Most mere mortals, would consider running a Fringe Festival and an annual awards ceremony, a reasonable workload for the first half of the year. However, Zsuzsi Lindsay, Director of the Reading Fringe Festival decided to add having a baby to the mix! She and her gorgeous daughter Rey (yes, she's a jedi in training!) are now a festival organising force to be reckoned!
We caught up with Zsuzsi recently in Reading at the Three Guineas hotel, to have a chat about this year's Reading Fringe Festival which will bring together 120 acts in 18 venues - from pubs, to circus tents, to inflatable cubes - across town. Last year over 5,000 attendees visited the Fringe; a number expected to grow in 2018. This year promises to be a truly international Fringe with acts from Ireland, Jamaica, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain and of course Germany! (Side note, Blue Goat Theatre, performing J'n'R at the Penta Hotel, 13:00, Sunday, 29 July!) Check out the full list of acts over at the Reading Fringe Festival website.
What was your motivation for starting the Fringe?
"Reading didn't have a Fringe already. It's the type of town that's so vibrant, with so much going on it seemed to be a sensible next step. At the time, lots of arts organisations were popping up around town. I wanted to provide an affordable platform for local artists and also to invite artists from out of town. I personally learn so much working with other people and thought it would be a really nice platform for cultural exchange."
What makes a Fringe different from a normal Festival?
"It's not really different. I suppose the thing that a Fringe says to people is that it's going to be a mix from downright absurd to really commercial comedy. There really is something for everyone. Prepare to be amazed and confused at the same time!"
What makes a great Fringe Festival?
"Variety and the element of surprise and it's inclusiveness. It's really important to support or to reach out to your local community members to be sure it reflects the personality of the town."
How can visitors get the most out of the Reading Fringe?
"By using the centre planner [in the program] you can easily plan your shows. What's lovely about the Fringe is that all of the shows are relatively short and cheap. Try seeing something completely new. You're not going to be out of pocket and you'll be supporting local artists plus getting to see acts from around the world."
What's your top tip for festival goers?
"Choose something you wouldn't normally choose. You might really enjoy it!"
The Reading Fringe Festival runs from 24-29 July 2018. Tickets are now on sale. Check out their program here.