Women to take centre stage at new Lughasa Friel Festival

Shami Chakravarti will discuss her work as a human rights campaigner
Shami Chakravarti will discuss her work as a human rights campaigner

Writers Kathy Lette, Kamila Shamsie, Sinéad Gleeson and Ahdaf Soueif, punk‘s Viv Albertine, Canadian singer/songwriter Feist, women’s rights campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, anti-sexism project pioneer Laura Bates, human rights activist Shami Chakrabarti and former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan are just some of the artists and public figures taking part in a unique series of talks ‘Amongst Women’ as part of the Lughnasa International Friel Festival in honour of the esteemed playwright.

Overseen by director Sean Doran, the imagination behind the annual Enniskillen Happy Days International Beckett Festival and Wilde Weekend, a line-up in honour of the Victorian decadent writer Oscar, this is the first year of his programme in honour of the man who gave us such genius plays as Dancing at Lughnasa, Translations and Philadelphia, Here I Come!

As well as a brand new production of Dancing at Lughnasa at the Lyric - a moving drama exploring the rural lives of the Mundy sisters battling poverty, prejudice and disappointment in love - the talks series will see an exciting line-up of women writers, campaigners and artists in discussion in venues in Belfast.

The incredibly-talented and Grammy-nominated Canadian singer Feist, also known as a member of indie rock oufit Broken Social Scene, will perform and then be in conversation with actress Lisa Dwan on August 30 at the Elmwood Hall while Kamila Shamsie and Sinead Gleeson will discuss women and publishing at the Linen Hall Library on August 29.

Former punk star and member of The Slits Viv Albertine will discuss women in music on August 29, and Egyptian journalist and novelist Ahdaf Soueif will talk about revolution in her home country with journalist Rachel Holmes on August 30.

Women’s Rights campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who has taken on the Bank of England, Twitter and the criminal justice system, will talk on battling for equal rights for women on August 27, again at the Elmwood Hall.

Former police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan and Gillian Slovo will discuss transforming societies on August 28, while trade unionist Frances O’Grady will be in conversation with human rights activist and director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti on August 29 at Elmwood Hall.

Pioneer of the Everyday Sexism Project and author Laura Bates will be in conversation with Ione Wells, who came to public attention when she wrote an open letter to the youth who attacked her on a London Street.

Laura and Ione will discuss the power of online campaigns to change women’s lives and influence political thinking on August 29, again at Belfast’s Elmwood Hall.

Meanwhile esteemed interviewer and journalist Lynn Barber and the insanely funny and witty novelist Kathy Lette will discuss the theme of friendship and whether it matters more to women than men on August 30.

For more information on the Amongst Women talks at the Lughnasa International Friel Festival, August 20-31, visit www.lughnasainternationalfrielfestival.com.