Southbank Centre's Book Podcast: American Dreams in the time of Trump

American Dreams in the time of Trump by Southbank Centre's Book Podcast

In a special edition of Southbank Centre’s Book Podcast, introduced by Head of Literature and Spoken Word Ted Hodgkinson, we bring together the thoughts and insights of an array of acclaimed American authors, all of whom recently joined us for the 2018 London Literature Festival and a strand of events anticipating the United States’ midterm elections.

Over the course of this episode you’ll hear from leading novelists Marilynne Robinson and Salman Rushdie, author and professor, Sarah Churchwell, and poet Terrance Hayes on the construct and constraint of modern America under Donald Trump, and the historical currents that brought us here. You’ll even hear a few anecdotes about personal encounters with the 45th president of the United States. 


There’s anger everywhere we look. If anger is a form of heartbreak, it just makes the person a bit more human as opposed to something you can kill… we shouldn’t eliminate or destroy an enemy because that might not be the best way to fix it.
Terrance Hayes, poet, on humanising the political divide


Southbank Centre is the home of literature and spoken word events in the UK, and the venue for London Literature Festival and Poetry International. Throughout the year we host talks, discussions, readings and more featuring bestselling authors, award-winning poets and inspirational writers.

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Subscribe to Southbank Centre's Book Podcast via your preferred podcast provider to enjoy more interviews and insights from well-known names, including Anna Burns, Khaled Hosseini and Matt Haig.

Why are women in politics subjected to abuse online? WOW 2018 podcast highlights

In the Line of Fire: Women politicians and online abuse by Southbank Centre: Think Aloud

Online abuse cuts through party lines, affecting women from across the political spectrum. Why have threats of death, rape and other violence become a daily occurrence for many women in politics? What should we do about it? How do you cope if you’re in the line of fire?

Speakers including MPs Jo Swinson, Anna Soubry, Tulip Siddiq, and leader of the Women's Equality Party, Sophie Walker share their experiences.

Please be aware that this podcast contains language which some listeners may find offensive.

The intention is to shut us up. Forever people have been trying to shut up women; and we will not be shut up
Anna Soubry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire

WOW 2019 takes place at Southbank Centre on 8 –9 March, 2019 with talks, events, discussions and workshops for all ages.

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Can theatre help us understand the culture of surveillance and fear?

Ever feel like you’re being watched? Quite often there’s a reason for that. Particularly when you’re online (hello). Dr. Andrew Westerside, Co-Artistic Director of Proto-type Theater describes how our increasingly nonchalant compliance with outside access to our online life led to the creation of their performance piece A Machine they’re Secretly Building, which comes to Southbank Centre this month.

A Machine They're Secretly Building
Image courtesy of Fenia Kotsopoulou, Proto-Type Theater

Making an hour-long performance that tackles global mass-surveillance head-on might be the single most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do in theatre.

In 2015, as part of Proto-type Theater (along with my collaborators Rachel Baynton, Gillian Lees, and visual artist, animator and designer Adam York Gregory), I started to make A Machine they’re Secretly Building: a performance that grew from our shared feelings of outrage and disbelief at the mass-surveillance of private citizens.

Even for people actively interested in the avalanche of documents and memos unearthed in the wake of Edward Snowden’s 2013 leaks, at the core of them lay a very trivial obstacle: they were all incredibly boring. A dizzying amount of impenetrable jargon, code-words, numbers, neologisms, cross-references and countless redactions that made unpacking and unpicking their magnitude a colossal task.

Our job, as theatre makers, seemed not to be one in which we ought to give the documents a context, or a fiction to breathe in, but one in which we had to translate and expose the facts, to present them in raw, human terms. With people. Together. In a room.

The information, we realised, was supposed to be boring, boring and impenetrable by design. To kill the interest, as well as the conversation.

Even with the complexity of the facts aside, how could we begin to understand  global mass-surveillance, culturally as well as theatrically, in a contemporary context? We can (and should) easily forgive ourselves for rapidly scrolling through (or even outright ignoring) the pages and pages of terms & conditions that come as part and parcel of the tools that keep us moving and together. Across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Skype, DropBox, Twitter, and countless other services, we’ve created a network of information and sociability that’s shrunk the world down into a small rectangle we keep in our pocket. And, as we catalogue our digital self in near real-time through images, statuses, running routes and dating preferences, so too have we made normal the idea of surveillance to such an extent that self-surveillance is a habitual part of twenty-first century life.

For a while, people have been tossing around George Orwell’s 1984 as a model for understanding the current surveillance environment, but really it’s a toxic combination of 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where the drug of choice is ingeniously embedded within the mechanisms of surveillance itself
Sarah Bay-Cheng, writing in Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts, in 2014

In short, if we want to get involved in this new world, we’re going to have to get used to being watched. It’s a trade, then. An exchange. That’s why we ignore those T&C’s. But what we didn’t know, before the Snowden revelations, was the horrifying extent of the trade – what we were really giving away.

We didn’t know that people had openly lied, some under oath, about the illegal bulk collection of our (your, my) data. Our emails, photos, bank balances, location histories, messages, call data. All harvested, all stored. Just in case. We didn’t know that the UK and US security services were taking, and storing, images from every single live Yahoo! Webchat around the world, every five minutes, for at least six years. We didn’t know that in the UK our internet history is available without a warrant to a staggering fifty-eight different agencies, including the Royal Navy and the Food Standards Agency. We didn’t know. We didn’t sign up for that.

But now we do know, and still the tide doesn’t seem to be turning. Why? How is it that in late-2017, a full four years after the Snowden revelations, there has been next-to-no legal action, prosecution, or parliamentary reform with regards to mass-surveillance?

A Machine they're Secretly Building
Photograph courtesy of Adam York Gregory, Proto-Type Theater

Quite possibly the single most influential factor, and something A Machine… doesn’t shy away from, is the leverage afforded to the security services by the atrocities of 9/11. Of course, one can genuinely sympathise with a government that wants more tools at their disposal to avert such a tragic loss of life. But what began with the US Stellar Wind programme and Patriot Act in the immediate aftermath of September 2001, as emergency measures, was also the opening of a door just wide enough to allow in the most potent and malleable of human emotions; fear.

In a turbulent age of 24-hour news, global political friction and unrest, the re-emergence of the far right across Europe, Brexit, and the ever-present threat of an act of international terror (the UK’s threat level hasn’t dropped below ‘substantial’ in the last eleven years, and is mostly ‘severe’ or ‘critical’), it’s easy to see how ready we are to welcome the insidious machine of surveillance in with open arms. But look closely, and the world we’re sold doesn’t quite match up with the facts.

You may have already heard impassioned defences of mass-surveillance that begin or end with the argument that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide’. The logic is easy to follow: good, kind, thoughtful folk like you and me – aside from perhaps some minor misdemeanours – pose no threat to national safety. They’re not looking for us; we’re the haystack the needles are hiding in. If it keeps us safe, if it keeps us alive and well, why should it matter?

The answer is quite simple. If you think you’re being watched, your behaviour changes. Over time, the possibility for revolution and revolt, for protest and dissidence, vanishes. Over time, the ability to even think of a different state of affairs, a different world, vanishes, too (a kind of ‘non-thinking’ that Henry Giroux terms disimagination).

As a small collection of citizens who happen to also make theatre, we’re not happy that our government is and has been indiscriminately spying on us. We want you to know what’s happening. What we need to realise, collectively, is that once we’ve let state-sanctioned mass-surveillance in, it’s very very difficult to ask it to leave.

A Machine they’re Secretly Building isn’t a performance that has all the answers, but it is, I hope, one that starts to ask the right questions.


Proto-type Theater’s A Machine they’re Secretly Building is a performance piece that charts a course from the Top Secret secrets of WWI intelligence through to 9/11, the erosion of privacy, Edward Snowden and the terror of a future that might already be upon us. It was performed at Southbank Centre, in Royal Festival Hall’s Blue Room, in November 2017.

Take a look at Southbank Centre's performance and dance programme.

upcoming performances

Africa: Feminism and the Future - Africa Utopia 2017 podcast

Africa: Feminism and the Future by southbankcentre

How do feminists in Africa and the diaspora envision the continent’s future? Speakers in our panel discussion from Africa Utopia include Fatimah Kelleher, women’s rights and social development activist.

How do feminists in Africa and the diaspora envision the continent’s future, how are they leading the fight for change, and what individual and collective solutions are there in response to the challenges ahead?

Our speakers explore the struggles women experience in their personal, political, economic and cultural lives. Featuring Fatimah Kelleher, women’s rights and social development activist; Jessica Horn, Director of Programmes at the African Women's Development Fund; and Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Ghanian feminist activist, writer and blogger.

Africa Utopia is Southbank Centre's annual festival celebrating the arts and culture of one of the world's most dynamic and fast-changing continents.

More podcasts from Africa Utopia

We shape the future, so believe in your power and believe in your collective power.
Jessica Horn, Director of Programmes at the African Women's Development Fund

Africa Utopia 2017 best bits podcast

Highlights from Africa Utopia Festival 2017 by southbankcentre

In this 30-minute highlights podcast you'll hear all about how African nations will define their place in a changing global and political landscape being shaped by Brexit and President Trump.

Speakers include Tech entrepreneur, Tom Illube  Powerlist's most influential black person in the UK and co-founder of ebook publishing house Bahati Books Kudakwashe Kampuira with some comedy from Daliso Chaponda who shot to fame as a runner-up on Britain's Got Talent.

Africa Utopia is Southbank Centre's annual festival celebrating the arts and culture of one of the world's most dynamic and fast-changing continents.

More podcasts from Africa Utopia

Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always favour the hunter. We have to tell the story of Africa in the way that we want to tell it, in order for people to hear a different perception.
Tom Ilube, tech entrepreneur

Young, African & breaking the mould: Africa Utopia 2017 podcast

Young, African And Breaking The Mould by southbankcentre

Africa has the youngest population in the world, with over 200 million people between 15 – 24-years-old. Hear from young Africans who are leading the way in everything from tech to fashion and activism. 

In this podcast from our 2017 Africa Utopia festival, talented young speakers include: UK plus size style influencer Stephanie Yeboah; co-founder of ebook publishing house Bahati Books Kudakwashe Kampuira; founder of kuukuwa Manful; and poet Remi Graves. Chaired by poet and playwright Inua Ellams.

More podcasts from Africa Utopia

That's why I came to poetry, a place for the status quo to be questioned.
Remi Graves, poet and drummer

Naomi Klein on neoliberalism and Donald Trump

Naomi Klein: No Is Not Enough by Southbank Centre

Award-winning author Naomi Klein joined us at Southbank Centre to discuss her latest book No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need  in this audio podcast from Southbank Centre’s talks & debates series. 

Cornel West said: ‘Justice is what love looks like in public’. I often think that neoliberalism is what lovelessness looks like in public. Lovelessness in public also looks like the charred remains of Grenfell Tower.
Naomi Klein, author and social activist

Klein, whose landmark books including No Logo, The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything turns her focus on the election of President Trump and politics of shock in her new tome.

She sees Trump’s election as a corporate takeover, one using deliberate shock tactics to generate wave after wave of crises, disorientate us and force through radical policies that will destroy people, the environment, the economy and national security.

In this podcast Klein offers a toolkit for surviving these strange times, and lights the way toward a world in which progress is not reversed.



Naomi Klein returns to Southbank Centre in 2019 as part of WOW - Women of the World. Taking place on 8 – 9 March, WOW features talks, debates, events and workshops for all ages.

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WOW – Women of the World 2017 highlights podcast

WOW - Women Of The World Festival, 2017 by southbankcentre

Listen to audio highlights of Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival 2017 including Angela Davis, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gillian Anderson and Fatima Manji, plus topical talks covering subjects from Intersectionality to Brexit.

Youth Ambassadors’ WOW Top Picks

By Natty Kasambala

WOW – Women of the World festival is Southbank Centre’s festival championing gender equality, celebrating the achievements of women and girls all around the world and seeking to discuss and examine the obstacles they face in their everyday life.

This year, the ever-growing festival ran in London from Tuesday 7 to Sunday 12 March with a vast range of inspiring speakers, workshops and performances scheduled across the week. With a programme as immense as this one, it can sometimes be hard to choose from all the options available. So Southbank Centre’s Youth Ambassadors shared their top picks, to give you a taste of what we were especially looking forward to at WOW festival 2017.

Personal Preview

The first event we’d like to highlight and preview is a huge film event happening on Thursday 9 March – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise. WOW have collaborated with the BFI and African Odysseys to present the London premiere of the first-ever documentary made about the late inspiring author, poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. This feature documentary is said to be an intimate perspective on one of the definitive voices of the civil rights generation who passed away in 2014 after publishing seven autobiographies, writing plays, movies and numerous books of beautifully written essays and poetry.

While her work has been widely regarded as both inspirational and exceptional, her own story has always been the basis of this. With careers ranging from dancer to sex worker to poet, Maya Angelou’s lived experiences are shared in this long-awaited film, including conversations with a number of her high-profile friends and family such as the Clintons, Quincy Jones, Common and Oprah Winfrey.

Having been received with critical acclaim at 2016 Sundance Film Festival, this screening is sold out but bound to be monumental and important. Her words have famously inspired many throughout the civil rights movement with her evocative and illustrative poetry. In our current political climate, her messages of empowerment remain timeless and universal and her story could not be more pertinent.

Top Picks

1. Angela Davis in Conversation (Saturday 11 March @ 6.30pm) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Conversation (Saturday 11 March @ 8.30pm)

The evening of Saturday 11 March is set to be particularly inspiring as two amazing speakers take the stage. We recommend settling in for the long haul, starting with a talk with the incredible activist Angela Davis in conversation with Southbank Centre’s Artistic Director, Jude Kelly CBE. Angela Davis is one of the most prominent and inspirational voices around to discuss topics of race, class and feminism in the world today, as a renowned scholar and author on the subject. After speaking at and leading a branch of the Women’s March this year, she has some unmissable insight into the issues facing us in this post-Trump era.

Next up, as if that wasn’t enough, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie follows shortly after. The best-selling author of Americanah, We Should All Be Feminists, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, graces the stage to deliver a statement on modern day feminism and what it feels like to be a woman in this day and age. There is no doubt that this will be a powerful unveiling of Chimamanda’s newest work, Dear Ijeawele, not to be missed.

2. The Great Imposter (Friday 10 March @ 11.30am)

Another event that we thought looked extremely interesting is a talk regarding a concept known as the Imposter Syndrome. The term was coined in 1978, but has been gaining visibility recently with regards to gender and race inequalities and how these influence our self-perceptions. The syndrome is essentially the pattern of high-achieving individuals being unable to fully accept their accomplishments and the validity of their praise – feeling like an imposter who is undeserved of the rewards or respect they are given in or outside of the workplace. This talk discusses how this feeling can be a direct result of gender and other inequalities, and hopefully equip us with the tools to overcome these obstacles that prevent us from believing in ourselves and fulfilling our potential.

3. THEATREclub presents: The Game (Friday 10 March to Sunday 12 March @ 8.30pm) and Buying Sex (Friday 10 March @ 3pm)

The topic of prostitution and sex work is a pressing and controversial one. Southbank Centre has scheduled a few extremely important events to help combat the stigma and spark discussion surrounding both the acts of buying sex and the challenges of legislating around it. Across the weekend, THEATREclub is presenting an interactive performance The Game that seeks to explore the very act of participating in the sex work industry by incorporating male volunteers to take part in this unscripted performance. The performances sheds light on a realm of interactions that are seldom portrayed and even less frequently witnessed firsthand. The innovation and radical nature of this idea makes it one of our top priorities to get involved with at WOW festival this year.

On the legislative side of things, and coordinating with Southbank’s year-long Nordic Matters programme, there is a panel discussion addressing the challenges and experiences of implementing what has been dubbed the ‘Nordic model’ regarding prostitution. The speakers discuss what is to be learnt from countries like Norway, Sweden and Iceland that have made it illegal to buy ‘sexual services’ but not to sell them. With the growing severity of the problem of prostitution, this talk is bound to be an informative and candid insight into the complexity of the issue.

4. Women Crossing Borders (Sunday 12 March @ 1.15pm)

In partnership with Migrants Organise, WOW has organised an extremely necessary talk concerning the subject of migrant women and their stories. We think this event is so important, as it aims to give voices to the women who have fled their home countries and risked their lives for the prospect of a better future away from conflict. The talk explores just a few of the many inspiring stories of these women and how these urgent international issues of conflict connect directly to the issues ranging more broadly to gender struggles across the globe. With the growing ambivalence surrounding refugees both in Britain and across the world, the talk could not be more relevant.

5. OPEN: A Toolkit with Gemma Cairney (Saturday 11 March)

Hopefully this speaker does not need much introduction, but here goes anyway. The wonderful TV and radio personality that is Gemma Cairney presents her book, OPEN: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be on Saturday 11 March. In this new release, the Southbank Centre Artist in Residence explores issues facing young people in today’s world, ranging from mental health to relationships, to family and technology, in the format of a guide to life. To us, Gemma seems to be the perfect ambassador for youth; she’s joined by several of the young people featured in the book, to discuss the joys, the trials and tribulations of what it feels like and what it means to be a girl in 2017.

New names announced for WOW 2017

Southbank Centre’s annual flagship festival WOW – Women of the World, supported by Bloomberg, brings together women and girls of all ages, politicians, business leaders, artists, activists and refugees from all corners of the globe to share and explore experiences, achievements, fears and opportunities for the future, and create innovative solutions to life’s challenges.

WOW – Women of the World festival, from 7-12 March 2017, is a packed programme of enlightening talks and debates, performances, creative activities, comedy and networking. 

Further names announced today include Adwoa Aboah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Muzoon Almellehan, Amal Azzudi n, Jo Brand, Stella Creasy, Benjamina Eb uehi, Thordis Elva, Suella Fernandes, Jenny Jones, Lisa Hannigan, Hailey Hanson, Edna Adan Ismail, Helena Kennedy QC, Michael Kimmel, Christina Lamb, Lauren Laverne, Phyllida Lloyd, Thomasina Miers, Andi Oliver, Louise O’Neill, Anne Sofie von Otter, Mary Portas, Tulip Siddiq, Holly Walsh, Harriet Walter, and Hannah Witton.

They join leading voices including Gillian Anderson, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Gemma Cairney, Angela Davis, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Harriet Harman MP, Margaret Hodge MP, Bettany Hughes, Baroness Jenkin, Fatima Manji, Catherine Mayer, Jennifer Nadel, Elif Şafak, Sandi Toksvig and more, uniting to call for solutions to modern societal challenges for women.

View full listings

Launched by Southbank Centre in 2010, WOW – Women of the World is now a global movement, with international WOW festivals reaching over one million people across five continents, and growing year on year. Over 25,000 people came to WOW London in 2016 and this year’s festival once again marks International Women’s Day on 8 March and coincides with the first WOW Hull, p art of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, and the first WOW Finland .

Following a year of change and political upheaval across the globe, with a questioning of women’s roles and rights, WOW London asks what Trump, Brexit and beyond mean for women. It celebrates everything that women and girls have done, and will do in the future, whilst taking a candid look at wide-ranging issues that prevent them from achieving their potential.

Insightful, vibrant debates and panel discussions address critical global issues for women and girls. Experts provide practical advice on how to look after health, protect finances, boost a career, better understand politics and fully harness technology for success. 

Sessions shine a light on how to feel empowered as a social activist and become a political titan in a rapidly shifting world. Topics include the
  threat against women’s rights and protections, what the refugee crisis and climate change ,mean for women, the role of men in gender equality, the stark rates of violence against women and how to ensure women’s histories and legacies are not lost. The festival also sees a celebration of the Nordic nations, as part of Southba nk Centre’s year of Nordic programming Nordic Matters, and explores the social learnings of these countries that consistently top the gender equality indexes.

Events of the past year have shown that, despite great strides by the feminist movement, the world still speaks a largely male language. More than ever, we must keep up the fight for gender equality and look at the far-reaching implicat ions of the current political climate on our women and girls – from the localised to the global. We take the opportunity to hone in on women in politics, and the achievements of older women, a subject too often overlooked. We also look to the Nordic nations, who have long been seen as leaders in advocating gender equality, investigating the impact of their approach, and what we can learn from each other.
Founder of WOW festival, Southbank Centre Artistic Director, Jude Kelly CBE

Over 200 events across six days include keynote talks, panel debates, live music, comedy, workshops, theatre, the smash-hit WOW S peed Mentoring, the under-10s feminist corner and WOW Market – a range of stalls providing information, raising awareness, and showcasing craft and fashion.

WOW 2017 would not be possible without its generous sponsors and supporters – Bloomberg, UBS, American International Group, Inc. (AIG), the Chartered Institute of Insurers, Aon and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Southbank Centre is grateful to its WOW Gamechangers Richard and Rosamund Bernays, Michelle Chuang, Mary Anne Cordeiro, Caroline, Mary and Paul Cronson - the Evelyn Sharp Foundation, Ms Miel de Botton, Katie and Mark Denning, Catherine Petitgas, Lady Jill Shaw Ruddock CBE, Joana and Henrik Schliemann, India and Robert Wardrop and Mercedes Zobel for supporting WOW.

WOW – Women of the World highlights

  • Prominent American activist, scholar and author Angela Davis, who has been at the forefront of movements for economic, racial, and gender justice over many decades
  • Actress, writer and activist Gillian Anderson and broadcaster, writer and activist Jennifer Nade l in conversation about their new book WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, an inspiring, provocative manifesto for change
  • Best-selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie returns to Royal Festival Hall to share her inimitable insight into raising a feminist child
  • Co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer launches her new book, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Women, in conversation with Sandi Toksvig
  • Harriet Harman, one of Britain’s most prominent campaigning politicians, discusses her groundbreaking memoir A Woman’s Work
  • Turkish author Elif Şafak and historian Bettany Hughes discuss Istanbul, how women have shaped the city, and the lives of women there today
  • Channel 4 journalist Fatima Manji t alks about racism, sexism and Islamophobia with The Guardian’s Nosheen Iqbal
  • Southbank Centre Artist in Residence, TV and radio personality, journalist and teen ambassador Gemma Cairney talks about her publishing debut OPEN: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be with broadcaster Lauren Laverne
  • Margaret Hodge MP and Baroness Jenkin of Kennington talk about their careers and experiences in Political Titans: The Secret Power of Older Women in Politics and politicians including Stella Creasy, Suella Fernandes, Jenny Jones, Tulip Siddiq and Jo Swinson feature in talks What Does Brexit Mean for Women? and How to get elected
  • Journalist and author Reni Eddo-Lodge presents an exclusive reading from her forthcoming book Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race
  • Sandi Toksvig gives a keynote lecture looking at the last 12 months in 20 minutes The Year in Review and hosts Mirth Control – WOW’s annual night of comedy and music inspired by great women – with a nod to our Nordic neighbours, featuring internationally-acclaimed Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and comedian Holly Walsh
  • A Nordic focus throughout the festival features Nordic artists and speakers including Icelandic women’s rap collective Daughters of Reykjavik, former particle physicist, discoverer of the Higgs Boson and co-founder of start up NaturalCycles Dr Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, Iceland’s 2015 Woman of the Year, writer and activist Thordis Elva w ho with Tom Stranger discuss their new book South of Forgiveness, Iceland’s first female chief of police Sigridur Bjork Gudjonsdottir, entrepreneur Halla Tómasdóttir and pop-up performances feature the ancient Swedish vocal technique of kulning. Panel topics include what we can learn from Nordic parenting, the Nordic approach to prostitution and its legal framework, and Sweden’s feminist foreign policy
  • An extensive programme of sessions, panels and debates features model and activist Adwoa Aboah, comedian Jo Brand, human-rights barrister Helena Kennedy QC, A merican sociologist and prominent male feminist Dr Michael Kimmel, cook, writer and TV presenter Thomasina Miers, b roadcaster and journalist Lauren Laverne, disability and gender-rights activist Lydia X. Z. Brown, a nti-FGM campaigner and former first lady of Somaliland Edna Adan, founder of Karma Nirvana Jasvinder Sanghera, writer and Irish Times journalist Róisín Ingle, Chief Executive of Bradford Council Kersten England, Director of Liberty Martha Spurrier, Des James, father of Private Cheryl James whose tragic death at Deepcut barracks revealed a deeply misogynistic environment, Anna Politkovskaya Award-winners Jineth Bedoya Lima and Valentina Cherevatenko, dating and relationships YouTuber Hannah Witton, stand-up comedian and former journalist Shaista Aziz, plus-size blogger Stephanie Yeboah, British psychotherapist Susie Orbach and more
  • Chef & presenter of Saturday Kitchen Andi Oliver, Great British Bake Off contestant Benjamina Ebuehi and the Mayor of London’s food adviser Rosie Boycott discuss the often-complex relationship women have with food
  • Sessions to empower women in the world of technology featuring UK Government advisor and founder of #techmums Dr Sue Black OBE
  • A kick-boxing demonstration with former British and World champion Hailey Hanson
  • London premiere of And Still I Rise, a documentary about Maya Angelou’s multifaceted
  • career, part of the BFI African Odysseys series
  • Director Phyllida Lloyd discusses the Donmar Warehouse’s ground-breaking all-female Shakespeare trilogy with associate artist and actor Harriet Walter, company members Jade Anouka and Jennifer Joseph, and producer Kate Pakenham
  • Women on the Move Awards (run by Migrants Organise and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees) support the contribution of migrant and refugee women to UK society, and the stories of refugee women are featured throughout WOW
  • WOW Schools Da y on International Women’s Day explores the theme “I Am Perfect as Me”. Secondary school girls are invited to hear from women who have overcome 'not fitting in' to be accepted as well as how to present their identity online safely, through talks workshops and performances. Speakers include Syrian refugee and campaigner Muzoon Almellehan
  • WOW Young Women’s Rally h osted by Gemma Cairney and featuring several speakers including Amal Azzudin, a campaigner for human rights and social justice calling young women to get involved in activism, and a performance from Girls Rock London' s young women's band
  • A book club exploring Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter, considered by many to be the first African feminist book, as well as a young adult book club exploring some of the most explosive feminist books for young adults with multi-award-winning author Louise O’Neill
  • Additional free events including Action Stations throughout the weekend offering an opportunity make a personal pledge or submit an idea for change; Speed Mentoring providing a chance to share challenges, exchange ideas and stories with other women and a WOW London 5km run through central London.

Performance highlights

  • Grime-poet Debris Stevenson curates Gyal in da Corner – a performance honouring Dizzee Rascal’s genre-defining album Boy in da Corner — featuring grime and rap artists AG the DJ, emcee TrueMendous, journalist and battle rapper Bridie Squires aka Brizzaling, Asher X, and a special collaboration between Debris and Icelandic rap band Daughters of Reykjavik
  • Led by Peter Edwards, the Nu Civilisation Orchestra, Mercury Prize nominees Eska and Lisa Hannigan, and Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi present Joni Mitchell’s album Héjira in an evening celebrating women's experiences of migration on International Women’s Day
  • Writers Paula Varjack, Jules Grant and Michelle Tea f eature in Polari – a platform for LGBT writers returning with a women’s special hosted by author and journalist Paul Burston
  • World premiere of Foreign Body, a debut solo show by Imogen Butler-Cole exploring healing after sexual assault, weaving together physical theatre, verbatim and an original score
  • Intimate theatre productions: Future Theatres presents a scratch performance of Offside – a new work by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish t elling the story of four women from across the centuries who live, breathe, and play football; Choices, award-winning Irish playwright Stacey Gregg’s exploration of the complex challenges faced by two women and their choice, or not, to have a child; The Game - an interactive performance directed by Grace Dyas exploring the act of buying sex informed and inspired by women who have exited prostitution and women currently involved in sex work
  • Comedian and #periodpositive campaign founder Chella Quint b reaks taboos around menstruation in her one-woman show Adventures in Menstruating
  • Singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya gives a free Friday Lunch concert featuring music from her new EP Small Crimes
  • Octavia Poetry Collective – a poetry group for women of colour led by Rachel Long – r eturn with their response to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in an evening of poetry, dance and film
  • Divalicious Cabaret hosted by international whip-teaser Diva Hollywood which challenges and explores ideas around gender, disability and body image
  • Pop up performances from choirs RISE UP SINGING and SHE Choir; poets Indigo Jones, Zareen Roy-Macauley and Siana Bangura; all female DJ collective Scratch, and a live demonstration of the female voice from two of opera’s rising stars Eleanor Dennis and Rhian Lois, presented in association with English National Opera. 
for further press information please contact

Naomi Burgoyne, Senior Press Manager: / 020 7921 0824

Naomi French, Press Officer, / 020 7921 0678

WOW Day Passes

WOW Day Passes cost (£22) and WOW 3-Day Pass (£50)

Please note some events at WOW are separately ticketed and cannot be accessed as part of the Day Pass.

Please refer to the website for ticketing information on standalone events.


Notes to editors

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, comprising three iconic buildings (Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery) and occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Building on this rich heritage, Southbank Centre offers an extensive artistic and cultural programme including annual and one-off themed festivals and classical and contemporary music, performance, dance, visual art and literature and spoken word events throughout the year.

Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival is a global festival movement launched by Jude Kelly CBE in London in 2010 (with the first festival in March 2011) that celebrates women and girls, and looks at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential. To date, WOW has reached over one million people worldwide and this number is growing year on year. With the HRH Duchess of Cornwall as President, Southbank Centre is now planning a WOW Commonwealth festival at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 with all 53 nations. Each festival across the world - made up of talks, debates, music, activism, mentoring, pop ups and performance - celebrates women and girls, takes a frank look at what prevents them from achieving their potential, and raises awareness globally of the issues they face and possible solutions. It reaches girls and women, boys and men from a broad range of social backgrounds and supplies a completely different sense of action and energy than a conventional conference approach. Speakers have included Malala Yousafzai, Christine Lagarde, Salma Hayek, Annie Lennox, Gordon Brown, Julie Walters, Patrick Stewart and many more including hundreds of women and men who don’t have public profiles but are working everyday to achieve gender equality. Over 25,000 people came to WOW London in 2016, thousands more have come to WOWs across the world and festival organisers have collaborated on cross-continental projects. 

2017 WOW festivals around the world

  • 18 Feb – WOW Kathmandu
  • 7 – 12 Mar – WOW London, UK #WOWLDN @WOWtweetUK Facebook 8 – 12 Mar – WOW Finland #WOWFIN @wow_finland Facebook
  • 10 – 12 Mar – WOW Hull, UK, #WOWHull
  • 23 – 25 Mar – WOW Melbourne, Australia, #WOWMelb
  • 4 – 7 May – WOW Apollo, New York, USA - #WOWApollo
  • 20 – 21 May – WOW Chester, UK #WOWChester
  • 13 – 15 Oct – WOW Exeter, UK #WOWExeter
  • 27 – 29 Oct – WOW Perth, UK #WOWPerth
  • 17 – 19 Nov – WOW Bradford, UK #WOWBradford


Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, gives influential decision makers a critical edge by connecting them to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas. The company’s strength – delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately – is at the core of the Bloomberg Professional service. Bloomberg’s enterprise solutions build on the company’s core strength: leveraging technology to allow customers to access, integrate, distribute and manage data and information across organizations more efficiently and effectively. Bloomberg Philanthropies, which encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation, corporate and personal giving, supports arts and culture, education, environment, sustainability and public health charities and non-profit organisations around the world. Bloomberg's support of Women of the World builds on a long history of collaboration across Southbank Centre that encompasses a wide range of arts exhibition, public commissions and literature 

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UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. The operational structure of the Group is comprised of our Corporate Center and five business divisions: Wealth Management, Wealth Management Americas, Personal & Corporate Banking, Asset Management and the Investment Bank. UBS's strategy builds on the strengths of all of its businesses and focuses its efforts on areas in which it excels, while seeking to capitalize on the compelling growth prospects in the businesses and regions in which it operates, in order to generate attractive and sustainable returns for its shareholders. All of its businesses are capital-efficient and benefit from a strong competitive position in their targeted markets. UBS Wealth Management has recently announced a five-year plan to transform the way it serves female clients. The business has been developing new approaches for the past two years and will now scale this expertise across its organization. The initiative includes a commitment to increase the financial confidence of one million women by 2021.

Nordic Matters

Nordic Matters is a year-long festival of Nordic art and culture in 2017 at London's Southbank Centre, featuring music, dance, theatre, visual arts, participation, talks and debates, and gastronomy. Chosen from a number of international applicants, Southbank Centre is the sole recipient of a grant from The Nordic Council of Ministers for a new festival celebrating the very best of Nordic art and culture throughout 2017 – one of the biggest cultural-political partnerships of its kind. A particular emphasis will be placed on the idea of play fostering curiosity and creativity, for people of all ages but especially children and young people. Moving beyond popular perceptions of ‘Nordic Noir’ the programme is designed to embed Nordic culture and artists in Southbank Centre’s year-long artistic offer and offer a platform to some of the more ‘hidden voices’ from Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands.

Nordic Matters