David Hare, Darcey Bussell and Paul O’Grady on Hampstead Theatre festival line-up

Playwright Sir David Hare Picture: Nigel Sutton

Playwright Sir David Hare Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

An eclectic line-up from the arts – both backstage and in the limelight – line up for a three-day festival at Hampstead Theatre.

Deborah Moggac. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Deborah Moggac. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Archant

Performers as diverse as Darcey Bussell, Professor Green and Paul O’Grady talk about their careers while locals such as Deborah Moggach and David Hare discuss writing for stage and screen.

South End Green-based Moggach talks about the process of her novels becoming films: the hit Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the forthcoming Tulip Fever starring Alicia Vikander and Cara Delevingne.

Children’s sessions include a chance to meet Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon, and hands on workshops creating stories out of Lego or puppets.

A panel featuring Howard Brenton and Jodie Ginsberg discuss the issue of censorship on the stage, while another with Firebird playwright Phil Davies and Kathy Lette, the author of Courting Trouble will talk about the pitfalls of putting difficult social issues such as sexual grooming into fiction.

Darcey Bussell is the former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet. Picture: Jab Promotions

Darcey Bussell is the former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet. Picture: Jab Promotions - Credit: Archant

And the Man on Wire production team, including James Marsh who also directed Theory of Everything, talk about how to make an award winning documentary.

There are also numerous workshops inspiring would-be writers and film makers on how to write a play, novel or film script – and even a reading of Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility screenplay starring Highgate actress Alison Steadman.

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“It’s about access,” says Issy Van Randwyck, festival co-ordinator and wife of Hampstead Theatre’s artistic director Edward Hall.

“It’s letting people into the process. Anyone who thought they might have a go at it but never had the courage to do so can hear leaders in their field give sensible advice and can see it’s possible to do something like that.

“I love what I do and I love what Hampstead does, come and be inspired by these people.”

Now in its second year, Van Randwyk wanted to depart from the traditional literary festival by theming hers around “people, mostly friends or friends of friends who had been involved in the theatre in some way”. With events taking place all over the building including the backstage rehearsal room and scene dock the mother of two says it’s a family event where “anyone with a theatrical leaning can come along to hear about the role of producer or set designer”.

“I see it as complementing what goes on at Hampstead Theatre year round.

“Francesca Simon has inspired two generations to read with her books, Paul O’Grady talks about his life in presenting and broadcasting and captures a moment in time when I knew him at Madam Jo Jos that’s a real window into my life. And Professor Green is a remarkable performer who also make videos and programmes on homelessness and male suicide.

“The censorship in the arts session will touch on the play the National Youth Theatre was going to perform (in Swiss Cottage) that had to be pulled because of political censorship. Howard Brenton talks about that often in his plays. The whole raison d’etre of being a writer is to bring subjects into the open, but where do you drawn the line when it becomes so contentious it’s a danger to the actors or theatregoers?”

She adds: “I love the way you can have debates in theatre. It gets you talking. You come out discussing the play.”

The Festival runs March 18-20.