Bren Bannister

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From Page to Stage (5th November 2016)


I read somewhere that one in ten Icelanders has written a book. Perhaps it's something to do with the Viking saga heritage, or else those long winter nights. The figures for Frome may not be that high yet, but it's fair to say that book launches happen quite frequently in town.


The Merlin Theatre staged a multiple celebration last night (November 4th) when local writer, Rosie Jackson, took over the regular spoken word slot in the theatre to launch not only her own recently published memoir, The Glass Mother, but also a number of other works in that genre. For three years, while working on her own book, Rosie tutored a group of local people who all had their own stories to tell. Under her guidance, ten students completed memoirs and some of these are now published under Rosie's new imprint, Yarn Press, set up with the help of one of the group, Tim Cutting. Another member, Denis Ostler, who has just turned ninety, is a retired vet; his memoir, A Lucky Man, is among those published. With the Merlin stage transformed to a bistro, friends enjoying a tapas supper and their fellow-writers giving moral support, Rosie and eight other writers read extracts from their books, with copies available for purchase.


In two weeks' time there's another launch – this time of both a concept and a book. For the past two years, Frome Writers' Collective has been planning its own 'book brand' and the result, Silver Crow Books (, launches at the Black Swan Gallery on Friday 18th November. Silver Crow offers FWC members a cost-effective manuscript assessment service and a stepping stone on the route to publication, with authors of accepted books being eligible to use the Silver Crow logo – which, it is hoped, will be seen as a guarantee of a well-written book. The launch of the concept has been timed to coincide with the publication of the brand's first book: Nikki Copleston, author of the gripping and gritty crime novel, The Shame of Innocence, will be reading extracts from her book, Silver Crow's first title, on the 18th. Two further publications are to follow early next year – Frome definitely has writing talent!


Meanwhile, the community drama groups of Frome are preparing their seasonal offerings. The Merlin Theatre Company will soon be putting lost boys and pirates through their paces – not to mention the Darling family and Peter Pan himself – in readiness for the theatre's Christmas show, while Frome Drama Club's autumn production is Shakespeare's The Tempest. Many of the visiting professional companies which stage Shakespeare do so by doubling-up roles, using a small troupe of actors, so it will be interesting to see what a community group, with larger numbers to draw on, makes of the play. FDC's performances of The Tempest  are on 24, 25 and 26 November at 7.45pm.





I write a regular (every 5 weeks) column for the Western Daily Press on behalf of the Merlin Theatre - sometimes there's an opportunity to cover literary events too.