Festival frontline report number 3:
A lyrigraph is a documentary poem written on location, and if you don't know the word that's because Sean Borrowdale invented it. The Black Swan is displaying his lyrigraph(s)? composed by Mells stream, tacked to the walls in an intriguing, if rather sombre, theatrically noir style. Another media crossover: Barry Cooper's massive Janus Head, created in situ at Mells First School, is all about dialogue - the including and excluding aspects of each individual. This is the placid side, but it's the other face, the malicious one, teeth bared with biting tongue, that spoke loudest to me. 'Fear is always fear of that which we do not know' Barry says in his notes, reminding me of Rilke: "Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure".
All week Frome FM has been broadcasting the stories from local writers recorded by Mike. The lunchtime slot isn't the most convenient for listening, but they seem to have been well received. Mine went out on Thursday: three short stories which are all in my new anthology 'Are we nearly there yet' (launch 22nd July at Christies wine bar)
"Arrival imaginary or real is preceded by a journey" (Kabir Hussain, whose huge minimalist pieces are also at the Black Swan). Soundbeam Story at the Merlin was a journey through the elements, using visual, music, and movement, for the children of Critchill school led by the inspiration of Annabelle Macfadyen. Stunning theatre, personal learning, and social collaboration too - no words, but the kind of event that takes writers to the heart of our craft: communication, and personal passion.
Still at the theatre, with words this time: Pip Utton's new monologue persona is Charlie Chaplin, portrayed as a morose old man resenting his childhood, the critics, his audiences (including us) and most of all his alter-ego creation - a surreal example of a man playing a man playing a man who was never real.
A different kind of surreality on Friday, when Paul Merton's Impro Chums filled the stage with characters and conflicts at the speed of strobe-light from audience cues. From the Scandanavian director of a parade of genetically-modified (well this is Frome) badgers to the Taming of the Teddy Bears' Picnic, all inhuman life was there. I think my favourites were the Fijian worm keeper and the vaudeville divorce lawyers, but it was all brilliant.