Both culturally and geographically, it’s the festival that fills the gap.
Festival director Mark Ringwood is delighted at the programme that has come together for WemsFest 2014.
The festival is now in its third year: “And it is a festival that has developed in the right way,” says Mark. “I mean both in terms of quality and also programme. It has broadened to include more theatre, which is good. It has been an organic development.
“You look at what the Festival Theatre is doing in Chichester, and they are doing good things, and you look at the good things happening at the Spring in Havant, but there is a gap in between, and that’s the gap we are filling both geographically and content-wise.
“Really the key to festivals is to be different to everybody else and to involve as many people as possible. What makes us different is we are using a wide range of venues scattered geographically in an area between Bosham and Havant. It means it is virtually all on everyone’s doorstep, but also we are building up a brand, just as we did with Roots Around The World, for putting on quality events.”
Within the festival, this year as last, is the PG Wodehouse festival, a celebration of a literary giant’s links with Emsworth: “He wrote some phenomenally-great songs and great scripts and great characters such as Jeeves and Wooster and Lord Emsworth. He creates characters you either love or hate, which is a sign of a great writer! He creates characters that are slightly different and quirky and yet you can recognise elements of them in people you know. They have great personalities without being too far removed from reality!”
As for music, Mark believes there’s a great programme ahead: “What a range from the pulsating dancebeats provided by former BBC Radio DJ Andy Kershaw to Sally Barker, the finalist in The Voice who made Sir Tom Jones cry!
“Add Ivory Coast singer Dobet Gnahore, bluesmen Michael Messer and Ed Genis, a Jamiacan reggae evening with Troydon and Jam-Jah, the quirky Estas Tonne for whom people have already booked from as far afield as Ilkeston and Ipswich, the totally-bonkers Louis Barabbas and Bedlam 6 (like a supersonic version of a Balkan brass band), and the wonderful violinists Oxana Dodon and Mariana Rotaru, and you have an inkling as to what’s in store.”
“As for theatre and literature, a real gamut of fascinating presentations awaits. Racton Follies 3 is the new updated revue. There are two productions of WoYzEcK, two gripping one-act shows, No Man’s Land based on the role of women in WWI, and a welcome return for More Voices with their programme of WW2 poetry and prose.
“BBC Radio 4 poet, satirist and comedian Elvis McGonagall helps us celebrate National Poetry Day, and actress Amanda Waring presents her ridiculously-funny new show A Glass Half Full.
Elizabeth-Jane Baldry provides harp accompaniment to the large-screen showing of the 1925 silent film of Phantom of the Opera, and Turkish sax player Latif Bolat takes the lid off ‘hidden’ Turkey.”
Participation will also be key: “We’ve leisurely and informative walks around Emsworth and Westbourne. The third Full Moon Mountain Bike Ride starts and ends at the Sussex Brewery and includes a sausage supper as well as a new c25-mile route incorporating Thorney Island.
“For the over-50s, there is the first-ever Walking Football Tournament, and we help Chichester Hashers commemorate their 799th Hash!”
Full details on www.wemsfest.com or 01243 378742.