The 44th annual Rye Arts Festival closes this weekend, after a packed fortnight, with a pair of events that focus on Rye and two of its most famous residents. This Saturday, September 26, EF Benson, the author of the Mapp and Lucia novels, is the subject of a talk by Guy Fraser-Sampson, while on Sunday, September 27, there will be a performance of the music and words from the plays of John Fletcher – the playwright who was Shakepeare’s contemporary and with whom he collaborated.
Fraser-Sampson is one of the world’s leading experts on EF Benson and has also written three sequels to the Mapp and Lucia series, although none of these were used in the series that was filmed by the BBC and televised just after last Christmas [Editor’s note: It is also alleged that he has killed off Mapp and Lucia in his latest sequel so some fans may regard him as a “murderer”].
But he really does know his onions and is a witty and engaging speaker. Fraser-Sampson’s talk is called “EF Benson, Lamb House and Rye” and it is fitting that it will be given at 3pm in a marquee in the Lamb House garden – home to Benson (and Henry James before him).
And “The Mad Lover”, at 6pm on Sunday, is this year’s Festival’s closing event. John Fletcher was born in Rye in 1579 in the teashop next to the Church that bears his name and in his day he was a hugely popular playwright – right up there with William Shakespeare – and today JK Rowling is a big fan.
The event, which features professional actors reciting words from Fletcher’s plays with lute music and singing from English Ayers, takes place in the Kino Digital, which was bought and developed as a cinema by the local Fletcher in Rye Community Interest Company. This is exciting as it is the first time that the Red Screen room at the Kino is being used for drama, and highlights the flexibility of the venue.
Tickets for both events can be bought online at www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk or on the door.
Photo from Rye Arts Festival