Fascinating Lives


It was interesting to hear how little is spent per capita, per annum on the arts in the provinces compared with the (princely) sum spent in London.  It is a fact that did not need confirming;  justifying, may be.

Perhaps it was ever thus, for there is a long tradition of community ventures in most small towns:  am dram, choirs, orchestras, art groups and exhibitions,  even in Stockport, Greater Manchester, that northern metropolis, where we used to live.  Only, when we did live there, the lure of the professionals, (heavily subsidised no doubt, but not as heavily as  in London) took us to places such as the Lowry and the Bridgewater Hall, rather than South Cheshire Operatic Society in Wilmslow Sports Centre. ( An example plucked  at random from thin air, and no disrespect intended to SCOS, if they exist, or to denigrate WSC as a venue for the arts.)  The point is, in a city, or even a large town, community ventures passed us by.

Here, in our north-western outpost, we need them.

I may have mentioned how blest we are with festivals but there are still the lean, mean, in-between times,  those long, dark and chilly nights to fill.

Theatr Fach, or Little Theatre, housed in a rescued and restored chapel in the old market town of Dolgellau at the foot of Cader Idris, is a community theatre, par excellence.  The other night there was a talk and film show called ‘Framing the Word in Film and Print,’ an illustrated talk about the late Vivian Ridler, amateur film maker and professional printer, given by his son.

That Vivian Ridler was printer to the University of Oxford for Oxford University Press for thirty years, was incidental to this talk. This was homage to the man as father who made beautifully shot shorts films using his sons, when boys, as actors  and an opportunity for the audience to handle  some of the books printed by Perpetua , Vivian Ridler’s  own  independent press,  including books  of Anne Ridler’s poetry, (Vivian’s wife of more than 60 years.)  We also heard extracts from a diary Vivian Ridler kept of the time he was an extra in the most magnificent flop/masterpiece western of all time,  Heaven’s Gate.