On the first Sunday of the month Frome's main roads are closed to traffic for a super-independent-market so the town is always exuberantly crammed with a plethera of stalls and flâneurs. Little Victory Ball were offering samples of their First World War pop-up performance, as well as the usual musical entertainments, and the Upstairs Grace gallery with its superb exhibition Substances was a great vantage point to watch activity on Catherine Hill through the window where Marian Bruce's bramble sphere hangs. There's also a wicked magical house by Paul Boswel, inhabited by installations from Klumpox, which you really need to see (closed Mon/Tue but open the rest of festival week.)
Very differently impressive are Paul Newman's pencil drawings of landscapes, which he creates instinctively rather than with any conscious sense of their story. He finds he simply taps into something of the place 'In some ways they're self-portraits.'
Taking a detour through Victoria Park, where the Frome Youth Band were playing (in our real proper bandstand) my next stop was Cheese&Grain, where Rose Flint and I were running consecutive poetry workshops, hers on Women and War, and mine Poetry as Protest, both leading to fascinating discussions as well as some sharp pieces of writing.
Then a quick scamper to the Merlin for the open air performance of Miracle's The Tempest. With a cast of just six and some judicious cutting, this inventive company nevertheless managed to keep the integrity of Shakespeare's story with all its magic and its themes of atonement, freedom, and passion, and to enhance the entertainment for a family audience too, with physical comedy, adlib, and puppets. There are interesting character interpretations and relationships: Hannah Stephens' wild-child Miranda and Simon Norbury's brooding Prospero have a dysfunctional but caring relationship. Caliban is something of a naughty puppy, while Ariel is a mesmerising and significant presence throughout, overlooking all and aching every moment for release. Bill Scott's direction has a great sense of confidence, especially in playing lines like 'we are such stuff as dreams are made of' for laughs (I did) and not surprisingly the full-house at the ECOS amphitheatre applauded with cheers at the end.
And to conclude another great evening: wild dancing under the stars in the Archangel's courtyard to the 'red-hot faux-French gypsy Balkan Klezmer band... les amoureux du Fromage UNITE!' So we did. It was great.