Wandsworth Arts Fringe is back – and bringing it to the dancefloor
Wandsworth Arts Fringe returns for 17 days of music, spoken word, theatre, comedy and dance happening all over the borough from Friday 10 to Sunday 26 June.
With 150 events to choose from, get ready for an explosion of colour in the streets, intimate live performances in surprise locations and a huge celebration of dance, woven through our whole programme, as we get back to the business of taking over Wandsworth’s pubs, theatres, galleries, studios and churches for another year of WAF. Wander through parks and discover art among the trees and dancers popping up on the river path, peek inside the old Arches at St Mary’s Putney and see them transformed into a tiny theatre, or catch something inspirational at the iconic Bedford pub.
This year, WAF is shining a light on Wandsworth’s emerging dance quarter as the Royal Academy of Dance open their brand-new headquarters on York Road, a stone’s throw from London Children’s Ballet, Wandsworth’s first Cultural Anchor Tenant to open just last year, and long-established Battersea dance organisations bbodance and Tavaziva Dance.
On Friday 10 June, WAF will launch with dancing in the streets. Everyone’s invited to join us on a journey along the riverside around Battersea Reach, charting a course between bbodance and RAD’s new home and discovering hidden music, spoken word and dance gems along the way.
RAD will host an incredible programme of dance throughout the festival, including Ballet Soul’s contemporary dance adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello – a live version of 2021’s lockdown dance film and Element Arts raise awareness of climate change with their dance film installation, Ecological Beings. Also at RAD, Mercurial Dance test run a new, immersive, site-specific game: Fame Game; Sheba Montserrat’s Shackles, The Whip, and The Drum follows guardian spirits Rhythm and Dance as they guide Africans through enslavement, in a tale of the creation of Caribbean dance; London Children’s Ballet transfer Anne of Green Gables to Wandsworth following a hit run at Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre; and beneath the glow of 100 LED candles, E33’s contemporary ballet We’re Gonna Be Okay weaves together personal stories and choreography, offering hope and light after the darkness of the pandemic.
The WAF Dance Weekender is set to be a two-day extravaganza of dance styles from around the world, popping up in public spaces around Battersea. Find us in York Gardens on Saturday 18 June for contemporary dance from London Butoh Dance Company and Hallomai Dance, and accessible dance workshops with disability-led dance troupe Magpie Dance. Shake your tail feathers with the most fabulous flock of senior citizens in town, PC*DC’s Royale Dancehall Flamingos, then head over to bbodance for African movement, drumming, ballet and more with Tavaziva Dance and the English National Ballet School. On Sunday, WAF takes over Battersea Reach with another all-dayer featuring pop up performances from Flamenco Con Gusto and Orleta Polish Folk Song and Dance, African drumming and movement from Tavaziva Dance, and even a chance to learn Japanese Tenshintaido with martial artist and calligrapher Beatrice Boivineau.
As part of Wandsworth Council’s commitment to open up arts and culture to all residents, WAF 2022 will host free activities in parks, housing estates and public spaces across the borough. These include the WAF Family Day at Furzedown Recreation Ground (12 June), Art in The Park in Wandsworth Park (12 June), Happy Feet - a giant communal painting made with dancing feet - at Alton Arts Hub (18 June), the Alton Family Fun Day (25 June) and artful reuse green festival Hazelfest on the Hazelhurst Estate (26 June). Jellyfish Theatre return in their Caravan of Dreams with a New Adventure, touring Wandsworth’s parks and housing estates throughout the festival. WAF 2021 Audience Choice Award winners, disability-led theatre company The Baked Bean Company, take over Battersea High Street on Friday 17 June with a street party like no other - featuring dance performances, live music and creative workshops.
WAF continues its well-loved and award-winning digital programme WAF In Your Living Room, with online arts and crafts workshops from ActionSpace and LGBTQ+ Radical Quilting group Shed Project, alongside a programme of digital performances, including a special adaptation of The Tempest by disabled-led theatre company Bloomin Arts, a solo performance by dancer Tal Levy Cohen, and a multi-character whistle-stop tour of Andy Warhol’s Factory from Gary Roost.
Fringe theatre and comedy is really back, with beloved Wandsworth venues such as The Bedford, Tara Theatre, The Arches at St Mary’s Putney, Theatre503 and Putney Arts Theatre returned to full strength after two years of lockdowns and socially distanced performances. Highlights include comedy from 90’s Boy Phil Green, taking us through a life of ADD, Tony Blair and terrible 90s pop songs, while her Majesty the Queen (aka Carole Shaw) invites you to a Jubilee afternoon of quizzes, cake and SingalongaLiz; Theatre503 present a spookily prescient new play about the rise of an authoritarian state, Hangdog celebrate the musical gods of the 1960’s, and two recent ALRA students (now imnotarobot productions) take us on an absurd sci-fi adventure… in which someone has to get thrown into space.
There’s plenty to see and do for Wandsworth’s young culture vultures too – Meg In The Magic Toyshop is a musical adventure for ages 3-7, bringing libraries to magical life. Enjoy an uplifting afternoon of all your favourite songs from West End musicals and animated family movies with UPLIFT Musical Theatre, and Oily Cart are wheeling back with The Lost Feather, a live sensory storytelling show designed for autistic and/or disabled children of all ages.
Following a two-year hiatus, the WAF Schools Showcase returns with live performances from local school children at Wandsworth Town Hall’s Civic Suite. Climate Change is a major theme for schools projects this year, with eco poetry displayed in libraries across the borough and green artwork installed on the railings outside Wandsworth Town Hall. Young talent will also be represented with performances from Providence House, World Heart Beat Music Academy, London Children’s Ballet, and Wandsworth Music Youth Council.
WAF is set to showcase the talents of young visual artists in the borough too – the Royal College of Art’s Bursary winners (Louis Morel, Sena Appeah, Merlin Summer and Theo Chaudoir) will exhibit at Nine Elm’s Outlined Gallery; RCA Fashion Students have been working with Share Community’s disabled artists to create an accessible, sustainable millinery fashion show; and watch this space for details of a surprise RCA student residency in Battersea Park, kicking off with WAF in June 2022, as they (temporarily) fill some big-name shoes.
In music, WAF welcomes back chill-out jazz and classical quartet Fuzion Four, the glamourous Marcus Megastar, Bach Club's Pawel Siwczak (performing as part of the All Saints Music Festival), and two classical music performances in the portico of St Anne’s Church presented by Wandsworth Street Concerts. Rogue Opera’s Opera in the Park is a family-friendly cabaret-style show featuring music from Bizet, Donizetti, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini and Verdi; Gráinne Gillis pulls back the velvet curtain and gives us a cheeky musical peek behind the scenes, and National Opera Studio open their doors for Songs and Scones (a treat for fans of opera, and for fans of scones).
South London’s rising stars of Afrobeat, Rap, Reggaeton, Dancehall, Grime, Trap, Hip Hop, Soul and R’n’B get their chance to shine with showcase performances from On Da Beat Studios, and watch parties hosted by Kimber Skate Park. Inspired by Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Eric Bibb, and Lizz Wright, poetical songsmith Melissa James performs her rootsy, gospel-folk with a large helping of soul. Elsewhere, The Meg Morley Trio will launch their new jazz album, and South London’s Giant Folk fill All Saint’s Church Tooting with their FolkJazz sound.
Celebrity poet John Agard makes his WAF debut with a project celebrating curiosity; and joins a programme of spoken word events featuring Wordplay and Flow Live, Lost Souls community poetry group, Richmond & Wandsworth LGBT Equality & Ally Group, Words of Wandsworth’s Open Mic Picnic, a spoken word walk inspired by the Wandle River, and a night of escapism on Battersea Barge.
For the hands-on, there are loads of opportunities to get involved and learn new skills, with workshops from fan-making to quilt-making, flower-arranging, dance and martial arts, calligraphy, creative writing and more throughout the festival.
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