Festival Diary: President Phoebe Waller-Bridge pops up as she puts in a shift for the Fringe

There have been more than a few long shifts put in across the festivals over the past week as the city has burst back into life.

Despite the long days and long nights - way past the bedtimes many of us are now used to - the Pleasance attracted a huge audience to its launch gala, despite a 9.45am start-time.Slipping in virtually unnoticed, after the festival's pack of photographers had taken up their positions, was Fringe Society president Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was whooping, cheering and filming her favourite acts as much as anyone.The Fleabag star was unsurprisingly besieged afterwards for selfies in the Pleasance Courtyard, but managed to escape the throng in good time to pop-up to greet performers queuing up at the Fringe's "meet the media" event as it returned for the first-time three years at the St James Quarter Spiegeltent, which itself seemed to pop up virtually overnight.Waller-Bridge, Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy and Pleasance boss Anthony Alderson were all still going still 12 hours after his gala across town at the EICC, where the Freedom Ballet company of Ukraine had the audience on their feet, and wiping away a few tears, after an hour of their breathless routines.

Presiding over proceedings at the EICC was evergreen publicist and festival fanatic Martin Hunt, whose ballet company's launch event was competing impressively with the premiere of Alan Cumming's new Robert Burns-inspired dance show Burn up the road at the King's Theatre.Hunt's powers of persuasion to convince to interview the Freedom Ballet performers were deployed in the unlikely surroundings of the dressing room at Tynecastle Park, home to This Is My Story's two-football related discussions.Intrigued by how long Hunt had been attending the festivals, our collective calculations worked out that it must be more than half a century ago, before the arrival of decimalisation in the UK.He had travelled down from Inverness to see Peter Cook and Dudley Moore at the equally unlikely venue of Portobello Baths for the princely sum of 10 shillings.There was quite an array of costumes and props at the new-look “meet the media,” and several impressive claims, in the pitches to The Scotsman, which maintained its tradition of attracting the longest queues.One show which has made it onto my lengthening list to check out was About Money, Glaswegian playwright's debut About Money, which is part of Summerhall's programme.The Glasgow-set drama, which focuses on teenage fast food worker Shaun and younger sister Sophie, who is the sole carer for, is inspired by strikes by McDonald's staff and drawn from the real-life experiences of kinship carers.But director Alex Kampfner says the show must be a contender for having the youngest actor in a lead role in a play, with nine-year-old Lois Hagerty starring as Sophie, just a few months after appearing in the National Theatre of Scotand's film-theatre adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at Leith Theatre.It's early days, but if you know of anyone younger treading the Fringe boards in a drama let me know.

Hannah Follows and Adam Gregory, who have brought the show Coming Out Of My Cage (And I've Been Doing Just Find) to the festival, were among the artists and performers to meet Fringe Society president and Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge at the Pleasance Courtyard this weekend.
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