Fringe focus: The curiosities of Wanstead Park

Historian Hannah Armstrong delighted people interested in local history earlier this year with her landmark history of Wanstead Park – and with her talks about where some of the glories of the former palace ended up.

For this year’s Fringe, as part of the first Wanstead Book Festival, Hannah is returning to the subject today (Wednesday) with a talk about the curious parts of the Wanstead House glories which still exist – the Grotto and the Temple. How did they become part of the estate, and why are they still standing?

Tickets are still available for Hannah’s talk which takes place on Wednesday evening in the Churchill Room at Wanstead Library at 7.30. Order below.

Fringe focus: The plays are the thing

Live theatre has always been the top ambition for the Wanstead Fringe so next week is definitely one not to miss.

From Tuesday night, Wanstead Theatre Company is bringing a production of TWO by Jim Cartwright to the upstairs room at The Bull. It’s the company’s second production, after their sell-out show Bazaar & Rummage earlier this year.

The company’s Fiona Gordon said: “One of the great things about performing a play set in a pub in The Bull is that our set and props are already in place! I’ll be behind the bar playing the Landlady. If you are lucky, I may give you a drink on the house!”

And on Thursday and Friday our second play of the week takes place at the Wanstead High theatre. It’s DNA by Dennis Kelly – one of the plays familiar to drama students.

Jon Fentiman, director, said: “I love this play. It has allowed the actors – and me – huge freedom to experiment with theatrical ideas and comedy, whilst still conveying a serious message about human behaviour.

“Through our rehearsal process, we have really come to admire the writing of Dennis Kelly; writing that can sometimes seem banal and uninspiring on the page, but which becomes exciting and full of life in the mind, body and actions of our actors. I believe we have created an engaging and really entertaining interpretation of DNA, that can be enjoyed by both teenagers and adults.

“The theatre we are using is a wonderful space for both the actors and audience – a real gem – and I think that it is fantastic that Wanstead High School has allowed me this opportunity to share the talent of actors from two of the most prestigious acting academies in the country – East 15 Acting School and Drama Studio – with our local community.”

Tickets for all performances are available here

Our Lady’s Father Sammon dies

Our Lady of Lourdes has announced the death of Canon Patrick Sammon. He had been parish priest for more than 20 years in which time he led significant development of the parish centre. He was only the fourth person to hold the office of parish priest since the first in 1919. Our condolences to his parishioners and friends.

Fringe focus: History and power

Two particularly interesting Fringe events are taking place in the coming days.

Otto English is an author who is at the frontline of the battle against rumour, myths and wrong headedness. His fascinating book Fake History explains why some of the stories we know about people such as Winston Churchill are just plain wrong, and shows how one B. Johnson is at least partly responsible. Appropriately enough, English will be speaking in the Churchill Room at Wanstead Library on Friday evening.

On Monday, documentary-maker and artist Dan Endelstyn will be speaking about the power of film and art to change society. Endelstyn knows about being an activist – he is currently involved in a project to turn his Walthamstow street into a renewable power station, funded in part by his emergency currency, pictured. He is speaking at the Larder on Monday.