Sunday, July 05, 2020

A midsummer medley: drama poetry & art, filling the festival void.

My online theatre choice for this week was Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry, an unmitigatedly grim, horribly relevant, 2016 production from National Theatre - it's free to view till July 9th, if you can face a 'brave, illuminating and powerful work that confronts the hope and tragedy of revolution'.
Set in an African country struggling to self-liberate from its colonial past, the polemic is mingled with mystical elements. Tshembe was played by Danny Sapiani, Yaƫl Farber directed.

Poetry corner now: Bristol's David C Johnson joined singer-songwriter Beth Ford for Love and Life online, this theme interpreted broadly enough to include poems ranging from the identity problems of bees to railways, and David's excellent response to the dunking of Colston in Bristol harbour: 'A Quick Dip for Edward.'
Still with poetry, Steve Pottinger, who brought his performance group Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists to Frome in 2018 to great acclaim, hosts the online poetry event YeS, WE CaNt which on Sunday featured the marvellous, totally bonkers, Felix Bang. Check out this rant about how girls shoes really really really really suck, from the collection Brillo Kiddo, 'that has a look at all the big and important cardboard boxes in my life.' There were several stand-out poems on the open-mic, presented via you-tube and sound-cloud as well as online text - I liked Gerald Kells deceptively profound 'Chrysalis' - in this varied event.

This is the week when many in Frome would be gearing themselves up for festival week, maybe returning from Glastonbury in full summer festival mood, or fine-tuning the previous weeks of preparation... my personal events, the Poetry Cafe, Nevertheless Pub Theatre and the literary & historical walks, like the rest of the programme are on hold until 2021 but the Frome Festival organising team won't let us forget our town's crowning arts event entirely. And on Tuesday we enjoyed an online Frome Festival Quiz, hosted by genial question-master Roger Southard.

The festival's visual art element has survived, catalogued in the Virtual Art Trail, and some studios are now accessible: check this link:;Open Art Trail-Outer. And for the official opening night, Festival director and musical performer Martin Dimery joined with Cooper Hall's creative director and vibrant songstress Morag McLaren to remind us that We'll meet again... click the link for a medley of witty parodies to remind us of the local talent always a favourite feature of the festival.

And now we move offline for live art event!
As the doors of the town cautiously open again, photographer Mark Brookes has a month-long exhibition at Fromie Gifts. Mark is noted for his reportage monochromes, and an impressive set of his Extinction Rebellion imagery contrasts powerfully with several large, subtly coloured, artistic poses with added words from Frome poet  'B' - this one features a mask by Gladys Paulus.

Still with personal journeys into creativity exposed to the world: massive excitement for me this week, with the arrival of a box of books fresh from the printers: The Price of Bread, my novel set in Belfast in the last Troubles, with a cover illustration by Frome artist Mutartis Boswell  - it looks fabulous and, thrillingly, all copies from this delivery were snapped up within twelve hours.
Another box will arrive early next week, half of which are already pledged, but there are still copies at Hunting Raven Books, as wonderful manager Tina 'Best in the Southwest' Gaisford-Waller grabbed me for a socially-distanced signing session as I passed by the bookshop door.
Supportive promotion also came from Frome Writers Collective: Gill Harry took this pic when I joined her to commiserate over the cancellation of the Small Publishers Fair, always on the first Saturday of the festival, filling the Silk Mill with buyers & sellers, readers & writers, publishers, promoters & purchasers and every sort of bibliophile. Next year, eh, guys....

No comments: