FOR THE CURIOUS

We know that you will be clicking on every page of this website because you’re… well… curious.   But if you’re looking at this page first, don’t forget to check out the programming that we think writers will particularly enjoy and the events that are on the programme just for fun. We haven’t yet worked out the final schedule so we don’t know when these are going to take place so do check back nearer the time and we’ll publish the actual programme. We’ll be announcing more events over the next few weeks so stay tuned for updates!

Sandi Toksvig in conversation with Catherine Mayer

TV’s best-loved host Sandi will talk about her career, from Footlights to primetime, together with her political activism and how easy it is to accidentally set up a political party. Expect quips, sparkling humour, warmth and an opportunity to ask that burning question, or even that question about burning (buns, that is).

Where There’s Muck, There’s Brass

A panel on working class writers and the realities of being skint whilst trying to break into the arts. From structural barriers to light hearted anecdotes, a group of working class authors reflect on navigating the multiple barriers to publication.

Poetry

We’ll be presenting poetry between music sets and around the site at every available opportunity.  Watch out for some of the country’s best poets in action, including Gray Crosbie, Nadine Jassat, Raymond Antrobus, Sabrina Mahfouz and many others.

The Deader the Better

We take a look at the writing of biographies.  How do you choose your subject? How do you know who’s going to spill the beans or let you in their attic to rifle through family letters? How much of yourself do you put in the book? How do you promote your book when your subject has a lot of influence in the media, and what do you do when they threaten to sue you?  At what point do you leave them behind or do you have to be a spokesperson on their butler, their wayward children and their choice of coffee. A panel on the mechanics of writing but also on ego, celebrity and nuclear fall-out.   Our panel will include Primadonnas Catherine Mayer (Prince Charles) & Sonia Purnell (Boris Johnson, Clementine Churchill and Virginia Hall).

ROKKY

We’re so excited to introduce some amazing new musical talent at Primadonna, and Rokky is someone you’re going to be hearing a lot more of.  A self-taught musician who speaks an impressive SIX languages, she’s bringing her unique tapestry of sensuous lyrics and Giorgio Moroder / Berlin inspired electro to light up our stage.  Check out her new video here, directed by Margret Seema Takyar to get yourself in the mood.

Can I Just Say…?

How does today’s political landscape look and feel for women (when we can get a word in edgeways)? For all you ‘nasty women’ out there and anyone else interested in hearing insights into how our political landscape functions and what we might do to better it. This round table discussion features writers, journalists and lawyers who’ve either worked on the political frontline or thought a great deal about it!

BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought

We’re so delighted that the BBC will be recording a special edition of their thought-provoking podcast Four Thought where writers are invited to deliver a 13-minute thesis on an issue close to their heart.  We know that this will be recorded on Friday afternoon and we are opening the gates nice and early to accommodate this. We also know that one of the speakers will be new writer Ashley Hickson-Lovence whose first book, The 392, depicts some characters who are instantly recognisable for anyone who has passed through Hackney, and for some who haven’t.

Graceland

With edgy indie hooks, killer basslines and great voices these indie/punk darlings are bringing their take-no-prisoners lyrics and hilarious between-song banter to Primadonna to make one heck of a big glorious noise.

Adele Parks

Adele has written an awe-inspiring 19 best-selling novels over 19 years, covering romance, historical, domestic noir and psychological thrillers.  Adele will be sharing her thoughts on the pros and cons of genre writing and whether it’s possible to break free of a genre once you start writing in it.  We’re delighted to have the opportunity to listen to a writer at the top of her game.

Bashing the patriarchy aka the Primadonnas get if off their chests

“Isn’t Primadonna just about bashing the patriarchy?” asks the Today Programme. “No” says Kit de Waal, “but I’m sure we’ll fit some in.”  Well this is the bit where the Primadonnas introduce themselves, tell stories about their struggle, the worst thing that people have said or done to them in their career, and pay homage those who have inspired them.   Audience members are invited to participate in voting for Heroes and Zeroes. Hang on, maybe we’ve listed this in the wrong session – it’s just for fun really.

Killing Eve in Apple Tree Yard

How does a book make it from print to screen?   From the first phone call to the first night what happens to your character and how easy is it to hand them over to someone else’s creative vision?  Luke Jennings (author of Killing Eve) and Louise Doughty (Apple Tree Yard) are just two of the writers who’ll be sharing their stories on this fascinating panel.

Interviews

We’ll have a series of interviews with some of the most successful and critically acclaimed writers of today, including Joanna Cannon, Bernardine Evaristo, Amanda Prowse, Angela Saini, Kit De Waal and Elif Shafak alongside some astonishing new voices such as Ashley Hickson-Lovence and  Ely Percy.

Sink Ya Teeth

Definitely your new favourite band (if they're not already - where have you been?!). But why take our word for it? Their eponymous album released last year won 4/5 star reviews from both Q Magazine and the Guardian & earned them a nomination as one of Radio 6’s records of 2018.  They are "thrillingly chilly, perfectly funky" and their music "is as infectious as it is emotionally engaging." Check them out HERE, and (hooray!) at Primadonna!

Scrounger – written and performed by Athena Stevens

On the streets of Elephant and Castle, everyone likes to make speculations about Scrounger. Scrounger doesn’t care. A successful online personality, she’s got more power from her bedroom than anyone on the Southwark estates could dream of. She’s educated, she’s ballsy, and with a huge network of online allies, Scrounger is a woman who knows how to make change happen.  That is, until an airline destroys her wheelchair. Funny, hard hitting, rather like the author herself, this is an abridged version of Athena Steven’s new play, hot foot from London’s Finborough theatre.

Alexa, While You’re Down There..

Are you worried about the fact that the (female) Alexa is subservient to the men in your house?  Are you anxious that it reinforces sexual stereotypes and terrified about our future dependencies on algorithms and the biases of their programmers?  This round table discussion will extend to AI, data, and all things tech, with Rachel Coldicutt, Seyi Akiwowo and Kate Devlin and plenty of time for audience input. Come and help build the future .

Hope Tala

If ever there’s anyone destined for stardom it’s Hope Tala.  The fact that she already has an astonishing 175k monthly listeners on Spotify from around the world.  Brazilian vibes, thoughtful, literary lyrics, gentle raps. Anyone who’s inspirations are Ms Lauryn Hill and Shakespeare’s the girl for us.  She’s gonna be massive. She already is. Check her out HERE.

Damned if you Do and Damned if you Don’t

Not everyone gets to decide whether or not to be a mother, but motherhood has never been a more hotly debated topic.  Are women under pressure to have kids, or not have kids? When’s the right time? How are mothers treated differently from women without children?  This is a complicated and difficult subject that deserves plenty of time to debate, and consequently this will be a round table discussion where audience and panellists alike share views and experiences.

Professor Kate Williams on Mary Queen of Scots

The most fascinating of Queens - if you've seen the film you'll have had the Hollywood version but the reality is more extraordinary, crossing countries and the most ruthless families of Europe.  To hear her extraordinary story delivered by one of TV's favourite historians will be a highlight of the festival.

Ginny Dix

..has the voice of an angel and a songwriting talent that puts her alongside some of the great singer songwriters of the 80s – Laura Branigan, Beverley Craven while having the lyrics and a vibe very much of the here and now, reminiscent of Marika Hackman.   Hear her HERE and at Primadonna before the rest of the world discovers her.

Rubáiyát of Rojava –  Rahila Gupta’s Epic poem read by great actress Jaye Griffiths with introduction & Q&A with Gupta

Gupta’s epic poem has as its subject matter the women's revolution taking place in Rojava, a self-governed region located in Northern Syria, where groups of women are leading systems of communal social life involving councils, parties, cooperatives, academies and defence units, to structure society according to anti-sexist and non-patriarchal principles.

Her Breasts Preceded Her Into The Room

That sentence actually appeared in a book.  Written by a man. So we’ve decided to tackle the thorny subject of whether men can really write women?  Our panel may come up with other examples of writing, horrific or great, and will discuss the pitfalls and the pleasures of imagining another person’s experience.

The Seashell and the Clergyman – with live soundtrack created and performed by the Deben Collective

Laffitts Hall has been the home of Pettafiesta and Mekonville festivals before becoming home to Primadonna, and it has become a tradition, and highlight of festivals here to have a late-night screening of a silent film by the campfire with specially created soundtrack performed live by the Deben Collective.  The BFI have this film as one of few feminist films from the silent era. It was directed by a woman, and features a bra burning, but is so surreal that it’s hard to find the meaning. See what you think. Bring a bra to burn on the campfire and enjoy the music created by ambient genius Jan Pulsford and her musical collective.

Don’t Mess With Writers, We’ll Describe You

Our panellists of writers and publishers swap tales of their worst setbacks, whether #rejectionletters, harsh reviews or missed opportunities. Every panellist has stories. Some may even have old scores to settle. Feel free to send in your own stories and #rejectionletters in advance. We’ll read out some of the best—or, to be more precise, the worst.

Caswell

Caswell is a local Suffolk artist starting to make a splash up in the smoke.  Supported by PRS Foundation and BBC Introducing Caswell’s soaring vocals and sophisticated melodies against strong beats belie her youth.  Check her out HERE, and at Primadonna.

… and relax

There will be lots of opportunity to look after yourself at Primadonna.   You can pre-book private therapies via this link if you want to be super-organised and not miss out.  There will also be group sessions on stretching, looking after your pelvic floor (not just for men!) and gong baths available for free!   Delivered by highly experienced pilates teachers Kelly Steventon & Sarah Doherty , and gong therapist Jenna Gooding.