Who are we? What do we want? How can we learn to be happy without going crazy in the process? Comedian and mental health campaigner, Ruby Wax along with designer and author, Bella Pollen, are two independent spirits who have taken risks, broken rules and pushed against convention in their pursuit of answers to some of life’s more fundamental questions. Join us for an enlightening conversation between two funny, feisty women as they take us on a rollercoaster of self-discovery and re-invention. By turn comic, poignant, mortifying, but never short of utterly empathetic, this is a salutary and informative lesson on how to come through restlessness, depression and fear of failure – stronger and perhaps even a little bit saner than ever. Here to keep them in line, talk them through their highs and lows and various battles with unsavoury demons both real and imagined is the broadcaster, journalist and author Rachel Johnson. Read more.
In her glorious career Harriet Walter has played nearly all of Shakespeare’s heroines: Ophelia, Portia, Viola, Imogen, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, Cleopatra. But where, she asks, does an actress go after playing Cleopatra’s death? Why didn’t Shakespeare write more – and more powerful – roles for women? For Walter, the solution was to ignore centuries of tradition and start playing Shakespeare’s heroes: a conflicted Brutus in an all-female Julius Caesar, a Henry IV burdened by kingship, an undeceived Prospero – getting inside their skins, inside the unfamiliar stillness that accompanies male power. But what, she asks, can an actress bring to these roles – and is there any fundamental difference in the way they should be played? In her new book, Brutus and Other Heroines, Walter levels the playing field, casting a new eye on the choices she made in performing the classic roles: Ophelia (how to join the ‘interesting’ mad Ophelia with the ‘boring’ sane Ophelia), Viola (the most self-aware and least comedic character in the comedy), Lady Macbeth (‘nobody seems to know her’), Cleopatra (on the cusp of old age yet full of beans, nowhere described as beautiful and yet infinitely sexy, because she has Shakespeare’s words…) Harriet Walter even writes an affectionate and probing letter to their author: ‘Dear Will (if I may), I hope you don’t mind but I have been playing men recently. I am only following your example. It seems as legitimate for women to play men as it was for boys to play women…’ Join us for a conversation between Harriet Walter and Shakespearean Katherine Rundell on daughters, mothers, wives, widows – and males. Read more.
Is Big Data an all-knowing oracle, an evil Big Brother, or the fuel for the next industrial revolution? Its advocates claim it knows us better than we know ourselves but what do we know about it? In this illuminating and thought-provoking talk, Timandra Harkness argues that it’s time we understood Big Data better. In association with The Office Group. Read more.
A major talk by Tim Harford the best selling author of the Undercover Economist, whose TED talks have been watched nearly 4m times. Who thought up paper money? How did the contraceptive pill change the face of the legal profession? Why was the horse collar as important for human progress as the steam engine? Tim Harford will explain, and will lay bare the hidden connections. The world economy today defies comprehension. It offers ten billion distinct products and services, doubles in size every fifteen years, and links almost every one of the planet’s seven billion people. Nobody is in charge. Indeed, no individual understands more than a fraction of what’s going on. How can we make sense of this bewildering system on which our lives depend? And what lessons can we learn for a future where the pace of innovation can only accelerate? Based on his new book, Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy, Tim Harford will show the economic rationale behind everything we do. Each invention is a story, and each story a piece in the jigsaw. Step by step, we start to understand where we are, how we got here, where we might be going. As The Times said of his acclaimed radio series: ‘Harford takes a weekly look at something you take utterly for granted – and then shows you why it is fascinating, revolutionary, even world-changing. Utterly compelling and low-key. Just brilliant ideas, simply told. A wonderful, wonderful programme.’ Read more.
In this major talk, the acclaimed MIT Professors Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, co-authors of the bestselling ‘The Second Machine Age‘, will present a user’s guide to the Digital Economy explaining how digital technologies are changing the ways that companies organise themselves, perform, improve and compete. With the largest taxi company owning no vehicles and employing no drivers, when software can quickly reach super-human performance at games whose rules and strategies it never learned and when you can now execute complex financial transactions without banks – understanding how digital disruptions stem from three main sources: the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd – is critical to success. Join us at this unmissable talk and learn how to harness the digital revolution. In association with Contagious. Read more.
Lawrence Krauss is one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists and cosmologists. Among physicists – and rationalists – he is a super-star communicator who has won as many prizes as plaudits. Krauss’ two runaway bestsellers include The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe From Nothing. We are delighted now to welcome him to speak about his greatly anticipated new book The Greatest Story Ever Told…So Far. A committed rationalist, Lawrence Krauss lays bare how science uncovers illusions and makes sense of reality. This, he argues, is crucial in an age of demagoguery, closed-loop communication and fake news. Expect probing questions and far-reaching insight as he speaks with fellow physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili. In association with 5×15. Read more.
As wedding season approaches, join Ada Calhoun for a funny (but not flippant), smart (but not smug) evening on marriage. Anyone who is married (or contemplating it) knows that in our most cherished institution, over the years there will be fights, there will be angst, and there may even be affairs; sometimes you’ll look at the person you love and feel nothing but rage. And still, with frank insight from experts, clergy and friends, Ada Calhoun demonstrates that we can put aside expectations of total marital bliss and arrive at an optimistic portrait of what marriage is really like. Inspired by a wildly popular New York Times essay, this talk will help and inform anyone interested in entering into, or improving a marriage. Read more.
Join us as Nick Clegg discusses the tectonic shifts in our political landscape over the past year. One year ago as Between the Extremes, Clegg’s widely-praised insider’s dissection of the coalition government came out, politics was changing. Now it has changed. But the Brexit and Trump victories have only reconfirmed the liberal belief that, if the future is to work, politics must occupy rather than desert the middle ground. Whether or not the recent referendum was an act of national self-immolation, it was undoubtedly a lightning conductor for the clash between a politics of anger or grievance and one of moderation. And if you thought coalition government was a brief and unBritish interlude – think again. We are en route to far-reaching realignments. Navigating our future will rely more than ever on collaboration and a politics of reason. This liberal vision has a renewed sense of purpose and a voice: to reclaim the dangerously eviscerated centre ground before it is too late. It will need candour and courage, qualities acknowledged as characterising one of our least tribal politicians in an age of tribalism. Whatever your persuasion, come and listen. Read more.
Join us forty years on at the Tabernacle for a Bob Marley tribute evening, woven together – from the words of those who knew him best – by Roger Steffens, whose indispensable oral history, So Much Things to Say, appears in August. The childhood abandonment, the formative years in Trench Town, the meteoric rise to international fame, the assassination attempt and possible CIA cover-up, the devastating moment of his collapse while jogging in New York’s Central Park aged just 36 – it’s all here. As are the emotional dramas of Bob Marley’s brief life, and his unwavering commitment to the message of Rastafari, which combined to create the dazzling and idiosyncratic destiny of Bob Marley. In conversation with Linton Kwesi Johnson – known and revered as the world’s first reggae poet – Steffens will reveal extraordinary new details, dispel myths about the man, and let the voices speak for themselves: Rita Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer; band members, relatives and friends… All true gospels are shaped by the accounts of eyewitnesses, and ‘If Bob Marley is Jesus in these times, Roger Steffens is St Peter’ (Carlos Santana). So come along for the definitive Reggae Night on 4th September… Read more.
Two of our most distinguished historians explore one of the darkest episodes of the twentieth century. In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of collectivization, forcing millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was the most devastating famine in European history, in which 5 million people died. More than 3 million of these were Ukrainians, who perished not because they were accidental victims but because the state set out to kill them – seizing all supplies, sealing the borders, exploiting a catastrophe to subdue a rebellious province. Driven mad by hunger, people ate anything – grass, tree bark, dogs, corpses – and killed one another for food. In her forthcoming Red Famine, Anne Applebaum proves what has long been suspected: that Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry and Ukrainian identity, that the famine of 1931-33 was engineered, that the evidence was thereafter falsified and suppressed. In a remarkable series of books, written from the perspective of witnesses and survivors caught in the grip of vast and terrifying forces, Anne Applebaum and Antony Beevor have redescribed modern barbarism in Europe, combining fearless scholarship and archivism with narrative verve and human sympathy. Join us on 13th September for their discussion of Stalin’s crimes, the recovery of historical memory, and how the present is shaped inescapably by the past… Read more.
Jonathan Bate and Alexander Waugh moderated by Hermione Eyre.
Shakespeare’s plays and poems tell us who we are. But who is he? The question has haunted great minds – from Mark Twain to Sigmund Freud – and today it haunts Shakespeareans from actor Mark Rylance to director Deborah Warner. Even in his lifetime there was something baffling about Shakespeare: the obscure origins, the effortless achievement. For envious contemporaries he was an imposter, ‘an upstart crow’ beautified with ‘our’ feathers. Later generations went further. The humble life records of the man called Shakespeare could not account for the universal prodigy ‘Shakespeare’. For the anti-Stratfordians, as they came to be known, a better explanation than ‘genius’ was needed. All we know for certain is that William Shakespear (or Shaksper or Shaxberd) was born in Stratford in 1564, that he was an actor whose name was printed, with the names of fellow actors, in the collected edition of his plays in 1623. We know that he married Anne Hathaway and died in 1616, perhaps on his birthday, St George’s Day – and that he left an enigmatic will. The ‘Stratfordian’ case for Enigmatic Will rests on evidence, however threadbare, and on the works themselves: written unmistakably by a living breathing native of Warwickshire, whose arch-rival Ben Jonson called him ‘the Swan of Avon’. What more do we need? For anti-Stratfordians the evidence is a vacuum, and ‘the man from Stratford’ did not write a single play or poem. They argue for a more plausible Shakespeare, and have at different times proposed a host of likely contenders, including Sir Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe. Are they any closer to a solution? Join celebrated Stratfordian Jonathan Bate and anti-Stratfordian Alexander Waugh for an impassioned debate on the most beguiling and unputdownable literary mystery of them all. Read more.
Do you sometimes realise that your job relies as much on changing minds, as on your particular specialist skill? Do you sometimes struggle to get people to buy what you’re selling, whether it’s your product, your ideas, or even your personality? Have you ever wondered why some people can persuade others effortlessly? How to: Sell Anything (in 60 minutes) will transform your understanding and approach to selling, using practical and effective techniques to increase your influence. It will show you how we all rely on salesmanship: whether you’re an account manager or an artist, an entrepreneur or an engineer – the secret of success is your ability to get a yes. Read more.