Brighton Festival 2017Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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Guest Director Kate Tempest invites festival-goers to join the Pay-it-Forward movement

Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest invites festival-goers to join the Pay-It-Forward movement and enable more people to enjoy ticketed events at Brighton Festival.

This is part of her vision of opening up the possibility of experiencing the arts to as many people in the city as possible. In her words: “Art is social. It should be a part of life. No big deal – just life itself.”

Those booking tickets for Brighton Festival events are given the option of paying an extra £5 (or an amount of their choosing) as they complete their purchase, which Brighton Festival will match in order to give a £10 Pay-It-Forward Festival Ticket Voucher to someone unable to afford the opportunity.

All Brighton Festival ticketed events have a special Pay-It-Forward Voucher £10 price available to book online or in person. Vouchers will be distributed at Your Place (our new community-led, free performance spaces in Hangleton and Whitehawk running over two Festival weekends), local schools and through our partner community organisations.

Kate Tempest says 'After something amazing like the opening Children’s Parade where all the school kids in Brighton parade through the streets - Pay-it-Forward feels like a useful way of activating some of the feelings that get brought up when you are watching a piece of work together – about community and feeling a part of something. It feels like an active way that people can help make the Festival a bit more open and create space for more people to come and check out some of these amazing artists.'

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival says 'From our regular free participatory events such as the annual Children’s Parade, City Reads and Young City Reads, and Weekend Without Walls - two days of free arts in the parks, to our partnership with Brighton City College to live-stream many of our shows to audiences around the world for free, Brighton Festival has always been dedicated to making the arts accessible for all. This year’s Guest Director Kate Tempest is passionate about the power of the arts to bring communities together. With new initiatives, such as Your Place and the Pay-it-Forward scheme, I hope that Brighton Festival 2017 will encourage the whole city to come together to celebrate the creativity in their communities and try something new.'

The inspiration for Pay-It-Forward comes from the global international Pay It Forward Day, which is now in its 10th year, and hopes to inspire millions to experience the power and positive energy of giving by buying something in advance for someone else. Pay It Forward is about all people, from all walks of life giving to someone else and making a positive difference. At last count, there were more than 5 million people in 80 countries around the world participating on the Pay It Forward Day. This year Pay It Forward Day is 28 April 2017.

More than half of the ticketed events in Brighton Festival 2017 have prices generally available for £10 or less. There are also 16 free events and workshops including Weekend Without Walls (Sat 13 May, Easthill Park, Portslade and Sun 14 May, East Brighton Park) and visual art installations at ONCA Gallery, Fabrica and University of Brighton running throughout the Festival.

Spotlight: Storytelling Army

We shine a spotlight on the Storytelling Army, a world premiere for Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival is working with Nabokov and Guest Director Kate Tempest to assemble and mobilise a Storytelling Army: a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life and all corners of the city, including those who are homeless and vulnerably housed. Look out for pop-up performances across Brighton, be it in the local supermarket, the pub or on the top deck of a bus.

The Storytelling Army will be popping up around Brighton throughout the Festival.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk


Spotlight: The Gabriels

Richard Nelson and actors discuss Nelson's landmark series of plays The Gabriels.

Richard Nelson’s The Apple Family Plays was the theatrical highlight of the 2015 Brighton Festival. Now the Tony Award-winning playwright and director follows up with The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family, a landmark series that follows in real time, tracking their lives throughout the turbulent election year of 2016. History, money, politics, art and culture are all on the table in this moving three play cycle about a family celebrating, remembering and waiting for the world to change. 

The UK Premiere of The Gabriels is at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) at the following times: Sat 20, Sun 21 & Sat 27 May, 1.30pm, 4.15pm and 7.30pm (all three plays). Tues 23 May, 8pm (Hungry), Wed 24 May, 8pm (What Did You Expect), Thurs 25 May, 8pm (Woman of a Certain Age).

See more Spotlight films where we cast a spotlight on some of our Brighton Festival 2017 events.

Audio courtesy of Radio WNYC

Spotlight: Five Short Blasts: Shoreham

Artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey discuss Five Short Blasts: Shoreham.

Following its premiere in the Port of Melbourne and the lower Yarra River, Five Short Blasts: Shoreham has been created in collaboration with Shoreham’s water communities and the same team who brought the water-themed installation Gauge to Brighton Festival 2015. Audiences cast off aboard our small seagoing vessel, a perfect crucible for listening to where you are. There, amidst the changing of the tide, you experience the voyage into mystery that the water always holds.

Five Short Blasts: Shoreham is at Shoreham Harbour throughout Brighton Festival.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: For the Birds

Discover more about For the Birds a Brighton Festival Exclusive event.

Artist and producer Jony Easterby has brought together some of the most dynamic sound and lighting artists in the UK to create this unforgettable outdoor experience. Against a canvas of darkness and the sound of wind in the trees, audiences follow a 2km trail of ingenious and beautiful installations of light, sound and moving sculpture which will surprise and enthral.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Depart

Depart is an ethereal collaboration bringing together acrobats, aerialists, choral singers and video artists for a breathtaking circus experience.

Inspired by the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, Depart will take you on a haunting journey through the underworld in the uniquely atmospheric location of Woodvale Cemetery. Led by Circa’s Yaron Lifschitz with a creative team including electronic musician Lapalux.

Depart is at Woodvale Cemetery Thu 25 – Sun 28 May, 8.30pm & 10.15pm.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Kate Tempest on Brighton Festival 2017 theme Everyday Epic

Guest Director Kate Tempest’s programme celebrates what she calls the ‘Everyday Epic’ - art that helps us connect to ourselves and others, explores our individual stories and differences, and encourages audiences to take a walk in someone else’s shoes. In her words: “Art is social. It should be a part of life. No big deal – just life itself.”

Many of Tempest’s interests, passions, and inspirations are explored in an eclectic line-up spanning theatre, dance, visual art, film, debate and spoken word.

Produced by echovideo.co.uk

Full programme unveiled for Brighton Festival 2017

The full programme for Brighton Festival 2017 - the largest annual curated multi-arts festival in England - has been unveiled with the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest as Guest Director.

At a political and social moment that feels particularly precarious, Kate Tempest’s programme celebrates what she calls the ‘Everyday Epic’ - art that helps us connect to ourselves and others, explores our individual stories and differences, and encourages audiences to take a walk in someone else’s shoes. In her words: “Art is social. It should be a part of life. No big deal – just life itself.”

Many of Tempest’s interests, passions, and inspirations are explored in an eclectic line-up spanning theatre, dance, visual art, film, debate and spoken word - and featuring the likes of Ocean Wisdom, who appears on a bill hosted by UK hip hop label High Focus Records with The Four Owls and Jam Baxter, and Brighton-born poetry slam champion Tommy Sissons who performs alongside fellow spoken word stars Patience Agbabi and Dizraeli.

Kate Tempest will perform in a host of special Brighton Festival events including: an exclusive opening gig of music and spoken word; a poetry evening in which she appears alongside the likes of fellow Picador poets Hollie McNish and Glyn Maxwell; and a live orchestration of her recent album Let Them eat Chaos, produced in collaboration with Oscar-nominated artist Mica Levi, who also brings her acclaimed live score of Under the Skin to the Festival.

A series of outdoor sight-specific works will encourage audiences to see the ‘Everyday Epic’ in the landscape of the city and engage with their environment anew. These include For the Birds, an intricate light, sound and kinetic sculpture trail experienced as an immersive night-time adventure through a woodland location; the UK premiere of Five Short Blasts: Shoreham a maritime journey on the River Adur created by Australian artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey in collaboration with Shoreham’s water communities; Depart, an ethereal promenade performance through a cemetery from Yaron Lifschitz and his internationally acclaimed circus company, Circa; and SPECTRA:CAST, an interactive installation from artist duo Walter & Zoniel that will transform Brighton beach into a giant canvas as audiences register their views on a variety of subjects by casting multi-coloured stones onto it.

Storytelling in all its forms is celebrated in a number of events such as The Gabriels, Tony-award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s extraordinary depiction of one American family written in real time during the turbulent US election year – the follow-up to his 2015 smash-hit The Apple Plays; Anna and Elizabeth’s revival of the ancient tradition of ‘crankies’, cloth and cut-paper scrolls depicting stories and scenes from the great ballads unfurled to musical accompaniment; two spoken word nights from cult collectives Apples and Snakes and Bang Said the Gun; a new co-commission by Andy Smith & Fuel, Summit, performed in British Sign Language and English by a cast of three; and No Dogs no Indians, the world premiere of three intertwining stories exploring the effects and legacy of the British in India by poet and playwright Siddhartha Bose to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian independence.

The power of the arts to activate our empathy and pose questions about how we view the ‘other’ is examined through works such as They/Onlar, ipek Duben’s multi-screen installation which explores the division lines of gender, ethnicity and sexuality in Turkish society; the world premiere of Brighton-based choreographer and designer, Theo Clinkard’s This Bright Field, a major new commission which sees audiences share the stage with thirteen exceptional performers for a captivating and intimate event examining perspective and attention; Collisions, Lynette Wallworth’s thought-provoking Virtual Reality film experience which puts audiences directly into the life-changing moment when indigenous Martu Elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan a witnessed an atomic test – his first encounter with Western culture; and Breaking the Spell of Loneliness, George Monbiot and Ewan McLennan’s musical exploration of loneliness and social isolation.

Reflecting Tempest’s belief that: “The arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes”, Brighton Festival 2017 sees two new ventures - The Storytelling Army, a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life who will be performing in unexpected locations around the city from bus stops to supermarkets, and Your Place, a diverse line-up of mixed arts programmed in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Festival artists and local residents in the Hangleton and Whitehawk communities. These join regular free, participatory events such as the annual Children’s Parade, City Reads and Young City Reads; and Weekend Without Walls, two days of free arts in the parks; and a new initiative which encourages audiences to Pay-It-Forward by donating £5 on top of their ticket price which will be match-funded by Brighton Festival to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity.

Other Brighton Festival 2017 highlights include a special performance from legendary folk singer Shirley Collins with guests handpicked for the occasion; a new adaptation of Swan Lake from one of Ireland’s foremost dance and theatre-makers, Michael Keegan-Dolan; genre-defying actress, singer, dancer, and cabaret diva Meow Meow who joins forces with Orchester der Kleinen Regiment for an exclusive Brighton Festival performance; a major new co-commission from sculptor Cathie Pilkington; US performance artist turned rapper Mykki Blanco’s punk and riot grrrl influenced hip hop; Kneehigh’s acclaimed production of Emma Rice’s staging of Tristan & Yseult; BBC Young Musician 2016 Sheku Kanneh-Mason performing with the Chineke! Orchestra; and two special events to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi - three masterworks dealing with love and loss from Christophe Rousset and his ensemble Les Talens Lyrique, and a selection of the composer’s lesser-known delights of the sacred music form from vocal ensemble I Fagiolini.

Kate Tempest says: "I feel very humbled to have been given the opportunity to guest direct Brighton Festival. This year’s theme, Everyday Epic, seems to encapsulate some of my feelings about how music, literature and poetry can give us back our lives. Singing, playing, dancing, moving, painting life and communicating about that in public spaces. It requires no qualifications, no training to enjoy it. It’s truthful communication between humans about humanity and in these times, it feels more important than ever to try and understand what that humanity is and what it could be. So please go and see as much as you can. Approach it like an epic. Like you are a pilgrim on a quest and something may well happen in the theatre, the pub, the community centre, the concert hall that will smash you back to feeling and land you in your skin again.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “Kate Tempest has brought a formidable passion and energy to the role of Guest Director this year. She is an extraordinary artist across many forms - writer, musician, performer and poet – with a unique ability to connect with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Kate is passionate about the power of the arts to bring communities together – vital now more than ever. We are thrilled to be presenting more work across the city than ever before - much of it outdoors in a celebration of everything this city has to offer – the everyday and the epic. And with new initiatives such as Your Place and the Pay-it-Forward scheme, I hope that Brighton Festival 2017 will encourage the whole city to come together to celebrate the creativity in their communities and try something new.”

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.

UK premiere of topical play cycle set during the US election year are first shows announced for Brighton Festival 2017

The UK premiere of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family - an acclaimed trilogy of plays by Tony Award-winning playwright and director Richard Nelson set during the turbulent US Election year - are the first shows to be revealed as part of Brighton Festival 2017 (6-28 May) ahead of the full programme announcement next month.

Particularly topical with the inauguration of Donald Trump as the next US president taking place this week, The Gabriels is the acclaimed follow-up to Nelson’s The Apple Family Plays which was the theatrical highlight of the 2015 Brighton Festival. The landmark series from New York’s leading theatre company, The Public Theater, follows one American family in real time, tracking their lives throughout the election year of 2016. History, money, politics, art and culture are all on the table in this moving trilogy about a family celebrating, remembering and waiting for the world to change.

The first play Hungry places us in the kitchen of the Gabriel family of Rhinebeck, New York. The family discusses their lives and disappointments, as they fight the fear of being left behind and attempt to find resilience in the face of loss.

What Did You Expect? brings us back to the kitchen of the Gabriel family, with the country now in the midst of the general election for President. In the course of one evening in the house they grew up in, history (both theirs and America's), money, politics, family, art and culture are chopped up and mixed together, while a meal is made around the kitchen table.

The Gabriels gather once again in Woman of a Certain Age to await the result of the election. As they consider the future of their country, town and home, they compare notes on the search for empathy and authenticity at a time when the game seems rigged and the rules are forever changing.

On his intentions behind the piece, Richard Nelson has said: 'In troubled and troubling times, theater has not only an opportunity, but the responsibility, to portray this confusion, and articulate the ambiguities, doubts, and fears of its time. Of course, it is a great temptation, in troubled times, to try and use the theater as a weapon… but….as a playwright, I try not to be co-opted by arguments and agendas. In other words, my theater is not a place to shout in, or be lectured at, nor where we go to be incited; rather a place to come together, sit among strangers in the dark, and recognize the complexity of the world before us.'

One of the nation’s most prolific playwrights, Nelson wrote the book for the musical James Joyce’s The Dead, which earned him a Tony Award in 2000. Among his other works are Franny’s Way (Drama Desk Award nominee), Goodnight Children Everywhere (Olivier Award), Two Shakespearean Actors (Tony Award nominee), Some Americans Abroad (Olivier Award nominee) and Principia Scriptoriae (London Time Out Award). Nelson also won the 2008 PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award and a 2008 Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, both for his career. He is an honorary artistic associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which has produced ten of his plays.

The Gabriels Marathons (all three plays): Sat 20, Sun 21 & Sat 27 May, 1.30pm, 4.15pm and 7.30pm. Hungry: Tues 23 May, 8pm, What Did You Expect: Wed 24 May, 8pm, Woman of a Certain Age: Thurs 25 May, 8pm

The full programme announcement is on 15 Feb 2017. Members' Priority Booking opens Thurs 16 Feb 2017. Public booking opens Fri 24 Feb 2017.

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival international programme is kindly supported by Gatwick Airport and The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family by University of Sussex. 

Titles announced for City Reads and Young City Reads 2017

The debut novel by Sharon Duggal The Handsworth Times has been chosen for City Reads while A.F. Harrold’s Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) has been picked for Young City Reads as part of Brighton Festival 2017.

City Reads and Young City Reads are city-wide ‘big reads’ delivered by award winning literary organisation Collected Works CIC, designed to spread a love of books and ideas to the widest possible audience throughout Brighton & Hove. This year they launch on 2 March (World Book Day) and run until May with a series of events themed around the books to encourage people across the city to get reading and start talking.

Brighton-based British Asian writer Sharon Duggal’s novel, published by Bluemoose Books, is set in 1981 where factories are closing, unemployment is high, the NF are marching and the neglected inner cities are ablaze as riots breakout across Thatcher's fractured Britain. The Agarwal family are facing their own personal tragedy, but their pain is eased through humour, friendship and community.

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director of City Reads says: ‘Sharon Duggal’s outstanding debut was the unanimous favourite of our reading panel for this year’s City Reads. 2016 saw Britain polarised following the Brexit referendum, leading to some bitter arguments and disputes within communities. Sharon’s book couldn’t have been published at a more relevant time. It has heart, humour and courage - I hope you love it as much as we do at City Reads.’ 

The title chosen for Young City Reads, the ‘big read’ aimed at children, Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library), is the story of a boy, a book, some very bad people, some very brave deeds, and the importance of rubber teeth for lions.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: ‘We are delighted that City Reads and Young City Reads are part of Brighton Festival again this year - building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. The importance of empathy and community is central to our Guest Director Kate Tempest’s vision for the Festival as a whole, making Sharon Duggal’s powerful debut particularly fitting as a choice for City Reads. And with this year’s Guest Director our youngest in the role to date we are particularly pleased to be providing an opportunity to encourage young booklovers to come together to discuss and share their love of reading – and hopefully nurturing a new generation of artists and art lovers for the future.’

Highlights of City Reads include a Literary Salon at the Regency Townhouse (Wed 29 March), a riotous celebration of the music made during era of The Handsworth Times via a Stick It On Party at The Latest Music Bar (Fri 28 April), perennial favourite The City Reads Book Quiz returns on Wed 22 March, and Sharon Duggal is in conversation at Brighton Festival on 14 May. Young City Reads launches at Jubilee Library on 2 March, with a special Brighton Festival event on 23 May featuring the author and illustrator (Sarah Horne).

Primary school teachers and classes are being invited to register online (for free) at cityreads.co.uk and agree to read Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) together in class between 2 March – 23 May 2017. Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Fizzlebert Stump quizzes, puzzles and fun activities to complete.

Paul McVeigh's The Good Son was chosen for City Reads 2016 while Hamish and the WorldStoppers by Danny Wallace was the title for Young City Reads 2016.

For more information visit cityreads.co.uk.