The Angry Ghost Acting Crew from left to right:
Steve Roche, Sarah Nicholson, Virginia
Betts, Mai Black, Cat Weldon and Richard Spencer
The Primadonna Festival took place over the last weekend of July 2022 in Stowmarket at what was formerly known as the Museum of East Anglian Life. Now renamed The Food Museum it makes for a wonderful site for a literary festival, providing a great opportunity to balance the buzz of artistic activity with the peace and quiet of the Victorian walled garden, the architecturally impressive Abbot’s Hall and the surrounding Suffolk countryside.
This was my second time at the festival. Last year I had the opportunity to read on the
main stage as part of Justine de Mierre’s open mic event. The support I received from
Justine and the other writers was invaluable this year when I was offered the chance to give a forty-five-minute performance of poems from my newly published collection Thirty Angry
The book features poems in the voice of a variety of historical figures including Queen Boudicca, Margaret Catchpole, William Shakespeare and The Unknown Soldier and I was lucky enough to gather together a talented group of local actors who played out the parts to perfection. We managed to attract a great crowd and received lots of wonderful comments.
As part of the festival, I also ran an open mic dedicated to members of Suffolk Writers Group where new and established writers got to perform their work to an enthusiastic, supportive audience. Quite a few people told me how nervous they were beforehand but everyone rose to the occasion beautifully.
Other highlights of the festival were performances by the all-female band Deep Blue and singer-songwriter Belinda Gillet as well as a set from the famous rap star Betty Boo. (Pop music fans might recall her famously Doin’ the Do on ‘Top of The Pops’ back in 1990). Alongside other festival goers, I had the opportunity to pitch my historical novel-in-
progress to literary expert Lisa Milton from HarperCollins. Lisa gave me some really encouraging feedback and even invited me to contact her on completion of the novel. There
were many other literary events and readings taking place over the weekend. It was a shame I couldn’t go to more of them.
I’d recommend that anyone keen on reading or creative writing have a look at the
Primadonna website in time for the 2023 Festival. If you’d like a little taster and to see videos
of the Angry Ghost performances as well as pictures and videos of the people doing the open mic, visit Suffolk Writers Group on Facebook. Alternatively search for my ‘Mai Black’
channel on YouTube.
I have other performances of Thirty Angry Ghosts coming up including one at Cuppa Café in Felixstowe on Saturday October 8th. I hope to see some of you then. For more information about Thirty Angry Ghosts performances as well as the writing groups and workshops I run, visit suffolkwritersgroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mai’s poetry collection is available for £8.99 at Dial Lane Books, Woodbridge Books, Diss Publishing and Stillwater Books in Felixstowe. It’s also available online at Amazon and Waterstones.