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Martin Willis - Wandsworth Fringe Interview

In a series of interviews, we are chatting to artists involved with the 2024 Wandsworth Fringe. The Fringe Festival runs from 7th until 23rd June.

In this interview, we chat with producer Martin Willis about his work on the Fringe. 

Where did your arts career begin?
Aged four when I started ballet class! Alternatively, my first acting role as Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night at university, or the first time I did stand-up in 2013 when I lived in Madrid.

How did you first become a producer?
I put on my first mixed bill comedy show in 2015 in a former postal sorting office that had become a Mencap centre in Bow. It held 150 people and, in a genuinely baffling turn of events, we packed it out and had to turn people away. I hosted that show and we had a blast on stage - but I remember my uncle telling me afterwards that I clearly had a knack for putting on events, and that really stuck with me.

What does the role of a producer entail at Wandsworth Fringe?
It’s a pretty varied job from start to finish, with loads of different elements coming together over the course of 6-month period. There’s scouting and negotiating with venues, chatting with artists and curating a programme, coming up with and designing marketing materials, and then the shows themselves - making sure they run smoothly and that the audience and artists all have a great time.

How do you approach the planning and programming of the events that run throughout the Fringe?
This is a part of the process that I really enjoy, as I love the process of piecing together an evening’s entertainment in my mind. This year I’m programming some comedy double-headers and an all-dayer, and I love working out pairings and partnerships, which artists and atmospheres work well together, and what will give any attending audience member the sense that they’ve had a fun and thought-provoking escape from things.

What is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced ahead of this year’s Fringe and how have you overcome it?
Getting the right venues for the shows was a fun challenge, as there is such a fun array of great spaces across the borough. In the end, it took a tour around Wandsworth on foot, where I visited a number of the rooms and felt them out.

What can an audience expect from this year’s festival?
A really great spread of genres and talents, and some cracking new work.

What keeps you inspired?
New work, new artists, new ways of doing things. There’s always something around the corner you’ve never heard of before that’ll blow your mind.

How would you describe the Fringe in 3 words?
Bloody good fun

The Wandsworth Fringe runs until 23rd June 2024. Find a full list of performances on the website

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