Wandsworth Arts Fringe 2018 programme features a rich array of shows and events to suit all ages, interests and tastes. During its nine-year history, South London’s premiere arts festival has gone from strength to strength.  This year is the biggest yet with the festival playing host to over 170 shows in over 55 venues across the borough from May 4 to 20.   With an eclectic range of arts and culture, every conceivable space both indoor and outdoor will buzz with activity and creative endeavour.

We caught up with the creative force behind Wandsworth Arts Fringe, Cath Mattos, to find out more about this exciting event.

How did you become involved with Wandsworth Arts Fringe?

I have worked with Fringe festivals since 2008, starting with Brighton Fringe where I developed my interest and passion. I became involved with World Fringe at this time too and we work with Fringe Festivals providing advocacy and giving advice and consultancy.  We were involved with a consultation at the Arts Team at Enable LC looking for an innovative way forward for Wandsworth Arts Festival. I came on board to deliver the Wandsworth Arts Fringe and its strategic goals and have been with WAF ever since. It’s a great developing festival and the opportunities and challenges keep the WAF team and myself busy year round.

What kind of things can we expect to see during the fringe?

We have something for everyone. For the first time this year and to celebrate the 250 year of the first circus performance we have a pop up circus tent in Battersea Circus Garden, Shillington Park near Clapham Junction which has an innovative and thrilling programme of contemporary circus such as Fauna, The Hogwallops and Our House. We have a moving outdoor showcase called WAF on Wheels which will bring a selection of the finest and funniest to a different town centre over the first two weekends of the festival throughout Wandsworth. Fragility Takeover are back with three venues at The Arches at Putney Bridge and The Cats Back with cutting edge and queer theatre and risqué comedy – highlights being The Twins Macabre, She-wolf by Gillian English and Wes Barker, with Baba the Bad Baboon and Seska for those wishing to entertain their young ones.

What does Wandsworth offer Fringe visitors that other areas don’t?

We encourage as much new work as possible and aim to give audiences shows they may not have seen elsewhere. I also think there is a depth to the offer in Wandsworth and we really try to reach everyone, from all walks of life. We aim to deliver a festival that is as accessible as possible on many different levels. We offer plenty of free and low cost events for those on lower incomes and try to bring the festival into hard to reach areas to engage audiences that may not always engage with the arts. We are working closely with disability arts companies on events in the festival and we have a variety of shows with BSL interpretation, relaxed performances and touch tours happening too.

Why do you think it’s important these kinds of events exist?

WAF was created in response to the need and demand for a platform and outlet for creative companies in the area and a wish for people to see more culture happening locally. The intention is to support the arts and cultural industries across the borough and beyond and to put a creative spotlight on Wandsworth in May.

What’s your favourite thing about Wandsworth Arts Fringe?

I love the way WAF transforms venues and pops up around the whole of Wandsworth in May. I love seeing delighted faces when unusual interventions start happening on the high street and in the pocket parks around the area. The Arches at St Marys Church Putney become a buzzing hot spot of theatre and comedy and they turn the church pink at night time in celebration. I love the way Wandsworth residents embrace and welcome artists from across the world and get involved fully in the funniest of events. I can’t wait to see The Big Top up and thrilling people with the most awesome and engaging circus programme,

What would you say to encourage first time visitors to come along?

We encourage our audiences to come along and take a risk and try something new. Dedicate a few evenings or daytimes this May to come and immerse yourselves in WAF and really enjoy the best theatre, circus, comedy and dance as well as so many literary and spoken word events. It’s a real experience and there is something to delight and intrigue everyone!

Wandsworth Arts Fringe runs from Friday May 4 to Sunday May 20.  For more details, shows and to book tickets click here.

Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly


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