It’s two years since political activist Angela Davis filled the Royal Festival Hall for an emotional talk on race and class in a post-Trump landscape at WOW festival. Davis is returning for 2019, but here’s the bad news: it’s a sell-out, again. Thankfully there’s a solid line-up for the rest of the fest too, including a live conversation with ‘The Shock Doctrine’ author Naomi Klein.
Things are changing up a little. For this year only, organisers have thrown out the usual wristband format (a day pass that gave access to smaller events) to focus on two major ticketed talks, each tackling a complex web of issues concerning the progress made towards gender equality. Speakers including Annie Lennox, Australia’s first female PM Julia Gillard and ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Maisie Williams will look at the current state of feminism for an event on Friday that they’re calling ‘WOW: What Now?’. On Saturday, Munroe Bergdorf, Lily Allen, Sandi Toksvig and others will look to its future for ‘WOW: What Next?’. Each runs at a whopping three-and-a-half hours (and yes, they both have an interval).
Centre: Angela Davis. Clockwise from top left: Lily Allen, Munroe Bergdorf, Maisie Williams, Annie Lennox, Naomi Klein, Jo Brand, Margaret Busby
If you’re after something a little more focused, make time for Margaret Busby, who will be celebrating 25 years of her anthology ‘Daughters of Africa’ by launching ‘New Daughters of Africa’, a collection of writing by 200 women of African descent. We’d recommend following it up with Jo Brand’s dark, sardonic comedy, but her ‘Born Lippy’ conversation went and sold out too.
The immense popularity of it all will have some pining for the days of those wristband passes and smaller, less starry talks and workshops.
If you’re committed to having a full WOW experience, best pack some secret bag snacks. It’s going to be one intense weekend.
Visit the WOW site to see the full programme of events and to book.
Illustration by Catherine Morton-Abuah
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