Hay Festival 2021

We are delighted to present our 2021 Digital Festival programme.

Find more information on how to register here. Most events will be available for free replay for up to 24 hours after the start time of the event. After this they will be available in our online archive Hay Player - please see individual listings for more details.

All events are available with subtitles – this option can be selected when you watch the event.

Event FiltersYou are viewing events filtered byMonday 31 May 2021View All

Event HD7

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Laura Dockrill

The Lipstick

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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They say they always know you’re up to something when the house goes quiet, and this little boy is most certainly up to something with his mother's lipstick, covering walls, furniture and even the cat. An event about creativity and self-expression from a new book, illustrated by Maria Karipidou.

3+ years

Event HD8

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Radzi Chinyanganya

Move Like a Lion

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Join Radzi to learn how to scuttle like a crab, stand like a meerkat, waddle like a penguin and, of course, move like a lion, in these fun exercises modelled on the natural movements of amazing animals.

5+ years

Event HD9

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Kate Griggs

Xtraordinary People: Made by Dyslexia

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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People with dyslexia think differently, which makes them xtraordinarily good at certain things. The author talks to some brilliant dyslexic children, and adults, to explore their seven superpowers.

7+, Family

Event 56

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

The Reverend Richard Coles in conversation with Julia Samuel

The Madness of Grief

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Whether it’s pastoral care for the bereaved, discussions about the afterlife with parishioners, or being called out to perform the last rites, death is part of a clergyman's routine. But when Reverend Richard Coles’ life partner died unexpectedly just before Christmas 2019, much about death took him by surprise: the volume of ‘sadmin’ you have to do, the simple pain of typing a text message to your partner – then remembering they are gone. In time, things do get better, and the Reverend’s deeply personal account of living through grief – and the lessons he has learnt along the way – resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one. He talks to psychotherapist Julia Samuel, author of This Too Shall Pass.

Event 57

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Patrick Barkham talks to Mya-Rose Craig

Wild Child and The Wild Isles

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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From climbing trees and making dens to building sandcastles and pond-dipping, many of the activities we associate with a happy childhood take place outdoors. And yet, many children today are so alienated from nature that they can't identify the commonest birds or plants. They are shuttled between home and school and spend very little time in green spaces, let alone roaming free. The nature writer draws on his own experience as a parent and a forest school volunteer to explore the relationship between children and nature. He will also showcase some of the best of British and Irish nature writing in a new anthology, The Wild Isles, which juxtaposes extracts from much-loved classics and passages of contemporary writing.

Patrick is in conversation with Mya-Rose Craig, aka Birdgirl, ornithologist, campaigner, founder of Black2Nature and author of We Have a Dream.

Event 58

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Abigail Rokison-Woodall, Tracy Irish, Angie Wootten and Charlotte Arrowsmith

Lunchtime Lecture Series 5: Signing Shakespeare

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Many D/deaf children (sign language users/those who are hard of hearing) struggle with Shakespeare as the methods of teaching are not easily accessible to them. There are at least 45,631 deaf children in the UK, only 41% of whom pass five GCSEs; 29% of deaf children use some form of sign language, but there are very few sign language-based resources for studying Shakespeare. The Signing Shakespeare project (born out of the collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the Royal Shakespeare Company) has worked with D/deaf theatre practitioners and teachers of the D/deaf to tackle the problem of access. It has undertaken a pilot study on Macbeth with three schools for the D/deaf, producing active lesson plans based on RSC rehearsal-room practice, and making films of key scenes in British Sign Language.

Abigail Rokison-Woodall, project leader, is joined by Tracy Irish ( RSC), Angie Wootten (University of Birmingham) and Charlotte Arrowsmith (actor and director) to discuss the project's aims and methods and to showcase the films.

This event is BSL-signed. Abigail Rokison-Woodall will be live on the chat to answer questions during the event, and for 15 minutes afterwards.

Event 59

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Anthony Seldon talks to Jim Naughtie

The Impossible Office: The History of the British PM

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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No.10's honorary historian tells the story of the post of the British PM and why it has endured longer than any other democratic political office in world history. What makes for a successful premiership? Has the job become impossible and can it be improved? Marking the third centenary of the office of Prime Minister, the book explores the lives and careers, loves and scandals, successes and failures of our Prime Ministers. From Robert Walpole and William Pitt the Younger, to Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher, Seldon discusses which of our Prime Ministers have been most effective and why, and how the increasing power of the PM coincided with the steadily falling influence of the Monarchy. He talks to broadcaster James Naughtie, author of On the Road: Adventures from Nixon to Trump.

Part of the Festival’s PM300 series marking 300 years since the UK’s first Prime Minister, with conversations on leadership and the future of democracy.

Event 60

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Xerxes Mazda, Louise Siddons and Charles Saumarez Smith talk to Erica Wagner

The Future of Collections and Curation in the Context of Covid

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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When Covid-19 closed galleries, libraries, archives and museums, what did we learn about their role? And how might a year of empty galleries, locked exhibitions and inaccessible collections transform the sector in the future? Now that so many archives are digitised, are these physical spaces and the collections they hold redundant? Join Xerxes Mazda, Head of Collections and Curation at the British Library, Louise Siddons, associate professor of art history at Oklahoma State University and a Fulbright Fellow at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, and Charles Saumarez Smith, former Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts and author of The Art Museum in Modern Times. They talk to Erica Wagner, author and critic, whose latest book is Chief Engineer, about the builder of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Event 61

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Elizabeth Kolbert talks to Alok Jha

Under a White Sky

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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The New Yorker journalist and environmentalist, best known for the Pulitzer Prizewinning The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, meets biologists trying to preserve the world's rarest fish, engineers turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland, Australian researchers developing a 'super coral' that can survive on a hotter globe, and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth, changing the sky from blue to white. Inspiring and darkly comic, the book examines the challenges we face and the potential for solving them.

Alok Jha is the science and technology correspondent at The Economist and author of The Water Book.

Event 62

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Lucasta Miller and Jonathan Bate talk to Miranda Seymour

Keats

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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John Keats, who died 200 years ago at just 25, is one of Britain’s most enigmatic poets and this biography by Lucasta Miller, critic and author of The Brontë Myth, excavates the backstories of nine familiar works. The epitaph Keats composed for his own gravestone – Here lies one whose name was writ in water – seemingly damned him to oblivion. He took a battering from the conservative press, yet in 1818 he wrote, "I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death". A lower-middle-class outsider from a dysfunctional family, his energy and love of language enabled him to reach the heart of English literature. A freethinker and a liberal at a time of repression, his work has retained its originality through the generations.

In Bright Star, Green Light, Jonathan Bate interweaves the lives of John Keats and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The latter was profoundly influenced by Keats, using the poet's lines in the title Tender is the Night. These two great writers both died young, loved to drink, were plagued by tuberculosis and haunted by their first love – and were the young Romantic figures of their twinned centuries. They talk to Miranda Seymour, author of Mary Shelley and In Byron's Wake.

Event 63

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Alok Sharma, Christiana Figueres and Glenys Stacey talk to Peter Lacy

COP26 – Setting the Agenda

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), is the 26th time the UN countries have met to discuss climate change. Yes, there have been 25 previous conferences that have debated what to do and yet little progress has been made. We need firm, binding actions, not just words, so what should Britain, as host of the November conference in Glasgow, put on the agenda to ensure that actions with impact are agreed and delivered? UK Government Cabinet member Alok Sharma is President of COP26, Christiana Figueres is a founder of the Global Optimism group, was head of the UN climate change convention when the Paris agreement was achieved in 2015 and is co-author of The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist's Guide to the Climate Crisis. Glenys Stacey is chair of the newly created Office for Environmental Protection in the UK Parliament. They are in conversation with Peter Lacy, author of Waste to Wealth: The Circular Economy Advantage.

Event 64

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Monique Roffey talks to Vanessa Engle

The Mermaid of Black Conch

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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In St. Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch, David, a fisherman, encounters a mermaid called Aycayia, centuries old, drawn to him by his singing. One day, when swimming towards the sound of his boat’s engine, she is caught, torn painfully from the sea and strung up as a trophy by American tourists who are on an annual fishing competition. David rescues her and hides her away, where she slowly, painfully turns into a woman. But in this tiny community tongues will wag, and dark forces begin to circle David and Aycayia. Based on a Neo-Taino legend of a beautiful woman transformed into a mermaid, this is a lyrical and vivid story of love, loss, family and friendship, as well as the destructive power of jealousy, and the terrible force of nature.

Event 65

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Ethan Hawke talks to David Mitchell

A Bright Ray of Darkness

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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The first novel in nearly 20 years from the actor/writer/director is about art and love, fame, heartbreak, and the healing power of art – a blistering story of a young man making his Broadway debut just as his marriage implodes. Hawke's narrator is a man in torment, disgusted with himself after the collapse of his marriage, half-hoping for a reconciliation that would allow him to forgive himself and move on, as he tries to manage the wreckage of his personal life with whisky and sex. What saves him is the challenge of performing Shakespeare under a brilliant director.

He talks to David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks and most recently Utopia Avenue.

There will be no Q&A at the end of the event.

Event 66

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Martin Robinson and Guvna B talk to Owen Sheers

You Are Not The Man You Are Supposed To Be and Unspoken

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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The 2017 the #MeToo movement sparked a worldwide conversation about men’s attitudes and behaviour towards women. Meanwhile, male suicides (which comprise 75% of suicides in the UK), poor emotional intelligence and mental health issues continue to blight an entire generation of young men. In an honest, urgent, witty book, Book of Man founder and editor Martin Robinson embarks on a personal quest to explore masculinity in the 21st century, visiting men’s groups, talking to drag artists, sex gurus and feminists, and hanging out with cage fighters and trans men. How do we go about being better dads, partners, brothers, sons? The book maps out new ways for men to be.

Men are strong in the face of fear. But what happens when that strength crumbles?

Unspoken by Guvna B addresses ideas of male identity through his own personal tragedy. Growing up on a council estate in East London, the rapper thought he knew what it means to be a man. But he had to face these assumptions head on when he suffered excruciating grief. They talk to poet and playwright Owen Sheers, who wrote The Men You'll Meet, addressed to his two daughters.

Event 67

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Ailsa McFarlane talks to Thea Lenarduzzi

10@10: New writers – Highway Blue

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Anne Marie is living a precarious life of shift-work and shared apartments. Her husband Cal left her on their first anniversary and two years later, she can’t move on. Then he suddenly shows up on her doorstep, clearly in some kind of trouble. Later that night a gun goes off in an alley and the couple set off on an ill-at-ease odyssey across a shimmering American landscape and through the darker seams of the country, towards a city that may or may not represent salvation. A story of being lost and found, of love, in all its forms, and of how the pursuit of love is, in its turn, a kind of redemption.

Thea Lenarduzzi is a commissioning editor at The TLS.

There will be no Q&A at the end of the event.

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