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Greenbelt hosts Russian punk activists Pussy Riot

Activists and provocateurs Pussy Riot are the headline act at this year's Greenbelt festival at Boughton House, Northants, from 24-27 August, which has the theme Acts of the Imagination.

Russian punk-arts-activists Pussy Riot are in residence all weekend at the 45th annual Greenbelt Festival. Maria Alyokhina and the Pussy Riot collective will be performing, talking, reading and debating around their Riot Days book and show across seven different sessions.

They're expected to air their thoughts on Russia, prison, feminism, BDS, activism and, maybe, even the World Cup Final.

Building on Greenbelt's 2017 AIF Award for an Act of Independence (for our Palestinian and Muslim programming), the festival bringing more Palestinian artists to the festival again, as well as two Rabbis, the first European woman to be ordained by the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, and a clutch of Muslim writers, chefs, and activists.

Gazan born playwright Ahmed Massoud brings his hard-hitting but deeply funny play about the most lucrative business in Gaza, shroud-making; while Palestinian cook and activist Phoebe Rison will be cooking in new food venue, The Table. Al Raseef bring street music from the West Bank and Rasha Nahas from Haifa opens up the festival’s mainstage.

Sadly, as yet another example of the increasing difficulty UK festivals are having in bringing overseas artists to festivals here, Gazan-born teenage painter Malak Mattar was denied her visa just last Friday and so will not be able to travel to the festival from Istanbul to join her collection of 19 paintings called The Grave of Dreams, which are on exhibition all festival weekend.

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenburg will be telling us what he has learned about life and love from his dog. While Rabbi Herschel Gluck will be discussing Muslim-Jewish community relations. Rachel Rose Reid will be leading us in Hebrew scripture sessions, Jewish song and storytelling.

Salma Yaqoob is co-hosting a topical news chat show alongside broadsheet journalist and writer Cole Moreton; Dilwar Hussein and Sughra Ahmed will be speaking on Muslim futures and Ruksana Shain will be cooking up a storm and educating around all things halal.

As well as its usual mix of programming around fostering greater religious literacy and collaboration, Greenbelt 2018 once again has built an ambitious arts and ideas bill featuring: poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, ground-breaking playwright Bryony Kimmings,  world-renowned novelist Jon McGregor,
 San Franciscan big band Ozomatli,  indie-rock-comedians We Are Scientists,  jaw-dropping light installation Celestial Cloud by Pif Paf, broadcaster, novelist and national treasure Simon Mayo,  Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis, revolutionary economist Kate Raworth, broadcaster and writer June Sarpong, journalist Sue Turton, and anti-poverty campaigner and cook Jack Monroe.

Sometimes described as “the best  festival you’ve never heard of”, it began way back in 1974 and has
happened every single year since.

Celebrating artistry and nurturing activism, Greenbelt Festival sees itself as an act of the imagination – inspirational, provocative and fun. Energised by a progressive Christian worldview, with 19 stages, galleries, installations and outdoor performances, Greenbelt creates a festival that is inclusive, open-minded, participatory and generous in spirit.

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Main photo: Pussy Riot performing in Red Square, Moscow, in 2012

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