We are delighted to announce our earlybird tickets for events in 2020. We are particularly excited to be hosting Shakespeare's Globe on Tour. Please be aware that tickets for these events are extremely limited, so do book early to avoid disappointment.
We will be adding many more events over the coming months, please ensure you and your friends are signed up to our newsletter so we can keep you informed every time we release tickets.
What do the attacks on London Bridge, Manchester and Westminster have in common with those at the Charlie Hebdo offices, the Finsbury Park Mosque, and multiple US shootings? They were all carried out by men with histories of domestic violence. From angry white men to the Bethnal Green girls and London gang members who joined ISIS, Joan Smith shows that, time and time again, misogyny, trauma and abuse lurk beneath the rationalisations of religion or politics. Until Smith pointed it out in 2017, criminal authorities missed this connection because violence against women is dangerously normalised. Yet, since domestic abuse often comes before a public attack, it’s here a solution to the scourge of our age might be found. Afzal is a lawyer who oversaw prosecutions in the Rotherham grooming case.
Once upon a (very, very) long time ago Jo Brand was what you might describe as ‘a nice little girl’. Of course, that was before the values of cynicism, misogyny and the societal expectation that Jo would be thin, feminine and demure sent her off down Arsey Avenue. Now she’s considerably further along life’s inevitable bloody ‘journey’ – and she’s fucked up enough times to feel confident she has no wisdom to offer anyone. But who cares? She’s going to do it anyway...
What happens to our brain at night? Are we really fully asleep and if so how is it that some individuals end up doing what they do? Or can it be the case that perhaps the brain never fully goes to sleep and that in some individuals there is a disconnect between the sleeping part of their brain and the active part of their brain, so that the two become confused? The world-renowned neurologist weaves wonderful stories that highlight how sleep disorders affect the lives and health of patients and their families.
Bryony Gordon was inspired by her reading of Carson McCullers, and her understanding of the support of fellowship, to set up Mental Health Mates, a network of peer support groups run by people with mental health issues and their friends who meet regularly to walk and talk. This is now a nationwide organisation. You do not need to have a diagnosed mental health issue to join the walks – everyone has mental health. Walk alongside Bryony Gordon, journalist, campaigner and author of Mad Girl, who will talk about the inspiration of McCullers and writing that can provide solace.
Please wear appropriate footwear. Numbers are limited. Return to Festival site by 11.30am.
Happiness expert Professor Paul Dolan draws on a variety of studies ranging over wellbeing, inequality and discrimination to bust the common myths about our sources of happiness. He shows that there can be many unexpected paths to lasting fulfilment. Some of these might involve not going into higher education, choosing not to marry, rewarding acts rooted in self-interest and caring a little less about living forever. By freeing ourselves from the myth of the perfect life, we might each find a life worth living. Chaired by Horatio Clare.
Wolf illuminates a dramatic history – how a single English law in 1857 led to a maelstrom, with reverberations lasting to our day. That law was the Obscene Publications Act. Dissent and morality became legal concepts: if writers, editors, printers and booksellers did not uphold the law and the morals of society they faced serious criminal penalties. This was most dramatic regarding anything to do with love between men; homosexuality was linked to deviancy in the eyes of the law. Wolf portrays the dramatic ways this censorship played out among a bohemian group of sexual dissidents, including Walt Whitman in America and the English critic John Addington Symonds. Both a fascinating story and, crucially, an important way of understanding how the Act created homophobia and our ideas of ‘normalcy’ and ‘deviancy’, Outrages also shows the way it helped usher in the state’s purported need and right to police speech. Chaired by Matthew d’Ancona.
The most powerful thing you can be when you grow up is yourself. Mental health activist, bestselling author and journalist Bryony Gordon will share the crucial life lessons she wished she had known when she was a teenager. Join Bryony as she chats about self-respect, body positivity, love, mental health and confidence with Holly Bourne, author of Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? Together they will be covering all the tools that any teen needs to grow up happy.
How we perceive schizophrenia – and how we treat people living with it – is at the core of how we understand mental health. But what do we really know? How much time do we spend listening? Filer, a mental health nurse and award-winning writer, takes us on a journey into the psychiatric wards he once worked on. He invites us to spend time with world-leading experts, and with some extraordinary people who share their own stories about living with this strange and misunderstood condition.
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Humans are the slightest of twigs on a single family tree that encompasses four billion years, a lot of twists and turns and a billion species. All of those organisms are rooted in a single origin with a common code that underwrites our existence. Rutherford explores how many of the things once considered to be exclusively human are not: we are not the only species that communicates, makes tools, utilises fire or has sex for reasons other than to make new versions of ourselves. Evolution has, however, allowed us to develop our culture to a level of complexity that outstrips any other observed in nature. Rutherford presents Inside Science on BBC Radio 4. His previous books are Creation and A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived.
When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown-up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. Alderton’s captivating memoir is about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.
So many of us believe that we are free to shape our own destiny. But what if free will doesn’t exist? What if our lives are largely predetermined, hardwired in our brains, and our choices over what we eat, who we fall in love with, even what we believe are not real choices at all? Neuroscience is challenging everything we think we know about ourselves, revealing how we make decisions and form our own reality, unaware of the role of our unconscious minds.
Chaired by Bettany Hughes.
Reading maps or reading emotions? Barbie or Lego? We live in a gendered world where we are bombarded with messages about sex and gender. On a daily basis we face deeply ingrained beliefs that your sex determines your skills and preferences, from toys and colours to career choice and salaries. The neuroscientist interrogates what this constant gendering means for our thoughts, decisions and behaviour. And what does it mean for our brains? Chaired by Bronwen Maddox.
The pre-eminent primatologist offers a whirlwind tour of new ideas and findings about animal emotions, based on his renowned studies of the social and emotional lives of chimpanzees and bonobos. De Waal discusses facial expressions, animal sentience and consciousness, the emotional side of human politics, and the illusion of free will. He distinguishes between emotions and feelings, all the while emphasising the continuity between our species and other species. And he makes the radical proposal that emotions are like organs: we haven’t a single organ that other animals don’t have, and the same is true for our emotions. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
Where does anxiety come from? How do we overcome imposter syndrome? What is the key to creativity? How can we deal with grief? Informed by personal insights as well as interviews with some of the world’s top comedians, neuroscientists and psychologists, the comedian and Infinite Monkey Cage host offers a hilarious and often moving primer to the mind. But it is also a powerful call to embrace the full breadth of our inner experience – no matter how strange we worry it may be!
The impact of suicide on friends and family can be devastating and far-reaching. Kate Harding and Billie Charity, who lost a husband and brother to suicide respectively, and Sarah Stone, Director of Samaritans in Wales, join Benna Waites to talk about the experience of grieving following suicide. Kate is a palliative care doctor and GP, Billie Charity is an award-winning photographer and Benna Waites is Joint Head of Psychology for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
The intrepid team of researchers who brought you Custard, Culverts and Cake: Academics on Life in The Archers return with a hard-hitting exposé on the lives of the women of Ambridge. The Archers Academics are joined by actor and academic Charlotte Martin (a.k.a. Susan Carter) to examine the power of gossip in Ambridge, portrayals of love, marriage, and motherhood, female education and career expectations, women’s mental health and the hard-won right of women to play cricket.
Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 45. What is it that makes men vulnerable and what can we do about it? Jonny Benjamin, mental health campaigner and initiator of the #FindMike campaign which successfully located the stranger who had talked him down from a bridge, the Welsh politician and mental health campaigner Eluned Morgan and the musician Dizraeli talk to Benna Waites, Joint Head of Psychology for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Benjamin's book The Stranger on the Bridge was published in 2018.
An exploration of the concept of neurodiversity and what it means to society and the public sphere to be genuinely accepting and inclusive of all people. Rhi Lloyd-Williams is Director of the Autact Theatre Company, fresh from a successful tour of her play The Duck, which draws on her own experience as an autistic writer and director. Jon Adams is Director of the Flow Observatorium, a charity campaigning for parity within the arts and society for every neurodivergent person. Guy Shahar is CEO of the Transforming Autism Project, a charity committed to empowering the families and carers of children with autism to optimise their life prospects and unlock their true potential. Matthew Briggs helps to run training and development programmes for the Ruskin Mill Trust. The panel will be chaired by Grainne O’Reilly, Principal of Ruskin Mill College. Grainne and her team provide day and residential places for young people with complex needs, especially autism and ADHD.
Traversing the realms of science, politics, religion, culture, philosophy and history, Fernández-Armesto reveals the thrilling and disquieting tales of our imaginative leaps – from the first Homo sapiens to the present day. Through groundbreaking insights in cognitive science, he explores how and why we have ideas in the first place, providing a tantalising glimpse into who we are and what we might yet accomplish. The award-winning historian shows that bad ideas are often more influential than good ones; that the oldest recoverable thoughts include some of the best; that ideas of Western origin often issued from exchanges with the wider world; and that the pace of innovative thinking is under threat.
The unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement, in a 6 x 9-foot cell, twenty-three hours a day, in the notorious Angola prison in Louisiana – all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit.