Wanstead on show

Theatre is coming to WansteadTheatre is coming to Wanstead

In the first of a series of articles looking at the annual phenomenon that is the Wanstead Fringe, Giles Wilson is excited to reveal that 2018 is the year live theatre will be added to the billing.

What sort of place do you want Wanstead to be? That was one of the questions a tiny group of Wanstead residents asked six years ago. The answer was that we wanted Wanstead to be as vibrant culturally as it was socially. We wanted it to be a place with music, film, comedy, talks and – we dared to dream – live theatre.

The result was the Wanstead Fringe. With no experience in running events, we ploughed on, and something rather amazing happened: when we asked people to do things, they said yes. Slowly at first, but soon the 'yeses' came thick and fast.

And so the Wanstead Fringe takes place again this year, from 8 to 15 September, with more than 30 events of different styles, including the open-air Wanstead Kinema, live music, discussion, book talks, food and drink tastings and more. We're grateful to our sponsors, Petty Son and Prestwich and Edwards Duthie, for their continued support, and to our new backers THP accountants too.

There is still time – just – to set up your own event. We can give practical help and publicity if you have the ideas and determination to get organising. This is the way the Fringe works best – with people doing things for themselves.

Until this year, however, one item on our original wishlist had remained a tough nut to crack: live theatre. An early putdown we received – "How can it be a fringe without theatre?" – had stayed with us, but making it happen was proving tricky. I'm delighted to be able to report that 2018 will be the year that live theatre does indeed come to the Wanstead Fringe.

We've teamed up with a professional theatre company, which has made it its mission to revive a tradition of West End standards outside the West End. It has taken productions to seaside towns and other communities across the UK that had given up hopes of having plays staged. They are now bringing their mission to Wanstead.

Details will be released in the coming weeks. The play will be a classic, with proven appeal to families. The whole thing is very exciting – we hope it could be the start of live theatre becoming a regular fixture of the Fringe.

We do have a request though. The finances of staging theatre are precarious, and we are keen to make tickets as affordable as possible – we want everyone to share the joy of live theatre. So, if you know of a business that would sponsor the production, or if you too dream of sharing the joy of live theatre and can help us financially, please do get in touch. This new venture will, we hope, make Wanstead a little more like the place it can be.

The Wanstead Fringe 2018 will take place at various venues in the local area from 8 to 15 September. For more information and to get involved, visit wavidi.co/wf18


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