On the opening night of Hay Festival 2021, writers join forces with stars of stage and screen in a unique celebration of the power of words. Beaming in voices from around the world, host Natalie Haynes presents an evening of joy, celebration and remembrance as performers share the poems, books, plays and speeches that have inspired them most over the past year.
Performers include HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, actors Richard Eyre, Jessica Raine, Stephen Fry, Theresa Lola, Romola Garai, Charly Arrowsmith and Louise Brearley, comedians Sindhu Vee and Rob Brydon, writers Elif Shafak, Juno Dawson, Clemency Burton-Hill, Simon Schama, Rufus Mufasa, Hafsa Zayyan, Margaret Busby, poets Hollie McNish and Karl Nova, rapper Guvna B, scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock, and more.
The author of Wanderland looks at non-orthodox perspectives on landscape, and considers the richness and wisdom they bring. Born in Britain to Indian parents from South Africa, and raised in Canada, Jini has contributed to anthologies, penned a guidebook, and her texts and poems have been displayed in exhibitions at London’s Southbank Centre and at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. As a travel writer, in 2019 she was named a National Geographic Woman of Impact. Her work explores a cross-cultural, cross-genre space where place, spirituality and culture meet.
Vaccine reluctance and refusal are no longer limited to the margins of society. Debates around the necessity of vaccines, along with questions about their side effects, have gone mainstream, blending with geopolitical conflicts, celebrity causes and 'natural' lifestyles to attract a growing number of hearts and minds.
The anthropologist argues that issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy stem from people feeling left out of the conversation. She examines the social vectors that transmit vaccine rumours around the globe and how they can be addressed.
Heidi Larson is Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science and the founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project. Heidi is in conversation with Nicole Itano, Co-ordinator for the Global Recovery Collective and former lead of the United Nations initiative, Verified, aimed at combatting COVID-19 misinformation.
Why is it that often the things we value most, from frontline nurses to the natural world, to caring for children, seem unimportant to economic markets? During his time as a G7 central banker and seven years as Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney witnessed the collapse of public trust in élites, globalisation, and technology, the challenges of the fourth Industrial Revolution and the growing climate emergency. Dharshini David, economist and broadcaster, examines how economic value and social values became blurred, and how to rethink and rebuild before it’s too late.
Instead of civic organizations, we join internet mobs. Instead of reasoned conversation, the voices of the angriest, most divisive participants are amplified. Rational voices are hard to hear; radicalization spreads quickly. Unsurprisingly, an internet controlled by a tiny number of secretive companies in Silicon Valley does not reflect democratic values of openness, accountability and respect for human rights. Instead, the current rules of online conversation are undermining our democracies. Why don’t we change them?
Pulitzer Prizewinning historian Anne Applebaum is author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University, New York.
Peter, a brilliant scientist, is told he will lose everything he loves – his husband, family, friends. He has Motor Neurone Disease, a condition universally considered to be terminal. He is told it will destroy his nerve cells and that within two years, it will take his life, too. But face-to-face with death, he decides there is another way and using science and technology, he navigates a new path that will enable him not just to survive, but to thrive. This is true story about the first person to combine his very humanity with artificial intelligence and robotics to become a full Cyborg. His discovery means that his terminal diagnosis is negotiable, something that will rewrite the future. By embracing love, life and hope rather than fear, tragedy and despair he will become Peter 2.0.
Tom Allen's No Shame is a candid and emotional ride of a memoir. The working-class son of a coach driver, and the youngest member of the Noël Coward Society, the author grew up in '90s suburbia as the eternal outsider. He writes with caustic wit about his childhood, adolescence, the family he still lives with, and his attempts to come out and negotiate the gay dating scene.
Pippa Evans is an expert at saying Yes – and No. She's a master of thinking on her feet, but has also had to learn how to go with the flow. In her book Improv Your Life she's passing on everything she's learned from her career as both a performer and teacher, so that you can take centre-stage in your life. By passing on fun exercises you can practise at home, she aims to help you reach your full potential.
The two share laughs with the comedian and satirist Marcus Brigstocke.
When Philip Pullman’s bestseller was adapted by Bad Wolf for HBO/BBC One, it was the biggest new drama launch on British TV in more than five years. Executive Producer Jane Tranter leads a panel discussion with key creatives from the show, looking at the joys and challenges of bringing the series to life.
In a special event to celebrate the launch of the new Graham Norton Book Club podcast on Audible, sit down with the comedian, actor and broadcaster as he talks to fellow Irish author Marian Keyes (Grown Ups) and Pointless presenter Richard Osman (The Thursday Murder Club).
Bonnie Greer, American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster, talks to trail-blazing Novara Media editor Ash Sarkar about a life in writing and activism. What has changed and what has remained the same? A unique view through the telescope of time from then to now and now to then.
Part of Lemn Sissay's George Floyd: One Year On series.
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.
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.
War between organized groups goes far back into human history. Is it an integral part of our society? What do those who make war think they can gain from it? And how have we tried to control and eliminate it? Modern war, its causes, nature, and impact, and the continuing search for peace are the topics covered by the expert on international relations and professor at University of Oxford. She talks to the broadcaster and journalist Nik Gowing.
Say the unsayable? Is memoir a testimony to the truth or a carefully curated lie? Does testimony expose the truth or hide it? What rises to the surface and what stays hidden in the margins? Author of Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu followed her Ghanaian father, a United Nations official, from Europe to Africa and back again. Just as she and her family settled into a new home, her father would tell them it was time to say their goodbyes. The instability wrought by Nadia’s nomadic childhood was deepened by family secrets and fractures, both lived and inherited. Hannah Azieb Pool's memoir, My Fathers' Daughter, tells how in 1974 she was adopted from an orphanage in Eritrea and brought to England by her white adoptive father. She grew up unable to imagine what it must be like to look into the eyes of a blood relative until one day a letter arrived from a brother she never knew she had...
Part of Lemn Sissay's George Floyd: One Year On series.
Delivering this year's lecture is Gary Younge is the professor of sociology at the University of Manchester, broadcaster and former columnist at the Guardian. He is an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy and has written five books, most recently Another Day in the Death of America: a Chronicle of ten Short Lives,. He has written for The New York Review of Books, Granta, GQ, The New York Times, Financial Times and New Statesman. His radio and TV documentaries cover subjects from gay marriage to Brexit.
We welcome the winner of the 2021 International Booker Prize for their first interview since the announcement. The 2021 shortlist is:
At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut
The Employees by Olga Ravn
In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova
The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard
The ancient Welsh poem, The Gododdin, charts the rise and fall of 363 warriors in the battle of Catraeth, around the year AD 600. The men of the Brittonic kingdom of Gododdin rose to unite the Welsh and the Picts against the Angles, only to meet a devastating fate. Composed by the poet Aneirin, the poem was originally orally transmitted as a sung elegy, passed down for seven centuries before being transcribed in early Welsh by two medieval scribes. It is composed of one hundred laments to the named characters who fell, and follows sophisticated alliterative poetics. The former National Poet of Wales animates this historical epic with a modern musicality, making it live in the language of today.
Rufus Mufasa is an artist, literary activist, poet, rapper, singer-songwriter, theatre maker and a previous Hay Festival Writer at Work.
A stellar cast will share writing by some of our most influential women. Drawing on work from two important new books, The Penguin Book of Feminist Writing edited by Hannah Dawson, and Elizabeth Filippouli’s From Women to the World: Letters for a New Century, these writings demonstrate how we have the wisdom to inspire, motivate and reinvent our world.
Performers include Kate Winslet, Vanessa Redgrave, Juliet Stevenson, Helen Lunkuse, Suzette Llewellyn, Bishop Rose and Suzanne Packer, musician Skin and novelist Elif Shafak.
When Covid swept across the globe, the impact was arguably greater than the aftermath of 9/11 or the global financial crisis. But out of catastrophe can come a new way of thinking.Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown offers his solutions to the challenges we face in 2021 and beyond, outlining seven challenges: global health, climate change, nuclear proliferation, global financial instability, the humanitarian crisis and global poverty, the barriers to education and opportunity, and global inequality and global tax havens.None of these can be solved by one nation acting on its own, but all can be addressed if we work together as a global community.
Hugh Muir is Senior Assistant Editor at the Guardian
An exclusive live screening of a one-off film created by Ali Smith and Sarah Wood to celebrate the conclusion of her seasonal quartet. Summer is the story of people on the brink of change. In the present, Sacha knows the world's in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world's in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn't even started yet. In the past, they had a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they're living on borrowed time. They're family, but they think they're strangers. So, where does family begin? And what do people who think they've got nothing in common have in common? This special event includes contributions from film-maker Sarah Wood.