Author Michael Morpurgo is joined by actress Alison Reid, violinist Daniel Pioro and The Storyteller’s Ensemble (a quartet of strings). Together they interweave words and music, to tell his haunting tale of survival against the odds, set against the background of the Holocaust. Adapted and directed by Simon Reade.
‘It is difficult for us to imagine how dreadful was the suffering that went on in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. The enormity of the crime that the Nazis committed is just too overwhelming for us to comprehend. In their attempt to wipe out an entire race they caused the death of six million people, most of them Jews. It is when you hear the stories of the individuals who lived through it – Anne Frank, Primo Levi – that you can begin to understand the horror just a little better, and to understand the evil that caused it.
‘For me, the most haunting image does not come from literature or film, but from music. I learned some time ago that in many of the camps the Nazis selected Jewish prisoners and forced them to play in orchestras; for the musicians it was simply a way to survive. In order to calm the new arrivals at the camps, they were made to serenade them as they were lined up and marched off, many to the gas chambers. Often they played Mozart.
‘I wondered how it must have been for a musician who played in such hellish circumstances, who adored Mozart as I do – what thoughts came when playing Mozart later in life? This was the genesis of my story, this and the sight of a small boy in a square by the Accademia Bridge in Venice, sitting one night, in his pyjamas on his tricycle, listening to a busker. He sat totally enthralled by the music that seemed to him, and to me, to be heavenly.’ Michael Morpurgo.
The actor takes an evening off from filming Wolf Hall to read from Kingsnorth’s extraordinary ‘shadow tongue’ novel. Set in the three years after the Norman invasion of 1066, The Wake tells the story of a fractured band of guerilla fighters who take up arms against the invaders.
We are thrilled to welcome the inspired and hilarious improv show in which Eric and a cast of comics act out a famous movie. They’ve done Die Hard, Pretty Woman, all the Harry Potters, and for tonight they want the Hay audience to choose the movie. Let us know what you’d like them to take on – we’ll go with the best nomination on our Facebook page.
Update 15.05.15 - Film Choice is Mary Poppins.
To launch his delightful and life-changing book on oracy and eloquence, the linguistics professor reveals the tricks of the trade about how to make a speech that’ll wow a wedding, ace an interview or rouse an army. Along the way he analyses Barack Obama’s rhetorically near-perfect Yes We Can speech, and shows how a command of language and delivery can win hearts and minds.
A collection of delightfully witty and acutely observed stories by the comedy writer, columnist and actress – star of The Thick of It, Lewis and Nighty Night. She reads and talks to Lisa Dwan.
The poet introduces readings from his new play, which premières at the Manchester Royal Exchange in May. He is joined by the production’s director, his Helen of Troy and his Patroclus. ‘The Iliad is tense and intriguing, with moments of great tragedy and breathtaking humility. Everything we have come to expect of the great myths.’
QI’s very core is ‘the astonishing fact’: painstakingly researched and distilled to a brilliant and shocking clarity. To celebrate the reissue of their backlist, join us for a canter through their best-ever discoveries: Jeeves wasn’t a butler. Coffee isn’t made from beans. Woodlice drink through their bottoms. Light is invisible. Mount Everest isn’t the tallest mountain. Florence Nightingale spent 50 years in bed. There are 613 commandments in the bible. Monkeys pay to look at porn. An hour of endless fun with the QI writing team.
Climate change is no laughing matter, but when all else fails, perhaps it’s time to take humour a bit more seriously? We really do need something to laugh about.
The comic from San Francisco, known here for his unpredictable improvisations on Whose Line Is It Anyway? brings his comedy proopcast to Hay for one night only. ‘Some of the boldest comedy on the podcasting frontier right now.’ Rolling Stone Magazine
Nuremberg, 1946. Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, prosecuting ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’; Hans Frank, Hitler’s lawyer, the defendant. Three lives, connected to events in Poland, and music that offered solace and hope. A drama about the origins of modern justice, in images, and in words and music by Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Louis Aragon and Leonard Cohen.
We celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of WB Yeats with this reading of his poetry.
An exploration, through words and music, of Britain’s radical utopian tradition. This rich legacy of hope was the dominant strand of political thought for five centuries, but in the last 40 years we have stopped asking the question: how are we going to live? With a cast of actors, musicians and authors Land of Promise aims to reignite our utopian aspirations for a better Britain.
In a magical evening of storytelling, the playwright and poet performs his fabulous tales: ‘Indeed the world is two worlds – one for lovers, / Another for the loveless altogether…’
The big actor yarns a riotous journey from his childhood, growing up the son of a miner in Goldthorpe, to finding fame in Z-Cars. He falls for Katharine Hepburn on the set of The Trojan Women, suffers wires strapped around his wotsits as he was hoisted into the heavens on Flash Gordon, almost causes an international incident when meeting the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and wins round George Lucas to get the role of Boss Nass on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He punches Harold Pinter, loves and hates Peter O’Toole, woos his beautiful wife Hildegard Neil and braves the shocking death toll on cosy TV drama My Family and Other Animals. Then he climbs Everest.
An hour of the most important speeches and sonnets written by the greatest writer of all time.
Dwan’s sensational performances of Beckett’s Not I and No’s Knife in London, on Broadway and around the world have perfectly captured the rhythms and beauty of his language. In this specially commissioned Poetry Hour she introduces and reads his poetry and drama.
The composer and librettists of the WNO’s groundbreaking new opera introduce their adaptation of David Jones’ classic First World War poem and screen film clips of the production. Bell’s beautiful score combines traditional Welsh song with moments of other-worldliness, terror, humour and transcendence. David Pountney’s period production is both an evocation and a commemoration of the events of the Somme.
An irreverent, delightful and wickedly clever insight into Shakespeare’s greatest play, with a spectacular performance of their abridged version. Sutherland is Emeritus Professor of English at UCL; Crace is the Digested Read satirist and writes the parliamentary sketch for The Guardian.
The Deputy Artistic Director of the RSC discusses her current production. As a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and his great legacy, the production features local amateur companies in all 12 regions and nations of the UK playing Shakespeare’s Mechanicals alongside the professional cast. Erica shares her thoughts as the tour concludes in Cardiff and Belfast, and the company prepares to return to Stratford-upon-Avon for a final run featuring performances from all the amateur companies.
Armitage’s acclaimed version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight confirmed his reputation as a leading poetry translator. This new work is an entrancing allegorical tale of grief and lost love. The narrator is led on a Dantean journey through sorrow to redemption by his vanished beloved, Pearl. Retaining all the alliterative music of the original, a Medieval English poem thought to be by the same anonymous author responsible for Gawain, Pearl is here brought to vivid and intricate life.
The artist, co-creator of the Book of the Year, talks about the extraordinary project to reclaim and celebrate The Lost Words whilst she paints live onstage. She is accompanied by the music and song of Kerry Andrew performing the spells. All over the country, there are words disappearing from children’s lives. These are the words of the natural world – dandelion, otter, bramble, acorn – all gone. The rich landscape of wild imagination and wild play is rapidly fading from our children’s minds. Morris and her poet-spellcaster, Robert Macfarlane, have created a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke. They capture the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages.
Sponsored by Richard Booth’s Bookshop, which is hosting an exhibition of Jackie’s work until 31 August 2018