Pussy Riot revealed as Greenbelt Festival’s 'in residence’ act at Northants site

Maria Alyokhina
Maria Alyokhina

Russian punk activists Pussy Riot have been revealed as the ‘in residence’ act at this year’s Greenbelt Festival.

The organisers have announced the art-protest group will appear at the festival as well as revealing some of the other acts which will play when Greenbelt returns to Boughton House near Kettering in August.

Writing on the Greenbelt website, the festival’s creative director Paul Northup said: “When we drew up a wishlist of who we’d most like to get to Greenbelt 2018 back in the autumn of 2017, Pussy Riot was there – right at the top.

“Radical, activist, spiritual, feminist, challenging state and church, standing up to the powers that be, railing against the patriarchal status quo, a beacon of inspiration and sign of bravery for those all over the world who want change but perhaps feel too timid to try to make it.

“We emailed them. A long and heartfelt email. We chased them. And then, finally, we got a response.

“Over the course of the next few weeks, a series of emails eventually led to a long Skype call with Alexander Cheparukhin (musical producer of Pussy Riot’s Riot Days touring show and longtime Russian festival promoter) and Masha Alekhina (one of the key activists in the Pussy Riot collective today) in early January.

“A week after the Skype call, Pussy Riot said they’d love to join us this summer.

“Some might wonder why Greenbelt – with our roots deep in the Christian tradition, committed to the vision of human liberation as shown by Jesus – is choosing to showcase a collective who, according to the charges brought against them, incited ‘religious hatred’ with their punk prayer Cathedral act in 2012.

“But this is exactly the reason why we’re so excited to have Pussy Riot at Greenbelt this summer - because we’ve always revelled in creating a space that challenges structures and systems that hold back human freedom and flourishing.

“And we’ve always held our hands up to say that sometimes those barriers come from the church itself. That’s what Pussy Riot were doing on that day back in 2012 – and continue to do today.

“Please don’t get the idea we’ve just invited a band to play at Greenbelt.

“Pussy Riot isn’t a band at all. It’s an idea, a collective, a conversation – one in which all those who want to fight for change can take part.”

Alyokhina’s book Riot Days was published last year and tells the story of their punk prayer protest, arrest and time in prison.

The musical, theatrical interpretation of the book will form the centrepiece of the group’s time at the festival.

Other acts set to play at Greenbelt include We Are Scientists, Ozomatli, Ibibio Sound Machine, I’m With Her, Duke Special, CC Smugglers, Lowkey, Lewis Watson, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Lee Bains III And The Glory Fires, Pierce Brothers, L.A. Salami, Grace Petrie, Martyn Joseph, Zach Said, Lots Holloway, Xylaroo and The Welcome Wagon.

Mr Northup added: “After an award-winning festival last year, we're pulling out all the stops to make the best possible festival space in the world where artistry, activism and belief can all be taken seriously – and where we can be inspired to be the change we want to see in the world.

“We think we're building the perfect blend of new and returning acts for Greenbelt 2018, introducing you to amazing talent you might never have heard of yet – and re-acquainting you with artists you've grown to love.”

Other people taking part in Greenbelt include Jack Monroe, Michael Eavis, Kate Raworth, JoJo Mehta, Vicky Beeching, Lauri Love, Dawn Foster, Robyn Travis, Jonathan Bartley, Eve Poole, Broderick Greer, Lynne Segal and Rants N Bants.

Greenbelt takes place from August 24 to August 27. Tickets are on sale now with adult weekend tickets costing £155 until the end of April. Concessions are available.

For full details about the festival and information about ticket payment plans, accommodation and how to get involved, visit www.greenbelt.org.uk