Fringe invitation


It all began in 2013, and now, as the Wanstead Fringe gears up for its 10th instalment of 100-plus cultural events, director Giles Wilson extends the invitation to South Woodford

You may not have noticed, but something has been going on in Wanstead for the past few years. It started small but has grown into something to be reckoned with.

It’s the Wanstead Fringe, an annual cultural arts festival, which this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It began as a handful of events back in 2013 – a bit of stand-up, an open-air cinema, a jumble trail and others – timed to coincide with the Wanstead Festival.

But over the subsequent few years, things took off. People wanted to arrange their own contributions. And this year, we have more than 100 events taking place in various venues around Wanstead between 9 and 30 September. We would love the people of South Woodford and Woodford, as our closest neighbours, to join us.

As in previous years, there will be comedy, a street party at The Duke pub and the Fringe jumble trail. But now, theatre is a central part of our programme – there are four plays showing this year, three of them upstairs at The Bull pub, near Wanstead Station. 

There will be 11 talks from authors – some local, some national – including one of the greatest living English novelists. The amount of music included is hugely expanded this year, with eight events including recitals and works by local composers and performers. International opera star Lucy Crowe and husband Joe Walters will again be transforming St Mary’s Church on Overton Drive into a magical venue for music. There will be a recital, Low Strings Drama, led by local composer Simone Spagnolo, which promises to be a unique blend of chamber music and drama soundtracks. Redbridge Brass Band, local singer-songwriters, singer Lydia Gerrard and local guitar virtuoso Peter Black also feature.

The event I’m looking forward to most is hearing from novelist Jonathan Coe, whose series of novels have told an authentic story about the changes in British life since the war. The event will have a vivid counterpart as Helen Day, historian of Ladybird Books, talks about the perceptions our society used to have of itself. Former BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz will tell us how we can adopt the ways artists look at the world to change our own ways of looking.

It’s our sponsors who have underwritten this growth. Vision RCL is very supportive and generous with its buildings, but we have built the Fringe without any public money – it’s an excellent example of what can happen when people do things for themselves. Nothing would make us happier than to have the readers of the South Woodford Village Gazette join us.

For more information on Wanstead Fringe events, visit swvg.co.uk/wf