Monday, July 08, 2013

Frome Festival: phew, it'll be a scorcher...

Frome Festival opened officially on Saturday with Frome Street Bandits parading through the town and a welcome speech by our Mayor, the youngest and possibly tallest in the country, who dressed for the occasion as Lady Penelope's chauffeur. Our town's has always had a punk ethic, my friend Gordon Graft says. This was at the Festival Feast, a massive street party in the market square with stalls of international food and local ale, and dancing to amazing Zora and the Tatsmiths.  Events had started before then, though, with Critters rocking the Cornerhouse and two fantastic opening parties ~ Loop de Loop, the only gallery in a converted public toilet in the world, and Silk Mill where there's an intriguing film/installation (Otter) as well as tapas and open studios. There's art all over the place, including the Archangel and the Garden House which both have great exhibitions, but as with all good festivals, far more than any one person can possibly cover...

Theatrical highlights for the week as featured in Somerset Standard, include Frome Scriptwriters' site-specific performance in the tunnels under the town, now sold out!
And Cornwall's Miracle Theatre brought their open-air summer touring show Waiting for Godot to Merlin ECOS amphitheatre on Sunday evening to the absolute delight of the crowds settled on the grassy steps for a midsummer theatrical picnic. Director Bill Scott says his approach was simply to choose the right actors and read the script with an open mind, and the result is simply brilliant: simultaneously funny & tragic, physical & emotive, combining superb timing with that profound sense of timelessness that makes this play the masterpiece it is. Steve Jacobs & Angus Brown were utterly brilliant as the tramps, and Ben Dyson's anarchic energy brought a manic sorrow to bullying Pozzo while Ciaran Clarke's youthfulness gave the enigmatic Lucky a strangely profound edge. And while the Miracle playfulness with cleverly rehearsed physicality was here, what made this production so excellent was its sense of immediacy, as if every word we heard was being spoken for the first time at that moment. Unforgettable.

ECOS amphitheatre was also in the spotlight ~ literally ~ for the 21st birthday celebrations of this extraordinary circle of monoliths from twelve countries, a European Community Of Stones conceived as a symbol of peace and created by visionaries and volunteers ~ a tribute to 'bravery and madness' and to Frome's unique mix of imagination and bloody-mindedness.  All this and much more was said in a long look back at the history of ECOS and the 'Famous Five' who steered Barry Cooper's idea into actuality, ending with a sublime performance of Imagine by Martin Dimery followed by champagne and birthday cake as the Street Bandits played.
And if you're wondering how Troupers got on when they took A Day in the Death of Joe Egg to Derry for the British Amateur Dramatic One Act Play finals ~ they won!!!

 Our Words At the Frome Festival programme kicked off at Rook Lane on Sunday with Writers & Publishers day at Rook Lane Arts, with talks & events in the elegant chapel hall and one-to-ones with agents under smart little marquees in the garden. Michele Roberts, as senior judge of the Short Story Competition organised annually by Alison Clink, confessed "The greatest reliable pleasure of my life is reading" in her short inspirational address before presenting the winners' cheques. This year's innovation was mini competitions on the day for Flash Fiction and Haiku, both inspiring excellent entries and creating an entertaining lunchtime interlude with cash prizes for two lucky writers: Hannah Teasdale from Bath was voted fiction winner by a trio of judges (thanks Kate Maryon, David Lassman, and Alex Wilson) and poet Claire Crowther selected Emily Gerrard's entry as 'perfect haiku'.    
                                  Frome to Templemeads.
                                  Wild roses pink the hedgerows
                                   ~ a kind of calling.
So now we're on page 10 of your brochures, with sunshine promised as the festival rolls on...

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Christian said...
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