Manx Litfest schedule: the word on the street

MAN IN WHITE: An Evening with Martin Bell OBE will take place at the Gaiety Theatre, Douglas, on Friday, September 28

MAN IN WHITE: An Evening with Martin Bell OBE will take place at the Gaiety Theatre, Douglas, on Friday, September 28

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THE inaugural Manx LitFest is less than two months away – so now is the time to book your place in the audience at a range of events aimed at lovers of writing, inclusding an evening with Martin Bell OBE.

Tickets have this week been placed on sale for the first events announced for the festival, which will be based at the Villa-Gaiety complex in Douglas but will encompass venues around the island between September 27-30.

MAN IN WHITE: An Evening with Martin Bell OBE will take place at the Gaiety Theatre, Douglas, on Friday, September 28

MAN IN WHITE: An Evening with Martin Bell OBE will take place at the Gaiety Theatre, Douglas, on Friday, September 28

One of the most popular events is expected to be An Evening with Martin Bell OBE, which will take place at the Gaiety Theatre in Douglas on Friday, September 28,

A BBC war correspondent for 30 years, Martin reported on 18 conflicts, almost losing his life in Bosnia. He famously left the BBC to stand against cash-for-questions Tory MP Neil Hamilton in Tatton at the 1997 General Election, winning by a landslide and becoming the first independent MP since 1951.

He’s written five books about his careers in journalism and politics, perhaps most notably In Harm’s Way, his account of the war in Bosnia, republished earlier this year by Icon Books.

Doors will open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start and tickets – priced at £15 for stalls, £17 for dress circle – are available from the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal, the Villa Marina reception, the Villa & Gaiety box office on 600555 or online at gov.im/villagaiety/whatson.xml.

That same Friday night, J.R.R. Tolkien scholar and biographer Colin Duriez will be in the Manx Museum Lecture Theatre for The Hobbit: 75 Years Young, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, just a couple of months before the first of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies hits the big screen.

Doors will open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets are £8 and available from the Manx Museum shop, or by emailing manxlitfest(at)gmail.com.

The opening day of the festival – Thursday, September 27 – will see a talk by Sir Hall Caine expert Ulla Corkill in Greeba Castle, Caine’s long-time home in the island.

The talk starts at 12.30pm, with tickets priced at £10, which includes a light buffet lunch. To book a place, contact manxlitfest(at)gmail.com.

Thursday night will see the Book Fanatics’ Quiz Night take place at the Villa Marina’s Promenade Suite. Author Jasper Fforde will be quizmaster for a night of literary brain teasers, while some of the other Litfest authors, poets and performers will be joining in the fun and helping out teams.

The event kicks off at 8.15pm and tickets are priced at £8 per person, available from the Villa box office and the Welcome Centre.

If you’re into crime – well, crime fiction, anyway – put a big red ring on your calendar around the night of Saturday, September 29.

Three Criminally Talented Authors – namely Ann Cleeves (creator of the novels from which the ITV series, Vera, is adapted), Chris Ewan (Safe House, Good Thief’s Guide series) and R.J. Ellory (2010 Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year for A Simple Act of Violence) – will be talking all things crime fiction in the Promenade Suite, with host for the night, Bob Harrison. Tickets are £8, available from the Villa box office and the Welcome Centre.

Saturday night also sees Ben Haggarty, one of the UK’s most renowned performance storytellers and artistic director of the acclaimed Crick Crack Club, perform Fairy Tales for Grown-ups: The Grateful and the Dead at Erin Arts Centre in Port Erin. Doors open at 7.15pm for an 8pm start. Tickets are £8 and available from the Erin Arts Centre or via manxlitfest(at)gmail.com.

On Sunday (September 30), Ben will be at the Promenade Suite where he will host a show for children – The Devil, The Tsar and The 3 Dry Biscuits: ‘The Tsar’s winter palace has a demon problem, and there’s only one man with the wit, the will and the peculiar equipment needed to solve it….’

This is one for youngsters aged eight and over, with Ben taking to the stage at 4pm. Tickets are £5, available from the Villa box office and the Welcome Centre.

The Promenade Suite will be the venue for the final event of Manx Litfest on the Sunday night.

Poetry for Adults will bring the curtain down on the festival, with acclaimed UK performance poet Thommie Gillow and members of the Isle of Man Poetry Society combining for a night of humour, grown-up verse and weighty issues.

It gets under way at 7.30pm and tickets are £6, available from the Villa box office and the Welcome Centre.

Festival director John Quirk explained: ‘Our goal from the start was to create a schedule that would have something for everyone.

‘We feel there’s a great mix, with authors, poets and storytellers to entertain audiences. We’ll have more details soon about the rest of the weekend’s schedule.’

Book fans can find out more by visiting www.manxlitfest.com or following on Twitter (www.twitter.com/manxlitfest) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/manxlitfest).

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