Event in a Tent
Laugharne Weekend Festival is special; informal and irreverent, with plenty of brilliant acts, musical and literary. I’ve wanted to go for ages so was really happy to be invited to read this year. The festival’s warm-hearted, easy-going identity made for one of the best events I’ve performed at – a great connection with the audience and some very good vibes.
The magic of the weekend is partly the romance of the location. The spirit of Dylan Thomas is everywhere in Laugharne. Signs point to the boat house where he cosied with Caitlin in the drizzle-veiled bay and every pub displays a picture of him drinking in situ. The green building in the photo is where he wrote Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night as his father lay dying.
I read on Saturday morning in a rain-spattered, wind-bellied tent to a curious, clever, and possibly hungover, group of people. I was interviewed by the astute Anna Davis, Managing Director of Curtis Brown Creative. The main act, the established novelist Deborah Moggach, pulled out last minute so I was worried things would fall a bit flat. In fact, it was brilliant fun and the hour raced by. Rain flew against the sides of the flapping marquee and there was an attentive and friendly atmosphere, albeit with some shivering and blowing into hands to keep warm.
We talked about family. About my choice to write a book set in Austria, which is linked to my Austrian heritage (my dad’s Austrian). ‘Was it for therapeutic purposes?’ someone asked. A perceptive question. Perhaps I needed to delve into the silences within my family’s past in order to better understand, to unearth things buried, to ask questions about the hardest times, the hardest truths.
Afterwards, several people shared their thoughts about family, their own experiences of secrets, loss, severed lines of communication and the need to dig, to discover what no one would tell, their search for openness and honesty. We left uplifted, despite the subject matter.
I was rather humbled by it all – on a bleary-eyed morning after plenty of pints, this audience were more present than most; a proper conversation, a willingness to get serious, and also to laugh, and such a feeling of welcome.
Perhaps that’s what Laugharne Weekend Festival is all about.
Have you been to – or performed at – an event where there was a good connection between performer and audience? What was the magic ingredient? Or the opposite: did the two sides fall out? Or have zero chemistry?