A MOVING performance by the son of the photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller is a highlight of Shoreham Wordfest 2017 that will also feature national authors, international performers and local luminaries.
Antony Penrose will give a dramatised reading with images to tell the story of Lee Miller and how she triumphed in an era where few women had jobs. Her life with her husband, the painter Roland Penrose, at Farleys House in Chiddingly, in East Sussex, put them at the centre of a network of artists but masked her inner torment. “I was terribly, terribly pretty. I looked like an angel but was a fiend inside,” Lee wrote.
The drama, called The Angel & The Fiend, is told through dialogue gathered from letters, manuscripts and remembered conversations, with the voice of Lee Miller conveyed by her granddaughter Ami Bouhassane.
And the Skyway Gallery at the Shoreham Centre will host an exhibition of photographs from the Farley Arts Trust, focussing on the lives and work of Lee Miller and Roland Penrose and the people they knew.
The theme of the literary festival, which takes place at various venues including the Ropetackle Arts Centre between September 28 and October 19, is A Fine Frenzy and it kicks off with a talk by maverick 21st century priest and BBC TV presenter Peter Owen-Jones, who reflects on the Sussex landscape and his work as a priest on the Sussex Downs.
Also on the programme is jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth singing Shakespeare, original drama from writer and actress Janet Behan and Shon Dale-Jones, artistic director of innovative theatre company Hoipolloi, and a performance of TEEN People, the play by Mark Gatiss and Simon Messingham.
There’s a thought-provoking seminar with journalist Oggy Boytchev, a talk by Wordfest patron Simon Brett, the crime novelist, and a chance to hear Nicholas Royle, professor of English Literature at Sussex University, reading from his new novel An English Guide to Birdwatching.
The Guardian’s columnist John Crace and author John Sutherland will deliver Shakespearean sketches while actress Amaryllis Gunn will read a selection of First World War poetry, prose and songs collected from 1915-1917.
Pighog, one of Brighton’s longest-running live poetry nights, brings together new and established poets for readings and discussions, there’s an evening of literary fin when a panel of judges and an audience hear original powers read by their writers, and workshops include creative writing with Janet Pressley and crime writing with Sue Walker. Two new writers, Gareth Brookes and S V Berlin, will explore the influences and inspirations of their books, A Thousand Coloured Castles and The Favourite.
And for an evening of music, drink, exuberance and subversion, Cabaret des Noctambules is ringmastered by magician and author Tom Cutler.
Other events include a discussion of Sussex modernist art, an exploration of Sussex literary landscapes, a walk around Shoreham, and a debate of fake news and active citizenship.
Top picture: Self-portrait of Lee Miller in New York, c1932/Picture: Lee Miller Archives
Above: Peter Owen-Jones
Below: Cabaret des Noctambules