Phoebe Waller-Bridge becomes inaugural Edinburgh Fringe society president

The society is also looking to recruit a new chairperson.

Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been announced as the inaugural president of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.

The position, which is the first of its kind, will see the actress represent and advocate for the organisation.

Waller-Bridge performed her hugely successful one-woman play, Fleabag, at Underbelly during the 2013 Fringe.

The show earned an Olivier Award nomination and became a hit TV series for BBC 3/Amazon.

She said: “The Edinburgh Fringe has staged an annual cultural revolution for decades. It’s where thousands of writers, comedians, performers and artists cut their teeth and put their most raw work out into the world.

“Whether it’s a two-hander in a shoebox, a gig in a van, a promenade through the streets or a mammoth musical epic, this festival is a global symbol of artistic freedom and experimentation. It relies on its audiences and it relies on its artists.

“It’s where the relationship between the two is feverishly consummated, sometimes with great success, sometimes with awkward fumbles behind an inflatable cow, but always with unbridled passion and creativity.

“From leaking caves to cobbled streets to the glamour of the Traverse Theatre up to Arthur’s seat, this festival is a beating heart of an industry that has been all but crushed by the pandemic, and I’m proud to be a part of the fight with the Fringe Society for its much-needed survival and glorious return.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s original Fleabag play made its debut at the Fringe in 2013 (Matt Crossick/PA)

The festival was cancelled for the first time in its history last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers say the event will go ahead in 2021 but they are unable to say in what form – digitally or socially-distanced, for example.

Waller-Bridge will attend select events and speak on behalf of the Society “where appropriate”.

The honorary appointment was unanimously confirmed earlier this month by the charity’s board of directors.

A new chair of the society is also being recruited after Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea announced he would be stepping down from the role at the end of March.

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