Each year since 2011, the Scottish Arts Club has awarded a prize for the best Scottish theatre production appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The prize has become affectionately known as The Flying Artichoke after the unique bronze  sculpture, created by Edinburgh artist Duncan Robertson, presented to the winners as part of the awards ceremony.

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Scottish-based theatre companies and production with a Scottish writer, director or cast are eligible. The judges for the award are all drawn from the Scottish theatre world.

A shortlist of productions is released during the Fringe and the winners are announced at a special ceremony held at the Scottish Arts Club, usually held at the beginning of the final week. 

Bright Spark Award

The judging panel have become increasingly aware of the talented young theatre makers and actors appearing in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Often they have scratched and saved every penny to become a part of the Festival. The Bright Spark Award was introduced in 2016 to give annual recognition to the brightest new talents on the Scottish Theatre scene.



Joyce Caplan teaches Literature at Edinburgh University and has also Chaired several Arts organisations. She is a member of the Scottish PEN Board as well as President of the Friends of Edinburgh University Library.She has a lifelong love of Theatre in all its forms.

Catherine Robins worked in the performing arts mainly in Scotland, starting Theatre Workshop Edinburgh, as a director. She was Director of Rosehill Theatre Cumbria, Eden Court Theatre Inverness and Northern Ballet.

Muriel Romanes was Associate Director at the Royal Lyceum Theatre before spending 22 years with Stellar Quines as Artistic Director. Combining it with life as a lawyer, John Scott Moncrieff has, over the years, been on the Board (and Chaired six, including Cheek by Jowl and the Traverse) of nine Theatre Companies, as well as serving on the Scottish Arts Council for six years, Chairing the Drama / Performing Arts Committee. He is currently Vice-Convenor of the Saltire Society.

Liz Smith is a freelance arts press and marketing consultant and has worked with many companies in Scotland including Scottish Ballet and the Citizens Theatre. For several years, she ran the Assembly Theatre press office during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was awarded a Herald Archangel in 2010.

Anna Stapleton is a retired arts professional, having spent her career working in theatre as a Company Stage Manager, Administrative Director and in senior roles within the funding agencies across the United Kingdom. Currently a Trustee of The Theatres Trust, a Trustee of Horsecross Arts, a member of the Advisory Committee of the Friends of the Scottish National Galleries and a Council member of the Scottish Arts Club.

Neil Weir has combined a career in industry with a long-standing involvement in voluntary work in the Arts sector. He is currently Chairman of Grid Iron Theatre Company and Love Music Productions.

Mark Wilson is a Civil Engineer and a member of Equity with thirty years’ active involvement in theatre in the UK and abroad. Besides directing, producing, set and lighting design, he has performed many lead roles on stage and more recently in short films.

2016 Awards

Winner - Expensive Shit, written and directed by Adura Onashile, a Scottish Theatre Producers production in association with the Traverse Theatre. 

Runner Up - Delay Detach, written by Joanna Bowman and produced by Sonder Theatre, performed at Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Bright Spark Award - Julia Carstairs, Director of Playback, a Stag Hart Production at Paradise in Augustines

The 2016 Judging Panel; Joyce Caplan (chair), John Scott Moncrieff, Anna Stapleton, Neil Weir, Catherine Robins, Liz Smith



Adura Onashile receives the 2016 scottish arts club theatre award

Adura Onashile receives the 2016 scottish arts club theatre award

2013 Awards

Winner - HeLa, written and performed by Adura Onashile, directed by Graham Eatough, produced by Iron Oxide, performed at Summerhall

Second - If these spasms could speak, written and performed by Robert Softley, directed by Sam Rowe, produced in association with The Arches, performed at Pleasance Courtyard.

Third - Titus, written by Jan Sobrie (English version by Oliver Emanuel), directed by Lu Kemp, produced by Macroberts Arts Centre, performed at Summerhall.

The 2013 Judging Panel Catherine Robins (chair), Joyce Caplan, Paul Fitzpatrick, John Scott Moncrieff, Liz Smith

2015 Awards

Winner - Swallow, written by Stef Smith, directed by Orla O'Loughlin, produced and performed at the Traverse Theatre.

Second - Light Boxes, adapted and directed by Finn den Hertog, produced by Grid Iron Theatre company, performed at Summerhall.

Third - The Gospel according to Jesus Queen of Heaven, written and performed by Jo Clifford, directed by Susan Worsfold, performed at Summerhall

The 2015 Judging Panel: Catherine Robins (chair), Joyce Caplan, John Scott Moncrieff, Anna Stapleton, Neil Weir, Liz Smith


Julia carstairs, winner of the first bright spark award 2016

Julia carstairs, winner of the first bright spark award 2016

2012 Awards

Winner - The Static, written by Davey Anderson, directed by Neil Bettles, produced by ThickSkin, perform,ed at Underbelly, Cowgate

Joint second - Educating Ronnie, written and directed by Joe Douglas and Gareth Nicholls, produced by Macrobert and Utters in association with High Tide Festival Theatre, perform,ed at Assembly, George Square.

Joint second - Wojtek the bear, written by Raymond Raszkowski Ross, directed by Corinne Harris, produced bt Theatre Objektiv, performed at Hill Street Theatre

The 2012 Judging Panel: Catherine Robins (chair), Joyce Caplan, Susannah Armitage, John Scott Moncrieff, Liz Smith


2014 Awards

Winner - Donald Robertson is not a Stand-Up Comedian, written and performed by Gary McNair, directed by Gareth Nicholls, performed at the Traverse Theatre.

Second - Janis Joplin, Full Tilt, written by Peter Arnott, directed by Cora Bissett, produced by Regular Music and NTS, performed at Assembly Checkpoint.

Third - A walk at the edge of the world, written and directed by Nicholas Bone, produced by Magnetic North, performed at Summerhall @ Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

The 2014 Judging Panel: Catherine Robins (chair), Irene Brown, Paul Fitzpatrick, John Scott Moncrieff, Liz Smith



2011 Awards

Winner - One Thousand Paper Cranes, written by Abigail Doherty, directed by Lu Kemp, produced by Catherine Wheels, performed at Assembly, George Square

Second - Ten Plagues, written by Mark Ravenhill, music by conor Mitchell, directed by Stewart Laing, Performed at the Traverse Theatre.

Third - Federer versus Murray, written and directed by Gerda Stevenson, produced by Oran Mor and Assemble, performed at Assembly Hall.

The 2011 Judging Panel: Catherine Robins (chair), Joyce Caplan, John Scott Moncrieff, Astrid Sillins, Rachel Clarke