The renowned Newcastle-bred actor, writer and director Jonathan Biggins will return to Newcastle next year playing a very different role.
He was asked to be the first Newcastle Fringe Celebrity Ambassador and had no hesitation in taking up the offer.
The 2021 Newcastle Fringe Festival will be held from March 17 to 21 after a one-year break caused by COVID-19.
Restrictions limiting large gatherings came into force just two days before the 2020 Fringe was due to begin, with some of the participants having already arrived in Newcastle.
Biggins, whose theatrical skills have led to him being asked to take shows that he has written and performed in on overseas tours, sees the arts as critical at a time when fake news and conspiracy theories are blurring the truth and affecting our democracy.
He is viewed as one of Australia's best political satirists, drawing full houses for Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf Revues in the 20 years since they began, and touring many capital city and regional venues.
This year's Wharf Revue, Good Night and Good Luck, which will be the final production of the event, had to be postponed because of COVID restrictions.
It will be performed at Newcastle's Civic Theatre on February 13 and 14 next year.
"I like giving back to the community that I hailed from," Biggins said. "Fringe represents artistic endeavour at its most grassroots level. I want to help people recognise its value, to support the artists that produce it.
"To acknowledge that the arts play a vital role in a healthy society and to help get that message across. Art helps our society confront its issues - it should never be silenced".
The Newcastle Fringe Festival was established in 2016 by producer, writer and performer Phil Aughey after he attended events at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival while performing in Britain.
The festival attracts artists from all performing genres, including circus, children's theatre, burlesque, stand-up comedy, music of all styles, theatre, dance, and poetry.
Applications for the 2021 Newcastle Fringe Festival are open at newcastlefringe.com.au.
Artist applications close November 13.