Brighton Festival 2016Counting down to our 50th
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Brighton Festival names Kate Tempest as Guest Director 2017

We are delighted to announce that the Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2017 is the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest

Described by The Guardian as ‘one of the brightest British talents around,' Tempest’s prolific artistic output across multiple disciplines has attracted her considerable acclaim and a unique range of audiences. Having made her live debut as a spoken-word artist at just sixteen, Tempest initially conceived of herself as a rapper, however she is now equally at home as a poet, novelist, musician and playwright - garnering extraordinary success in each field.

In 2012 her debut play Wasted (Brighton Festival 2012) was praised as ‘electrifying’ and ‘ingenious’; a year later her self-performed epic narrative poem Brand New Ancients won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and completed a sell-out run in the UK and New York, winning a Herald Angel at Edinburgh Fringe. In 2014, her debut solo album Everybody Down was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize while the same year she was named one of 20 Next Generation poets by the Poetry Book Society, a prestigious list picked just once per decade. Most recently her debut novel The Bricks That Built the Houses has earned her yet more accolades and a slot on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. In October her highly anticipated new album Let Them Eat Chaos will be released through Fiction Records featuring new single Don’t Fall In.

At 31, Kate Tempest will be the youngest Brighton Festival Guest Director to date, taking the mantle from pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson, who led the 50th Brighton Festival this year. Other previous Guest Directors include visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010) and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011) who have all taken turns shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

Kate Tempest says: 

"The arts should be social, not elitist. They should be part of our everyday life. They should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes. Music, literature, theatre, film - these things are so important, they bring us together into the same space, they give us ourselves, they bring us to life, they beam our humanity back to us in all its hideous beauty. And in these times, with the fear spreading everywhere and the divisions between us deepening daily, we desperately need to remember that we are all part of the same thing. Nothing does that for me more profoundly or joyously than standing in the crowd watching a gig, or a play, or a painting. It’s like a little victory you get to keep forever. I want us to offer that experience to everyone.”

Tempest’s appointment as Guest Director follows a number of successful appearances at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. After her acclaimed play Wasted sold out Brighton Festival 2012, Tempest performed Brand New Ancients to two full houses in the Corn Exchange as part of Brighton Dome’s spring 2014 programme. In 2015 she headlined an exclusive Brighton Festival event alongside fellow wordsmiths George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “We are privileged to announce such a distinctive and singular talent as our Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2017. Kate Tempest is uniquely positioned to fulfil the role – her seemingly limitless creativity has led to a body of work that straddles an extraordinary array of art forms and has earned her fans of all ages and from all walks of life. She is also passionate about the arts and its power to bring communities together – vital now more than ever. I can’t wait to continue the conversations with her as we work towards creating a Festival for next year which I hope will be a true inspiration to all.”

In 2016 Brighton Festival celebrated its 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture. With a total audience reach of over 225,000, the milestone programme was the most successful in its history with more people engaging with the festival, both as audiences and participants, and more tickets sold than ever before. The Festival’s biggest talking point was Nutkhut’s Dr Blighty, an ambitious, large-scale, immersive, outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums and 14-18 NOW, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during WW1. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty set the city and social media abuzz and drew audiences of almost 65,000 over its five day run.

Brighton Festival 2017 - which will take place from 6-28 May 2017 - will feature exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies. 

Full programme announced: Wed 15 Feb 2017
Members' priority booking: Thu 16 Feb 2017
General booking opens: Fri 24 Feb 2017

Photo by Hayley Louisa Brown

Video: Full Dr Blighty projections

One of the 50th Brighton Festival’s biggest talking points was Nutkhut's Dr Blighty; an ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during the First World War. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty captivated audiences and critics alike. With audiences reaching almost 50,000 over its five day run, it set the city and social media abuzz.

Podcast: Artificial Intelligence, augmented reality and the future of gaming

Brighton Festival 2016 saw us work with Guardian Live in a special partnership to deliver the Books and Debate programme with an impressive line-up of writers and commentators including former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Orange prize winner Lionel Shriver and two Booker prize winners, Marlon James and Howard Jacobson. 

AI, augmented reality and the future of gaming saw games editor Keith Stuart ask a panel of designers and programmers what the advances in artificial intelligence mean for games and the people who play them? If you missed out on the live event or you'd like to experience it all over again you can  listen to a new  podcast of the discussion which has just been published on the Guardian Live website.

The success of Pokémon Go suggests that augmented reality (AR) games will be big business. Already games like Minecraft can create new landscapes every time you play, while advances in artificial intelligence may lead to computer-controlled characters that can build new stories and activities based on player preferences. 

What are the ethical and legal ramifications of AI as it deepens its involvement with people? Could virtual reality gaming ever become like The Matrix? Guardian games editor Keith Stuart talks to a panel of designers and programmers about the strange future of games and their makers.

Listen to the full podcast here


Look back over Brighton Festival 2016 Highlights

Re-live some of the highlights of the milestone 50th Brighton Festival - with pioneering artist Laurie Anderson as Guest Director including the UK premiere of Anderson's Concert for Dogs, Lou Reed's Drones, Floating Points, Laura Mvula and more.

Digging for Shakespeare cast to go under the hammer

The knitted cast of Brighton Festival 2016 commission Digging for Shakespeare are to go under the hammer as part of the Big Heart Auction next month, a partnership between Brighton Dome and Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice, which aims to raise valuable funds for the two organisations.

The twelve Shakespearean characters were immortalised in wool by Welsh knitter Annie Hardy as part of the acclaimed theatrical production which made its world premiere at the 50th edition of Brighton Festival in May. Devised by artist Marc Rees, Digging for Shakespeare took as its subject eccentric Brighton character James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, a 19th-century joker and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar who lived on the outskirts of Brighton. There in his 'rustic wigwam' (a series of conjoined sheds), he obsessively curated a huge hoard of Shakespearean rarities.

The unique promenade performance took place in the Roedale Allotments, close to the site of the eccentric recluse's former home, and imaginatively involved allotmenteers, the Hollingbury Park Bowls Club and a group of young performers. Audience members explored sheds and hideaways, discovered the Shakespearean characters reborn in knitted form along with quotes featuring herbs and plants from each of the twelve Shakespeare plays, and gathered a wealth of horticultural tips along the way.

Ahead of the auction, the knitted characters will be on display as part of a special free exhibition dedicated to Digging for Shakespeare in Brighton Dome’s Founders Room from 17 to 27 June. Also on show is artwork by graffiti artist Pure Evil which was also commissioned to feature on two specially-built sheds which journeyed through the allotments with the audience.

The individual knitted characters and artworks by Pure Evil will then be auctioned at the Big Heart Auction from 1 to 10 July. For more information please visit www.bigheartauction.org.uk.

All artworks for sale as part of the Big Heart Auction will also be on show at Brighton Dome from 1 – 5 July.

Marc Rees said: 'It's fantastic that the dozen characters can be included in the auction. Annie Hardy spent between 30- 50 hours lovingly creating each figure and all from her vivid imagination too- no pattern, just free form which I think is incredible! They were such an integral part of ‘Digging For Shakespeare’ and everyone wanted to know who made them. It's great to see the figures all together as one family in the exhibition, they are very special and deserve a special home.'

See Brighton Festival Commissions on Tour

This Festival boasted 54 commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres. We're pleased that some of our commissions and co-commissions continue to tour. Discover a bit more about these shows and find out where they are on next...

Minefield
'Extraordinary piece of memory theatre' ★★★★★ The Stage



See it next: 2 to 11 Jun – Royal Court Theater, LIFT FESTIVAL, London
15 & 16 Jun – Theaterformen Festival, Braunschweig

Stella
'Stella is one of the most important pieces to come out of Bartlett's long relationship with Brighton Festival.' Whats On Stage 


See it next: 1 to 18 Jun – Hoxton Hall, LIFT FESTIVAL, London

The Complete Deaths
'brilliantly ridiculous’  The Stage


See all the many tour dates here.

Record-breaking 50th Brighton Festival comes to a dazzling conclusion

The three week celebration of the arts was the most successful in its history with more people engaging with the festival, both as audiences and participants, and more tickets sold than ever before.

Drawing inspiration from Brighton Festival’s origins as a celebration of the new and the avant-garde, as well as Guest Director Laurie Anderson’s own multidisciplinary career, the 2016 programme featured the highest number of commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres to date, by some of the most innovative national and international artists the world over: from the UK premiere of Anderson’s own Music for Dogs, a concert specially developed for canine ears to the world premiere of Minefield by acclaimed Argentinian theatre-maker Lola Arias, developed with and performed by veterans of the Falklands conflict.

Laurie Anderson: "I'm so happy to have served as Guest Director of Brighton Festival in its historic 50th year. I have been at the Brighton Festival a few times now and it’s always been fun. I always feel like I’m part of the town and that’s a crazy feeling because at many festivals maybe only theatre people come…. but here everybody comes. I was really struck by that."

The Festival’s biggest talking point was Nutkhut's Dr Blighty; an ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during the First World War. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty captivated audiences and critics alike. With audiences reaching almost 50,000 over its five day run, it set the city and social media abuzz. A video clip of the projections went viral, attracting over 500,000 views and accolades such as ‘spectacular’, ‘incredible’, ‘unique’ and ‘best festival event ever’.

At the heart of the 50th programme was the theme of ‘home’, with an abundance of work both about Brighton and by some of the artists who make the city their home. Highlights included The Complete Deaths, a re-enactment of every onstage death from the plays of Shakespeare from Brighton-based artistic powerhouses Spymonkey and Tim Crouch; Digging for Shakespeare - Marc Rees’ site-specific homage to 19th Century Brighton eccentric and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps; Blast Theory & Hydrocracker’s immersive undercover police drama Operation Black Antler and specially-commissioned film Brighton: Symphony of a City, screened to a new orchestral score by Ed Hughes.

Brighton Festival 2016 also explored universal issues and ideas around home, via new work such as experimental composer and musician Yuval Avital’s potent and thought-provoking new work, Fuga Perpetua, which reflected the stories of refugees; and the UK premiere of Berlin’s Zvizdal, a filmic portrait of an elderly couple’s solitude in the region affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

From the annual Children’s Parade on the opening weekend featuring 5000 participants from schools and community groups from across the region, to Onca’s FutureGazers, which asked school pupils to imagine the city in 50 years’ time, to the city-wide City Reads and Young City Reads produced in partnership with Collected Works, Brighton Festival 2016 also saw a record number of community-focussed events throughout the programme with participants of all ages and from all walks of life. And it wasn’t just the humans – 50 dogs found themselves immortalised on a mural on Kensington Street painted by Brighton-based artist and illustrator Sinna One in homage to Anderson’s own dog-oriented events.

Anderson continues: "I think Brighton is really a one-of-a-kind festival. First of all because it’s very sophisticated in terms of what experimental art it brings in but it’s very inclusive in other ways. I can’t really think of another festival that has that broad a base so I would have to say it’s unique.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “From over-50s company Three Score Dance’s performance of Lea Anderson’s work Tall Tales at the West Pier, to Giddy Brighton’s intergenerational encounter between students from Longhill High School and men and women in their 70s and 80s reflecting on their teenage selves, the 50th Brighton Festival has been a wonderful celebration of our community.  We’ve also had more people engaging with the festival, both as audiences and participants, than ever before." 

This year’s Festival has once again been a triumph of partnership working, made possible through collaborations with many major organisations across the city and beyond including Lighthouse, Fabrica, HOUSE, University of Brighton, University of Sussex, Onca Gallery, Theatre Royal Brighton, Without Walls, LIFT and 14-18NOW amongst others. 2016 also saw the highest number of shows yet live-streamed to audiences around the world for free, thanks to the on-going partnership with City College Brighton and Hove. Still available to view on brightonfestival.org, highlights include stand-up from Alexei Sayle, magical a cappella singing from choir Vox Luminis and thought-provoking debate Let’s Talk about Death.

2016 also saw Brighton Festival work with Guardian Live in a special partnership to deliver the Books and Debate programme with an impressive line-up of writers and commentators that included a panel debate on the forthcoming EU Referendum and a visit from former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis as well as appearances from an Orange Prize winner (Lionel Shriver) and two Booker Prize winners (Marlon James and Howard Jacobson). Brighton Festival 2016 also saw the return of Caravan, a three-day industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which this year featured eight performances open to the public.

Sponsorship and corporate support has been critical to our success this year. New and returning sponsors and supporters include Rampion Offshore Wind, University of Sussex, Gatwick Airport, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, Class of Their Own, Riverford Organic Farmers, Hamptons International, ZSTa, Nutshell Construction, SELITS, GM Building, Griffith Smith Farrington Webb LLP and The Big Lemon. 

Andrew Comben continues: "Artist and musician Laurie Anderson, as Guest Director, has been a fitting figurehead for this special milestone having been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed. She also told some beautiful and unforgettable stories. In fact, in helping us put together this year’s festival, themed around home and place, Laurie wanted us to help everyone tell their own stories and to focus on some of the people whose stories are less often heard. That we’ve seen such wonderful examples of that during Brighton Festival is something I believe the whole city can be very, very proud of. Here’s to the next 50 years!”

In Pictures: Brighton Festival 2016

The 50th Brighton Festival is almost over, so we're taking a look back at the pictures from some of the shows and events we've loved the most. 

Picking out these images put a grin on our faces, and we hope it makes you smile too! 

Why not have a look through some more photos from this year's festival and re-live something special?

Photo credits: Victor Frankowski, Adam Weatherley, John Hunter

In Pictures: Week 3

As a fantastic fiftieth Brighton Festival draws to a close, take a look back over the past few days of events. However, it’s not quite over yet though, check out what’s on today

Look through our galleries to see what else we’ve been up to this year. Follow us on Facebook and check back here over the coming days as we’ll be uploading more glorious Festival moments.

Photos by Vic Frankowski and Adam Adam Weatherley

Brighton Festival Live: Alexei Sayle

As Margaret Thatcher moved into Downing Street in 1979, Soho’s Comedy Store opened its doors with Alexei Sayle as its master of ceremonies. Sayle’s painfully funny new memoir, Thatcher Stole My Trousers, chronicles a time when comedy and politics collided in new and electrifying ways. Join the godfather of alternative comedy as he discusses his career, from Marxist art-school student to star of The Comic Strip and The Young Ones.


Read our interview & spend a quick Five minutes with Alexei Sayle ahead of the event.