Local Ludlow writer and actor Gareth Owen has a couple of big nights in prospect.

Following a recent tour, the Ludlow Fringe has invited him to present his two one-man plays as part of the up-coming festival.

After an eventful and crowded career where Gareth, in addition to publishing prize-winning collections of verse, novels and plays, he also for many years presented BBC’s popular, Poetry Please! In addition, he managed the early career of soul star Ruby Turner and ran his own record company. If this wasn’t enough, last year saw the issue of two, highly praised albums of Country music.

All this, in spite of the fact that he was reported to have died in 2002. A rumour which happily turned out to be false.

But one-man plays? How did they come about.

"Like most things in life," Gareth explains, "it came about by chance.

"Some years ago I’d published a children’s book about cricket and was talking about it to Peter Hayter who, as well as being a well-known cricket correspondent, is also a talented actor. I happened to have just seen him performing in one of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads. As the conversation swiftly veered away from cricket, Peter began telling me of a fairly life-changing series of events that had befallen him some years earlier; events which managed to be both tragic and uplifting at the same time. I was fascinated. Then, from somewhere, the idea emerged that I might write a play for him based on the those events.

"As so often happens, the first draft I nervously handed him some three weeks later had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything Peter had said. It now told of a small time, bit-part actor’s ambitions, inspired by his muse, Marlon Brando, to play Mark Antony once before he dies. I titled it The Unkindest Cut.

"I waited in some trepidation for his response. It was a bit like handing in an essay to your teacher. Happily he reported back that he (and his dog) approved it. Then, the thought came, that we might perform it in tandem with a tragi-comic monologue, The Confessions of Jon-Jak Crusoe, I’d written and performed some years earlier."

The Unkindest Cut and The Confessions of Jon-Jak Crusoe will be performed at the Sitting Room, in the Blue Boar, Mill Street, on Thursday and Friday, June 27 and 28 at 8pm. To book, call 01584 879667 or visit ludlowfringe.co.uk