The Hay Festival has announced the first names for the 2015 Festival from the 21 -31 May. Stalwart Stephen Fry, along with Germaine Greer and Kazuo Ishiguro are joined by Antony Beevor, Karen Armstrong and Dan and Peter Snow. Also on the early bird list are giants of Children’s literature Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson.
Booking for these events is open exclusively to Friends of the Festival for three days after which sales open to the general public. This year the Festival has added advance car park booking which can be selected at the same time as tickets.
Fry who was named last year as festival President hosts the first in a Magna Carta series of twenty events. He will be joined by international guests to discuss equalities just two weeks after the general election and eight hundred years after a gang of barons met in a tent by a river to elicit the signature of King John.
Germaine Greer will discuss Juliet, Beatrice, Ophelia, Cleopatra, Ann Hathaway and the Dark Lady of the Sonnets with festival director Peter Florence and Kazuo Ishiguro will discuss his extraordinary new novel and his first in a decade. ‘The Buried Giant’ begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years on a journey that will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.
In a first for the Making Hay blog we conducted a real time interview using Google Hangouts Live on Air. We talked to author and PR man Dan Tyte at home in Cardiff about his debut novel, working in PR and his vist to the Hay Festival this year.
Jim Saunders, author of Hay – Landscape, Literature and the Town of Books will share his knowledge of Hay-on-Wye’s history, and then leads a discussion on the past, present and future of the town on Friday 5th September at 6pm at Booth’s Book Shop, 44 Lion Street, Hay on Wye. Jim Saunders is a writer and photographer based in Knighton, Powys and a former Offa’s Dyke Path Officer. Jim’s nature photographs also illustrate numerous books and magazines.
His book is a portrait of Hay, its setting and its people in words and photographs. Images are interspersed with an exploration of the town’s history and its stories and characters – amongst them Francis Kilvert, Alfred Watkins, Hay poisoner Herbert Armstrong, the Baskerville/Conan Doyle connection, Owain Glyndŵr, Richard Booth, and of course the Hay Festival.
For more information about the talk or to RSVP contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Tyte was a panelist at the last Hay Festival . He was born and raised in Cardiff, Wales. He studied English Literature at the University of Liverpool before becoming a PR man. I’ll be talking to live next week on Google Hangouts about his debut novel ‘Half Plus Seven’ which was published by Parthian Books in April 2014. It has been described by the Editor of NME as “a lethal cocktail of Bukowski and Mad Men, finished with a twist of dry Welsh wit.”
You can sign up to watch the broadcast on Wednesday 27th August at 7pm. Just click here to register and you’ll get a reminder.
The theatre and film director Richard Eyre discusses Shakespeare’s History plays, and their role in our understanding of Britain’s identity.
“I’m going to free associate” he begins “rather than give an organised lecture”. He’s a big fan of Henry IV Parts I and II but King Lear is his favourite because it’s the story of fatherhood. Goethe said “every father is in some sense a King Lear”. The relationships between fathers and their offspring are invariably central to Shakespeare’s history plays. Eyre talks about his own Dorset upbringing where there was little artistic stimulation. The nearest cinema was 12 miles away and his own parents did not encourage him to read.
Eyre’s free association moves on to the making of The Hollow Crown, the films he directed featuring Henry IV Parts I and II and executive produced for the BBC by Sam Mendes. The audience at Hay was treated to a substantial excerpt. “I wanted to run at that length because it demonstrates a lot of things that are important in translating from the theatre to film” said Eyre. Part of the challenge is to honour the rythym and structure of the Shakespearian language with the more naturalistic requirements of film. Something that Eyre says requires great actors. “We had a cast that it’s inconceivable that you could have in the theatre…every actor that I asked to be in it said yes”.
Martin Sixsmith’s book Philomena has become an award-winning film by screenwriter and actor Steve Coogan and the director Stephen Frears. Alan Yentob begins by challenging the two of them as to the authenticity of the story as it appears on the screen.
Frears is happy to admit that parts of the story are invented and believes this makes the telling better. Coogan on the other hand fiercely defends the accuracy of the central tenets of the film. Coogan he was making Philomena and Alpha Papa the return of Alan Partridge at much the same time and it was a challenge. “Alan Partridge is a middle Englander, typical Daily Mail reader but he’s not a Ukip voter”. Looking back at the early incarnations of the character Coogan finds him one-dimensional but believes that over 20 years he and Alan have become more and more alike “by the time I die we’ll be the same”.
Yentob moves on to talking about Rob Brydon and The Trip – the series were the two actors play versions of themselves exposing their genuine character flaws “we had an unwritten rule that we were allowed to push each others buttons”, but there were things that Coogan did not want included and would say “I’m not doing that in the middle of a take”. Coogan likes The Trip but not as much as others do.
Frears is responsible for an incredible catalogue of films; ‘The Grifters’, ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, ‘High Fidelity’ and going further back ‘If’ on which he was Assistant Director. He tells Yentob that the breadth of films is because they had good writers and he took what he was offered “no-one encouraged me to be an auteur”.
Seven years ago I had a wake up call says Arianna, when she opens her Saturday evening session in conversation with Georgina Godwin. “I was burnt out, I passed out and came round in a pool of my own blood”. I’m supposed to be successful but coming round in a pool of your own blood isn’t a mark of success.
Society has brought the definition of success down to just two metrics – money and power. It’s a two-legged stool that’s bound to fall over so she decided we needed a third metric. The Huffington Post founder argues that a successful life is achieved by including a third metric: personal care, health, and fulfilment. She also talks a great deal about the need for sleep. Bill Clinton said the biggest mistakes he made in life were when he was tired. He didn’t specify which mistakes.
Arianna Huffington is a highly intelligent and engaging individual. There was much humour; she recalled a headline from The Onion that said ‘death rate remains steady at 100%’. She had an anecdote about the British who she said allegedly have no spirituality and invented cricket so they could experience eternity.
All that said, her polemic feels personal rather than universal, it’s about her own journey. It’s also framed in a kind of Californian world view, the view of someone who in a spiritual sense has gone from Wall Street to Haight Astbury – Huffington lived in California for a period in the nineties.
If her new book is as engaging on paper as she is in person then it will be a great read whether or not it serves as a useful and universal design for life.