This year’s Shangri-La — Glastonbury Festival’s immersive theatre-like district — takes on the media and doesn’t hold back. There will be a fake TV channel with its own studios, a pirate radio station, a printed newspaper and roving (actor) reporters, amid installations and performances, making it more like a film set than a traditional festival. Among the 18 venues is also a women-only space, already proving controversial with critics. Ahead of the event, we spoke to Shangri-La’s creative director Kaye Dunnings about how she plans to create Media Hell on Worthy Farm.
Can you tell us more about the theme, Media Hell?
The theme has been Heaven, Hell and Purgatory over the last four years, and this year it’s Media Hell — Truth and Lies. Last year had a political theme, parodying the election, and this year we’re holding up a mirror to the media in all its ugliest forms. We try to be topical, capture the zeitgeist and all that, show art imitating life and vice versa. Like the way media portrays activism and women. We’re asking people to look further and not believe anything the media puts out. We try to create a fake world that people can get lost in.
How are you going to create this?
New for this year we’ve got Shangri-Hell International TV, or SHITV, a television channel with monopoly on every outlet (within Shangri-La). We’re going to have a whole television headquarters with recording studios and editing suites, and roving reporters around the site. It’s parodying the BBC, because they have all the coverage of the festival. It’s meant to prompt people to question who owns your life, your view on the world.
We’ve also got the Shangriliar, a tabloid newspaper being printed and distributed, full of original artwork, inside info and news that other people don’t write about. This will be sold for £1, raising money for the refugee kitchens in Calais and Dunkirk. There’s also a pirate radio station, and a kids TV area where the characters have gone a bit wrong.
It’s provocative as possible, so people engage and aren’t just spectators.
What bit are you most looking forward to?
There’s going to be internet troll rehabilitation booths, with drag queens dressed up as those troll dolls from the 90s, apologising for mean things they’ve said about people.
Also The Sisterhood, the first ever women-only venue at a festival, which is open to anyone who identifies as a woman. It’s only a small venue, but it’s really got everyone talking, and lots of people are getting really angry about it! Ironically, mostly white men. We’re going to send them all to the rehab booths. It’s funny because we’ve achieved what we set out to do, in that it’s getting so much media attention; they’ve given us what we wanted.
Also, Hal Hefner has designed our poster — what a guy. He’s featuring a lot this year, and coming over from LA to be with us, which we’re thrilled about.
What’s in store for the stages?
We’ve got 18 venues including the two Heaven and Hell stages, designed by architect Andrew Cross. Both are being built right now, then it all gets video mapped, and we’ve got a fantastic list of video DJs — including Nick Diacre of ddl design and Chris Allen — creating works for those, all curated by Malcolm Litson. We were the first festival to bring video mapping to a festival, back in 2009, and this year it’s even more ambitious than ever. Together with Emily (Eavis), we decided long ago to always do things people haven’t done before, and we all do it purely for the love.
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