Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2016

If you live in Norwich, you’ll know all about the Norfolk & Norwich Festival that takes place every year. It’s one of the oldest city festivals in England, originating in 1824. Filled with art, literature, entertainment, and music, it takes place throughout the month of May, in venues across the city. There are so many female acts this year, and we wanted to make sure that all of our local readers knew all about them, so we’ve put together a little list of the ones that we recommend.

Francesca Beard – A Lie
Monday 16th May – 6:30pm
Norwich Arts Centre

We lie on average three times in the first ten minutes of every social interaction; the news is not true, not even our memories are fact. Beard’s performance questions whether lying is our most impressive art and possibly our most human need. Francesca Beard ‘the Queen of British Performance Poetry’ is a Malaysian-born London-based poet who has performed to rave reviews around the UK and internationally.

‘Spine-tingling… witty and narcotic.’ The Independent

‘Sensuous and funny’ Time Out


Hollie McNish – Nobody Told Me
Monday 16th May – 8:45pm
Norwich Arts Centre

Acclaimed UK poet and YouTube sensation Hollie McNish returns to Norwich following her sell-out performance last year. Nobody Told Me is an honest and humorous reflection on Hollie’s journey before, during and after pregnancy. Expect hard-hitting and inspiring poems on sex, pregnancy, gender, commercialisation and parenthood. Her ability to add up the minutiae of everyday experience in to something close to a social movement gives her poetry its unique power, the velvet glove of her humour masking the iron fist of a call for change.

‘The world needs this book.’ The Scotsman


We’re Attending!
Wild Life
Norfolk & Norwich Festival and CAMPO
Thursday 19 – Sunday 29 May
Norwich Playhouse

Director Pol Heyvaert
Devised by Pol Heyvaert, Kim Noble and the cast
Musical Director Jakob Ampe

When you are feeling sad, do you listen to cheerful music, or indulge your emotions?

Wild Life is an extraordinary collaboration between Pol Heyvaert of Belgian arts centre CAMPO, Kim Noble and ten young singer songwriters aged 15 – 22 from across Norfolk. Developed organically from the lives of the performers, the songs that they write and what science tells us about how teenagers’ brains work, this startling piece of theatre uses original music and everyday sound bites as a backdrop to expose the stark truths about life as a young person today.

Funny, beautiful, angry and honest, Wild Life explores the lives of young people and the universal experience of how music makes you feel.

This World Premiere follows scratch performances at the Festival in 2015.


Spindrift – Curious Directive
Wednesday 25 – Sunday 29 May
The Garage

In a cold converted garage by the sea, a science podcast troupe rehearse their next episode. Spindrift follows three sisters as they untangle what happened to their father when he disappeared whilst sailing around the world, 20 years ago.

A mysterious, heart-breaking triptych, Spindrift traces the invisible waves orchestrating the boundaries of the natural world and examines family, endurance and the paths we choose. Norfolk-based, and two-time Fringe First-winning, curious directive return to Norfolk & Norwich Festival, melding their trademark visual storytelling with 3D animation, video projection and motion capture technology.

Spindrift is a life-affirming story for anyone who has sat on the shore and stared out to sea for hours on end.

‘Terrific …a show with brains and a heart.’ **** The Guardian on The Kindness of Strangers

‘Restlessly intelligent theatre.’ **** The Daily Telegraph on Pioneer


We’re Attending!
Not a Misery Memoir (with Una & Nicola Streeten)
Saturday 21st May – 11am
Writers’ Centre Norwich, Dragon Hall

Join graphic novelists, Una and Nicola Streeten, in conversation on how graphic novels have enabled women to talk about their lives and address personal and painful issues. Una’s first graphic memoir Becoming Unbecoming, an account of gender violence in the 1970s against a backdrop of the search for the Yorkshire Ripper, was described as a ‘wonderful, wonderful book’ on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Una describes it as ‘Not a misery memoir. Miserable, yes, but hopeful too.’ Of her debut graphic novel Billy, Me & You, about the death of her young son, Nicola Streeten said ‘I wanted the laughing and the crying. Not a misery memoir, a book for people who’ve had shit thrown at them’.


Murder, Morality, and the Penny Dreadful (with Kate Summerscale)
Saturday 21st May – 5:30pm
Writers’ Centre Norwich, Dragon Hall

Kate Summerscale is a multi-award-winning author whose books include bestseller The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. Her latest The Wicked Boy, a fascinating true tale of murder and morality places Victorian ideas of criminality, childhood and insanity under the microscope. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Kate Summerscale recreates this terrible crime uncovering an extraordinary story of man’s capacity to overcome the past.

‘Absolutely riveting’ Sarah Waters, The Guardian

‘The best locked-room murder story you’ll read all year’ Independent


Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton
Saturday 21 May – 8pm
Norwich Theatre Royal

The star of the Oscar-winning Twenty Feet From Stardom, Lisa Fischer is best-known as the woman who sings her heart out with the Rolling Stones – the YouTube of her ‘Gimme Shelter’ duet with Mick Jagger has had millions of hits.

This is her first UK concert in her own right – as the Huffington Post said “she is deeply in love with the act of singing, utterly and blissfully present in the welling-up of each note, in the zone of the sublime”.


Generation Revolution with Rachel Aspden
Sunday 22 May – 5.30pm
Writers’ Centre Norwich, Dragon Hall

Having lived and travelled widely in the Middle East, former New Statesman literary editor Rachel Aspden’s new book Generation Revolution, positions readers on the frontline between tradition and change in the wake of Tahrir Square and other revolutions. What happens when a revolution unravels? How do you choose between sex, tradition, consumerism and faith? Aspden looks at the complex forces shaping the lives of these young people and what they mean for the future of the Middle East.


We’re Attending!
Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer
Monday 23 & Tuesday 24 May – 10pm
The Adnams Spiegeltent

Penny Arcade is a force of nature. The former Andy Warhol Factory superstar and internationally respected writer, poet, actress, theatre maker and icon of artistic resistance presents Longing Lasts Longer.

Edinburgh’s double award-winning show from New York’s undisputed queen of the underground turns contemporary stand -up on its head to create a crack in the post-gentrified landscape. Driven by her magnetic rock n’ roll energy, Arcade’s razor sharp satire is mixed live to euphoric soundscapes inspired by four decades of pop culture.

A passionate and exuberant performance where you can think, laugh and dance at the same time!

‘It’s a revelation that calls for a revolution’ ***** The Adelaide Advertiser

‘Bursting with energy…hilarity and pathos’ ****** Edinburgh Evening News

‘Exhilarating, passionate…A unique voice capturing the zeitgeist of a cultural genocide’ ***** Stage


Voyage With Me (in association with Sweet Arts, The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and The Restoration Trust)
Tuesday 24 May – 2pm
The Adnams Spiegeltent

Voyage With Me has been transforming lives since it started in March 2015. The project helps women who feel isolated or experience mental health issues by offering the chance to connect with each other and with great art.

Join us for an afternoon event where a safe space and wellbeing area will welcome you, with activities and an exhibition of artwork created by Voyage With Me members in response to collections the group have visited at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts on display.


Alison Weir: Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen
Wednesday 25 May – 6.30pm
Writers’ Centre Norwich, Dragon Hall

Alison Weir is one of the UK’s best-selling historians. Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen is the first in a spellbinding six-novel series about Henry VIII’s Queens. Informed by extensive research and new theories, the novel takes you on an engrossing journey at Katherine’s side and shows her extraordinary strength of character and intelligence. Featuring a Q&A and book signing, this is a must for all those with an interest in Tudor history.


Rose Tremain: The Gustav Sonata
Wednesday 25 May – 8pm
Writers’ Centre Norwich, Dragon Hall

Internationally renowned author and UEA Chancellor Rose Tremain discusses her new book, The Gustav Sonata. Beginning in the 1930s under the shadow of the Second World War, it is a gripping story of the struggle for love and the healing power of lasting friendship.

Tremain, who has won numerous awards including the Orange Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year and James Tait Black Memorial Prize, will be interviewed on stage by UEA Emeritus Professor and Director of Creative & Performing Arts, Professor Jon Cook.


We’re Attending!
Lera Lynn
Wednesday 25 May – 10pm
The Adnams Spiegeltent

Singer-songwriter Lera Lynn was born in Texas, raised in Georgia, and now is based in Nashville. In 2014 she released her fearlessly personal second album The Avenues, which was in the ‘Top 50 Albums of the Year’ from American Songwriter, Rolling Stone and The Huffington Post.

In the same year, Lynn started working with legendary producer T Bone Burnett writing and recording music for HBO’s critically acclaimed True Detective, in which she features as the recurring bar singer, lending her haunting melodies to the show’s dark atmosphere.

Emotive, poignant and intensely introspective, Lera Lynn’s music is old country with a modern and melancholic edge.


Candoco Dance Company – You and I Know
Saturday 28 May – 1pm & 3pm
Chapelfield Gardens

Disrupting the structure of the traditional love duet, choreography trailblazer Arlene Phillips and disabled and non-disabled dancers from Candoco Dance Company collaborate on a new piece exploring how we fall in and out of love over and over again.


White Nights – Race Horse Company
Wednesday 18 – Saturday 28 May (Except Thursday 19 & Tuesday 24 May)
The Adnams Spiegeltent

Race Horse Company presents a sophisticated circus cabaret with White Nights.

Be led into the night by soulful and mesmerising New York City singer and host Sophia Urista, while Race Horse Company’s fearless Finnish circus boys pack in acrobatic skill on Chinese Pole, Cry wheel, gym balls, juggling and teeterboard. Dancer and wild child Iona Kewney completes this ensemble of delicious performers.

Race Horse Company was born out of founding members Petri Tuominen’s, Rauli Kosonen’s and Kalle Lehto’s desire to create raw and uncompromising contemporary circus; their ultimate objective is no less than to take over the entire world.

For more information about all the acts, how to buy tickets, prices, and schedules, visit the NNFest website here – (click!)



FEM.ALE Brewster Beer Festival


2 years ago, the first FEM.ALE festival launched in Norwich. This year, they’re back, with not one but TWO festivals – the first in Brighton, and the second in Norwich. It’s a 3-day event that focuses on female brewers and the women who love to drink beer, and will include beer tastings, live music, and female-brewed beer available. We’ve interviewed Erica Horton, the brains behind the event, for the next issue of Parallel – but ahead of their Brighton event, here’s a throwback to editor Sophie’s first interview with her 2 years ago.


The beer industry is quite possibly one of the most male-orientated industries out there, with women mainly making their appearances in the advertisements, on the logos, or behind the bar pulling the pints. And when beer companies do decide to attempt to target women, they do so with fruity flavours or low-calorie drinks, with one company even developing a “less gassy” brand specifically for women. I talked to Erica, who is a member of the Norwich Feminist Network, about why a female-focused beer event is so important, and what her feelings are about the beer industry as a whole.

Sophie Elliott: How did the idea of FEM.ALE come about?

Erica Horton: I’m part of the Norwich feminist network, who have meeting regularly to discuss local and international feminist issues. We wanted to have more of a casual meeting and go for drinks and stuff, and the more we talked about it the more we realised that a lot of the women enjoy drinking beer, so we thought we’d have a beer event but make it a bit more female orientated.

S.E: Why did you want to have an alternative festival to specifically celebrate female brewers?

E.H: The beer industry itself has lots of problems with reaching women, in terms of acknowledging that women are doing some really amazing things with beer. There are women brewing some really interesting things and there are some really great networks set up at the moment for women and female brewers – such as Project Venus, which is a network of women dedicated to educating women about beer, and who brew together every couple of months – so there was a great opportunity to draw attention to that and to celebrate it. Norwich is a city that loves beer and ale and quite a lot of women do like to drink it here, but elsewhere there are lots of problems with how women are represented within the production, distribution and serving, and consuming of beers. I’ve always noticed that quite often the beer taps will have a picture of a woman on it and the beer itself will be named after a woman, and I find that deeply upsetting because it is a form of commodifying women.

S.E: Let’s talk about advertising for beer companies. Do you think the degrading images of women mean it’s difficult for female brewers to be taken seriously? And do you think the male-orientated marketing puts off potential female beer drinkers?

E.H: I think that advertisements like that misrepresent women, and use them as a form of selling beer as opposed to depicting them making or buying it. Someone tweeted me the other day saying that beer is marketed towards men because that’s the bigger market, but by what definition is that a bigger market? There are more women in the world so surely that’s the bigger market? We’d like to change the idea that it is all for men. I’ve had tweets from people asking me if there are going to be women at the event wearing t-shirts soaked in beer, and stuff like that, and it’s horrible. Consistently it’s the bigger breweries that are encouraging this culture, like Fosters, and Stella, who are trying to make their advertisements more sophisticated but are still degrading women, and Budweiser, whose advertisements are absolutely ridiculous. So yes, advertising is definitely a big problem in how women are represented as brewers, beer makers and professionals.

S.E: Why do you think it’s important for women to get into beer brewing? Do you think your event will influence or inspire people to get into it?

E.H: That was one of the things I was interested in, for example getting women into the idea of home brewing. It’s a very different process to industrial or commercial brewing, which I didn’t know until I spoke to Jo C, a Norfolk Brewster who’s going to be doing a beer tasting at the event. She was saying how she can’t really recommend any tips for home brewing because she doesn’t know anything about it, because she makes big industrial tanks of beer. We hope to make women more visible in this industry, and to get more women together to talk about their experience and knowledge as professionals who know what they’re doing. I think it’s important to celebrate women striving in male-orientated industries, and to get all these women together in one place to mobilise their understanding and encourage other people.

S.E: What do you hope to get out of FEM.ALE? What’s the message you want people to take away with them?

E.H: It’s a great opportunity to celebrate women who are in the beer industry, and to create a nice women-friendly space. Obviously it’s inclusive and men should definitely come along as well, but to create one space in this city of ale beer festival where it’s particularly female-orientated would be really nice. It’s something that the feminist network was very interested in. Big groups of women, drinking beer? Brilliant.


The FEM.ALE 3-day event takes place on the 6th-8th of May in Brighton, and the 3rd-5th of June in Norwich. You can catch our updated interview with Erica, about the last 2 years of FEM.ALE, in the next issue of Parallel, due out in May!