Great Britain

Fleabag producer unveils Shedinburgh fringe festival streamed from sheds

It started as a throwaway pun. With the Edinburgh festival cancelled by Covid-19, fringe theatre star Gary McNair joked that this year he would be doing Shedinburgh from his garden instead. Fleabag producer Francesca Moody ran with the idea and the pair have now unveiled an online festival of theatre, comedy and music – broadcast live from sheds.

One shed will be erected at Edinburgh’s acclaimed Traverse venue, where McNair has performed many of his shows. Another will be at Soho theatre in London, which played a pivotal role in Fleabag’s success. Some acts will also perform in their own garden sheds for the festival, which offers daily live-streams on Zoom from 14 August to 5 September. There will be shows by McNair himself, standups Sara Pascoe and Rosie Jones, Guilty Feminist host Deborah Frances-White and theatre-makers Yolanda Mercy and Tim Crouch.

Acts have been asked to revive and reimagine their past performances for a shed – continuing the fringe tradition of cramming imagination and ingenuity into the tiniest of venues. The performances are one-offs and there will be no opportunity to watch again later. There will also be two slots at the festival for emerging artists who had planned to take a show to Edinburgh this year.

Gary McNair in Letters to Morrissey at the Traverse, Edinburgh, in 2017.
Gary McNair in Letters to Morrissey at the Traverse, Edinburgh, in 2017. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Events at Shedinburgh fringe festival will be ticketed on a “pay what you can” system starting at a minimum of £4. Proceeds will go into a fund called A Shed Load of Future to support new artists to bring their work to the Edinburgh fringe in 2021.

Moody said that the Edinburgh fringe had been essential for her and McNair. “We wanted to find a way of giving that opportunity to others next year … At a time when venues face an uncertain future and artists are struggling Shedinburgh will shout loud about the fringe’s vital role in global culture, celebrate its past successes and breakthrough artists, provide a platform for talent that would have performed this year and contribute to its future beyond 2020.”

McNair said: “I just wanted to make Francesca laugh when I said I’d be doing the Shedinburgh fringe from my garden this year. That was meant to be the end of it. But she took it seriously and said we should do it for real. When she convinced me it could be done, it was clear that we could turn it into something that could celebrate the fringe’s past and really help people access it in the future.”

The full “shed-ule” for the festival will be announced on 7 August, with tickets available for purchase through Crowdfunder.

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