With just a few weeks to go before the start of this year’s event, Port Eliot Festival is excited to announce the latest group of artists that will appear on stages across the ancient St Germans site.
Port Eliot Festival runs from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 July on the rolling park and woodland of the ancient estate at St Germans, on south-east Cornwall’s Rame Peninsula. Tickets on sale now at porteliotfestival.com The festival is the original free-ranging festival of ideas, which aims to inspire and surprise as it draws an unmatchable collection of artists, musicians, writers, comedians, performers, thinkers, makers, protagonists, agitators and scribblers to one of the most beautiful corners of the country. The full line-up, including latest additions, can be found at porteliotfestival.com
Starting things off with a treat, outstanding British actress and director, Samantha Morton will be in career-spanning conversation on Saturday, leading off with a discussion of her directorial debut, The Unloved, which was inspired by her experiences of the care system as a child. The film will be given a special screening in Port Eliot’s magnificent Round Room on Saturday. Also expect tales of work on film, TV and stage in the likes of Synecdoche, New York, In America, Morvern Caller, Control, Minority Report and Sweet and Lowdown, and encounters with David Cronenberg, Charlie Kaufman, Anton Corbijn, Michael Winterbottom, Steven Spielberg, Lyn Ramsay and Woody Allen.
Continuing the top-flight Hollywood glory, the festival is ever so delighted to welcome Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci to Cornwall. Star of many, many films, including Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Transformers: The Last Knight and The Lovely Bones, as well as the great ‘Big Night’, which he co-wrote and co-directed, Stanley Tucci is also extremely well-known for playing Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games. A keen chef, he wrote the New York Times Best Seller The Tucci Cookbook – published in 2012 – and the follow-up The Tucci Table: Cooking with Family and Friends, in 2014. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children, for “The One and Only Shrek” which he will
deliver in fine style at the festival.
And now, another Port Eliot special; Michael C. Hall, star of Lazarus, the musical written by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, will come to the festival for a conversation with the show’s celebrated co-producer, Robert Fox. The pair will share experiences of working with Bowie to create the musical, in a conversation peppered with film clips. Aside from Lazarus, Michael C. Hall has starred in the likes of Dexter, Six Feet Under and this year’s Christine with Rebecca Hall.
Two brilliant additions to the music line-up in the oldest church in all of Cornwall. Highly-acclaimed singer-songwriter Karen Elson, whose second LP, Double Roses, was released earlier this year, will perform at the Church on Thursday. A personal look back on life, Double Roses is considered by Elson her ‘post-divorce album’. Previously one of the world’s most recognisable supermodels, Karen Elson is no musical newcomer, and the Church performance promises to be a true early highlight.
Also in the Church on Thursday, 21-year-old Holly Macve has a voice that is likely to stop you in your tracks. Her debut LP, Golden Eagle, was Rough Trade’s Album of the Month on release in March this year and her live performances are something to behold. We won’t quibble with the declaration from NPR that ‘2017 will be the year the world falls in love with the voice of Holly Macve’.
Back on the Bowling Green stage, a ‘60s-and-beyond great: countercultural artist, designer and founder of the enduringly influential Kings Road boutique, Granny Takes a Trip, Nigel Waymouth will recall the Summer of Love. Haunted by The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, the Chelsea boutique became a renegade emblem of the capital. Nigel will be in conversation with artist Richard Adams on the Bowling Green stage.
One of BBC News’ best-known presenters and reporters, Emily Maitlis covered the 2016 US presidential election campaign in depth on the ground and both the election and the inauguration of Donald Trump in New York and Washington. Emily was named 2016 Broadcast Journalist of the Year at the London Press Awards. She will be joined on the Park Stage by esteemed BBC comedy producer and creator of QI, John Lloyd, to discuss her experiences of witnessing the ways of Trump at close range and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if they get on to our own recent election too.
In Notes from Grace Land, the life, work and all-round specialness of Grace Jones will be celebrated by a trio of people with their own perspectives on the art-music marvel. Film maker Sophie Fiennes directed new documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (and will preview clips from the film); writer, broadcaster and cultural commentator Paul Morley collaborated with Grace Jones on her recent book, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, and Port Eliot’s own Louis Eliot has toured the world playing guitar in Grace Jones’s band for several years. This promises to be an eye-opener.
Explorer, campaigner, film-maker and writer, Bruce Parry, will be in conversation on Saturday afternoon on The Park. Hugely respected for his campaigning for the rights of indigenous people, the presenter of hit BBC series The Tribe and Amazon will be discussing his directorial debut TAWAI – A Voice from the Forest, to be released this autumn. Bruce’s explorations of places on the environmental frontline have given him a broad perspective of our place on the planet.
18th century Paris is the setting for The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow, an experimental afro-beat, ska and classical opera from composer Darren Berry, a renowned west London figure and stalwart of such bands as the Penguin Café Orchestra, Razorlight and The Trojans. An emasculated Marquis De Sade is the protagonist in a production which will present an intoxicating musical blend of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Fela Kuti, Sam Cooke, Gershwin, Kurt Weill and much more. Port Eliot’s audience will be tempted with excerpts from the opera on The Ace of Clubs stage.
Among the highlights of a line-up that jumps from music to books, food to fashion, science to swimming and comedy to a Flower and Fodder Show are: beloved singer-songwriter Nick Lowe; marvellous dance pop celebrants Saint Etienne; massively talented Tuareg desert-rock guitarist Bombino; dark growling blues singer and guitarist, Duke Garwood; Kate Stables’s brilliant This Is The Kit, whose fourth LP, Moonshine Freeze, is due just before the festival; Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist Michèle Roberts; Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston’s cosmic combination A Love from Outer Space; songwriting craftsman Chris Difford; Stephen Duffy-powered treasures The Lilac Time; Cornish gem of a restaurateur Nathan Outlaw; and multi award-winning writing sensation, Eimear McBride.
Port Eliot has its own half-paced atmosphere (there is no green room or exclusive-VIP-priority-access-wristband-enclave) and everybody brings something special. Vodka bars and the Boogie Round club materialise behind hedges and in clearings; Cornish stories and culture have a special home in the Tiddy Tent; the oldest church in Cornwall hosts genuinely unique gigs; and historic rooms, kitchens and nooks in the oldest continually-inhabited home in the country become restaurants, tea rooms, exhibition galleries and picture palaces; and the Wardrobe Department and new Art-School stage are hot-beds of fashion and beauty creation.
Port Eliot was the first UK festival to insist on serving high-quality food as standard throughout; from the moment it began in 2003, the festival made the quality of food prepared, served and sold on site an absolute priority. Since then, the sheer range of talented chefs, growers and artists coming to the festival has grown hugely, but the quality has never wavered.
This year’s line-up on the Flower and Fodder Stage, in the House’s Georgian Big Kitchen and the new Open Fire area, includes Aaron Bertelsen, vegetable gardener and cook at the glorious Great Dixter in Sussex, who will take his audience on a recipe-led tour of the kitchen gardens he manages; oyster evangelist Katy Davidson – The Oyster Lady – of Newquay will seek to turn oyster doubters to oyster lovers, bringing a masterclass in shucking, tasting and preparing the best sauces; Murphy Williams will be demoing Cloud Nine Marshmallows; food writer, broadcaster and award-winning founder of Polpo, Russell Norman, will host Kitchen Tales, in which chefs including Thomasina Miers and Gizzi Erskine take us WAY behind-the-scenes to reveal the good, the bad and the ugly of running a professional kitchen. Packed with anecdotes and indiscretions, this event includes the added bonus of Russell mixing cocktails for the audience as he gives his guests a light grilling.
The already-bulging workshops programme has grown further still, and now includes a very special invitation to learn Plasticine Modelling with Jim Parkyn, a senior model maker at the great Aardman Animations. Other newly-confirmed workshops include opportunities to learn figurative drawing, letterpress, blacksmithing and forgery, modern calligraphy, jewellery upcycling, wax-carving and mixology.
The pages of Hole & Corner magazine will come alive in a vast ‘makers’ tent, celebrating craft, beauty, passion and skill and featuring live demonstrations from some of the finest designer-makers in the world, in partnership with the University of Plymouth.
The Idler Academy exists to help people to lead more fulfilled lives. It publishes a magazine, books, runs live events and offers courses in the classical liberal arts. Instead of simply asking writers to talk about their books, The Idler Academy asks them to teach something at the same time and will do so once again at Port Eliot this year.
A century-old Rhododendron garden becomes The Hullabaloo, an entertainment hideout for children, conjured up by the inventive Rogue Theatre; the Pulse helps you learn how to wield your guitar (amongst many other things); the Ace of Clubs is loud ‘til late, exploding with blues, soul, rock & roll, jingle-pop, folk and opera (and a tremendous bar); alongside the river Tiddy, Caught By The River, is the place for lovers of music, wildlife, nature, poetry, writing, reading, great music, treasured cult performers and long-time heroes; and the Park combines conversations, fine comedy and equally fine bands.
This year, for the first time, the festival will have its own dedicated poetry stage. Curated by Luke Wright and Rosy Carrick, the stage will feature over thirty poets, reflecting the diversity of Britain’s contemporary poetry scene – including Salena Godden, Hugo Williams, Mike Garry, Ros Barber, Rob Auton, Hannah Silva and Hollie McNish. A full 24 hours of poetry over the weekend makes Port Eliot among the most significant homes for poetry of all UK festivals.