Crouch End Festival ‘celebrates the creative spirit of the local community’

Sean Azzopardi

Sean Azzopardi - Credit: Sean Azzopardi

The festival features over 200 shows of live music, art, theatre, film and comedy performances across N8.

You may have noticed volunteers handing out programmes on Crouch End Broadway last weekend. That’s because organisers are getting ready for the community and arts festival that will be taking to the streets of Crouch End from June 8-17 to celebrate the area’s creative scene.

Crouch End Festival features over 200 shows of live music, art, theatre, film and comedy performances across N8 with events organised entirely by local volunteers.

“The festival is about celebrating the creative spirit of the local community and being a Crouch Ender myself it feels so special to be able to make an offering that shows some unusual and hidden parts of this wonderful place,” says Alex Hassell, actor and co-founder of the Factory Theatre Company along with Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson and Bill Nighy.

The company will put on seven wildly different performances of Macbeth each at a different venue over the course of the festival . What’s unique about the performances is that the casting is gender-less, age-less, and changes every time. The cast also don’t use props, costumes or any pre-planned choreography. Apart from the text, everything that happens is entirely spontaneous, and inspired by the venue.

“I suppose one of our main aims as a company is to make the veneer of artifice as thin as possible. By removing everything around the interaction between the actor, the words, the audience, and the moment in which they all collide, we hope to allow genuine human frailty, vulnerability, and striving into the room,” said Hassell an RSC actor who has starred in TV drama The Miniaturist.

“I feel it’s a quality that is thrilling, powerful, and rare. The audience are seeing, and, indeed, are part of the actor’s live, present-tense thought processes; with all the daring, chaos, stumbling and triumph that goes with it. It has a wonderful way of putting the actors and audience in the same room; balancing on a knife edge.”

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Factory develops work over long and extremely short periods of time buy doing a combination of weekly exploratory sessions and bursts of intensive rehearsal. The audience become a part of the productions playing the witches, and not even the cast know what to expect from each performance.

“Every single moment of every show is an enormous challenge because none of us have any idea what will happen! Which is the way we like it,” Hassell says. “It’s still early days with Macbeth but there have already been lots of performances that I have felt very moved by. One of the ones we did at a school felt like a big step in our playing and it was so beautiful to see these young people be so engaged and intrigued by the play.”

Elsewhere in the festival, Sean Azzopardi will be organising the Crouch End Cartoon Arts Festival, where artists from the UK’s burgeoning independent comic book and publishing scene can showcase and sell their work.

“The independent comic scene is accessible to anyone who wants to make a comic or zine. All you need is paper and something to make a mark with and you are good to go.

“The people involved are all wonderful and have a lot of passion for the medium and for organising events around it. Welcoming new people and encouraging them to take part to share their stories and ideas. Everyone’s has to start somewhere,” Azzopardi says.

The idea behind the event is to focus on cartoonists who will be selling their work. Azzopardi will be exhibiting his recent work for The Voice Of The Hall, a history of Hornsey Town Hall, published by Soaring Penguin Press.

Other highlights among the 200 events taking place across Crouch End’s churches, coffee shops, galleries, open spaces and public buildings include arts workshops for recycling packaging, a magician and pastry chef performing illusions, a craft and food market as well as a zombie walk.

Festivities culminate with Family Day - a free event where parents and kids can sing, dance and get their faces painted.

Crouch End Festival runs from 8-17 June in venues across N8.Tickets and information are available at