Theatre toured to Australia, and won an Olivier with their show Flesh & Bone. Total Theatre Award Winners and fringe favourites In Bed With My Brother won in 2016 with acid house extravaganza We Are Ian and Corey Campbell, current CEO and Creative Director of the Belgrade in Coventry, won in 2018 with Freeman by his company Strictly Arts

This year’s theatre winners celebrate diversity in subject matter, form and creative voices. Created  by queer-led theatre collective Stroud & Notes and winning the 2023 Origins Award at VAULT Festival, new musical Public – The Musical follows four unlikely strangers who find themselves trapped together in a gender neutral public toilet, exploring stories of identity, connection and compassion alongside an electrifying pop/rock score. Pitch by November Theatre (The Stage’s Top  Picks of the Fringe 2022) is a bold, joyful, goal-scoring exploration of the relationship between football and the queer community, blending documentary storytelling and theatre to investigate what it means to watch, play and love the beautiful game. 

From The Thelmas, award-winning female-led theatre company renowned for their previous Fringe  hit Ladykiller, Santi & Naz explores queer love, identity and loyalty against the backdrop of the  partition of India. Created by Elisabeth Gunawan & Created a Monster, Unforgettable Girl is an award-winning, irreverent, no-holds-barred bouffonesque myth about the violence our culture  inflicts on bodies of colour, with a £19.99 mail order bride at its centre. The performance previously won Gunawan the 2022 Stage Debut Award. 

The Pleasance Comedy Reserve is back for its 17th year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a  double bill of eight brilliant new acts, hand-picked by the Pleasance and performing at Pleasance  Dome and Pleasance Courtyard. With the standard at an all-time high for up-and-coming comics,  there will be two Comedy Reserve shows for 2023, with a line up featuring Abby Wambaugh, Ele  McKenzie, Jin Hao Li, Kyrah Gray, Micah Hall, Shalaka Kurup, Vlad Ilich and Will Robbins. This is  your chance to discover the most exciting comedy newcomers before they become household  names, from the show that helped launch the careers of Brett Goldstein, Sophie Duker, Josh Jones, Roisin Conaty, Joe Lycett amongst others. 

Established in 2004 in memory of Charlie Hartill, the fund provides opportunities to emerging comedians, emerging theatre companies and UK-based Black, Asian and Global Majority-led theatre shows. The fund is presenting, arguably, the biggest opportunities for artists across the Fringe supporting a wide breadth and range of work, proving that performance really is back with a bang. 

Still to be announced are the National Partnerships shows, which sees the Pleasance work with  venues nationwide to identify, recognise and fund extraordinary work from across the UK. With  more comedy, theatre, circus, magic, dance, kids’ shows and much more to come, there’s nowhere quite like the Pleasance at Fringe! 

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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