More than 30,000 viewers have flocked to London's newest open-air stage in its first year, making it the capital's "premier outdoor arts venue".

Bell Square opened at the west end of Hounslow High Street in April 2014, having been created as part of the ongoing town centre regeneration funded by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

But the eclectic line-up of free fortnightly acts only got going in June last year, making this its true first birthday.

Jan Lennox, director of Watermans arts centre, in Brentford, which has organised the year-round programme, spoke to getwestlondon ahead of what she described as one of the highlights of the summer calendar - Little Red Riding Hood, by Insectotropics.

The Catalan collective promise a radically different re-telling of the classic story of girl meets wolf, with three video artists, two painters, a musician, and an actress creating an immersive 'live' film before the audience's eyes.

"Insectotropics is a dark and quirky show that mixes film and performance to retell the classic tale of Red Riding Hood," she said. "It will be a brilliant end - or start! - of your evening."

Unlike many of the shows at the simple, paved venue beside The Bell pub, surrounded by benches and floodlights, this show will take place in the evening, this Saturday (June 20), at 9.30pm.

But it shares the sense of fun, surprise and experimentation which unites much of the work to have graced Bell Square over the past 12 months.

Previous offerings range from high-flying circus acts to pyrotechnic infused flamenco, via shadow puppetry.

Polar by Bilbobasso at Bell Square in 2014

In the next few weeks, meanwhile, the stage will host an explosion of colour as the dyed power flies to mark the Indian festival of Holi, before members of the public are enlisted to help build a cardboard skyscraper.

"Audiences have totalled more than 30,000 in the first year, which is more than anybody had hoped for. The feedback's been incredibly positive and we're getting regulars coming for every show," said Ms Lennox.

"London has lots of outdoor arts festivals but this is something very different. I would say it's London's top space for outdoor arts."

Audiences are typically a mixture of curious shoppers and those who have come specially for the shows, sometimes claiming one of the limited number of seats extra early to secure the best view of some of Europe's top performing artists in action.

Bell Square has drawn artists from far and wide, but it is the diversity of those looking on which has been most satisfying for the curators.

"So many people have said they don't normally go to the arts but they loved what they saw here," said Ms Lennox.

Members of theatre troupe Kamchatka make a new friend in Hounslow High Street

She added: "It's much more open, fun, accessible and friendly than the theatre or an art gallery. Even if you don't think theatre's your thing I would say give this a go.

"There's lots of chance for audience participation, whether that's on the day or in advance, with some of the artists working with members of the public for weeks beforehand.

"We don't put on shows that are text heavy because that could be alienating for visitors, people who live here whose English isn't great yet, or for young children. Trying to appeal to everybody is really important."

Of course, winning over new audiences is one thing but overcoming the vagaries of the British weather is quite another.

Remarkably, only one show so far has fallen victim to the rain, according to Ms Lennox, with performers and audiences generally happy to put up with a light drizzle or to delay proceedings in the case of a more torrential downpour.

Crowds enjoy the shadow play Spellbound, which was part of the Diwali celebrations

Bell Square's biggest shows to date have been last October's Diwali shadow play and, perhaps surprisingly, this April's show by Kamchatka, in which a group of mute strangers from a distant land charmed passersby, even turning a street cleaner into one of the stars of the show. The latter show, which spilled out onto Hounslow High Street, pulled in a remarkable 5,000 viewers.

Ultimately, Bell Square's success won't be judged simply on numbers, but on its part, along with the new market and proposed cinema, in transforming Hounslow town centre into a more lively, fun place to be.

"The council really wants the events here to take the lead in animating the town centre and people are already saying Bell Square makes Hounslow a better place to visit," said Ms Lennox.

"Most people watching the shows are also coming for other things, like the shops, cafés and restaurants.

"Many are coming here for the first time because of the shows, which has to be good for the town centre."

The fortnightly programme at Bell Square, supported by Hounslow Council and the Arts Council, will continue until the end of December, when there will be a short break so changing rooms, a new control room and extra seating can be built.

Coming up at Bell Square Theatre:

Little Red Riding Hood, by Insectotropics

(Photo by Aline Groley)

Saturday (June 20), 9.30pm

A spectacular reworking of Red Riding Hood from this exciting Catalan company,combining live action, film and music.

The Colour of Time, by Compagnie Artonik

Saturday July 4, 7.30pm

A riotous explosion of colour and joy with this stunning revival of the Indian Holi festival. Come and join in!

The People's Tower, by Olivier Grossetete

(Photo by Vincent Lucas, of construction in Marseille)

Saturday July 18 (10am-6pm) and Sunday July 19 (2pm-3.30pm)

Help this world-renowned artist build an epic cardboard tower that'll soar above the Bell Square skyline.

For full listings of what's on at Bell Square, visit