News Column

Turning up the volumes at literary festival

September 5, 2013


By Adam Burgan, the arts and entertainment manager at the Octagon in Yeovil.

IT is opening night at the Octagon Theatre not only for Chapterhouse Theatre Company and its production of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice but also for our autumn season of shows.

Our staff are looking forward to welcoming guests to the theatre and an exciting range of artists and entertainers. Over the next few months we will enjoy plenty of laughs, great live music, moving drama, inspiring dance and much more.

The new Yeovil Literary Festival has sparked a huge amount of interest with tickets being snapped up for events taking place from September 19-22. The festival is a partnership between ourselves, Waterstones and the YCAA with events taking place at the theatre, the Manor Hotel and at other venues in the town.

There are events for all ages, tastes and pockets, with a number of free events taking place.

When it comes to literary festivals the most celebrated is the Hay Festival that takes place every year in the small town of Hay- on-Wye. My mum has been going for many years, including back when the festival was on a far smaller site than it is today, and this was my first introduction to a literary festival.

Today the festival is famous all round the globe and attracts writers, thinkers and audience members from all over. Through my visits to Hay I've enjoyed some amazing events and see some incredible artists - Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, F W De Klerk, Helen Fielding, Sue Townsend, David Attenborough, Vanessa Redgrave and Ralph Fiennes are just some of the people I've been lucky enough to see.

I always leave feeling inspired with my brain buzzing with ideas and, for me, I hope that we manage to capture some of that with our Yeovil Literary Festival. Our first year is small but perfectly formed and I'm delighted with some of the high-profile artists we coming and some of the interesting smaller events.

Tickets for the welcome dinner with Santa Montefiore are selling particularly well as are the performances from Sir Tony Robinson and Michael Morpurgo. I'm very much looking forward to seeing Jenni Murray and Jeremy Hardy - two of my favourites to listen to on BBC Radio 4.

We are grateful for the support we have received from our sponsors - the Western Gazette and The Manor Hotel. The plan is for the festival to become an annual event that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors to the area. If you have not seen the programme yet be sure to pop in and pick up a copy.

There are plenty of laughs on their way this week at the Octagon. On Sunday we are looking forward to welcoming back Ken Dodd for a sell-out show.

Since I arrived here four years ago I've been trying to book a date with Ken, so you can imagine the sense of accomplishment when I was finally able to book a date in his diary.

There really is no one like Ken Dodd. Some people are born with "funny bones" and that was certainly the case with Ken. Our performance will start at 6pm but you can be sure it will still be very late into the evening - or possible even the early hours of the morning - by the time our audience leave the theatre.

Then on Monday and Tuesday we look forward to more laughs as Joe Pasquale is back and this time is teaming up with our very own Ben Langley and Andrew Fettes for a new production of Ha Ha Holmes - a very funny parody of Britain's greatest detective. Plenty to give your chuckle muscles a good workout.


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