Pygmalion 2020 Virtual Kicks Off September 24

PYGMALION 2020 will kick off this Thursday, September 24 at 4PM CST and run through Saturday September 26 at midnight. All programming will take place in the virtual space. Seeking to unpack as much humanity as possible right now, they invited participation from great artists, authors, thinkers, musicians, and more to participate in a wide variety of opportunities and activations for both patrons and performers alike. The goal: to engage. With one another. With ourselves. With ideas.

Today they announce new additions to the lineup including Angel Bat Dawid, Justin Vivian Bond, Saturday Night Seder (with Shaina Taub, Alex Edelman, and Adam Kantor), Helen Estabroo, Michelle Zauner (of Japanese Breakfast), and Will Leitch. They join the previously announced Ilana Glazer (of Broad City) hosting a GENERATOR live, NPR’s Ari Shapiro, National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes, Booker Prize award winner Bernardine Evaristo, Dan Savage discussing documentary film Jimmy in Saigon, inventor and YouTube star  Simone Giertz, the cast of Napoleon Dynamite (ft. Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, and Jon Gries), “Friday Beers” with Sparta’s Jim Ward (ft. Nate Mendel of Foo Fighters), two-time Pushcart Prize winner Kaveh Akbar, a podcast from Yo, Is This Racist? featuring Tawny Newsome and Andrew Ti, special appearance by writer and producer Jonathan Ames, and many, many more.

Activations include: 

  • a virtual escape room that is also an immersive theater where surprise guests and easter eggs await featuring Sudan Archives
  • an engagement through Minecraft with Open Pit
  • a virtual hackathon, hosted by the University of Illinois (whose students and researchers brought the world... well, everything in the digital realm: from the web browser and social media, to digital payments and YouTube, to the LED and the MRI, and more)
  • a Literary Marathon! — 18 hours over three days of authors, poets, journalists, essayists and more featuring Kaveh Akbar, Nabil Ayers, Rachel Yoder, Andre Perry, and many more
  • a "Human Library" where you don't check out books, but rather, fellow humans to tell you a story in an intimate space
  • a wide array of featured speakers in dialogue about their own work and the work of others; discussions about the current political climate, the worst show an artist has ever played, the nature of music versus optics, alternative filmmaking, and more


Ilana Glazer hosts a Generator Live
Bernadine Evaristo
Ari Shapiro
Terrance Hayes
Kaveh Akbar
Simone Giertz
Napoleon Dynamite Live feat. Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, and Jon Gries
Dan Savage discussing Jimmy in Saigon with Peter McDowell
Yo, Is This Racist? featuring Tawny Newsome and Andrew Ti
Sudan Archives
Jonathan Ames
Friday Beers with Jim Ward (of At the Drive-In, Sparta, Sleepercar) featuring Nate Mendel (of Foo Fighters)
Exit Stage Left: A PYGMALION Mystery escape room featuring Sudan Archives
Chris Abani
Headlines We Would Have Written featuring Defector’s Tom Ley, Lauren Theisen, Samer Kalaf, Albert Burneko, David Roth, Giri Nathan, Luis Paez-Pumar, hosted by Tommy Craggs
Ellen Kempner (of Palehound)
Rachel Yoder
Worst Show Ever with Nabil Ayers
Franklin James Fisher (of Algiers)
Andre Perry
Human Library
Pygcraft Speedrun by Open Pit
Illinois Country featuring Lauren Christy, Megan Davies, Rob Miller, Aaron "A-Train" Wilson, Mark Rubel, Andrea Zonn, hosted by Sarah Edwards

A statement from the Pygmalion team: 
We believe that arts and culture are important in our communities: it builds us up, brings us together, inspires us, and gives us hope. That is the goal with PYGMALION 2020. We don’t put this program out into the world in vain; we see the crises in our country, and around the world, and hope this event can provide some joy, even if just for a few hours, or a few moments. There are no tickets on sale to anything. Programming is free and available to everyone. Instead, PYGMALION is raising money for worthy organizations that can help people in need right now. 
It feels strange to be releasing a “festival” lineup right now with all of the tragedy happening in this country. Jacob Blake was shot by the police while his children watched. The world is still reeling from the losses of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. Black Lives Matter. And we, the organizers of PYGMALION, do not take lightly the idea of creating space for this sort of engagement. 
A global pandemic is affecting every part of everyone’s life. There is no leadership, or even basic decency, coming from the White House. 
It has been a painful year. 
Nonetheless, we feel that we should still try to be human at this particular moment.