ClassicsFest | Tomorrow’s Writers Decode the Past

Events List

Saturday 9th March | 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

LIVE Lit & Phil Event | FREE


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Saturday 9th March | 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Tomorrow’s Writers Decode the Past

Young writers from New Writing North’s Newcastle and Gateshead Young Writers’ Programme have been working with professional writers to create their own contemporary responses to the festival’s themes in the form of dramatic monologues. Some of their work will be shared today both with their peers and the public. The event is introduced by Jennifer Saint (the best-selling author of Ariadne and well known for her feminist literary retellings of ancient Greek mythology).  Join us to hear some surprising new retellings of some of your favourite stories.

New Writing North Young Writers is a programme for young people aged 11-19. New Writing North work with hundreds of young people across the North East each year to identify and nurture talent, leadership skills and creative habits. They promote wellbeing and develop confidence and peer connection. The programme runs week in week out, year-round, and is free to access, providing a range of ways for young people to get involved.


LIVE Lit & Phil Event | FREE

(If you would prefer to book directly over the phone, please call the Library Desk team on 0191 232 0192 and they will be happy to help.)

‘Pay what you wish’

There is no set ticket price for this event, but if you would like to make a small donation to support the good work of The Lit & Phil we would be very grateful. Click the link above to donate via Paypal.

ClassicsFest 7th – 9th March 2024

Welcome to ClassicsFest, an exciting pilot project to present a new cultural festival in North East England, exploring the voices of the ancient Greeks and Romans through the lens of artists, thinkers and academics of now.

For three days in March (Thursday 7th – Saturday 9th) and straddling International Women’s Day, ClassicsFest at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle, in collaboration with the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University, will present an open access programme curated by Cinzia Hardy, including performances, presentations and talks focussing on the universal theme of women and love in the ancient world. This will be explored using Heroides (The Heroines) by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – AD 17) as inspiration. Heroides is a series of poems in the form of letters from female characters (from the work of Homer and others) to mythical heroes.

Two thousand years ago, Ovid’s project was to take these ancient stories, evolved from oral cultures across the Middle East and Mediterranean and seemingly known from childhood to every Roman, and to put their side-lined heroines centre stage with a series of imaginary letters. It’s typical of Ovid – the wittiest, naughtiest, cleverest writer of his age – that he should spot the chance to express himself through these lesser-told aspects of well-known myths. Forget Theseus – let’s hear from Ariadne. Never mind Ulysses’ journey – what about Penelope? Ovid’s letters sound very much like dramatic monologues in which one can hear the women’s voices – which is why we are spotlighting four contemporary retellings of the letters in the form of dramatic monologues, by contemporary writers, performed by professional actors and speaking to audiences of today. These are ancient stories, reinvented and retold for millennia. We present the next link in the chain of storytellers stretching back to the past, and on into the future.

All events are free but must be booked unless otherwise stated.

ClassicsFest is made possible by the generous support of The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland – Newcastle Culture Investment Fund; The David Family Foundation; Sir James Knott Trust; and The Classics FEC committee of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and the Engagement and Place fund of Newcastle University.