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Already missing Fleabag? Read the Phoebe Waller-Bridge columns for The Stage

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag, Soho Playhouse, New York Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag, Soho Playhouse, New York

For just over a year Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge was a regular columnist for The Stage in between the show winning awards at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and making its debut on BBC Three. Here, for the first time, are all 13 columns published between 2014 and 2015 with Waller-Bridge’s thoughts on issues from nudity and stage fright to corpsing during a performance.


Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Down with beautiful, boring women casting

May 8, 2014

On… saying no to parts that bore you. For Waller-Bridge, acting was about wanting to “play wild, naughty, grubby, contradictory characters” but after drama school found herself typecast “Downton Abbey, posh tottie at a stretch, and lanky privileged twat.”

 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Mummy, help! I’m on stage. Acting. In a play

June 5, 2014

On… Stage fright. “My tongue has passed out. I can’t remember how to speak, breathe or move and now a limp cucumber sandwich is lounging half way out my mouth.”

 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: How my dream role was cruelly stolen from me

July 3, 2014

On… How a classmate butchered her dream role of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. “Higgins was being chopped up, disembowelled and thrown at the audience. His guts slipping off the stage into the isles, his tongue, his shimmering sliver tongue, relentlessly stamped on by the heel of Imogen’s performance and driven into the floor of the stage so brutally I couldn’t look away.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: How you too can feel f*cking smug in Edinburgh

July 31, 2014

On… thriving at Edinburgh, the year after Fleabag swept all before it at the festival. “You’ll sleep very little, eat very little and become very sweaty. Cling to your people. You will almost definitely reveal the worst side of yourself around this time.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge with The Stage Edinburgh Award for Fleabag in 2013. Photo: Stephanie Methven
Phoebe Waller-Bridge with The Stage Edinburgh Award for Fleabag in 2013. Photo: Stephanie Methven

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Self-promotion is for Americans and a*seholes

August 21, 2014

On… the actors she most admires, why self-promotion gives her “a creepy, guilty feeling of having drunk my own bath water” and what selling t-shirts can teach performers about putting themselves out there.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Partners are gold dust in a lonesome profession

October 23, 2014

On… Having ‘a Vicky’ – a professional partner who can take your work to the next level. “If you know someone whose work you admire, take a deep breath, email them your play/idea and pop the question. ‘Will you do me the honour of being my Vicky?’ If you’re as lucky as I am, it’ll be the making of you.”

 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Nudity remains common currency for young actors

Sept 25, 2014

On… Stage nudity. “Naked in a tub while 183 people and my dad watched the whole excruciating thing in silence. The whole thing was a horrible experience, because I wasn’t really acting. I was just standing there like a peeled lemon, wishing I had bigger boobs and a few more lines.”

 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Dead funny? The joy of corpsing on stage

Nov 20, 2014

On… how anything from floorboard farts and oddly pronounced words, to heavy audience breathers can set off the “devilish tremor” of corpsing on stage. It can work on comedy, but not so much in tragedy as Waller-Bridge found when she “accidentally fired my finger up my co-actor’s arse while he pretend-throttled me in full view of the horrified audience”.

 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: I love you. I need you. It was nice working with you

Jan 29, 2015

On… Copping off with co-stars. “There is the theory that if two people stand close enough to each other for long enough, they will eventually bonk. Or at least want to. So what happens when you are made to stand next to someone for weeks on end, kissing them, sometimes even simulating sex with them?”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Chance to work with idol all-too warmly embraced

February 26, 2015

On... improvising with a comedy heroine and being unable to stop hugging her. “It is fairly clear that she’d rather not, but we are ‘in the scene’ and I have got her by now, my knees are bending and I am breathing her in again.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Don’t allow yourself to be a shrinking violet

March 31, 2015

On… (Politely) speaking up. “Good directors will listen to you and explain why you are wrong and they are right. Bad directors will tell you to shut up and damn well enter through the fridge in the kimono.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: When backstage pranks can strike a bum note

May 12, 2015

On… Pranks during a performance, and how, sometimes, they can go wrong. “Each night, the cast giddily anticipated our split-second, dumbshow, repositioning themselves further up stage to better witness the corpse-inducing silliness. “How will you beat last night?”. We were rock stars of stealthy unprofessionalism.”

 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Perfecting the art of doing nothing takes real skill

June 4, 2015

On… Screen versus stage acting and the art of “just doing nothing” and what she needs to make Mark Rylance blush

Diary: Any willing guinea pigs for Fleabag in the audience?

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