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The Fringe Firsts have been recognising outstanding new writing premiered at the festival since 1973 - here are our first winners of 2022.

Breathless is a funny, honest and stylish exploration of the knife-edge of hoarding, from the joy of purchasing new fashion, to the addiction and suffocating shame of having way too many clothes. And then there is the shame of a suffocatingly huge amount of beautiful unworn clothes crammed into Sophie’s living space. What I can say about Breathless is that it holds your attention for an entire hour, however hot a day it is. They give you a little bit of financial support, but when I sat down and did the budget I realized I had to raise ten thousand pounds on top, to afford to be able to take the show and pay for accommodation for directors and actors. I’m a PR at heart so I know that I’m never going to just drop a show and then not do audience development.Breathless is a complex confident text which explores mental ill health with sensitivity as well as diversity in different forms including mental ill health, class and sexuality. Theatre Royal Plymouth is a registered charity providing art, education and community engagement throughout Plymouth and the wider region.

The National Partnerships see the Pleasance work with important venues nationwide to identify, recognise and fund extraordinary work from across the UK to be presented at the festival. To reveal a tiny snatch about myself, I had the sheer joy of performing with the Contemporary Dance Company, ‘Dancers Anonymous’ up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in 1978-1980. One imagines that with a play about hoarding, the stage would be crammed with piles of stuff, but director Stephanie Kempson has opted instead for two rails lined with empty clothing bags.

I really need to get someone else on board, but obviously I can’t afford to pay anyone, so it’s a bit of a difficult one, but it’s still there and it’s not something that I want to give up on. The structure and pacing are spot on, unveiling information gradually in a way that makes the seventy-minute run time race by. I’ve always been careful about creating a little nest egg for myself just in case, I earn a living but it’s not much.

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