Sunday, November 20, 2016

Art to disturb the comfortable & comfort the disturbed

In a week when Michelle Obama's departure from the White House was greeted in West Virginia with relief that the ape in heels had gone, the new production at Bath's Ustinov feels disturbingly relevant.
 Trouble in Mind was originally performed in 1955, and writer Alice Childress was the first African American to win an Obie - best Original Off-Broadway Production award. It's a passionate play about the production of a passionate play: a tear-jerking inditement of racism from a white writer's perspective. Can the black cast accept this, as they accept the bullying of their volatile director (Jonathan Cullen terrifyingly good in this role), and be grateful for the money and for sharing meals in public with their white co-actors or do they have a right to their own feelings? This is the dilemma that increasingly emerges, and Tanya Moodie ~ who instigated this production ~ is memorably impressive as Wiletta Mayer, the one who articulates it. Director Lawrence Boswell brings deliberate theatricality to every moment of this painful journey: from dominated role-playing, to slow achievement of confidence and ultimate crisis. Don't matter who gets in, don't make no difference to us, is a line from the play-within-the-play that resonates throughout. Grippingly watchable, often painfully funny, and brilliantly acted - it's on till 17th December so forget the panto, come and see this. (image Simon Annand) 

This has been a week of new beginnings. My poetry collection Crumbs from a Spinning World was officially published by 'upstart indie punk' company Burning Eye Books on Tuesday with a really nice blog on their site (very short, do click the link!) and I had a small celebratory party. On Thursday Ann Harrison-Broninksi launched her 'comic horror story for kids' Hag of Hythe, also in a party atmosphere at the Three Swans. So you can enjoy a brace of covers from the pen of 'Frome's Banksy', Paul (Mutartis) Boswell who lavishly illustrated Ann's story.

Then on Friday night Frome Writers Collective launched their imprint Silver Crow in the Black Swan gallery to an enthusiastic crowd of writers. Nikki Coppleston read from her detective novel The Shame of Innocence, published in this new imprint by SilverWood, whose director Helen Hart gave an excellent talk about self-publishing as no longer a 'vanity' choice but 'the democratisation of publishing.  Here's Helen, and Nikki with her book.
I just had time then to scamper to the Round Tower to congratulate Annette Burkitt, Geraldine McLoughlin and Kate Cochrane on their collaboration with Rosie Jackson to create paintings inspired by her poems, which Rosie was discussing at the launch of Kate's Angles & Aspects exhibition.
And also on a busy night, Cornerhouse rebranded its upstairs room as a gallery with a fantastic exhibition of prints by Frome photographer David Goodman. The bar downstairs too was filled with amazing examples of his work, and Bonne Nouvelle were there to entertain the guests, appropriately surrounded by superb portraits of musicians.

It was a big week for farewells too: on Wednesday a memorial service for Esme Ellis, sculptor and writer and supporter of all arts and artists. I met Esme when she was writing her allegorical novel This Strange and Precious Thing ~ this picture is from the launch in Bath in 2008 ~  and she responded to one of my poems in her last book Dreaming Worlds Awake, a deeply personal reflection on life and love.
 And on Friday, Frome town said goodbye to Griff Daniels with a tribute night at Rook Lane. Griff was a key figure in the Frome music scene and an all-round fantastic guy, and over two hundred people came to his send-off - fittingly in a party atmosphere, with several of his closest bandmates playing throughout an unforgettable evening.

1 comment:

Nikki Copleston said...

Thanks for the mention, Crysse!