Award-winning actor and playwright Sheila Atim will deliver the 2019 welcome address at Fringe Central on Friday 02 August. 

The welcome address marks the start of the Fringe and celebrates the opening of Fringe Central – the Fringe Society’s hub for performers, venues, media and arts industry professionals attending the festival. In addition to the welcome address, Fringe Central hosts more than 100 free events for Fringe participants.

Atim won a 2018 Olivier Award, the Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer and the Clarence Derwent Award for her role in the Bob Dylan musical Girl from the North Country; she has also appeared in productions of Othello, Babette’s Feast and The Tempest. She is set to star in the forthcoming Game of Thrones prequel series, The Long Night, and was made an MBE for services to drama in the Queen’s 2019 birthday honours.

Speaking about the welcome address Sheila said: 
'I'm very excited to be delivering the Fringe Central Welcome Address this year. There is something wonderful about so many artists, voices and means of expression coming together for a month to create an event pulsating with vibrancy. As a new writer debuting at the Fringe this year, I am honoured to usher in my fellow creatives with this year's next bundle of fresh and exciting ideas'.

Sheila has previously spoken publicly about discrimination and diversity in the arts – in her Olivier acceptance speech, she said that she hoped ‘there will be more women in the future, who look like me, accepting awards.’ Speaking to The Stage in January, she added: ‘The difficult thing about pushing forward with diversity and representation – and it’s absolutely needed – is that we all have to understand why it’s needed, and why it’s good for all of us. Only then will it become a thing we don’t have to question or test or constantly assess. The test is a longer one. These are long fights and we’re still fighting them.’

The Welcome Address is free for Fringe participants and entry is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Explore what's on at Fringe Central this August