Welcome to our programme for Hay Festival 2023.
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Reena from Bollywood Dreams Dance Company will teach you some dynamic moves in this fun Bollywood dance workshop. You’ll learn hand gestures, some technique work and choreography. By the end of the session you’ll have formed a fun Bollywood routine to take away and show your friends!
Charles Ignatius Sancho lived in Georgian London, where his adventures included meeting the king and writing and playing highly acclaimed music. Among the fun, he also became the first Black person to vote in Britain and led the fight against slavery. The story of this historical figure, largely untold before, has been brought to life by actor Paterson Joseph in his debut novel. Joseph, star of shows such as Noughts + Crosses, talks to historian David Olusoga about how the book began life as a one-man play and why Sancho’s story is best told through an epistolary novel.
Spoken word collective Landschaft blend multilingual poems with hip hop, electropunk and video art. This trio – Grigory Semenchuk (Ukrainian), Ulrike Almut Sandig and Sascha Conrad (both German) – present an exhilarating fusion of techno, poetry and film that crosses language boundaries. No German or Ukrainian required.
From Lewis Carroll to Elizabeth Bishop, Marilyn Monroe to Emily Blunt, Aneurin Bevan to Joe Biden and King George VI, some of our greatest writers, actors, politicians and more have had a stammer that has shaped their relationship with language and influenced their creativity. Join poet and playwright Owen Sheers, patron of the British stammering association STAMMA, to discuss how a different kind of speech can gift a different kind of voice, with authors Margaret Drabble, Zaffar Kunial and Hannah Tovey.
Robert Hughes’ landmark BBC TV series and book The Shock of the New, more than 40 years old, became a seminal text for art history students and modern art enthusiasts. But a lot has happened in the intervening years. Does its assessment of modern art stand up to scrutiny today? Or has the moment come to question some of the assumptions that underpin Hughes’ argument? Will Gompertz, the Barbican Centre’s artistic director and a Hay Festival 2023 Thinker in Residence, discusses this famous text with Gus Casely-Hayford, cultural historian and director of V&A East, Veronica Ryan, winner of the Turner Prize 2022, and Shanay Jhaveri, head of visual arts at the Barbican.
Enchant your fiction in this workshop with bestselling novelist Natasha Pulley. She will cover how to come up with the first idea, through to early plot structuring and world building. This hands-on workshop will include plenty of generative exercises to stimulate and inspire, and is suitable for those new to writing and those who have been wrestling with an epic concept for years but struggling to get it onto the page. Pulley is the author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and The Bedlam Stacks, and teaches on Bath Spa University’s Creative Writing BA.
Turner Prize-winner and maverick artist Tracey Emin experienced an unexpected and extraordinary creative rebirth after being diagnosed with bladder cancer, having the organ removed and being fitted with a stoma. She talks candidly to Dylan Jones, former editor of GQ magazine, about her work, career and brush with death. Emin, once known as the enfant terrible of the Young British Artists in the 1980s, is now a Royal Academician, and in 2011 was one of the first two women professors since the Royal Academy’s founding in 1768. Jones’ latest book is Faster Than a Cannonball, an oral history of the music of 1995.
Philosopher Julian Baggini, author of How to Think Like a Philosopher, talks to writer and translator Daniel Hahn about conveying big ideas, the importance of broadening audiences for big subjects and the value of simplicity while also holding on to complexity. He uses everyday examples and contemporary political concerns – from climate change to implicit bias – to explore the techniques, methods and principles that guide philosophy, and how they can be applied to our own lives, proving that philosophical thought can promote incisive thinking.
Evoking an atmospheric world of whales, wolves, caves, cuckoos and reeds, in Wild Amy Jeffs journeys both on foot and through medieval texts to offer an insight into a world at once distant and profoundly close to home. She hauntingly retells venerable tales and the places where she finds them reflected in Britain today, from the bat-haunted darkness of ancient barrows to the cacophony of a pub wassail, accompanied by her original wood engravings. Jeffs is an art historian and artist and worked in the British Library’s department of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern manuscripts.
Journalist and feminist Rosie Boycott, veteran music producer Joe Boyd, organic food pioneer Craig Sams join Bureau of Lost Culture podcast host Stephen Coates in a conversation about how the visions and values planted in the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s have flowered in the decades since.
Cultural critic Charlotte Williams talks to Hanan Issa (Mud is Memory), Angela Hui (Takeaway) and Darren Chetty (Welsh (Plural) about writing Wales, Welsh identity, and creative and cultural representation.. Williams is a Welsh-Guyanese author and academic. As Hay Thinker in Residence she is committed to exploring the ways in which Wales and its multivarious Welsh identities are represented at the Festival.
One of Britain’s greatest living storytellers, Salman Rushdie is back with a magical realist feminist tale in Victory City, a novel presented as an abridged translation of a fictitious and previously lost Sanskrit verse saga. The novel’s final line, “words are the only victors”, seems more relevant than ever following a brutal attack on Rushdie in 2022, which left him injured. Three of his friends and admirers – novelists Margaret Atwood, Elif Shafak and Douglas Stuart – speak to journalist and editor Alex Clark about the power of Rushdie’s storytelling and celebrate the wonder of Victory City.
We are familiar with the idea of our body’s biome – the bacterial fauna that populate our gut and can so profoundly affect our health. The next frontier of scientific understanding is discovering our body’s electrome. Every cell in our bodies – bones, skin, nerves, muscle – has a voltage, like a tiny battery. This bioelectricity is why our brains can send signals to our bodies, why we develop the way we do in the womb and how our bodies know to heal themselves from injury. When bioelectricity goes awry, illness, deformity and cancer can result. But could there be an undo switch for cancer to flip malignant cells back into healthy ones; the ability to regenerate cells, organs, even limbs; to slow ageing?
The science writer explores the history of bioelectricity, from Galvani’s epic 18th century battle with the inventor of the battery, Alessandro Volta, to the medical charlatans claiming to use electricity to cure pretty much anything, to advances in the field helped along by the unusually massive axons of squid.
What does absolute darkness feel like? Not the kind that comes from switching off lights in your house, or stepping out in the city at midnight, but true, deep darkness. Dr Jacqueline Yallop delves into the enigma of darkness with this lecture. Looking at how science, art, literature and psychology have shaped our understanding of darkness, and how our imaginations continue to be inspired by it, she considers what darkness means to us, as individuals and societies, now and in the past. Yallop teaches prose and creative writing at the University of Aberystwyth. She is the author of two novels and three works of non-fiction.
The Bureau of Lost Culture’s Stephen Coates hosts a live podcast recording debating the countercultural power of music in modern times. Join Mercury Prize nominated singer and activist Sam Lee, influential singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan and pioneering record producer Joe Boyd, who has worked with a multitude of artists from Pink Floyd to REM.
Publicist Georgina Moore has worked in publishing for more than 20 years, and offers a unique perspective on being a published author. Set on the Isle of Wight, her debut The Garnett Girls is about three sisters kept from finding true happiness by their mother Margo’s refusal to speak about their father, who walked out on her. Rachel is desperate to return to London, but is held hostage by responsibility for Sandcove, the beloved but crumbling family home; dreamy Imogen feels the pressure to marry her kind, considerate fiancé; wild, passionate Sasha is trapped between her fractured family and controlling husband, and weighed down by a secret that could shake the family to its core. Moore talks to critic and writer Stephanie Merritt.
Hay Community Choir’s ‘Earth Song’ is a collaborative piece with poet Francesca Kay and musician Alice Phelps, as well as their director Fiona Evans. Inspired by Scottish Gaelic psalm singing, the choir explores the elements and celebrates all that it means to live on this planet, creating a work that the Earth itself has inspired.
Nothing is off the menu in this frank, revealing and very funny show. In her first ever live performance, Prue Leith will take us through the ups and downs of being a successful restaurateur, novelist, businesswoman and Great British Bake Off judge – feeding the rich and famous, cooking for royalty and even poisoning her clients.
In the second half of the show she’ll be joined on stage by Clive Tulloh, who will chair a Q&A giving you the chance to ask those questions you’ve always wanted to hear Prue’s take on. She says: “I’ve never done a stage show before and at 82 I’m probably nuts to try it, but it’s huge fun, makes people laugh and lets me rant away about the restaurant trade, publishers, TV and writing, and sing the praises of food, love and life.”
Edited by author and ex-psychiatrist Joanna Cannon, Will You Read This, Please? contains 12 real-life stories of NHS mental health service users, written by 12 authors, telling the stories of mental illness and the NHS from the truest and most honest source: the patients themselves. Cannon talks to novelist Tracy Chevalier (A Single Thread, Girl With a Pearl Earring) and Catherine Cho (author of Inferno, about her experience of postpartum psychosis) about how they became involved in the collection and the challenges and privileges of helping someone else to share a story that was previously unheard. They are joined by Jen McPherson, who worked closely with Cho to share her story in the collection, and talks about why she was compelled to share her experience of psychosis.