We are delighted and excited to make our first set of lineup announcements for the 44th edition of Greenbelt Festival : The Common Good.
Bursting with goodness, surprise and variety everywhere you look, the bill is already full of artists, activists and thinkers – all part of a community of imagination, longing and working for a better world.
Best of all? This is not all there is. There is more to come.
The emerging music bill for Greenbelt 2017, features two singer-songwriter stars at the very top of their games. Firstly, the very finest of folk is served up by Kate Rusby, this year celebrating 25 years in the music industry and with her latest album, Paper Boats, provoked by her response to the plight of Syrian and African migrants making their perilous journeys to Europe across the Mediterranean. And Kate will be joined by Greenbelt debutante Newton Faulkner, a phenomenal performer, now back with his fifth album, Human Love, and making connections with his audiences and the human condition like never before.
Greenbelt also embraces the overdriven guitar this year with Joanne Shaw Taylor – that rare and precious thing in the blues scene: a woman who completely rules and rocks. With her Gibson Les Paul and her gravelly vocals, Joanne is making waves and great music in a so-long traditionally male world. And in the great vein of southern States alt-rock, the young Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires make raw, heart-on-sleeve gutsy music about politics, faith, justice and all they yearn for in their great country – against a landscape they feel increasingly out of step with. While, citing Woody Guthrie’s famous inscription “this guitar kills fascists” as a spur, Hardwicke Circus make music to bring people together. Theirs is a very community-minded rock and roll swagger.
Speech Debelle makes a welcome return to Greenbelt with her new album finding her at her imperious and insightful best, combining her love of and talents in spoken word, music – and cookery! King Porter Stomp, meanwhile, make irresistible big-band roots music with a deep social conscience. These righteous rockers blend party and politics without ever being party political. Also, the much-loved and highly entertaining SK Shlomo is back to wow all ages with his vocal dexterity and audacity. Yes, all the sounds really do come from his mouth.
Acoustic singer-songsrmithery will be celebrated too, with the likes of Will Varley – quite simply sublime, in a disarming, charming, yet deeply subversive kind of way, and writing songs with an achingly timeless quality. While sisters and cousin Wildwood Kin make exquisite close-harmony music that is beautiful and seemingly effortless. And the CC Smugglers dish up late night skiffle-style songs that will have the festival partying into the early hours.
And, hailing from Manchester, the Sacred Sounds Women’s Choir bring together women from different religions and cultural traditions. The result is beautiful and brave. The understanding that has been built is immeasurable. There will also be great emerging new bands in the Little Big Top each evening across the weekend, featuring the likes of The Goat Roper Rodeo Band, Remedy, Goan Dogs, Lazy Habits, and Sleepwalking.
For more on on all the acts booked so far on our music bill, click here.
Ann Pettifor predicted the financial crash when she spoke at Greenbelt way back in the mid-noughties. Largely credited with the Jubilee 2000 ‘Drop the Debt’ success in writing off large swathes of crippling developing world debt, Ann is still a formidable and insightful financial and economic thinker and commentator.
As theologian and social psychologist, Christena Cleveland is a welcome new voice for Greenbelt this year, shedding Stateside perspective on the identity politics and populism that is leaving many of us reeling, clutching for new frameworks and understanding. Making a welcome return to the festival, a decade since his last visit, Clive Stafford Smith remains one of the most influential human rights lawyers of our post-9/11 world. And Peter Oborne is a rare gem of a journalist – a writer who it’s difficult to pigeonhole in terms of the positions you might expect him to adopt. But what rings clarion and consistent throughout is his dogged commitment to truth-telling and utter honesty, to bringing things to light.
Sarah Corbett is the original craftivist – a word that will be in the Oxford English Dictionary one of these days! Quietly, patiently, she is changing the world – with her mantra being that protest and campaigning needs introverts just as much as extroverts to ‘succeed’. Meanwhile, becoming a feminist at the tender age of five, Natalie Bennett has spent her life fighting for change and championing policies for a better world. As a former leader of the Green Party in the UK, she is passionate about an alternative politcal way forward.
Described as Europe’s most radical nun, Teresa Forcades i Vila is deeply critical of the misogeny and patriarchy of her mother church, while at the same time dedicated to a life in its service. The range of her wisdom and commentary is staggering – taking in everything from the failed economics of the European Union to the ravaging activity of the pharmaceutical industry. While Elizabeth Edman‘s book Queer Virtue turns the church’s obsession with ‘what to do with gay people?’ on its head and instead asks about what the church can learn from the gay community and the gifts of LGBT people.
Now teaching and writing in the States, moral theologian Luke Bretherton comes to the festival with his thinking on the Common Good and on the sort of community organising modelled and championed by Citizens UK. No stranger to Greenbelt, meanwhile, poet-priest Rachel Mann returns with thoughts on the way we remember and enshrine the Great War.
The wisdom of age comes to us this year in the shape of Dr Winston Halapua, a lifelong campaigner and educator around climate change and women’s rights living in and amongst the peoples battling on the front line with the effects of sea level rises. His voice was key at the Paris Agreements talks and settlement and still is now as – as Archbishop of Polynesia – he comes to Greenbelt with his urgent plea for us to listen and change for the sake of our planet and its people.
For more on on all the speakers booked so far on our ideas bill, click here.
From award-winning, “hilarious and heartbreaking” social theatre about the UK housing crisis to a contemporary dance adaptation of Paradise Lost (don’t worry – it’s silly and beautiful and nothing like you’re imagining); and from one man and a trampoline to performances that will challenge, amaze and inspire you – and this is just the beginning. With more circus, theatre and dance to come, the performing arts lineup is set to be as eclectic and engaging as ever.
Featuring the multi award-winning Sh!t Theatre, coming to Greenbelt hot-foot from Edinburgh with the follow up to their smash-hit show Women’s Hour, Letters to Windsor House. With songs, politics, dodgy landlords and detective work, they shine a light on the national housing crisis with this personal and very funny show for Generation Rent. Meanwhile, beautifully tender and poetic, Paradise Lost by Lost Dog Dance is a retelling of Milton’s time-old myth that is both personal and powerful, surprising in its poignancy and simplicity. Described as “a show for anyone who has created anything (child, garden, paper aeroplane) and then watched it spiral out of control”, it condenses the arc of creation and redemption into 75-minutes of spell-binding theatre.
Narnia doesn’t exist; Lucy’s just realised this and she’s 26. Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield by Lucy Grace is an intimate show about holding onto adventure, falling through the cracks and finding your own way back. While This Evil Thing by Michael Mears tells the compelling, shocking and inspiring story of Britain’s First World War conscientious objectors with breath-taking physical and vocal dexterity. And Kat Francois’ Raising Lazarus charts the true story of her relative from the Caribbean island of Grenada, who joined the British West Indies Regiment in 1915 to fight for Britain during the First World War.
But theatre is not just performed indoors at Greenbelt. Here are just a few things we’ve booked to play in the great outdoors.
Comic, absurd and surreal, Anyday by Max Calaf Sevé is a trampoline and physical theatre piece that will blow your expectations of what a circus show can be out of the water. And Pif Paf’s SEED is a poetic, surprising and inspiring hitch-hike on the journey from small acorns to great oak trees with a man who plants trees where he shouldn’t.
For more on on all performing arts booked so far, click here.
Our literature bill this year is looking particularly strong already, boasting Michael Symmons Roberts, one of the UK’s foremost poets today and working to carve a poetic path that connects the spiritual and the earthed in a way that illuminates and inspires. We also welcome the brightest, youngest new star in a long tradition of wonderful Nigerian writers, Chibundu Onuzo, and, hailing from Haifa in Israel, Khulud Khamis, who works with Muslim women living there (as Israeli-Arabs) and championing their experiences and rights through her writing and advocacy.
For more on the emerging literature bill, click here.
For more on all this, visit our lineup pages here.
Plus much, much more programming to be announced throughout March.