Launch through Time

THE WHITE TOWER – A book from the bees.

My last blog was written in August 2014 just a year from when I began it in August 2013. There is good reason for why it had an abrupt halt which I may write about some time.  For the moment however, I want to write about the  launch of my new book, a book which has been in gestation for over thirty five years. Yes! You read it right, 35 years.

It began in the summer of 1977, on a hilltop in Ceredigion, where the remains of a Roman fortress created a kind of ancient, jagged amphitheatre. During the course of a fascinating afternoon, where it felt that past and present collided,  a friend and I circumnavigated the high flat surface and as we did so we heard a pulsating hum which we could not identify, and which was growing louder.

My friend thought the sound was coming from the ground, but I disagreed, sure that it was somehow reaching us in the wind that blew fairly strong around us. She stooped, to put her ear closer to the scrubby grass to test her theory and when she looked up, shaking her head and about to speak, she halted and an expression of fear took over. Her eyes widened and she stepped back, away from me. She stared; seemingly at something above my head, and raised a pointing hand. I lifted my face toward the sky and saw what she was seeing.

A swarm of bees hovered in a seething pillar only centimetres above my head. Powerless to move, I froze, as they descended moving as one body taking me over from my head to my feet.

They crawled across my hands, my arms, my face and in my hair. They were inside my shirt and around my ankles and feet and I could feel the hairs on my body rising to the patter of their tiny feet travelling my body as though they had a purpose in being there.

A part of me was amazed and I experienced a thrill of excitement, whilst elsewhere in me I felt the natural and desperate fear of being stung all over.

My fear won out, and I found the strength to begin to run, holding my arms up high and shrieking like a wild thing, I got to the edge of the mountain and stopped. I felt them begin to leave me and as I stood leaning against a Roman stone, panting for breath I saw them go. In a lazy upward movement they gathered themselves back into a spiralling pillar, left  me and flew away.

Though I was not stung  I was shaking, and buzzing all over as though I had experienced an exhilarating sauna. I was electrified, despite the whole thing only having lasted two oe three minutes, and I was giving off static for the rest of the day to everyone that came near me. And I was inspired. I had been caressed by a thousand bees who came to me and spoke their secrets through my skin. For five nights following the event, I experienced dreams like never before, full of colour and people from the distant past. I tried to capture some of them on the page by writing a play, which though it was hard for people to understand, was cheeerfully taken on by a group of alternative players in the rural reaches of West Wales who created something wonderful out of a difficult script.

After many years of trying to recapture something of what the bees brought to me, I have finally completed a novel, The White Tower, and it will be launched on Saturday 31st January at  3pm, Small World Theatre in Cardigan. There will be storytelling with myself and Peter Stevenson,  heavenly music with Deuair, and divine cakes. And there will be Llanerch Press with books to be signed. What fun for us all!

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Pint-Sized Plays at Small World

There is an appropriateness is putting something pint-sized into a small world, and the fact is the two together worked brilliantly. 

‘Pint-Sized World’, showing last Saturday at Cardigan’s Small World Theatre, offered a varied programme of inventive and  superbly performed short dramas, all of which were extremely well-received by the audience. These short 5-10 minute plays, were originally intended to be performed in pubs when pint-sized was the brainchild of playwright and author Derek Webb, who introduced them as a novel way of taking the dramatic arts, into an already established, social setting, ergo; The Pub.

Judging by the success of their production at Small World, these performance gems are experiencing no difficulties in progressing into taking over other venues.  Since the early days in 2008 when the majority of the few plays performed came in from local people in West Wales, Pint-Sized Plays has become an international playwriting competition and is hotly contested with entries from, among other places, Australia and the USA besides a regular flow from all parts of the UK.

The plays at Small World were presented by Almost Random Theatre who travelled from Oxford to be there and were joined by local mini-companies. The standard of  performing and directing were first class and the plays which had been selected to be produced were a mixture of this year’s winners and a small selection from past winners.

The great thing about a programme like this, is that each of the plays is completely different from the next, since there is no specific requirement laid down for the competitors, other than that the play’s running time is within the stated length. The evening programme opened with Knight Intruder by Dorothy Lambert, a sitcom style, humorous piece, in which Russ Abbot look-alike Richard James, Cheryl Rayner and Nick Wears, set the bar high in the quality of acting, delivery and how to pace humour, in preparation for that which followed, all of which held up consistently to give some brilliant performances. Directors too are to be congratulated on making imaginative use of small space learnt by working in  pubs.

Some of the plays work better than others, and for a variety of reasons. The surreal offering ‘Anger Management for Dogs’ by Rupert Haigh and played by Kyran Pritchard and Dan Abrams was incredibly funny and hugely enjoyable, for those present who may have loved the Monty Python style humour, and the dog-like characteristics, though for some in the audience it was apparent they were not quite sure what was going on. Were these two actors actually playing dogs, sitting at a table? Yes! Brilliant.

There were four of this year’s winners on the programme, all of them well-received. Brought to Book by Lou Treleaven, Roadkill by Clare Reddaway, Eternity by Elan David Garonzik, and Lifetime by Angie Farrow.‘Pint-Sized World. Volume 1’, an anthology of 20 of the winning plays is available from pintsizedplays.org.uk price 9.99. It is an ideal tool for professional theatre companies, drama groups and school drama classes.

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