Monday, July 20, 2009

Manchester Book Fair and 24:7 Theatre Festival

Well, it rained. Every so often a great deluge started hitting the tent roofs and drowning out the readers, most of whom really, honestly, weren't standing close enough to the mic, and St Ann's Square cleared. I have to say I got quite cold. I sold one book, to a friend, Hazel Roy, who was manning the bookstall, mainly I am pretty sure because I bought hers. All the books on the stall were going for £8.00, but Hazel's was £10.00 because there was an extra donation to charity, and she got mine for £7.50 because there was an offer of £15.00 for two and she bought Ailsa Cox's book as well. So I actually lost £2.50. But as we were leaving a kind lady gave Ailsa and me a pound each for our readings because she couldn't afford to buy our books. (So I lost £2.50 and made a pound.)

Readings, eh? This was much better however than the time I was invited to read to students at Sheffield Hallam and told to bring lots of books because the class was big and keen, and then when I got there with my heavy bag found 3 students in the lecture theatre, because when the lecturer had booked me he'd overlooked the fact that it would be reading week.

And my lovely friend Adele Geras came down to support me.

And afterwards a group of us went for coffee, and coming out of the coffee shop we met a friend who told us that there were returns going for the Manchester Feast in Albert Square, and so that's where we went, wrist-banded and herded in on a bell, just like school dinners, but worth it for a free meal, though I missed the pudding because I was rushing off to the Printworks to see previews of two of the 24:7 Festival plays I read as an adjudicator.

Brilliant: both of them two-handers seething with tension and menace: 5.30, in which a young man is trapped on a train with a scary yob, and As We forgive Them, in which a US congressman is shut in a prison cell with his daughter's young murderer. Brilliantly written, directed and acted, and I thoroughly recommend them. If I hadn't been at the Book Market yesterday I'd have been to the previews of other plays I read, and I'll try to see them this week: Lub You, a physical piece in which we follow the viewpoint and experience of a baby/small child (I absolutely loved this when I read it), Dancing to the Sound of Crunching Snails, Working Title, The Coffee Hour and Exit Salford. Of course, I'll get to see as many shows as pssible. Last year there were practically full houses and there were some shows I didn't get to see as a result, so I recommend booking early.


adele geras said...

Well, I was there between showers and very briefly I'm afraid. I'd have liked to stay and hear Ailsa but it was good to hear YOU and I love that story. Everyone I saw looked most entertained. I don't think one ever sells any books at such gave a good performance and everyone listening enjoyed it I'm sure. I know I did!

Elizabeth Baines said...

Thank you for coming, Adele!