Already missing Fleabag? Read the Phoebe Waller-Bridge columns for The Stage
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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”.
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?”
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.”
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.”
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.”
June 4, 2015
On… Screen versus stage acting and the art of “just doing nothing” and what she needs to make Mark Rylance blush
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.