Brighton Festival 2016Counting down to our 50th
Festival this May

Festival Hot Seat: Bec Britain - Fanfare

We caught up with Brighton-based artist Bec Britain to find out more about her 1960’s inspired installation Fanfare at the Clock Tower featuring giant trumpets and chequerboard flags in graphic black and white adorning this iconic Brighton landmark throughout May

How did the piece come about?

Brighton Festival approached Samesky with the idea of creating a piece at the clock tower as it is such as iconic location. It’s so central and a real crossing point for people - and it has a very strong visual impact. Samesky then contacted me as I had created a flag installation for the Rugby World Cup in the autumn so they knew that I could handle it!

When you work on the clock tower it’s quite epic – it’s on such a large scale that you have to do lots of working out in advance and there’s no way of testing out if it’s going to fit . You just have to work it out from the measurement and hope for the best! After the Rugby World Cup I really wanted to do something even more ambitious and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Do you always work on a large scale?

I actually do a combination of large-scale sculpture and book binding – so literally both ends of the spectrum from the really small to the incredibly large.

You are based in Brighton – what does Brighton Festival mean to you?

I have lived in Brighton for 20 years. In fact my first job in Brighton was as Project Manager for Streets of Brighton so the Festival always been very close to my heart. For me, this piece was an opportunity to celebrate the breadth of Brighton Festival and call out to the next generation of artists which was very important.

Do you have a favourite Brighton Festival moment?

Too many to mention. Walk the Plank at Queens Park and the Group F at Preston Park were fantastic. I also loved Hofesh Schechter’s Political Mother – he’s an absolutely incredible artist.

Can you tell me about the design of the piece itself?

With this year marking 50 years of Brighton Festival I wanted to look back to 1967 where it all began. And I wanted to explore the Festival theme of Home so I looked at this year’s Brighton Festival logo which reminded me of brutalist architecture! I echoed the black and white of the logo in the design and if you look closely you will find cut up pieces of Festival ‘F’s all over the piece in a subtle nod to home.

The main focus though was very much about creating a rallying call to the next generation of artists After all - without artists it won’t be able to continue for another 50 years. I also wanted it to be big and bold and in your face – like the Festival itself – a fanfare calling in all directions to the artists of the future.

Fanfare is on from Sat 7 - Sun 29 May 

Festival Fifty: Five Biggest Hits

From pyrotechnics to pendulums, some events at Brighton Festivals past have attracted audiences tens of thousands strong. Here are a few of the biggest hits from recent times – how many of them did you see?

Joueurs de Lumnieres, Groupe F, 2006

Some 70,000 people descended on Preston Park for the ultimate pyrotechnic show as the French company pushed the boundaries of your typical firework display to create an event that told a theatrical story. Led by flame master Christophe Berthonneau – the man behind the Millennium fireworks in Paris and both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Greece – it set the Sussex sky on fire. Zap Art’s Dave Reeves, who programmed the piece as part of 2006’s Streets of Brighton, explained ‘one minute you are watching something lyrical and delicate; the next you're shell-shocked by the sound of eight tons of explosives being detonated. It feels as if the sky is caving in on you.’

41 Places, William Shaw, 2007

Writer Shaw’s bold vision was to take true life onto the streets – literally – as the stories of the people who live, work and play in Brighton were printed on everything from paving stones to brick walls to create a giant work of art across the city. Each story was installed in the place where they happened – with audiences free to stumble across this treasure hunt of stories or navigate their way around the city via a specially produced map. Designed by Richard Wolfstrome – a Sussex-based graphic designer who went on to win an award from the International Society of Typographic Designers for piece - the site-specific publishing project was explored and interacted with by a huge 190,000 people during May.

41 Places. Photo credit: Matthew Andrews

Before I Sleep, dreamthinkspeak, 2010

Inspired by Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival associate company dreamthinkspeak led by Artistic Director Tristan Sharps took over the former Co-operative department store on London Road for this special site-specific promenade experience. Blending performance, film and installation, audiences were led through numerous spaces inhabited by the key characters in Chekhov’s classic. It broke ticket office records at the time as 21,000 people visited – leading the run to be extended by 9 weeks – and was universally praised by both the local and national press, with The Argus writing ‘it is an unforgettable, amazing experience’. The company’s Brighton Festival follow-up The Rest Is Silence - which took place in an old warehouse in Shoreham in 2012 - was equally well received, leading to weeks of extra performances.

Before I Sleep

Time Passing By, Kaarina Kaikkonen, 2013

The Finnish artist was the talk of the city as her special commission between Brighton Festival and Fabrica saw the city’s Clock Tower bedecked in thousands of colourful shirts for the month. Donated by local residents and then given to Oxfam following the exhibition, the piece – presented in tandem with The Blue Route inside Fabrica – was seen by hundreds of thousands given the installation’s prominent position in town. As Kaikkonen said to The Argus, ‘I wanted to give my art for everybody in a way. I wanted to face those people who never go to art galleries. I wanted to go to the street. It is quite a challenge to meet all these people who sometimes hate art.’

Time Passing By

Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No.2, William Forsyth, 2014

This large-scale choreographic installation featured 400 swinging pendulums hanging from an automated rig on the ceiling of Circus Street Market. Visitors were encouraged to dodge between them to create their own unique and often intricate dances and moves. Some 12,500 people took part across three weeks; the acclaimed choreographer himself was even spotted taking part ahead of an intimate Q&A event with that year’s Guest Director Hofesh Shechter. It’s success stretched to the virtual world too; a video documenting the installation of the piece shot by Brighton-based company Shy Camera had over 90,000 views whilst Instagram tweeted shots of the piece to over 1m followers.

Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No.2. Photo credit: Heidi Kuisma

Brighton Festival commission spawns special spin-off Shakespearean 'card-gayme'

To accompany Brighton Festival commission The Complete Deaths, and in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, ground-breaking theatre company Spymonkey have collaborated with illustrator and Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell to create the Great Shakespearean Deaths Card-Gayme. 

The Complete Deaths, premiering at Brighton Festival 2016, 11-15 May, at Theatre Royal Brighton, is performed by physical comedy company Spymonkey and directed by Tim Crouch, and sees all of the onstage deaths from the works of William Shakespeare re-enacted by “four of the greatest clowns working in Britain” (Time Out).

Each doomed character is depicted by Chris Riddell in The Great Shakespearean Deaths Card-Gayme. From Clarence, drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine, to Cleopatra and her asps, from Julius Caesar and the Ides of March to the black ill-favoured fly in Titus Andronicus, from the woefully tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet to the lamentable (but frankly pretty amusing) demise of Pyramus & Thisbe. And then there’s the pie that Titus Andronicus bakes his guests.

Who had the greatest last words (and what were they?) Who had the slowest, most tedious death? Who had it coming more than anyone else? What was the most piteous death? Who just lay down in a ditch and died of shame? Each character is ranked according to categories including Speed of Death, Piteousness, Dramatic Quality, and Last Words.

The Great Shakespearean Deaths Card-Gayme will be available from Theatre Royal Brighton during the run of The Complete Deaths, and online at spymonkey.co.uk/shop.

Chris Riddell will be making three appearances at Brighton Festival this year. Ask the Laureate (Sat 14 May, 6pm, Sallis Benney Theatre) gives fans of all ages the opportunity to ask Chris about his work – and he will be drawing the answers. In Poems and Pictures Live (Sun 15 May, 2.30pm, Sallis Benney Theatre, age 8+) see Chris’s enchanting illustrations take shape while poet Rachel Rooney reads some of her work. Chris Riddell’s Picture Book Masterclass (Sun 22 May, 10.30am-1.30pm, Brighton Dome Founders Room, age 16+) is one for grown-ups – find out everything you need to know about creating a picture book.

Dance company brings together 50 dancers aged 50+ for outdoor performance celebrating 50th Brighton Festival

Three Score Dance will present new work Tall Tales celebrating the 50th Brighton Festival in May 2016, featuring 50 dancers aged 50 and over.

Commissioned by Brighton Festival, Tall Tales is choreographed by renowned choreographer Lea Anderson, with audio guide (available to download in advance from the Brighton Festival website) by Steve Blake and design by Tim Spooner.

Tall Tales will be performed on Sunday 8 May, 4pm and 5.30pm, on West Pier Beach, and draws upon the history of Brighton Festival over five decades.

It follows their hugely successful performance of Plans (choreographed by James Finnemore, with music by Joel Harries and commissioned by Hofesh Shechter for the 2014 Brighton Festival).

Choreographer Lea Anderson says, ‘When Three Score Dance invited me to come and work with them, I thought it was a great opportunity to work with a group of people who are impassioned about making work and who have had a lot of experience of life. I knew they would not bat an eyelid when asked to recreate paintings on the beach by the West Pier. I have been using art works, (in this instance artworks by German painter, Oscar Schlemmer), artist’s sketchbooks and feature films as scores to create dance performance now for many years, as well as working with composer Steve Blake who has recorded odd stories from their past for a soundtrack, and designer/performer Tim Spooner who has provided the objects required for the reconstruction. The piece will ostensibly attempt to celebrate some of the historical performances from the 50 years of the festival but the efforts may well become scuppered by the tangential musings and procrastination of the performers.’

Sound design is by Steve Blake, costume design by Tim Spooner, rehearsal director is Jason Keenan-Smith, and project manager Faith Dodkins. Tall Tales is performed by Three Score Dance company members and class attendees.

Festival Hot Seat... Masquerade

yello brick are bringing Masquerade to Brighton Festival, so we asked them to tell us all about it. 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

yello brick invite you to enter the Masquerade Ball, a world of anonymity and duplicity that spins a web of lies and truth around it’s guests. Carry out tasks, hide your secrets, do whatever it takes to win. You will need to form bonds, break relationships and be ruthless in your pursuit of glory but remember….trust no one. Masquerade is a street game set in the physical world during which participants receive instructions from the mysterious hosts of the ball. It invites participants to test their wit and cunning, where lies are truths intertwine.

How and where will it be staged?

Masquerade will take place outside on George Street (we have our fingers crossed for sunny weather).

Why should someone come and see your show?

If people are looking to see something a bit different and interactive then this is the show for them. It’s a mix between theatre, game and story and is one that encourages interaction between participants. Hopefully it will be quite a spectacle so even if you aren’t taking part it will be visually exciting to watch.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

We’ve always wanted to make something interactive that could be both social and playful. We wanted to see if it was possible to make an audience come together and play and how they respond within a game. How can we get a group of people who have never met before to interact in a fun and immersive way that is perfect for festival crowds.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

For us the heart of the game is about what people do when they are given anonymity. How does this affect how we act within a crowd. Will crowds respond to stimulus and action and what will this whole experience be like to view from within and from outside it.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

People who love to play and those who love to play but don’t realise it yet.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

If we tell you, it will spoil the surprise.

Have you visited Brighton before?

We haven’t been to Brighton before so this will be a really exciting adventure for us. Brighton seems to be such a vibrantly creative place and we are looking forward to exploring!

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

This is the first year that we have created work for a festival and we are really pleased to be part of Brighton Festival especially for such a milestone year. It’s fantastic to be part of something that has established itself as one of the best festivals in the UK.

What are you most looking forward to at Brighton Festival this year?

Meeting new people and seeing some amazing shows.

Competition: Twitter Rapid Reviews

Tweet us a rapid review during the festival to be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to one of our shows. 

Skilfully craft your review of a Brighton Festival event into 140 characters, and tweet it to @brightfest with the hashtag #RapidReview to enter the contest.

We'll be picking our favourites once a week throughout May so keep 'em coming!

Terms and Conditions and important info:

• The prize is for one pair of tickets to a show
• We’ll select winners once a week between Sat 7 – Thu 26 May. Winners will be notified via Twitter direct message, so make sure you follow us so we can get in touch.
• We’ll message and tweet you at least 24 hours before the show to tell you if you’ve won. If you don’t respond by 2 hours before the show starts, your tickets will not be held
• The prize is for the show offered only and cannot be carried over
• We may use your review and share it on our Social Media channels, website and in future publicity for Brighton Dome and Festival
• Selection of Winners: The winners will be chosen by a representative of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival
• Winners list: The winner consents to their Twitter profile being made publicly available on Twitter via our Twitter/ updates
• Other: No correspondence will be entered into regarding either this competition or these Terms and Conditions. In the unlikely event of a dispute, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s decision shall be final. We reserve the right to amend, modify, cancel or withdraw this competition at any time without notice
• No refunds can be given on existing tickets

Brighton Festival Brochure Covers: 1977 - 1986

Take a journey through Brighton Festival's design history 

Browse through our second decade of Brighton Festival programme covers. You can check out the first ten years here, or find out more this year's branding to mark our milestone 50th anniversary. 

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

1983

1984

1985

1986

Festival Hot Seat... Portraits in Motion

Volker Gerling spent over a decade touring Germany by foot, capturing the people that he met in his distinctive flipbook portraits. We caught up with him to find out about the development of his craft and his extraordinary show Portraits in Motion

Can you tell us what your show is about?

In the summer of 2002 I took an old wooden kitchen tray and made it into a simple hawker’s tray. It had room for six photographic flipbooks, which showed portraits of my friends, and I hung a sign on it saying “Please visit my traveling exhibition”.

I walked through Berlin, showing people my flipbook ‘movies’. I screwed an empty honey jar underneath the hawker’s tray so that visitors could pay a symbolic entrance fee.

For nearly a year I showed people my flipbook movies in Berlin. Then, I decided to become a journeyman – I wanted to find out how people all over the country would react to my flipbooks.

And I wanted to make some new flipbooks.

I was afraid that I would miss something if I travelled too quickly, so I decided to walk. In the summer of 2003 I walked from Berlin to Basel – a walk of 1,200 kilometres – and it was a great experience. So I decided to do it again.

Since then I have walked nearly every summer and in total I have walked some 3,500 kilometres, nearly all in Germany. On all of these walks my only source of money came from showing my flipbooks. Portraits in Motion is based on my long summer walks and the people I met on them.

Volker with his tray of flipbooks

How and where will it be staged?

I leaf through the flipbooks under a video camera that projects them onto a large screen, and I tell the stories about the people that are portrayed. The show is a reflection on the passing of time and what it means when people meet each other.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To see my protagonists come to life on screen in a way that you’ve probably never experienced before.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my fascination for human beings, faces, portrait photography, walking and storytelling.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

Because every story that is told from the heart is important.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everybody who is able to see great things emerge from small things.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Nothing will prepare you for the intimacy of the flip books. There's something magical about these miniature glimpses into human souls.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It feels like a big honour for me to be part of the festival this year.

Book now for Portraits in Motion

Festival Hot Seat… Breaking the Rules

Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, composed some of the most intense and glorious music of the Renaissance. He was also a brutal killer, and the full horror of his crimes stands in stark contrast to his astonishing music. We talk to Clare Norburn, the author of The Marian Consort’s Breaking the Rules to find out more about this unique show…

How and where will it be staged?

In All Saint’s Church, Hove (very fitting as the play is set part in Gesualdo’s chapel and partly in his head!) – it is half a concert/half a one man play – and our wonderful director Nicholas Renton (best known for his TV work on Musketeers, Lewis and George Gently) has staged it so that the music and text are really blurred and we try to bring the action around the audience. We want the audience to feel that Gesualdo is really speaking to them personally.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Well, our pilot performance and preview have had a really amazing audience reaction. People are fascinated by the story and seem to leave wanting to know more about the man and his music – which makes me feel we’re on to something special. Also, it’s rather unusual being half a play and half a concert – no one has toured a show quite like it before.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

I think Gesualdo’s life and music has been misunderstood. He’s underrated as a composer and not often performed because the music out of context is seen as “difficult” – but it really isn’t once you adjust your ears. It’s extraordinarily powerful and exciting. I see Gesualdo as a kind of Gustav Mahler figure of the late 16th century – once people were given a way into Mahler’s music, he quickly became a “cult classical music figure”. I think the same could become true of Gesualdo.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

If you like slightly dark stories and something a bit different then this is the show for you!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Hopefully the music. The story. And the way that we have tried to create a completely different kind of show – half a concert/ half a play.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

Do you have a favourite Festival moment? I grew up in Brighton and as a teenager I sang in the Brighton Festival Chorus so I got to perform in many Festival concerts in the mid 80s. As a teenager, I didn’t really have a lot of access to arts events in London and so the Brighton Festival was for me the time when the city (which felt quite ordinary in the mid 80s – not as arty as it is now) became a truly magical place where anything could happen and where I felt part of a cultural community. I loved hanging out after performances at the Festival Club and seeing who might turn up!

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I came to the Festival launch in February and, although I was already thrilled that we had been asked to take part, hearing about all the other starry events made me feel particularly excited and honoured to be involved this year. Brighton Festival has been a huge part of my life – as a teenager performing with local choirs, as a singer performing as a young artists in the classical lunchtime series and now with my play here too.

What are you most looking forward to in Brighton Festival this year?

I am keen to see La Nuova Musica’s Dido and Aeneas (they are a particularly exciting up and coming young group and I just saw them in London) and I’m really interested to see Stella by Neil Bartlett at the Theatre Royal. As a teenager I was fascinated by local history and so the story of a local cross-dressing Victorian actor brought to life on a Brighton stage sounds fascinating.

Book now for Breaking the Rules

Festival Fifty: Experimental poetry, fire and baseball... Five events from 1967

Brighton Festival kicked off in 1967 with an incredible variety of shows, concerts and exhibitions. Here are five of the biggest events from the first Festival half a century ago, from world-class rock bands to an iconoclastic beachside bonfire

Concrete Poetry, around Brighton, daily

Curated by artist Stephen Bann, this city-wide project saw verse, rhythm and rhyme take physical form via a series of large outdoor typographical structures. In the Laines, visitors experienced a communal project on the ‘five vowels’ produced by the students of Bath Academy and a set of ‘typographical columns’ designed by German Hansjorg Mayer, whilst on a board outside the Royal Pavilion the word ‘seas’ appeared repeated with the word ‘ease’ in the middle. The project also saw two early poems erected by Ian Hamilton Finlay who would later become critically acclaimed for his poetry, art and writing. These particular structures became feted in the press who praised this new poetic form, hailing that it could compare with the ‘direct method of Concrete Art’.

Kinetic Audio Visual Environments, West Pier, daily

Created and arranged by The Advanced Studies Group at Hornsey College of Art under the collective titled K4, this immersive audio visual arts installation incorporated three different experiences at the end of the West Pier. The Kinetic Labyrinth was a succession of small spaces which exhibited international art work involving pulsating lights and strong colours whilst the Video Drum was a device for singular use which played material concerned with dream fantasies. The largest space was the Kinetic Area; a nightly discotheque which, on Saturdays, featured live performances from the likes of as-yet-un-famous prog-rock legends The Pink Floyd and British artist, performer and eccentric Bruce Lacey (with his Humanoid Robots) alongside endlessly changing patterns of light and colour projected onto screens. The installation also featured a soundscape designed by pioneer of electronic music Delia Derbyshire titled LIGHT/SOUND WORKSHOP.

One of Bruce Lacey's Humanoid Robots

International Baseball, Preston Park Cricket Ground, Sunday, April 16

This unique baseball match played between England and USA attracted a bumper crowd of over 5,000 people to Preston Park Cricket Ground, many of whom were intrigued with the exciting prospect of witnessing a sport not native to British shores. Possibly unsurprisingly, England lost 12-1. The programme to the event contained a message from the then Mayor of Brighton, Kathleen Watson-Miller, wishing the visitors from the States “a very warm welcome” and hoping that they “thoroughly enjoy their brief visit to Brighton and that they may be able to come again some day” alongside a useful two pages explaining the rules of the game.

The Destruction of Hideous Objects, Brighton beach, Saturday, April 29

In a wholly unique event, this huge public bonfire saw hundreds of items deemed ‘hideous’ by 1967 standards – from furniture to art – torched in an aesthetic culling. Allegedly, the bonfire was topped by a wooden cut-out effigy of the then Principal of Brighton College of Art. The fire itself was lit by Brighton Festival chair Ronald Bates, artistic director Ian Hunter and world-renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin; who burst into an impromptu solo whilst the flames took hold.

Yehudi Menuhin

Cleo Laine, John Dankworth and his orchestra, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Wednesday, April 26

Famed for her scat singing style and for her vocal range of four octaves, Jazz singer Cleo Laine joined her husband – jazz composer, saxophonist and clarinettist John Dankworth – on stage for the first of many Brighton Festival concerts over the years. Married in 1958, the couple were feted as helping to bring the marginalised world of jazz into the mainstream over their careers. Dankworth’s jazz scores sound-tracked some of the most memorable films of the 1960’s including Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Darling, whilst Laine’s career became truly international from the early 1970s – to date, she is the only female singer to have received Grammy nods in the jazz, pop and classical categories.

Watch a trailer with rediscovered footage from the 1967 Brighton Festival:

Interview: Lola Arias on Minefield

Ahead of the world premiere of Minefield, Argentinian artist Lola Arias tells us about working with veterans, the legacy of the Falklands war 33 years on, and the impact she hopes her work will have. 

For someone who knows nothing about the project, can you give us some context around Minefield - what the piece is about and how it developed and why you chose to explore the conflict?

In 2013 I did a project called After the War, and that’s when I started to work with veterans. I did a video installation in which Argentinian veterans reconstructed moments from the war in the places they work today. In the Falklands-Malvinas war there were a lot of conscripts, and these people are now completely different from the soldiers they used to be. For example, one was an opera-singer and another a sportsman, like a swimmer.

The gap between the men they used to be and the men they are now started to interest me a lot and I thought about continuing the project with British veterans. So, Minefield will be the first time a group of British veterans and a group of Argentinian veterans are reconstructing together their memories of the war and this will be rehearsed in Argentina and in England so we will be creating together a whole picture of what happened to them at that time and who they are now.

This project is all about memories, how they are still important for them today even if it’s 33 years later. How even if it was a war that lasted only two months, it’s still present every day for them.

You must have been six years old during the Falklands War - what were your personal memories of the conflict?

During the Falklands-Malvinas war, I was in my first year of primary school and we were asked to write a letter to the soldiers. I remember everyone was writing letters to the soldiers. They all started the same way: ‘to the unknown soldier’, then it was ‘I’m a student of such-and-such school and I’m wishing you the best for the war’, and so on.

When I started to work with the Argentinian veterans, they had kept these letters from the unknown students from all over the country. Some even contacted the people who wrote them. One guy told me that he met his wife, because she was a secondary school student who wrote him a letter saying ‘I wish you the best’ and after the war he got in contact with this woman. They met and they fell in love and have been married for 10 years.

So you never know what can come out from a letter from an unknown student to an unknown soldier.

You work often draws on many different genres and disciplines - what form will Minefield take and what can audiences expect to happen?

We’re still developing it, but it will be a project where people are telling their own stories in an informative way, but there will still probably be media and music. We are even thinking about having a band, with British and Argentinian veterans because some of them play instruments – one plays the drums and two of them play guitar. We thought that it could be really interesting to have them play together, so we’ll see what language they play in – English, Spanish or Spanglish.

What have you discovered about the various characteristics of the veterans so far? What are the similarities/differences?

It was surprising to see that English veterans were as affected as Argentinian veterans by the war. I had the impression that because most of the Argentinian veterans were conscripts – so they were only 18 and not really prepared to go to war, they only had a few months’ training – for them it was a totally traumatic experience.

But I thought that people who were well-trained and inside the military before going to war – it’s just one more mission in their life – but I realised that for British veterans this was also a traumatic experience and they all went through very hard moments and all of them have a story to tell.

Why is Minefield an important and relevant work for today's audiences? What do you hope the legacy of the work to be?

For Argentinians it’s a very present topic, it’s not something forgotten or lost in history, but for the British people it’s just one more war. I think it’s not so much about the relevance of this war in terms of in terms of the history. But it is in a way very interesting to reflect on how these people who were there even for two months are still affected today, 33 years later: they go through fear and pain and they were very marked by this experience. If you think about this happening to people that were only there for two months, you cannot imagine the consequences that are facing British soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and so on.

All of them are looking forward to this encounter. For people who were in a war 33 years ago, they don’t have the feeling that the other one is the enemy anymore, they just have the feeling that they’re just other veterans of the same war. They fell very connected, emotionally. I think it will be very moving to see them interacting and telling each other their stories.

Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction, what do you think about the meaning of 'truth' in the processes of truth and reconciliation, and what possibilities does theatre open up in addressing post conflict reconciliation?

I’m not doing this because of reconciliation. I don’t think they need that. For me it’s more about how people can build up a history together using their personal stories. I think that through their personal stories you will get a kind of whole picture of the war and what the consequences were for everyone. You’ll be able to reflect on the history of both countries and how politicians from both sides used the war for their own purposes.

Minefield will premiere at Brighton Festival as it celebrates its 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture. What does it mean for you to be part of Brighton Festival in this milestone year?

I’m very happy to be part of the celebration of a festival which is doing very challenging, wonderful work.

I remember being at Brighton Festival with My Life After in 2013 and people were emotional about it and very grateful afterwards. A lot of people came after the plays to talk to the performers and to me about the play and that was really beautiful.

I’m very proud to be a part of it. 

Book tickets for Minefield now. 

Brighton Festival celebrates 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death falls on Saturday 23 April, and Brighton Festival 2016 is marking four centuries since the death of the most prominent playwright in the English language with a spectacular line up of events

Digging For Shakespeare takes place at Roedale Allotments Sat 7 - Sun 22 May. This promenade piece explores the story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps - a 19th Century polymath, eccentric and Shakespeare Scholar - who lived on what is now Roedale Valley Allotments in Brighton.

Next up we have The Complete Deaths at Theatre Royal Brighton Wed 11 - Sun 15 May. Directed by Tim Crouch, clowning troupe Spymonkey will perform all 74 onstage deaths in the plays of William Shakespeare – sometimes movingly, sometimes messily, always hysterically.

Shakespeare Untold at Brighton Dome Studio Theatre Sat 21 May & Sun 22 May gives a glimpse of people behind the scenes of Shakespeare's iconic plays. This show features two famous stories told from the perspective of not-so-famous characters – the Capulet’s party planner, and Titus Andronicus’ pie maker.

Globe Theatre on Tour return to Brighton Open Air Theatre Wed 25 - Sun 29 May to hurl Shakespeare's anarchic comedy into the 21st century in this riotous production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Festival Hot Seat... Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal

Chilean company Silencio Blanco tells us more about the UK Premiere of their show Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal at Brighton Festival. 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Chiflón, The Silence of the Coal is the story of the mines, from the perspective of the people who worked them. A young miner is expelled from the coal pit where he works, and to keep working he has to accept a job in ‘El Chiflón del Diablo’, an infamously sinister mine. Silencio Blanco portrays the miners’ world through everyday situations and anonymous characters - also focusing on the role of women in these mining communities. 

How and where will it be staged?

Chiflón is going to be presented at the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, and it’s a simple collaboration between the puppets and their manipulators, who give life to the marionettes in a manner almost like a little dance between them. This is supplemented with simple scenery made with recycled materials like old wood, to show the simplicity of the work and the lifelike detail of every movement.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This play is unmissable, primarily for the visual language that’s used: marionettes constructed of newspaper and chopsticks, which, together with other day-to-day elements that have been recycled and re-purposed, give life to these bodies and to a fascinating and moving story.

Furthermore, despite us coming from far-away Chile - at the edge of Latin America - this language allows us to tell a completely universal story, focusing on the depths of these people, touching the very fibres of their being through everyday situations, just using movement and gesture.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

This play emerged from our intention to portray a particular job, a lost job, anonymous and lonely. That’s why we chose miners, inspired by Baldomero Lillo’s tale, Chiflón Del Diablo. Lillo is a brilliant Chilean author, naturalist, and witness of the world that he observes. He is considered to be the Chilean Emile Zola.

To develop the idea and the inspiration, we traveled to the town of Lota, in southern Chile, where we met mining families and ex-miners that today have no jobs. They told us their stories and experiences, their sadness, pains and dreams, and we realised that the miners’ history is a living treasure that we want to tell with our work.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

Mainly because it’s a universal story.

It’s inspired by a town in Chile, but it cuts across all of humanity, because it talks about the human emotions of the workers faced with these conditions, and the role of the women and their uncertainty of not knowing if their men will come back from the mine or not.

Also because it talks about history - from the little stories of anonymous characters and the daily situations they face. It tells history from the perspective of the defeated, not the winners.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone aged 6 to 99.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The magic of the marionettes – how delicate and natural they are.

The illusion that can be produced through the marionettes is able to stir even the deepest emotion in the heart.

Have you visited Brighton before? What were/are your impressions of the city?

No we haven’t visited Brighton before, but we’re really excited to get to know the city and enjoy the festival. We don’t have any expectations – we just want have fun and enjoy it – but we hope people there will love and enjoy our work, which was prepared with a lot of love, care, attention to detail and, of course, hard work.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

We’re excited to be part of this huge festival and celebrate together the 50th anniversary. To us, it’s very important be part of this, because this is the first time that a Chilean company has participated in Brighton Festival, so it’s an honor to represent our country there – particularly with a very Chilean story, the story of the miners. It’s a privilege to present this work, and we are sure that everyone is going to enjoy it. We are bringing you a little piece of our history. 

Book now for Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal

Five minutes with... Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle joins us this Brighton Festival to discuss his new memoir, Thatcher Stole My Trousers. We pinned him down for a quick, but seriously funny five minutes of questions...

I knew I wanted to be a comedian when…

I never wanted to be a comedian that’s why I seem so angry all the time.

My first public performance took place at…

My mother used to make the neighbours come around and watch me do little shows from about the age of six.

The first comedy gig I went to was…

There was a guy called John Dowie who came along just too early for the alternative comedy boom who I saw at the Bush Theatre in 1976.

The first album I ever bought was…

The Four Tops. On Top.

My favourite part of touring is…

Not touring.

My favourite comedian is…

I’ll say Louie C K because he is no threat to me.

My favourite place to perform live is…

The Soho Theatre in London. I can get the 19 bus there using my old person’s bus pass and be home again by 10.00. All for free.

The last song I listened to was…

“Circles” by Kate Tempest.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when…

I MC’d Glastonbury in 1985 a famously muddy year and I said from the stage “a woman’s lost a contact lens, if you could all just have a look for it...”

The best show I ever performed was…

Glastonbury 1985.

If I wasn’t performing, I’d probably be…

Eating a sugary cake such as a Lemon Yum Yum from the patisserie counter at Waitrose.

People would be surprised to learn that…

I don’t have diabetes.

Festival Hot Seat... Slap and Tickle

We catch up with Liz Aggiss, the 'unclassifiable' performance artist behind Slap and Tickle 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

As the title suggests it’s a show of opposites; slap and tickle, punishment reward, push and pull……..all the way home. It’s about inconsistencies, propaganda, interpretations, mythologies, platitudes and expectations on, and of, girls, ladies, women, mummies, mothers, grannies, pensioners and senior citizens. It’s about using performance as a means to create a discussion, a dialogue about the observed and received cultural mores, forays and sexual taboos.

How and where will it be staged?

Slap and Tickle is presented in three fast moving acts, using a visual and aural collage of movement, text, props, costumes (Holly Murray), sound (Joe Murray) and cover versions (Alan Boorman/Wevie). The performances take place in the intimate black box Studio Theatre space on Thursday 19th May at 8 pm, and Friday 20th May at 7pm and 9.30 pm.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because for the past 40 years I have been re(de)fining my own brand of British contemporary dance performance, dodging categorization and being classified as unclassifiable. Because there are limited opportunities to see live work. Because if you don’t come to see the work in Brighton the next chance will be London, then, Tasmania, India, Norwich, Bournemouth, Scotland and I can’t guarantee it will return to Brighton in the near future. No contest! Because I invite the audience to ‘…..have a party’ and then confound their expectations of what this party might be. Because I make, funny, accessible, empowering and thoughtful work. Because what are you waiting for? Permission? Because it’s granted!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was born on Nanny Goats Common, Dagenham, Essex, a post war baby, into a repressive era in the suburbs, where parents were truly in charge and children were seen and not heard. I never had a clue who I was, or what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to be seen and heard. I come from a pre televisual age, a world of radio drama, Mrs. Mills, post music hall variety acts, cor blimey and oooer missus, that opened the dark tabernacle into the soul of early feminism. It is this personal history when placed alongside feminist politics that compels me to create a context in which to scratch that particular itch. Slap and Tickle is that itch.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Bring an open mind and no preconceptions as to what you think a mature, ageing, post menopausal, solo, female, dancing body should be doing, why she should be doing it, and where it should be done, and you should be just fine. There are no limits except for those under 15 on account of the strong language. Not my call!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The pace, the speed, the unpredictability, the roller coaster ride.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?

Flexing my performance muscle and presenting Slap and Tickle in three consecutive performances. Apart from that taking a punt on unknown and new discoveries in unexplored locations, whilst soaking up Brighton and the festival atmosphere.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I’ve lived in Brighton since 1975. I’m still here, still making, still performing, still touring, nationally and internationally, still in the picture……… though not so still, I can’t stop moving! Must be the sea air.

Book now for Slap and Tickle

Festival Hot Seat... Clairière Urbaine

We caught up with Retouramont to find out more about their UK premiere Clairière Urbaine

Why should someone come and see your show?

The show - and more broadly the artistic work of the company Retouramont - offers new perspectives on the city. It doesn’t consider walls as limits but rather as openings and opportunities - and a means to invent new choreography. In our shows we aim to shift perspectives and invite the audience to discover their neighbourhood in a very new way.

How and where will it be staged?

It will be staged in Lavender Street. Some anchoring will be made on two buildings so the dance can evolve on the wall of one of them and in-between, in the air and over the audience.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It came from the desire to go beyond, but not in the usual sense. As a climber, cliffs or boulders are limits you want to go over. I like when this movement can also be inventive and aesthetic. In the city, I find this desire for crossing and going over particularly joyful and creative.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everyone can enjoy this aerial and acrobatic dance show that grabs the city in all its dimensions. We do not try to impose any story on the audience - each person can create their own story. This is our way of inviting the audience to feel and accept a shift of perceptions and take a new look at their surroundings.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

We propose a different and new use of the city that no one has seen before, not even the architects or inhabitants of the neighbourhood. They may look up for the first time and see buildings differently from now on.

Have you visited Brighton before? What were/are your impressions of the city?

This is my first time in Brighton - I'm curious to discover it.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It’s great to see such longevity in a festival of art, vertical dance is about 25 years old. In this sense, I find it very interesting to question and analyse our practices in the long-term: how did street arts emerge? What is their social role? etc.

Head this way for more info on free event Clairière Urbaine.

Interview: Stewart Hurwood on Lou Reed Drones

'I like to think of it as a sonic massage…'

Ahead of the UK premiere of Lou Reed Drones, an installation of guitars in feedback mode, Lou Reed’s long-time guitar tech and right-hand man Stewart Hurwood tells us about what it was like to work with a music legend, how the piece came about and exactly what he hopes audiences will get out of it…

How did you meet Lou Reed and how long did you work with him?

I worked with Lou Reed for the last ten years of his life. I became his right-hand man handling many more things than just his guitars, equipment and managing the stages he played on.

What was Lou like to work with?

Lou was very demanding on everyone including himself. He was always pushing his art and didn't want to stand still or rest on his laurels. This made the work extremely challenging and very rewarding.

How did Lou Reed: Drones come about? Was it something you discussed directly with Lou?

In 1975 Lou Reed released Metal Machine Music. This was a noise album featuring a constant drone of guitar feedback from start to finish, in fact, the album was made so the end would continually repeat until you lifted the needle from the record.

Around 2008 Lou wanted to tour and perform a noise type improv similar to Metal Machine Music. We did extensive testing of guitar feedback and ultimately Lou decided that we would use four guitars and amplifiers feeding back as the foundation of the Metal Machine Trio Tour. It was during this testing that Lou Reed gave the title ‘The Drones’ to the four guitar, amp wall of feedback.

During that tour in Sydney, while setting the feedback Lou shouted to me: "I feel healed in The Drones"! He was ill at the time and I fully acknowledged the gravity of his statement.

What was Laurie Anderson’s role?

After Lou passed there was a meeting at his house. People were discussing what should happen to Lou Reed's guitars and equipment. Many said the equipment should be in a museum. I spoke up and said, "Lou would hate his instruments gathering dust, he was about moving forward and creating". I told Laurie Anderson about my experiences with Lou Reed and The Drones, how I wanted to use them as therapy for Lou and the idea of a feedback wall. Laurie Anderson said: "The feedback wall is a great idea...and YOU must do it"!

Laurie set things in motion and I performed a three hour (MM3) session at The Steven Kasher Gallery on 23rd Street in Chelsea, NYC. Laurie Anderson and Antony Hegarty were deeply moved by the tribute and a second session was scheduled...this time at The Kitchen in NYC.

Laurie was invited to perform in a tribute show for Ornette Coleman at The Bandshell in Brooklyn. She had The Drones as part of the performance. I set a soundscape foundation and Master Ren Guang- Yi (Tai Chi teacher to Lou Reed) performed The 21 a movement created for Lou Reed.

Laurie came out on stage with John Zorn and Bill Laswell and all three improvised over The Drones. ...it was beautiful!

What exactly will the audience be able to see/hear/do?

Ideally the room will be pretty dark with some slow moving lights generated from a mirror ball. The idea is to instigate a little disorientation and second guessing about the space you're in. I will set soundscapes in motion these will encourage the listeners' imagination to open.

They can sit, lay, listen, meditate, sleep, cry, dance, chant, perform Tai Chi - whatever they get emotionally from the sounds they can react to. I would encourage people to drone along, making their own drone resonating inside their chest cavity. The sound is interactive changing with the movement of people within the space, other sound sources (musicians and instruments, or chants etc.).

How many guitars are there in the installation? Were they all owned by Lou?

I tour with seven guitars, six are leaning against the amps ready to be included in the soundscape, I can use the extra guitar to swap out a guitar and alter the tunings available to me. All the guitars and amplifiers were owned by Lou Reed...many of which people have seen Lou play live, or in videos of live gigs.

How has the installation been received to date?

The Drones fall between an installation and performance art as I manipulate and interact with them. People, even musicians as usually surprised by how musical and moving it can be.

What do you hope audiences will get out of it?

I hope that they experience the gateway of their imagination to be opened! The Drones generate so many harmonics in the air that people hear different things within the drones; some hear birds, or horns, brass bands, others hear strings, or voices. In addition the sound waves hit the body perhaps penetrating and shaking internal organs, releasing endorphins etc. I like to think of it as a sonic massage!

I had one person tell me, amazingly he slept during parts of the performance. He went on to say he suffers with insomnia and the vibration had made him feel incredibly relaxed... he had a great nap and vivid dreams. I see this as a success!

And finally…. Exactly how loud is the feedback?

Not as loud as Metallica...louder than a string quartet...at times approaching the sound and volume of Lancaster bomber but more musical!


Head this way for more info on free event Lou Reed Drones


Stella: An Encounter with a Truly Remarkable Person.

'Most of all, I hope people are going to realise that even though she's dead 100 years, and even though she lived this unimaginable life in a very different culture, in fact Stella is asking herself the same questions that we are all asking ourselves' Neil Bartlett


Award-winning director, writer and performer Neil Bartlett OBE talks to Kathy Caton about his new show Stella, co-commissioned by and premiering at Brighton Festival.

The show is inspired by Ernest Boulton – one half of the infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella - and intimately examines his strange life and lonely death.

In this interview, Neil discusses how he first discovered Stella, her extraordinary history, and how his work both past and current examines her life and character.

This new teaser trailer features the actors Oscar Battingham and Richard Cant as the enigmatic flipsides of Stella, and gives a glimpse into their tumultuous lives. 


From our Spotlight video series, Neil discusses bringing Stella to the 50th Brighton Festival and what he hopes audiences are going to get out of the show. 


Stella is on at the Theatre Royal, Fri 27 & Sat 28 May. Book now.

Festival Hot Seat ... Zvizdal

We catch up with Yves Degryse, Artistic Director of Berlin, who are bringing their ‘filmic portrait’ Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close) to Brighton Festival


Can you tell us what your show is about?

Over four years we have been filming near Chernobyl in the forbidden zone. Each time we went it was to meet two people, Petro and Nadia, a couple in their 80s, living in Zvizdal and who refused to be evacuated following the nuclear disaster. They have been living with no water or electricity and no means of communication with the outside world. Every time we went we took a plane and hoped they were still there. We spent time filming them in their everyday lives.

How and where will it be staged?

The audience will be seated in two tiers in front of a big screen, and underneath the screen will be three scale models of the couple’s house and grounds, depicting three seasons. There will be two cameras filming the models and these images will be interspersed in the film.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The French journalist Cathy Blisson, formerly a critic, but who moved into reportage, came into contact with Petro and Nadia and asked if we would be interested to collaborate with her, and we quickly decided to start the project.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

The moment you enter the forbidden zone, you are entering a microcosm of human experience. It is a very extreme situation, but there are layers that you recognise, and as you spend time there the layers become more visible.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Our work can be complex but at the same time it appeals to a very broad audience.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

There will be surprises, relating to the concept of the piece, but the surprises you should not know beforehand.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

We have brought work to Brighton Festival before including Perhaps All The Dragons in 2014, and Lands End in 2012. What I really like about Brighton Festival is that I have the impression that the audiences are very eager to discover things. I think it’s connected with the way the Festival approaches the audience, not underestimating the audience.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I’m very happy that we will be part of that moment.

Book now for Zvizdal.


Festival Fifty: Producers' Standout Moments

In our 50th year, five producers look back and share their personal highlights of past festivals, from hunting around the globe to find and reconstruct the score to Laurence Olivier’s Henry V, to wiping sheep sneezes off Anish Kapoor’s C-Curve

Philip Morgan, producer (1991 – present day)

One of my most memorable Brighton Festival moments was Gaudeamus by the Maly Theatre in 1996. This devised show was directed by Lev Dodin - considered to be one of the best theatre directors in the world. It’s based on a Russian short story about life in the army in 1980. It was a steeply raked stage covered in artificial snow and honeycombed with traps which the cast of twenty literally dived in and out of. We flew a grand piano across stage with a couple making love on top of it. It was an incredibly exciting show demonstrating ensemble work that no longer exists in the UK and we built a temporary theatre in Brighton Dome Corn Exchange to show it.

Pippa Smith, producer (1990 – present day)

In 1990 I was working at Same Sky when Brighton Festival director Gavin Henderson asked us to take over the organisation of the annual Children’s Parade. In my previous job I had been involved with Notting Hill Carnival so I was able to bring many of their ideas to Brighton; it was a really exciting to see them work with children and train teachers to make the parade the amazing spectacle it is today! In the early years the entire event would end up on the Café lawn of Pavilion Gardens; all the children, their parents and teachers could gather on the one lawn and there was still room for the Millstones – the Blatchington Mill Big Band! The parade now features dozens of bands, every single school from Brighton and Hove and many from outside the city.

children's parade 2
Children's Parade

Beth Burgess, producer (2015 – present day)

A producer’s first festival is always memorable, but in 2015 there was a great moment when I was sitting in my office which overlooks Castle Square. I had run up to do some quick e-mails and the Children’s Parade was still going past… I had been on the ground, so to speak, as it began and that made me smile from ear to ear, but seeing it from above, it was amazing. As I leaned out my window to watch all these amazing costumes, sculptures and children marching past, I could not believe that I was part of something so huge, so joyous and this was just the beginning! There were all sorts of wonders but, later that week, sitting with Agnes Varda - my all-time heroine of cinema - was my dream come true. She was such a lovely human being and delightful to work with. I learned so much from her and her work. What could be better?!

Gill Kay, producer (1985 – present day)

One of my most memorable festival moments was the 2007 performance of Laurence Olivier’s film Henry V with Carl Davis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing the famous Walton score live. That year was Olivier’s centenary and Granada Film/TV were issuing a new celebratory HD print of this iconic 1944 film. The original score had been lost, and so began a hunt which took us, literally, around the world to the US, via Italy and back to Christie’s in London. Finally, along with a brilliant composer/transcriber Dominic Sewell we managed to reconstruct the score… only to find that all the sound on the film had been put onto one track so extracting the music to enable ‘live’ performance became a mammoth task. Dominic, myself and some dedicated Granada technicians spent hours going through the film frame by frame to produce this new version of the score and film. It can now be performed by any orchestra anywhere in the world so definitely worth all that effort!

Tanya Peters, producer (2007 – present)

In 2009 bringing Guest Director Anish Kapoor’s C-Curve to Brighton was definitely one of my most memorable Festival experiences. The location was up on a South Downs hill that overlooked the Chattri and down across the city to the sea. For such a stunningly simple-looking piece it was deceptively complex to do in terms of agreeing the site, transporting the valuable sculpture across farmland, the meticulous installation and maintenance. One unanticipated issue was the local lambs sharing the field would cuddle behind it as a windbreak overnight – they’d keep sneezing on it and I’d have to go back up there at 6am to remove the evidence and buff it up! One day I remember looking down toward Brighton and seeing all these dots on the hill. After a while it dawned on me that they were people; it was the first day of the Festival and lots of people were walking up to see the sculpture! This continued throughout May – people arriving throughout the night and at dawn, from campers to cyclists and poi jugglers. You’ve got to love Brighton people haven’t you – we are going to put an amazing sculpture in the middle of absolutely nowhere and everyone comes along - I love that! What amazed me, and this is really what Brighton Festival is all about, is how the piece inspired so many people, with many then creating their own works of art. Beautiful photography and portraits created in response to it were being shared online and across social media. It was amazing and Anish loved seeing that too. I miss my days starting with a walk in the Downs and sheep sneezes.


Anish Kapoor's C-Curve
Photo by Matthew Andrews

Competition: For the Love of Dogs

What is it about our relationship with our dogs that is so special?

We’re giving our audience the chance to pay tribute to the animals who love us so unconditionally. We’ll be selecting 50 dogs to be immortalised in a special Brighton Festival graffiti mural in a city centre location.

Brighton Festival Guest Director Laurie Anderson is presenting two events this year around dogs. In her film Heart of a Dog, her relationship with her pet rat terrier Lolabelle provides the starting point for a meditation on love, loyalty and memory.

If you would like to see your furry friend featured on this one-off mural, email competitions@brightonfestival.org by Thu 21 Apr with:

  • The name of your dog and up to 50 words on why your dog is so special to you
  • A high-quality portrait-style photograph
  • Your name and email address

50 dogs will be chosen to be immortalised on a Brighton wall, a tribute to unwavering loyalty and to 50 years of our bold, brilliant & sometimes barking mad Brighton Festival. We will also create an online gallery featuring all dog submissions and their stories.

Festival Hot Seat... The Last Resort

In the first of a new blog series we caught up with artists Tristan Shorr and Rachel Champion aka Art Of Disappearing to find out more about upcoming Brighton Festival commission The Last Resort

Can you tell us what your show is about?

The Last Resort takes a wry look at a rather bleak future. It throws out questions and ideas and possibilities. It’s an experience that should challenge imagination and thought.

How and where will it be staged?

Two participants at a time embark on a fictional tour of a forgotten resort. They move along the barren stretch of beach, imagining what might or might not have been, led by an immersive score.. The site is near the dock at Portslade which we chose for its bleakness and solitary position, the perfect environment for the imagination to be set loose!

Why should someone come and see your show?

If you enjoy dystopian ideas, beautiful barren landscapes and sci-fi whilst spending time in an imaginative experience then this is the show for you. With an original score, the chance to spend quality time with friend, family or stranger, and a shop to buy The Last Resort goodies...what more could you want!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The outdoor site in Portslade was a perfect fit for certain ideas we have been mulling over for a while. The opportunity to create a work for Brighton Festival gave us the chance to bring the idea to life in a very real and raw way.

How we make the work and what the work is about are intrinsically linked for us. Within the creation of imaginary realities and reinterpreted landscapes the work looks to inspire, challenge and feed the participants imagination and create a space for action rather than passivity.

The context is of a future where our imaginations and our ability to think for ourselves as individuals is placed in doubt. Our inspiration is in the making of a work that encourages both active listening and active participation from our audiences.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

Its both exciting and depressing to think about the future...what will happen, what are we doing and what choices will be made….this work looks at one extreme possibility all wrapped up in the nicest possible experience. It’s important to think ahead…

The Last Resort is a work that hopefully you leave asking a few questions.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The nudist beach along the route might be an eye opener!

The show is unusual, in that it uses sound along with the participants imaginations to create an immersive world.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who holds a fascination with the future, enjoys being outdoors, loves listening to music in headphones, enjoys the challenge of spending time with a friend, a stranger or a family member and definitely anyone who wants to broaden and challenge their imagination.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

Rachel:

I was born locally and have lived near Brighton for the majority of my life. Brighton has always been a place of positive escapism for me, the live music, the great coffee shops and the Brighton Festival. I actually performed in Brighton Fringe with my school 27 years ago! Ouch! It’s always been there...long may it continue!

Tristan:

I think at a time where funding for the arts is dwindling and when challenging audiences and social passivity to the world around us is also taking a step back, it's hugely important that arts and cultural festivals like Brighton Festival exist. It is also important that places that support work and artists pushing the boundaries of the arts exist too and this is what the festival means to us both.

This isn't to say that we view ourselves as particularly radical in our approach, but we definitely appreciate the importance of Brighton Festival giving a place for us artists to call home!

Do you have a favourite festival moment?

It hasn’t happened yet!! The festival is always great, the city wakes up! Can’t ask for more than that! We’re going to be pretty busy this year with the show so it will be a very different experience… we might have to hear about it rather than join in!

Book now for the last remaining slots of The Last Resort.

Gallery: Brighton Festival Brochure Covers 1967 - 1976

Look back through Brighton Festival's design history 

Check out the first ten years of Brighton Festival Programme Covers.
The next four decades will be coming soon... 
Find out more on the branding for our milestone 50th year. 

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976


Peacock Poetry Prize 2016

For the 50th Brighton Festival, our annual poetry competition in partnership with Brighton, Hove & Sussex 6th Form College (BHASVIC) takes the theme of ‘Celebration’. Rejoice in the everyday or revel in the outlandish: what will you choose to celebrate?

Entries will be judged by our panel of experts and prizes awarded at a special ceremony at Brighton Dome on Thu 26 May, 5pm. There are four categories, for ages 8–11, 12–15, 16–17 and 18+. You can submit up to three poems with a maximum length of 40 lines per poem.

Email your entry, together with your full name, age and date of birth to writing@brightonfestival.org 

Deadline for entries: Fri 22 Apr, 5pm

The Peacock Poetry Prize is an annual competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) to encourage young writers to explore the written word from a creative point of view. The aim is to get young people writing right across Sussex and encourage them to engage with the Festival’s theme. The competition is open to residents of Brighton & Hove, East and West Sussex aged 8 and over.

Supported by GM Building

Brighton Festival celebrates the city's memories with new oral history app

'Jimi Hendrix signed my tambourine and I had to run for my life...'

A free interactive oral history app unfolding the ordinary personal stories of young love, loss and rebellion in the 1940s, 50s and 60s is launching during May as part of Brighton Festival 2016.

The Giddy app, from Brighton arts collective The Nimbus Group and funded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, takes users on an alternative walking tour of the city, punctuated by GPS triggered personal histories straight from the mouths of the people who lived them.

From a chance meeting with Jimi Hendrix in the back of a beaten up MG and tales of daytime runaways who never got caught, to stories about sneaking into strip bars and dancing til dawn with the Teddy boys, Giddy offers a view of life in the postwar years that is conspicuously absent from the history books.

All of the content – the stories, photographs, app design – has been gathered and created by teenaged pupils of Brighton’s Longhill School, with the support of a team of archive specialists, oral history interviewers and photographers.

‘Every generation of young people thinks they are the first to experience the intense highs, lows and giddy adventures of the teenage years,’ says Carina Westling of The Nimbus Group. 

‘We wanted to use digital technology to create something that celebrates the stuff of life that unites us as humans, reveals our individuality but also highlights universal themes associated with youth that span the generations,’ she says.

‘Oral history offers a perspective of the past that stands outside the received wisdom of the history books. Our intention for Giddy is to bring history to life in such a way that the young (or not so young) people who hear these stories will never look at older people in quite the same way again.’

Giddy is available for iOS and Android smartphones from May, sign up for a notification of the app’s release at www.giddybrighton.com.

An accompanying online archive and exhibition featuring portraits and archive images gathered during the making of the app will launch at University of Brighton's on 7 May 2016, which will be open to the public till the end of the Festival on 29 May.

Laurie Anderson on...

… Brighton Festival 2016’s theme of ‘home and place’:

‘I’m really happy to be part of Brighton Festival this year. I love the theme, maybe because I’m a working musician and often on the road, the idea of home is pretty appealing. It’s also a great idea for a festival, trying to find out who and where you are. It’s a pretty amazing collection of work. See you there!’

… Brighton Festival 2016 exclusive performance Song as a Place:

‘We’ll be doing a lot of new things in the Festival, one is a collaboration with Nik Bärtsch and Eivind Aarset. They are incredible musicians and we’ve played together once before. It’s going to be like a song conversation. Imagine walking through a piece of music with people you really like and we get to play it and kind of think about it and talk about it at the same time… it’s going to be a blast.’

… Brighton Festival 2016 exclusive performance Slideshow:

‘This is about an attempt to describe several places I’ve been in my life and what they might have in common. This is a brand new piece so I can’t tell you that much about it, it’s going to be a surprise to me too!’

… her unique concert for dogs making its UK premiere:

‘I’m so curious who is going to show up. We’ll be playing things that are kind of in their range - although they hear very well across the spectrum - so we’re going to see what happens.

… on the Brighton Festival 2016 screening of her critically acclaimed film Heart of a Dog:

‘It’s full of stories about how you make a story. It’s nominally a film about me and my dog, but really it’s not… it’s about love and language, I guess. I hope you like it.’

… on what Brighton Festival 2016 audiences can expect of her works:

‘I like to make a really big, fun, interesting playing field and not predict what people are going to get from of it. It’s so different for each person. I’m often really surprised when people tell me what they’ve got from my work, and then I think “that’s really interesting and brilliant… but that had really nothing to do with the work I was doing”. It’s your interpretation, so I guess that’s what I hope… that people use it to go places themselves.’

… the UK premiere of Lou Reed’s Drones project:

‘We’re going to be doing a really exiting installation plus sort of ‘improv site’, let’s say. It’s based on Lou Reed’s feedback work - he worked with guitars and the incredible harmonics and sound structures that happen when you use feedback. His guitar tech, Stewart Hurwood will be doing it with Lou’s guitars and Lou’s amps… so it’s kind of as close to Lou’s music as we can get these days. It’s a very hypnotic, beautiful sound, I think you are really going to like it. We’re inviting musicians to come and do improvisations with it as well - that is really fun - so I hope you get a chance to come by and play. You could improvise any way you want really, you could come and do some drawings or pottery… I guess… bit messy!’

… on being Guest Director of Brighton Festival in May:

‘Brighton Festival is so big and sprawling and exciting and there’s so many different things going on - it really has a kind of celebratory, crazy, art party feel to it. I also love the chance to meet other artists and hang out with them. It’s a free for all so I’m really looking forward to it.’

Danny Wallace introduces Young City Reads 2016, Brighton & Hove

Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC are rather excited for the 2016 Big Read. The concept is simple: one book, by one author is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with. This year's featured book is Danny Wallace’s Hamish and the Worldstoppers

Watch the video and see what Danny Wallace has to say about this year's Young City Reads and head over to Collected Works CIC website and find out more.

More on the Young City Reads Big Event

Brighton Festival 2016 branding: Fifty years on the edge

What’s black and white and read all over? The 50th Brighton Festival brochure…

Working to create our striking monochrome 50th identity has been a lot of fun. Here’s what designers Johnson Banks said about their inspiration and direction,

‘This year Brighton Festival asked us to create a special identity to celebrate their fiftieth year. It really was a gift for us, that their current F logo could become the initial letter for 'FIFTY' in a one-off logotype.

The festival has always celebrated the experimental, unusual and cutting edge in the arts, wanting to disrupt the quotidian. So the 'FIFTY' marque began from there - avoiding the traditional, and sitting on the edge, literally and figuratively. The vertical type, chevrons and diagonal cut letters add to the dislocated effect. This year's line 'Fifty years on the edge' developed from the same starting point.

Laurie Anderson, the Guest Director for 2016, herself an experimental performance artist, is a perfect fit with the festival ethos for their golden year.’ 

The design process in progress:


Volunteer with England's biggest mixed arts Festival

Embrace Brighton’s epic Festival season, be at the heart of the action in this milestone 50th year and gain invaluable work experience within a busy arts organisation. Any time you can offer would be much appreciated – we'd love to have you on board to help make our 50th Festival the best yet. 

All Volunteers will be provided with an official Festival t-shirt and a tote bag filled with great local discounts, and will also gain access to exclusive Festival ticket offers and social events.

We're still looking for Volunteers to fill the following roles...  

Heritage Ambassadors for Dr Blighty
Req'd afternoon shifts 24th-26th May, and ideally to attend a rehearsal on 21st May
- Working as a team to greet and assist the audience around the Pavilion Gardens
- Giving information to audience members (You will be briefed and supplied with materials)

ONCA Gallery and St Nicholas'Church Invigilators
Req'd for flexible shifts throughout May
- On site to welcome visitors and answer questions at these Visual Art exhibitions

The Last Resort Performance Stewards
Req'd for flexible shifts throughout May
- On site to help guide audience members through the performance.

The Last Resort Full Time Assistants
Req'd full time throughout May
- This opportunity would entail taking on a deeper role within the work and the chosen person would be able to spend time with the company post show learning more about the company's practice and the creation of the show. There is also the added possibility that this person might get the chance to tour with the work in the future.

Marketing & Promotions Ambassadors
Req'd for flexible shifts throughout May
- Getting out and about to our venues to update our branding - banners, flyers, posters etc
- Conducting market research by asking audience members to fill out short surveys
- Giving out flyers and chatting to the public around town to generate excitement about the events
- Exit-flyering before or after our own and external events

Brighton Station Info Booth Representatives
Req'd for flexible shifts Fridays-Sundays throughout May
- Chatting to the public
- Promoting What's On that day
- Generating excitement about the events

Children's Parade Assistants
Req'd Sunday 7th May morning shift
- Setting up banners and bunting
- Handing out schedules, flyers and masks etc.

Registration to volunteer at Brighton Festival 2016 is still open, click here to complete our short registration form...

Alternatively, drop us an email at volunteers@brightonfestival.org stating which role(s) you're interested in, and your availability, or feel free to call on 01273 700747.

Hamptons International are providing generous support towards our Brighton Festival Volunteers programme.

Be part of Gillian Wearing’s A Room With Your Views

Turner-Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing is seeking participants to be part of a unique, global, collective filmmaking project - one of the largest of its kind ever to be produced - for a new commission, A Room With Your Views, as part of this year’s Brighton Festival and HOUSE festival.

The project aims to capture a snapshot of views from people’s homes all over the world - from urban spaces to remote countryside - and invites the public to film a short clip of either their curtains or blinds opening to reveal a view from their window. Like the curtains going up at the beginning of a stage play, each view will be a pictorial unveiling of a landscape, cityscape or even a brick wall.

The results will feature in a new exhibition as part of the 50th edition of Brighton Festival and HOUSE festival called A Room with Your Views – Wearing’s first solo exhibition on the South Coast of England – which will take place at the Brighton University Galleries from 7-29 May 2016.

Participants are not required have experience as a filmmaker - raw footage filmed on phones, video cameras or in more professional formats will all be accepted. The only stipulation is that the shot is static and is shot on a horizontal and participants follow some simple instructions so all the clips are similar in specification. Creative ideas of revealing the view are welcomed for windows without curtains or blinds.

The project asks for contributions to be uploaded to yourviewsfilm.com. It is hoped that Brighton & Hove residents will send their own films to the project as well as participants from far further afield. 

Gillian Wearing, OBE, commented, “It feels personal in the way that each person has approached the instructions to the film and universal as it unites the world in the harmonious gesture of opening the curtains, blinds or shutters to give us a glimpse of their views. I am delighted by this opportunity to present ‘A Room With Your Views’ to the HOUSE and Brighton Festival audience and hopefully the work will include some local participant’s films too.”

Andrew Comben, CEO, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, said, “We are delighted to have co-commissioned Gillian Wearing for Brighton Festival 2016. In this – our 50th year – we particularly wanted to reflect on the nature of ‘home’ and ‘place’ and this project does just that, providing an insight into people’s views from their windows throughout the world. I can’t wait to see the project develop and hope that the whole community will get involved by sending in their own films”

Please upload your contributions to  yourviewsfilm.com.


Astounding film footage of first Brighton Festival discovered

See extracts in our 50th Brighton Festival film

Film footage of the very first Brighton Festival in 1967 has been discovered in an attic. The long lost material, shot by former Brighton College of Art students Ian Beck and Tim Grimes, captures the inaugural festival’s many different events alongside behind the scenes footage. 

You can enjoy extracts of this historic and unique footage in our latest Brighton Festival video (watch above). Made by Echo Video, with Ian Beck and Tim Grimes’ original footage and featuring footage from Screen archive South East. With voiceover from Spymonkey's Toby Park.

Ian Beck says ‘In 1967 we were encouraged by Tom Buckeridge, head of photography at Brighton College of Art, to make a record of the first Brighton Festival. We were handed two Bolex 16 mm cameras and some film stock and we were more or less left to run wild to film what we were interested in… so we did!’

Historical gems uncovered in the 100 minutes of silent film include footage of a young Eric Clapton playing with Cream in Brighton Dome, early robotic works from acclaimed artist and eccentric Bruce Lacey, and an International baseball game held between England and the United States of America.

Ian Beck explains ‘We all thought the film was lost. Tim Grimes, my fellow worker on the film, was cleaning out an attic and found several rusty tins in which was the original untouched negatives. It was quite the find. We then had them digitised, although it’s mute because the sound recordings are still lost!’

Also captured is the frantic moment Keith Moon destroys his drum kit following a concert by The Who and the intriguingly titled Destruction of Hideous Objects; a large bonfire on the beach comprised of discarded furniture and art pieces.

Ian Beck continues ‘We were allowed to film anywhere. We shot both John Dankworth and Georgie Fame rehearsing at Brighton Dome. We seemed to have access to all sorts of things and we filmed everything and everyone without anyone turning their head and asked ‘what are you doing? We don’t want you filming this!’ These were relaxed times I suppose you say!’

Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year in 2016 with the pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson as its Guest Director. Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin.

Brighton Festival: Fifty years on the edge

For 50 years this popular seaside destination has been the incomparable setting for Brighton Festival, a magnet for culture loving visitors and artists from all corners of our Globe.

Long known as a haven for ‘dirty weekenders’, the festival’s arrival in 1967 ushered a new era of cultural sophistication for Brighton. But it was one that embraced its raffish spirit! In the words of inaugural director Sir Ian Hunter, it was to be a festival where ‘the serious and the apparently flippant ride side by side’.

Now entering its milestone 50th year the festival’s trail-blazing traditions proudly continue with 2016’s eclectic programme featuring a dazzling array of some of the most innovative artists and companies from the UK and around the world. And with pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson at the helm as Guest Director, it’s really going to be something worth celebrating.

This footage of the very first Brighton Festival in 1967 was discovered recently in an attic. The long lost material, shot by former Brighton College of Art students Ian Beck and Tim Grimes, captures the inaugural festival’s many different events alongside unseen footage of Eric Clapton, The Who and more. Read more on the discovery of this footage. 

Made by Echo Video, with Ian Beck and Tim Grimes’ original footage and featuring footage from Screen archive South East. With voiceover from Spymonkey's Toby Park.

Spotlight: The Complete Deaths

We cast a spotlight on some of our special commissions and co-commissions in our milestone 50th Brighton Festival. Tim Crouch and Toby Parks discuss their work The Complete Deaths

Another match made in Brighton. Leading physical comedy company Spymonkey (Oedipussy, 2012 and Cooped, 2006) and award winning playwright and performer Tim Crouch (I, Caliban, 2003, I, Peaseblossom, 2004, I, Banquo, 2005, An Oak Tree 2006, I, Malvolio, 2010 and what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, 2014) come together to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. We’re holding onto our hats.


Video by Echo Video

Spotlight: Brighton: Symphony of a City

Discover more from Lizzie Thynne and Ed Hughes, as they discuss Brighton: Symphony of a City

One of the Brighton Festival events people still talk about is the screening of Battleship Potemkin (2005) with Ed Hughes’s new score in the Hove Engineerium. When Ed and Brighton based filmmaker Lizzie Thynne proposed a Brighton homage to Walther Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, we grabbed the opportunity to celebrate Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, fun-filled glory.

See more Spotlight films, where we cast a spotlight on some of our special commissions and co-commissions in our milestone 50th Brighton Festival.

Video by Catalina Balan with Neil Whitehead

Spotlight: Stella

Hear more from veteran Brighton artist Neil Bartlett, one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers. We’re honoured that Neil’s wonderful, intense and distilled new play Stella, inspired by the life and death of Ernest Boulton, can open in Theatre Royal Brighton before going on to performances at London International Festival of Theatre and Holland Festival.

See more Spotlight films, where we cast a spotlight on some of our special commissions and co-commissions in our milestone 50th Brighton Festival.

Video by Echo Video

Spotlight: Minefield

Learn more from Lola Arias on her latest work Minefield

Argentinian writer and director Lola Arias brought her acclaimed show My Life After to Brighton Festival 2013. Now she returns with the world premiere of her new work about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict.

See more Spotlight films, where we cast a spotlight on some of our special commissions and co-commissions in our milestone 50th Brighton Festival

Video by Echo Video

Welcome from Laurie Anderson

'I'm so happy to be serving as Guest Director of Brighton Festival in its historic 50th year. 

'Our theme of home and place is especially relevant with so many people in the world on the move now looking, like all of us, for a place we can belong. I've been part of the Festival several times and it was exciting to watch the city become the heart of so much art. I'm looking forward to being part of it this year.'

The Brighton Commissions

For our milestone 50th Festival, we have commissioned more new works than ever before, including many by Brighton artists or about Brighton itself. Wildly different and each fascinating, the 'Brighton Commissions' below are presented as a tribute to our home and the talent within it.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
One of the Brighton Festival events people still talk about is the screening of Battleship Potemkin (2005) with Ed Hughes’s new score in the Hove Engineerium. When Ed and Brighton based filmmaker Lizzie Thynne proposed a Brighton homage to Walther Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, we grabbed the opportunity to celebrate Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, fun-filled glory.

Charles Linehan Company
Loved by dancers and dance audiences, Brighton-based choreographer Charles Linehan (The Fault Index/ The Clearing, 2011), brings us a contrasting double bill of new works including one with William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz). Described by The Guardian as ’one of our classiest choreographers’ Charles’s return to Brighton Festival in our 50th year feels especially appropriate. 

The Complete Deaths
Another match made in Brighton. Leading physical comedy company Spymonkey (Oedipussy, 2012 and Cooped, 2006) and award winning playwright and performer Tim Crouch (I, Caliban, 2003, I, Peaseblossom, 2004, I, Banquo, 2005, An Oak Tree 2006, I, Malvolio, 2010 and what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, 2014) come together to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. We’re holding onto our hats. 

Digging for Shakespeare
Marc Rees studied in Brighton with Liz Aggiss and has gone on to make wonderful work with communities and for specific sites, most notably with National Theatre Wales. He brought us the captivating story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps who was a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar in the 19th Century and an eccentric recluse. When Marc suggested making this piece on the Roedale allotments where Halliwell-Phillipps lived it was too beguiling an idea to pass up. 

Dr Blighty
One of the most affecting and complex stories of the Royal Pavilion Estate is its use as a military hospital for wounded Indian soldiers in World War I. As we work towards reunifying the Royal Pavilion Estate to bring collections, heritage and the arts together to create compelling new work for the Estate, the opportunity was ripe for Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and ourselves to work with British Asian performance company Nutkhut and with 14-18 NOW to commemorate this special chapter in Brighton’s history.

The Last Resort
Using binaural technology to create a shifting world of sound, Brighton-based artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr (who worked with Charlotte Spencer on Walking Stories, 2013), working as Art Of Disappearing, have created an immersive work set on Portslade beach that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies. 

Operation Black Antler
Two Brighton Festival Associate Companies come together in an exciting new collaboration. Blast Theory (Rider Spoke, 2008; Fixing Point 2013) are celebrated for their inventive use of technology and their thought-provoking subject matter. Hydrocracker have delighted and terrified audiences with Shakespeare á la Carte (2008), the uproarious The Erpingham Camp (2009), and the chilling production of Pinter plays The New World Order (2007 & 2011). Having these two companies working together has been on all our wish lists for a number of years. 

Stella
Veteran Brighton artist Neil Bartlett (Oliver Twist, 2004, The Maids, 2007; For Alfonso, 2011; What Can You Do?, 2012; Britten: The Canticles, 2013) is one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers and a generous friend of Brighton Festival. We’re honoured that Neil’s wonderful, intense and distilled new play, inspired by the life and death of Ernest Boulton, can open in Theatre Royal Brighton before going on to performances at London International Festival of Theatre and Holland Festival. 

Spotlight: Dr Blighty

Find out more about Dr.Blighty

One of the most affecting and complex stories of the Royal Pavilion Estate is its use as a military hospital for wounded Indian soldiers in World War I. As we work towards reunifying the Royal Pavilion Estate to bring collections, heritage and the arts together to create compelling new work for the Estate, the opportunity was ripe for Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and ourselves to work with British Asian performance company Nutkhut and with 14-18 NOW to commemorate this special chapter in Brighton’s history. 


The 50th Brighton Festival launches with Laurie Anderson as Guest Director

The full programme for the 50th Brighton Festival (7-29 May 2016) - the largest and most established curated annual multi-arts festival in England - was unveiled today with experimental artist and musician Laurie Anderson as Guest Director.

Renowned for her inventive use of technology, Anderson is one of America’s most daring creative pioneers. In roles as varied as artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, vocalist and instrumentalist, she has been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed. Anderson takes the helm as Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture by exploring the theme of ‘home and place’ across its 2016 programme.

Taking inspiration from Anderson’s multidisciplinary career as well as the original intentions of Brighton Festival to celebrate the new and the avant-garde, the eclectic programme - which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate - features work from some of the most innovative national and international artists. It includes 54 commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres such as two exclusive performances from ‘folktronica’ pioneer Beth Orton, choreographer and dancer Akram Khan’s new full-length production Until The Lions; and the world premiere of a global collaborative work by Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing.

Anderson’s own events include the UK premiere of her unique Music for Dogs, a concert specially designed for the canine ear; a screening of her acclaimed new film Heart of a Dog, described by Anderson herself as: “full of stories about how you make a story . . . nominally a film about me and my dog but really it’s not, it’s about love and language”; an exclusive new performance monologue about place and places called Slideshow; and a freewheeling walk through sonic spaces with fellow musician-composers, pianist Nik Bärtsch and guitarist Eivind Aarset.

Many of Anderson’s interests, passions and achievements are also explored including the UK premiere of Lou Reed Drones, an installation of her late husband’s guitars and amps in feedback mode which she describes as “kind of as close to Lou’s music as we can get these days”; a special screening of critically acclaimed Sans Soleil (Sunless) - an elegiac masterpiece by her favourite director Chris Marker; and a series of events that explore innovation and technology in the arts, including Complicite /Simon Burney’s acclaimed The Encounter and Brighton-based Art of Disappearing’s outdoor adventure The Last Resort.

With the theme of ‘home’ at the heart of the programme, Brighton Festival 2016 will celebrate its relationship with the unique, energetic and creative city of Brighton, its artists, its characters, its sense of place and spirit whilst also considering universal issues and ideas around home, our communities and places of safety. Highlights include a new work from Argentinian artist Lola Arias developed with and performed by veterans of the Falklands conflict; experimental composer and musician Yuval Avital’s potent and thought-provoking new work, Fuga Perpetua, which reflects on the situation of refugees; and the UK premiere of Berlin’s Zvizdal, a filmic portrait of an elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude in the region affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The rich diversity of home-grown artists and companies are celebrated in a series of special commissions that include two works marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death: The Complete Deaths, a re-enactment of every onstage death from Brighton-based artistic powerhouses Spymonkey and Tim Crouch, and Digging for Shakespeare by Marc Rees, a site-specific homage to 19th Century Brighton eccentric and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps; Stella, a theatrical love letter to one half of the infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella by playwright Neil Bartlett; and the world premiere of Blast Theory & Hydrocracker’s immersive undercover police drama Operation Black Antler.

Other city-inspired highlights include a specially commissioned film Brighton: Symphony of a City, screened to a new score performed by Orchestra of Sound and Light, and the entire Royal Pavilion Estate playing host to Dr Blighty; an ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience which highlights the untold story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during World War One. Kicking off with the Children’s Parade - the largest of its kind in Europe – Brighton Festival 2016 will also see a record number of community-focussed events throughout the programme including the annual City Reads and Young City Reads produced in partnership with Collected Works and Future Gazers which asks school pupils to imagine the world in 50 years’ time.

2016 also sees Brighton Festival work with Guardian Live in a special partnership to deliver the Books and Debate programme with a series of events including Yanis Varoufakis, Lionel Shriver, Marlon James and Mark Haddon. It will also see the return of caravan (15-17 May 2016), a three-day biennial curated industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which this year features eight performances open to the public. 

Laurie Anderson says: "I'm so happy to be serving as Guest Director of Brighton Festival in its historic 50th year. I've been part of the Festival several times and it is so big and sprawling and exciting and there’s so many different things going on - it really has a kind of celebratory, crazy, art party feel to it. And I love the theme of home and place. It is especially relevant with so many people in the world on the move now looking, like all of us, for a place we can belong. Maybe because I’m a working musician and often on the road, the idea of home is pretty appealing to me. It’s also a great idea for a festival - trying to find out who and where you are. See you there!” 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “It’s very special for us to be marking the 50th Brighton Festival with Laurie Anderson as Guest Director. Every year since 1967 some of the greatest artists, performers and thinkers have come together with some of the most open-minded and enthusiastic audiences anywhere for a festival whose home is one of the most artistically rich and geographically blessed places in the country. Laurie is well-known and well-loved by the city and has been has been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed. Alongside the startling international and newly commissioned work that we’re bringing, she has been particularly enthusiastic about finding ways in which the festival can invite the participation of the whole community – time and again throughout the programme we see opportunities to get involved to explore our own creativity and to celebrate, together, this wonderful festival in its 50th year.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “It is very fitting that the theme for Brighton Festival’s 50th programme is ‘home and place’. The Festival, and more widely arts and culture in general, have long been synonymous with Brighton. Collectively they deliver inspiring performances and exhibitions for local communities, attract people from far and wide to drive cultural tourism and make a strong contribution to the local economy. This success is built on strong partnerships across the city, including Brighton & Hove City Council, and is a great example of collaborative investment and working that others can learn from. Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s forthcoming capital project will help to build on the success to date, ensuring Brighton remains one of England’s cultural leading lights.”

The eighth Guest Director of Brighton Festival, Laurie Anderson follows in the footsteps of visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012), poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013), choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014) and award-winning author Ali Smith (2015) in shaping the three week programme of cultural events. 

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Its original intentions as set out by the first Director Sir Ian Hunter were: “to stimulate townsfolk and visitors into taking a new look at the arts and to give them the opportunity to assess developments in the field of culture where the serious and the apparently flippant ride side by side”. The inaugural programme included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, a ‘Kinetic labyrinth’ on the West pier, and a site specific project which attempted to ‘change the colour of the sea’ alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere.

-Ends-


For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press & PR - emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260 803
Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838
Anna Christoforou, Freelance Broadcast PR (national) - anna@annachristoforou.com | 07818 035 690
Anna Whelan, Digital Marketing Officer – anna.whelan@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260825

Ticket Office - 01273 709709 | brightonfestival.org
Follow us on Twitter - www.twitter.com/brightfestival (@brightfest)
Join our Facebook fan site - www.facebook.com/brightonfestival

NOTES TO EDITORS:


About Brighton Festival –

• Brighton Festival is an annual mixed arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May, with an average audience reach of 150,000

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013, choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014 and award-winning author Ali Smith in 2015..

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established mixed arts Festival and a major milestone in the international cultural calendar

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round. It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives and inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.

• The first Brighton Festival in 1967 controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival manages a year round programme of arts at Brighton Dome – a three space, Grade 1 listed building made up of the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre - and produces the annual Brighton Festival in May. 

Click here to view the PDF 

Laurie Anderson photo © Tom Oldham

Spotlight: Digging for Shakespeare

Find out more from Marc Rees on Digging for Shakespeare in our Spotlight film. Marc Rees studied in Brighton with Liz Aggiss and has gone on to make wonderful work with communities and for specific sites, most notably with National Theatre Wales. He brought us the captivating story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps who was a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar in the 19th Century and an eccentric recluse. When Marc suggested making this piece on the Roedale allotments where Halliwell-Phillipps lived it was too beguiling an idea to pass up.

See more Spotlight films, where we cast a spotlight on some of our special commissions and co-commissions in our milestone 50th Brighton Festival.

Film by Echo Video

Brighton Festival 2016 Merchandise

This year we worked with Johnson Banks once again to create the visual identity for Brighton Festival 2016: A tessellated and dislocated fifty descending from the Brighton Festival F, marking Brighton Festival's half century of celebrating the experimental, the unusual and the cutting edge in the arts.

We have created a selection of merchandise for you to enjoy:

T-shirts (S, M, M Ladies, L, XL)
£12 /£15.50 online incl. p&p

Small posters (A3: 297mm x 420mm)
£2/ £5.50 online incl. p&p

Large posters (B2: 707mm x 500mm) 
£4/ £7.50 online incl. p&p

Canvas bags
£6/ £9.50 online inc. p&p 

These products are available to buy online by clicking the links below.

The prices above include P&P to UK locations only.
If you live abroad, please contact marketing@brightondome.org to purchase and get a quote for P&P.

If you live locally, you can buy these items at our Ticket Office at 20 New Road, Brighton. 

Brighton Festival 2016 Listing Highlights

Contemporary music


Laurie Anderson: Music for DogsUK Premiere
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm
‘Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog?’ Laurie Anderson mused while waiting backstage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. True to form, Anderson made her outlandish dream come true: first at the Sydney Opera House, and again in New York’s Times Square in January, making headlines the world over. The 20-minute piece has been specifically designed for the canine ear, including higher pitches audible only to them, as well as other sounds for humans to enjoy.

Laurie Anderson, Nik Bärtsch & Eivind Aarset: Song Conversation, Song as a Place.
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Tue 17 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Laurie Anderson is joined by fellow musician-composers, Zurich-based pianist Nik Bärtsch and one of Norway’s most in-demand guitarists, Eivind Aarset, for a freewheeling walk through sonic spaces. These master improvisers will take on the idea of space in songs, while dissecting song structure, melody, lyrics, inspiration, dedication, and improvisation. 

Laurie Anderson, Slideshow
World Premiere

Brighton Festival Exclusive
Wed 18 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
In the second of two exclusive performances for Brighton Festival, Laurie Anderson presents Slideshow, a specially created performance monologue about place and places, described by Anderson herself as a “collection of adventure stories about love, cities, diners, Mars, how we see, living by rivers, Dollywood, my home town and many other places along the way.”

Yuval Avital & Ensemble Meitar, Fuga Perpetua
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Fri 20 May, 8pm., Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Fuga Perpetua - musical terms meaning ‘always running’ - reflects on the situation of refugees compelled always to move on. In this potent and thought-provoking new work, Yuval Avital, a unique voice in the contemporary and experimental scene, creates an immersive environment using a combination of music, sound recordings, visual projections and movement. With contemporary music group Ensemble Meitar. Produced by Magà Global Arts, Ensemble Meitar &Third Ear. Supported by Arts Council England.

Haçienda Classical: House and club classics
Fri 20 May, 9pm
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
The DJs who shaped the Haçienda sound, Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, will perform a continuous set of house and club classics alongside the Manchester Camerata Orchestra and special guests. Taking the euphoria of the legendary club nights to a whole new level, Haçienda Classical is a unique meeting of styles.

Beth Orton
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts
Beth Orton returns to the UK for two shows at Brighton Festival premiering highly anticipated new material exploring her electronic roots. Orton has been one of the country’s most unique and beguiling voices in contemporary music for the past two decades - from debut LP Trailer Park in which she pioneered the synthesis of electronic beats and acoustic song writing to her follow-up Central Reservation which brought international acclaim and a BRIT award. These one-off shows will feature new material performed live for the first time.

Floating Points Live
Sun 29 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Dance music trailblazer Sam Shephard – otherwise known as Floating Points – is renowned for his ambitious, forward-thinking DJ sets around the world. His debut album Elaenia draws upon classical, jazz, electronic music, soul and even Brazilian popular music. At times delicate and intense, with moments of utter stillness, it provides the bridge between his rapturous dance music and his classical roots. Performing with a full live band, don’t miss what promises to be a remarkable live performance from one of electronic music’s most perceptive new artists.

Visual Art


Gillian Wearing: A Room With Your Views
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, World premiere
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 10am – 5pm (Thu 10am –8pm), University of Brighton Gallery
Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing – the invited artist for HOUSE 2016 - will present Your Views, a global collaborative work which captures a snapshot of 'views' from windows across the world. Wearing’s work examines our public personas and private lives, describing her working method as ‘editing life’. Drawing on fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality TV and theatrical techniques, she explores how we present ourselves to the world, as well as her involvement with extensive self-portraiture. Co-commissioned with HOUSE 2016.

Ron Haselden: Luminary
Co-produced by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 12pm – 7pm, Fabrica
A series of beautiful LED light-drawings at locations across the city by respected British artist Ron Haselden that range in scale from the monumental, presented as a walk-through installation at Fabrica, to the intimate, shining out from homes in several of the city’s neighbourhoods. Stemming from Haselden’s love of drawings produced by the ‘untutored hand’, sketches by young children and older people have provided the inspiration for Luminary, scaled up with LED ropelight, to amplify their spontaneous, uninhibited style. Co-produced by Fabrica and Brighton Festival in partnership with MSL Projects, Hastings.

Lou Reed Drones
UK Premiere
Fri 13 – Tue 17 May, 12pm – 5pm. The Spire
A visceral, emotional and spiritual experience, Lou Reed Drones is an installation of Lou Reed’s guitars and amps in feedback mode: 24 strings set in motion from the push of magnetically driven cones; 360 partial harmonics colliding against each other. Introducing gain and sculpting sonic frequencies, a feedback loop is created with each guitar and its respective amplifier. Their overlapping harmonic structures produce pseudo-acoustic notes in which a beating sensation is then set in motion. 

Film


No Home Movie

(2015, Belgium/France, cert. U), Directed by Chantal Akerman
Sun 8 May, 1.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
The final film of the great Belgian film-maker Chantal Akerman is a moving memoir of her mother’s last months. Confined to her Brussels apartment, Natalia’s harrowing past as an Auschwitz survivor and her chronic anxiety, greatly influenced Akerman’s art. This special preview screening ahead of the film’s UK release is a tribute to one of the most original and influential figures in feminist cinema, who died last year.

Heart of a Dog
Plus Q&A with Laurie Anderson
(2015, USA), Directed by Laurie Anderson
Tue 10 May, 9pm. Duke of York's Picturehouse
Visually rich and poetic, Laurie Anderson's Oscar nominated Heart of a Dog sees her reflect on love, language and death - inspired by the affection she had for pet Rat Terrier, Lolabelle, who died in 2011. Essayistic in style, and constructed like a collage of original musical compositions, contemporary footage, narration, animation and 8mm home movies, it deftly flits between the serious and the playful, the funny and heartfelt.

Sans Soleil (Sunless)
(1982, France, cert. 15), Directed by Chris Marker
Sun 15 May, 1.30pm., Duke of York's Picturehouse
This elegiac masterpiece by Laurie Anderson's favourite director Chris Marker is a poetic documentary tour of Tokyo, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland and San Francisco. Sans Soleil is a hugely influential essay film in which the spoken word and haunting visuals conjure the disorientation of a world traveller, journeying through cultures, secret rituals and confusions of time.

The Human Face
(1990, UK, cert. 12A), Directed by Nichola Bruce.
Sun 22 May, 4.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
Nominated for a BAFTA, The Human Face is a documentary made for the BBC series Arena. Laurie Anderson presents, narrating an examination of mankind’s obsession with its own image, looking at the use of heads and the human face in art and sculpture, and at the prejudices applied every day based solely on a person’s appearance.

THEATRE


Blast Theory & Hydrocracker: Operation Black Antler
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8, Tues 10 - Sat 14, Tues 17 - Sat 21, Tues 24 - Sat 28. Every 15 minutes from 6pm - 9pm (timed entry allocated on booking).
For 40 years British police officers have been operating undercover inside protest groups, ‘deep swimming’ by forming relationships and even having children with their targets. This ground-breaking piece of immersive theatre by Blast Theory and Hydrocracker will give audiences a chance to go undercover for the night in a thrilling and unforgettable walk in someone else’s shoes. Visit the safehouse to meet your police handler and build up your identity, choose your cover story and meet the rest of the team then head out to the gig to use your new skills.
Commissioned by Brighton Festival and Ideas Test. In partnership with Dramatic Resources. 

Spymonkey & Tim Crouch: The Complete Deaths
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Wed 11 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Theatre Royal Brighton
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus - from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, always hysterically. Directed by Tim Crouch, The Complete Deaths is a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Presented by Spymonkey in a co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate Northampton. 

Berlin (Antwerp): Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close)
UK Premiere.
Mon 23 – Wed 25 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Co-produced by Brighton Festival.
26 April 1986, Pripyat, Ukraine. A nuclear reactor explodes and some 90 towns and villages are evacuated. But one couple, Pétro and Nadia, refuse to leave. Without running water, electricity, telephone or mail, they hold on indestructibly in the infected zone for 30 years. Berlin returns to Brighton Festival with a filmic portrait of one elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude. Featuring interviews with Pétro and Nadia filmed between 2011 and 2016, Zvizdal tells a poignant story of survival. Co-produced with Brighton Festival; Het Zuidelijk Toneel, Tilburg; PACT Zollverein, Essen; Dublin Theatre Festival; Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels; BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen; and CENTQUATRE, Paris.

Neil Bartlett: Stella
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Theatre Royal Brighton.
A new work written and directed by one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers. Inspired by the strange life and lonely death of Ernest Boulton – also known as one half of the now-infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella – this new work from Neil Bartlett is an intense and deeply personal meditation on what it means to keep your nerve as the lights go out. It's about being old, about being young, and about what it means to really be yourself. A co-commission by LIFT, Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.

Lola Arias (Buenos Aires): Minefield
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 28 May, 8pm. Sun 29 May, 2pm & 7pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Argentinian writer and director Lola Arias returns to Brighton Festival with the world premiere of her new work about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict. Merging film, re-enactment and documentary theatre, Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction to give a fascinating insight into how and what people remember, and how war continues to cast a long shadow over the lives of its protagonists. Co-commissioned by LIFT Festival, Royal Court Theatre, Brighton Festival, Le Quai Angers and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.

OUTDOOR


Art of Disappearing: The Last Resort
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May (no performances Mon & Tue), Wed – Fri, 2pm – 8pm, Sat & Sun, 11am – 9pm
Amidst a barren landscape, a neon light stands bleak and stark. Welcome to The Last Resort. For those brave enough to return to this long deserted resort, beauty, science fiction and history merge to create a unique outdoor experience. Using binaural technology to create a constantly shifting world of sound, artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr have created an exciting immersive work that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies.

Marc Rees: Digging for Shakespeare
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, Sat 21 & Sun 22 May, 10.30am & 2.30pm. Roedale Allotments.
Meet James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, 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. Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, director Marc Rees has devised a unique promenade performance through Roedale Allotments, close to the site of this eccentric recluse's former home. 


Nutkhut: Dr Blighty
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Tue 24 – Sat 28 May, 2pm – 10pm. Royal Pavilion Gardens.
Between 1914 and 1916, over 2000 Indian soldiers wounded on the Western Front were brought to a temporary hospital housed in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate. In a major new collaboration with Nutkhut and a creative team that includes designer Tom Piper (Tower of London Poppies), Dr Blighty recalls this unexpected episode in Brighton’s history. Bringing the experiences of the soldiers - inspired by letters they sent home - and the locals who came to care for them, the Royal Pavilion Gardens will host a dreamlike environment of immersive installations, soundscapes and theatrical interludes, alongside concerts featuring Philharmonia Orchestra with Kala Ramnath, Debashish Bhattacharya and Gurdain Rayatt within Brighton Dome. A Nutkhut Production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival and Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

BOOKS AND DEBATE
Presented in partnership with Guardian Live


Guardian Book Club: Howard Jacobson
Sun 8 May, 5pm. Sallis Benney Theatre
Perhaps the leading observer of Jewishness in modern Britain, Howard Jacobson examines Shakespeare’s most controversial character in his new novel, Shylock is My Name. Including a shocking twist on Shylock’s infamous demand for a pound of flesh, the novel examines contemporary questions of Jewish identity and the relationship between fathers and daughters. Join him for a discussion with Guardian Book Club host John Mullan about the novel and the endlessly fascinating play that inspired it.

Yanis Varoufakis
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
In his new book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis assesses the history of the European monetary union. A passionate campaigner against austerity, Varoufakis argues that it is a fundamental threat to Europe and to the global economy. He also shows that the origins of the Eurozone crisis lie not with governments or the banks but in its founding structure. He will talk to Channel 4 economics editor and Guardian columnist Paul Mason about the current crisis and present his case for economic reform.

Lionel Shriver
Wed 11 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Orange Prize-winning writer Lionel Shriver talks about her new novel, The Mandibles – a dark, witty and frightening dystopia about a nation in decline. Set during a fiscal crisis in near-future America, the book follows three generations of a family as they cope with the loss of their fortune and learn how to survive as America’s economy spirals into dysfunction.

The Guardian Newsroom: The EU Referendum
Thu 26 May, 7pm. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts
David Cameron's promised referendum on the UK's membership of the EU could be called as early as June 2016. As both the EU exit and pro-Europe campaigns gather momentum, Britain faces profound questions about its future. Business leaders claim that withdrawal would lead to economic calamity, while others on the left and the right argue the case for Britain to govern itself. Join a panel of Guardian writers, including Brighton Festival Chair Polly Toynbee, to analyse and discuss both sides of the debate.

Marlon James
Thu 26 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Studio Theatre.
Join us for an evening with 2015 Man Booker prize winner, Marlon James. A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional account of an attempt to assassinate Bob Marley in 1976, a novel described by the New York Times as a ‘Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come…sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex’. Spanning three decades, the novel uses multiple voices - CIA agents, drug dealers, ghosts, beauty queens - to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.

DANCE AND CIRCUS


Charles Linehan Company: Double bill
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Charles Linehan returns to Brighton Festival with a contrasting double bill of new works. My Mother’s Tears mines the personal history of William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz) performing classical ballet mime from The Royal Ballet repertoire with unpredictable consequences. In A Quarter Plus Green ideas of transformation are applied to movement, light and sound in a unique new setting at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, Dance4, South East Dance, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and Tanztendenz, Munich.

The Ricochet Project (New Mexico): Smoke and Mirrors
Mon 9 & Tue 10 May, 8pm.
Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Circus as you’ve never seen it before: audacious and thought-provoking, technically brilliant and profound. The Ricochet Project is pushing the boundaries of contemporary circus using poetic acrobatics, contemporary dance, contortion and high flying feats to explore the human condition. Revealing the inner workings of the mind and our search to find a place of realness and connecting in an enduring culture of illusion, Smoke and Mirrors is a mesmerising and intimate two-hander for grown-ups.

Nederlands Dans Theater 2
Fri 13 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Nederlands Dans Theater is one of the world's most celebrated dance companies, wowing audiences with their unique brand of breath-taking dance, awe-inspiring skill and passionate creativity. Artistically directed by award-winning choreographer Paul Lightfoot, NDT2 presents 18 international dancers aged 18-23. For their long awaited return to Brighton Festival, they bring a vibrant mixed programme including works by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, Edward Clug, Hans van Manen and the international hit Cacti by Associate Choreographer Alexander Ekman. Presented in partnership with Dance Consortium.

Akram Khan Company: Until the Lions
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Thu 26 & Fri 27 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
One of the most respected figures in the dance world, Akram Khan returns to Brighton Festival with his new, full-length production Until the Lions - his most arresting work to date. Khan is joined by two of his company dancers alongside four musicians providing haunting vocals and soundscape. Together they give a breath-taking performance in this partial adaptation of poet Karthika Naïr’s original reworking of the epic Mahabharata, bautifully combining the classical Indian dance form kathak with contemporary dance. Initiated by the 360° Network of round artistic venues across the world and produced during residency at Sadler's Wells London and Curve Leicester. 

CLASSICAL


London Symphony Orchestra
Sat 7 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
A rare opportunity to hear the LSO outside of London, this unique opening concert reflects the Festival’s strong classical tradition over the past 50 years with some of the most remarkably talented performers of today. One of the most brilliant pianists of our time (Leif Ove Andsnes) basks in the lyrical genius of Mozart (Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor K466). Bruckner’s Third Symphony (Symphony No. 3 in D minor) with its grand and majestic orchestration is directed here by the LSO’s Principal Guest Conductor. 

La Nuova Musica: Dido and Aeneas
Sun 8 May, 7.30pm, Theatre Royal Brighton
Ann Murray DBE, one of the great singers of her generation, brings her magisterial artistry to the role of Dido. She is joined by Benjamin Appl, who is fast establishing a major career; and La Nuova Musica, noted for its rigorous yet sparkling approach to the Baroque repertory embellished here by Zack Winokur's evocative dancers. One of the first operas in English, Dido and Aeneas is a tale of love and loss, as Dido, Queen of Carthage, is abandoned by the Trojan prince Aeneas and dies overwhelmed by grief.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Wed 11 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, glory has inspired a remarkable fusion of silent film and live music by filmmaker Lizzie Thynne and composer Ed Hughes. Drawing on such precedents as Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, this new film depicts a day in the life of the city, darting back and forth through time to encompass archive film of the lost glories and contemporary events that have defined Brighton’s profile as the UK’s most vibrant location. This kaleidoscope of local identity is accompanied by a sumptuous symphonic score performed live by Orchestra of Sound and Light. 

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Brighton Festival Chorus: The Dream of Gerontius
Sun 22 May, 7pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Lush orchestration, massed forces and profound subject matter: The Dream of Gerontius is an overwhelming musical experience. This is the kind of music that Brighton Festival Chorus was created to perform, and which is woven into the identity of the renowned CBSO, whose very first performance in 1920 was conducted by Elgar. A truly stellar cast (Alice Coote: mezzo-soprano, Robert Murray: tenor, Matthew Rose: bass), led by the eminent British conductor Edward Gardner, luxuriates in music of rare power and eloquence that etches the vision of the journey of a pious man’s soul from his deathbed to his judgment before God.

CHILDREN AND FAMILY


Globe Theatre on Tour: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May, 6pm, Thu 26, Sat 28 & Sun 29 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Open Air Theatre.
Hidden identities, cross-dressing and subterfuge crisscross in a tale of love, friendship, betrayal and reconciliation. This riotous new production hurls Shakespeare’s anarchic comedy into the 21st century, in the perfect setting of Brighton Open Air Theatre. Remember to bring a picnic and dress for the weather.

A Weekend Without Walls
Sat 14 May, 12 – 5pm. Easthill Park, Portslade, Sun 15 May, 12 – 5pm. East Brighton Park, Whitehawk
Get ready for a weekend of fun and adventures as Easthill Park and East Brighton Park host five extraordinary new performances: Les Enfants Terribles’ Dr Latitude and his team of misguided misfits in The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory, NOWish's Le Cheval Solitaire, Miss High Leg Kick's Audition Project and H.O.H. by Far From the Norm. Bring a picnic and all the family.

26 LETTERS


Michael Morpurgo
Wed 11 May, 6pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo is spellbinding company, a master storyteller who has created some of the most brilliant children’s books of recent years. Join him as he talks about his work, which includes War Horse, Private Peaceful and Why the Whales Came, and hear all about his latest book, An Eagle in the Snow, the extraordinary story of the man who could have stopped World War Two before it even began.

Chris Riddell Children's Laureate in residence
Winner of two Kate Greenaway medals for illustration, Brighton’s own Chris Riddell (The Edge Chronicles, Goth Girl) joins 26 Letters for no less than three events: Ask the Laureate (Sat 14 May), 6pm. Sallis Benney Theatre, Poems and Pictures Live (Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Sallis Benney Theatre) and Picture Book Masterclass (Sun 22 May, 10am. Brighton Dome Founders Room.

Young City Reads 2016
Thu 19 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Brighton & Hove’s Big Read for young people returns. This year young story-lovers are invited to read and discuss Hamish and the World Stoppers by Danny Wallace. For the Young City Reads Big Event, the award-winning author and presenter, together with the book’s illustrator Jamie Littler, will take centre stage for a live, interactive schools event to talk about their book and tell us more about Hamish, Alice and some disgusting creatures called ‘The Terribles’, who might come from outer space — or maybe France…

Notes to Editors:


About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and 2016 marks a landmark in its history with the 50th Brighton Festival.

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme.

• For nearly 30 years Brighton Festival has opened with the Children’s Parade, which includes participants from schools and community groups and bands across the city. One of the most spectacular community events in the UK with up to 4,000 participants and an audience of around 10,000, this year the Children’s Parade, devised and delivered by Same Sky, will be themed around Brighton Celebrates in response to Brighton Festival’s milestone year.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round

Fifty years on the edge

50 Springs. 50 Festivals. 50 opportunities, in the words of the first Festival Director Sir Ian Hunter, to ‘…take a new look at the arts and [have] the opportunity to assess developments in the field of culture where the serious and the apparently flippant ride side by side.’ Every year some of the greatest artists, performers and thinkers have congregated for a festival in one of the most artistically rich and geographically blessed places in the country. Now that’s something to celebrate.

In a potent mix of art made here and art from all around the world, Brighton Festival has developed a legacy we are proud to have inherited. Since Sir Ian Hunter each Festival Director – Gavin Henderson, Chris Baron and Nick Dodds – has served those initial ideals and made each Festival a unique celebration of this ‘City on the Edge’, this place where the exciting meets the exotic meets the exasperating meets the exceptional.

The Guest Directors with whom we have worked since 2009 – Anish Kapoor, Brian Eno, Aung San Suu Kyi, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Rosen, Hofesh Shechter, Ali Smith and this year the wonderful Laurie Anderson – have allowed us to celebrate this truly eclectic and all-embracing Festival in a new way whilst retaining a sense of past and place. It is this combination of the search for the new with a deep respect for our traditions which I believe is at the heart of Brighton Festival and at the heart of this magical creative city. And in this 50th year we particularly wanted to reflect on the nature of ‘home’ and ‘place’: ours as well as those evoked by the places our visiting artists call home. 

I’m particularly proud that as part of the 20 new commissions in this year’s programme, we are able to present so many new works by Brighton artists or about Brighton itself. Wildly different and each fascinating, the ‘Brighton Commissions’ are presented as a tribute to our home and the talent within it. Here’s to the 50th Brighton Festival, here’s to you, our audience, and here’s to the next 50 to come!

Andrew Comben
Chief Executive

Read more on the Brighton Commissions 

Explore what's on at Brighton Festival 2016 

Brighton Festival announces major new commission for 2016 inspired by untold story of First World War

Brighton Festival - alongside commissioning partners 14-18 NOW and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove - has today announced a major new commission inspired by the untold story of the hundreds of thousands of men who travelled from India to fight for the Allies in the First World War.  

Created by performance company Nutkhut and brought together by a creative team that includes designer Tom Piper (Tower of London poppies), the ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience Dr Blighty is the latest event revealed for the 50th edition of Brighton Festival in May 2016.

More than a million men travelled from India to fight for the Allies during the First World War, their collective experiences constituting one of military history’s great untold stories. Between 1914 and 1916, over 2000 Indian soldiers wounded on the Western Front would be brought to a temporary hospital housed in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate. 

This major new collaboration, Dr Blighty, recalls this episode in Brighton’s wartime history, bringing the experiences of the soldiers - and the locals who came to care for them - movingly back to life via an immersive walk-through installation across the Royal Pavilion Estate. Animated by actors and enhanced by immersive installations, enthralling video projections, ambient soundscapes and theatrical interludes, inspired by letters the soldiers sent back home, the event will seek to capture the essence of the hospital and those who recuperated here.

The hospital installation will be complemented by a series of related performances and participatory outreach activities, drawing parallels with contemporary events while bringing this moving episode in Brighton’s history back to life. For four nights, a spectacular after-dark production will incorporate video projections on the Royal Pavilion, evoking memories of a very distant home for the soldier convalescents. In addition, the Philharmonia Orchestra will perform in a special ticketed concert at Brighton Dome with some of India’s leading contemporary musicians, marrying Western and Eastern classical music traditions.

Ajay Chhabra, Artistic Director of Nutkhut says: “Thousands of letters were written from the Western Front back home to wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, and it’s the emotion within these letters that Dr Blighty is trying to bring into the public domain. They, alongside the propaganda and the censorship, give us an insight into the lives of these young men, and give these many anonymous soldiers a voice. The project will essentially tell a 100-year-old story, and make it a contemporary one for new audiences.’

Ajay Chhabra, Artistic Director of Nutkhut says: “Thousands of letters were written from the Western Front back home to wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, and it’s the emotion within these letters that Dr Blighty is trying to bring into the public domain. They, alongside the propaganda and the censorship, give us an insight into the lives of these young men, and give these many anonymous soldiers a voice. The project will essentially tell a 100-year-old story, and make it a contemporary one for new audiences.’

Jenny Waldman, Director, 14-18 NOW, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Brighton Festival to present this ambitious project with an amazing group of artists brought together by Nutkhut, which will offer audiences an insight into the little-known and remarkable story underpinning the city’s involvement with the First World War."

Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year in 2016 with the pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson as its Guest Director. Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world. 

Full programme details of Brighton Festival 2016 will be announced on 17 February 2016

-ENDS-

For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press and PR - emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260 803
Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838
Anna Whelan, Digital Marketing Officer – anna.whelan@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260825

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NOTES TO EDITORS:

About Dr. Blighty:

• Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, 14-18 Now and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.

• The full Dr. Blighty creative team includes:
Ajay Chhabra (Artistic Director)
Shri Shriram (Composer)
Tom Piper & Amanda Stoodley (Design)
Sian Thomas (Performance Director)
Stephen Clark (Writer)
Phil Supple (Lighting Designer)
Novak (Video & Animation)
Ed Carter (Sound Designer)

About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and 2016 marks a landmark in its history with the 50th Brighton Festival.

• Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 17 February 2016.

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme.

• For nearly 30 years Brighton Festival has opened with the Children’s Parade, which includes participants from schools and community groups and bands across the city. One of the most spectacular community events in the UK with up to 4,000 participants and an audience of around 10,000, this year the Children’s Parade, devised and delivered by Same Sky, will be themed around Brighton Celebrates in response to Brighton Festival’s milestone year.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round

About 14-18 NOW:

• 14-18 NOW is a programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War. Their programme takes place from 2014 to 2018 and is timed to mark the centenary of the war, which raged across Europe, Asia and Africa from 1914 to 1918.

• 14-18 NOW commission artists from all art forms to look afresh at the First World War conflict and create shared experiences exploring this significant moment in time. They work with cultural organisations across the UK to commission new art, theatre, film, dance, digital, music, poetry and mass-participation events
• 14-18 NOW firmly believes in the transformative power of the arts to bring the stories of the First World War to life. Perceptions of the war have been shaped by the artists of the time, including poets, painters, photographers and film-makers – many of whom served and who reflected on the war and its effects. One hundred years later, today’s artists are opening up new perspectives on the present as well as the past.

About Nutkhut:

• Formed in 2003, Nutkhut exists to fulfil the creative vision of Simmy Gupta and Ajay Chhabra

• As an ideas-led, art focused performance company, Nutkhut creates work mixing performance, dance, film, participation and a distinctly British comedic sensibility and eccentricity. Nutkhut has been delighting audiences for over 10 years and are a major presence in the outdoor performing arts sector, working regularly with festivals and events across the UK and beyond.

• Nutkhut is led by two British Asian artists, Simmy Gupta and Ajay Chhabra. The company is unique as it draws inspiration from the Artistic Directors’ backgrounds and mixes it with a very British sense of humour and mischief. Nutkhut is highly representative of modern Britain and create work which could only have come from the here and now.

About Royal Pavilion & Museums

• Royal Pavilion & Museums is the museum service of Brighton & Hove City Council. It directly operates: The Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Hove Museum & Art Gallery, The Booth Museum of Natural History and Preston Manor

• Its collections include three which are Designated: World Art, Decorative Art and Natural History. Other collections include Local History, Archaeology, Fashion, Fine Art, Toys and Media.

• It has responsibility for a number of historically important listed buildings and monuments: William lV Gatehouse, India Gate, Northgate House, 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Portslade Old Manor, The Old Courthouse and Courtroom, Jaipur Gate at Hove Museum & Art Gallery

• The service provides advice and support to voluntary-run museums and heritage organisations within the city: The Old Police Cells Museum, the Fishing Museum, the Toy and Model Museum, West Pier Trust and West Blatchington Windmill.

Collidescope 2016

Brighton Festival artist development residency: calling artists and creators across the art forms 

Brighton Festival’s artist development residency Collidescope enables a group of mid-career artists to intensively engage with Brighton Festival. Selected artists will attend a wide range of events in the Festival programme; network with fellow participants; reflect on their own practice and current projects; and share conversations with Festival artists from across the genres of the performing and visual arts.

Suitable for artists who have been making work for at least five years, this opportunity will provide an immersive experience through a packed show schedule across the 23 days of Brighton Festival, and the chance to meet Festival artists in up-close encounters. Artists and creators making work in all areas of the performing arts are welcome to apply.

Throughout the experience, the focus is on peer-to-peer creative development, with the goal of potentially creating new marriages of minds for future explorations. The schedule, cherry picked by the Festival programming team will feature the most cross-disciplinary and innovative performances, accompanied by informal facilitated conversations with the producing artists, to generate debate, ideas and inspiration within a multi-disciplinary atmosphere. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and thoughts through Festival-led social media on a regular basis.

Between 7 - 29 May, the participants will attend approximately 30-35 shows, as well as specially arranged conversations with Festival artists. Tickets for all events will be provided free of charge to participants of Collidescope, who are required to commit in full to the schedule of shows and events as part of the project. The group will attend shows together, which will be an important part of the experience, and will be thoughtfully guided through the experience by the two Collidescope facilitators.

Participants will be selected by application – please note that a significant time commitment is required. Most shows and events will be scheduled for the evenings and weekends, however a number of events, including peer-to-peer sessions will take place during the daytime, so participants need to have a flexible and available schedule.

Applications are now closed.
Decisions announced by 18 Mar
Provisional Collidescope schedule here –please note this is subject to change


'Exhilarating, horizon-expanding, whirlwind of an experience. A privilege to be part of’
Naomi Alexander, theatre director, Collidescope 2015

‘Nurturing and nourishing. I actually wish every festival offered this opportunity to artists!’ 
Sheila Ghelani, performance and installation artist, Collidescope 2014 

City Reads 2016 novel announced

Paul McVeigh’s novel The Good Son becomes Brighton’s ‘Big Read’ as part of the 50th Brighton Festival

Brighton-based author Paul McVeigh’s The Good Son – shortlisted in The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker Prize’ annual list – has been chosen for City Reads 2016. Delivered by award winning literary organisation Collected Works CIC, City Reads is the longest running ‘big read’ in the UK conceived to spread a love of books and ideas to the widest possible audience throughout the region. The annual event will return to its cultural home in 2016 as it becomes part of Brighton Festival’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Paul McVeigh says ‘when I moved to Brighton a few years ago, one of the first things I did was volunteer for City Reads to celebrate books and get to know my new city. Who could believe that just a few years later my book would be chosen and my adopted city would adopt me right back. That it will be part of the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival is such an honour. I can’t wait to get started.’

The Good Son – chosen to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016 – is a bitter sweet tale, set in 1980s Belfast. Mickey Donnelly is smart, which isn’t a good thing in his part of town. Despite having a dog called Killer and being in love with the girl next door, everyone calls him ‘gay’. He has to protect his Ma and his sister Wee Maggie from the Troubles and from Da. And sometimes... you have to be a bad boy to be a good son.


Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director of City Reads says ‘This outstanding debut from Brighton based Irish writer Paul McVeigh was the perfect choice, particularly as it’s the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising this year. I defy anyone not to fall in love with its protagonist Mickey Donnelly. He’s clever, naive and hilariously funny. I hope you love it as much as we do at City Reads.

From its launch on World Book Day (3 March) to the final event at Brighton Festival on 29 May, City Reads will encompass a wide range of events and discussions themed around the novel that encourages residents across Brighton & Hove to get reading and start talking. Highlights include an Irish Whiskey Tasting on St Patrick’s Day (17 March) - from top taster Dave Broom - with readings from The Good Son and live music, a special screening on the official centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising (24 April) of Pat ‘O Connor’s 1984 film Cal (starring Helen Mirren) and of course the perennial favourite: The City Reads Book Quiz returns on 27 April.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: ‘We are delighted that City Reads is part of Brighton Festival this year - building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. It’s especially exciting for us to champion the work of a local writer as part of 50th edition of the Festival – in which we explore the concept of home and the various writers, artists and performers that live in this city on the edge.’ 

Do you have a Brighton Festival story to tell?

Did you see The Who at Brighton Festival 1967? Ella Fitzgerald at Brighton Festival 1971? The Ramones at Brighton Festival 1986? Do you remember The Zap Club tent or The Town Plays? Have you ever performed at Brighton Festival? Do you have any memories of the city itself during Festival time? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

In 2016, Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year. Over five decades the three-week celebration of the arts has become a major milestone in the international cultural calendar; bringing visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances to the city.

We’re collecting memories, memorabilia and musings on the last 50 years of Brighton Festival – if you’ve got a story to tell or a memory to share, please email mymemories@brightonfestival.org and we’ll be in touch.

Brighton Festival announces major new commission for 2016 inspired by untold story of First World War

Brighton Festival - alongside commissioning partners 14-18 NOW and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove - has today announced a major new commission inspired by the untold story of the hundreds of thousands of men who travelled from India to fight for the Allies in the First World War.

Created by performance company Nutkhut and brought together by a creative team that includes designer Tom Piper (Tower of London poppies), the ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience Dr Blighty is the latest event revealed for the 50th edition of Brighton Festival in May 2016.

More than a million men travelled from India to fight for the Allies during the First World War, their collective experiences constituting one of military history’s great untold stories. Between 1914 and 1916, over 2000 Indian soldiers wounded on the Western Front would be brought to a temporary hospital housed in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate.

This major new collaboration, Dr Blighty, recalls this episode in Brighton’s wartime history, bringing the experiences of the soldiers - and the locals who came to care for them - movingly back to life via an immersive walk-through installation across the Royal Pavilion Estate. Animated by actors and enhanced by immersive installations, enthralling video projections, ambient soundscapes and theatrical interludes, inspired by letters the soldiers sent back home, the event will seek to capture the essence of the hospital and those who recuperated here.

The hospital installation will be complemented by a series of related performances and participatory outreach activities, drawing parallels with contemporary events while bringing this moving episode in Brighton’s history back to life. For four nights, a spectacular after-dark production will incorporate video projections on the Royal Pavilion, evoking memories of a very distant home for the soldier convalescents. In addition, the Philharmonia Orchestra will perform in a special ticketed concert at Brighton Dome with some of India’s leading contemporary musicians, marrying Western and Eastern classical music traditions.

Ajay Chhabra, Artistic Director of Nutkhut says: 'Thousands of letters were written from the Western Front back home to wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, and it’s the emotion within these letters that Dr Blighty is trying to bring into the public domain. They, alongside the propaganda and the censorship, give us an insight into the lives of these young men, and give these many anonymous soldiers a voice. The project will essentially tell a 100-year-old story, and make it a contemporary one for new audiences.’

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: 'This is an important story, both in the history of Brighton & Hove and in the wider context of the First World War - one which we think deserves to be better known. In Brighton Festival’s 50th year, it’s even more appropriate that we present this piece now and I am delighted to be working with our partners to bring it to fruition.'

Jenny Waldman, Director, 14-18 NOW, said: 'We are thrilled to be working with Brighton Festival to present this ambitious project with an amazing group of artists brought together by Nutkhut, which will offer audiences an insight into the little-known and remarkable story underpinning the city’s involvement with the First World War.'

Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year in 2016 with the pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson as its Guest Director. Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world.

Full programme details of Brighton Festival 2016 will be announced on 17 February 2016. 

Danny Wallace’s Hamish and the Worldstoppers chosen for Young City Reads

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival - which celebrates its 50th edition in 2016 - are delighted to reveal that Danny Wallace's Hamish and the Worldstoppers has been chosen as the 2016 'Big Read' for children across Brighton & Hove. The concept is simple: one book, by one author is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.

‘Everyone knows that Brighton has the funniest, coolest, stinkiest children in Britain - and when I heard that they’d all be reading my book, my feet fell off in delight. Brighton Young City Reads is a brilliant thing, and for Hamish to be at the centre of it this year is a real honour. Jamie and I can’t wait to see what the kids think. Now excuse me while I put my feet back on.’ Danny Wallace, Young City Reads author, Jan 2016

About the book

What would YOU do... if the whole world just stopped? Yes the WHOLE WORLD. Birds in the air. Planes in the sky. And every single person on the planet - except you. Because that's what keeps happening to ten-year-old Hamish Ellerby. And it's being caused by The WorldStoppers and their terrifying friends The Terribles! They have a PLAN. They want to take our world for their own . . . Oh, and they hate children. Especially if you're a child who knows about them. Hang on - You know now, don't you? Oh dear. Can Hamish save us from the WorldStoppers? Only time will tell…..

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, Collected Works CIC, commented, ‘Young City Reads is all about the pure pleasure of reading. It inspires children to take time over the reading a book and then encourages them to discuss it with friends, teachers, parents or grandparents. It’s a celebration of words and pictures. And did I mention it’s also great fun!’

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘Young City Reads is always a highlight of Brighton Festival; young booklovers, en masse, discussing and sharing one story before meeting the author themselves… it’s a unique event and something we’re very proud of. One theme we’ll be exploring at our 50th Brighton Festival is the future of art - who are the new voices, what will the next generation make and what role might they play? That Danny Wallace’s adventurous tale sees the fate of the world in the hands of one plucky youngster is, to me, a very fitting and apt choice for the whole city to enjoy.’

How can local primary schools get involved?

• Primary school teachers and classes are being invited to register online (for FREE) and agree to read Hamish and the Worldstoppers together in class between (3 March – 19 May 2016). The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads website at: cityreads.co.uk

• Throughout the project, participating classes will receive FREE weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Hamish quizzes, puzzles and fun activities to complete.

• This is a great way for classes to get excited about a book and to experience the benefits of shared reading and the fun it brings.

Find out more on the Young City Reads page

Young City Reads 2016 - Key Dates

• 3rd March 2016 (World Book Day) Young City Reads launches at Jubilee Library

• 19th May 2016 (Brighton Festival Event) Special Young City Reads event at Brighton Festival featuring the author and illustrator LIVE.

Call out for artists to participate in caravan marketplace 2016

caravan is a three-day showcase of site specific, interactive and incidental performance presented as part of Brighton Festival that aims to strengthen the international networks and expand the range of opportunities for performing artists and companies in England to work abroad. 

The curated programme features England’s most exciting artists from established international names to the brightest new talent. The 2016 programme includes performances from: Lost Dog’s Edinburgh Festival hit Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me), new work from Spymonkey and Greg Wohead, Of Riders and Running Horses by Still House, alongside work from Eric MacLennan, Andy Field, Christopher Brett Bailey, Dickie Beau, Jo Bannon, Emma Frankland, Selina Thompson and Sue MacLaine.

Paradise Lost at Brighton Dome


caravan marketplace

caravan is a convivial event designed to encourage artists, commissioners, programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working together, to share ambitions and to reach new audiences. 

The caravan marketplace takes place on Tuesday 17 May from 10am-12pm, and is an opportunity for artists and companies to host a stand in Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, and to share information about current or future projects with approximately 50 national and international delegates.

For more information or to apply to be part of marketplace, please complete the application form and submit by email to Monica at monica.bakir@farnhammaltings.com by 12pm on Friday, 05 February. A small subsidy is available to support travel and/or access costs.

Laurie Anderson is Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2016

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce the pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson as Guest Director for 2016.

Anderson will take the helm as Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year, celebrates its unique, energetic and creative city, and reflects on the nature of home.

Renowned for her inventive use of technology - from her 1981 hit O Superman to her appointment as NASA’s first artist-in-residence - Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most daring creative pioneers. Her eclectic, multidisciplinary career has spanned the worlds of art, theatre and experimental music and has seen her create works as a writer, director, visual artist and vocalist. Most recently Anderson has garnered acclaim for her first feature film in almost 30 years - Heart of a Dog - which reflects on the deaths of her husband Lou Reed, her mother, her beloved dog, and such diverse subjects as family memories, surveillance, and Buddhist teachings.

A long-time supporter of Brighton Festival, Anderson is well-known and well-loved by the city, following successful appearances such as Delusion (BF2011) and All the Animals (BF2015). An inspiration to audiences and artists alike, she has been described by Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith as: “the performance artist, singer, musician, artist of our lifetime I think - a great, great figure of liberty and liberation of the arts”.

Laurie Anderson says:

'I'm so happy to be serving as Guest Director of Brighton Festival in its historic 50th year. Our theme of home and place is especially relevant with so many people in the world on the move now looking, like all of us, for a place we can belong. I've been part of the Festival several times and it was exciting to watch the city become the heart of so much art. I'm looking forward to being part of it this year.'

The 50th Brighton Festival - which will take place from 7-29 May 2016 - will feature new works from Laurie Anderson alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies.

Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 17 February but some of the key commissions that can be revealed now include The Complete Deaths, a partnership between two Brighton-based artistic powerhouses - Tim Crouch and Spymonkey - to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death; Minefield, a new work from Argentinian artist Lola Arias developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the Falklands conflict; Stella, a theatrical love letter to one half of the infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella by Neil Bartlett; and Until the Lions, a brand new full-length production from award-winning choreographer and dancer Akram Khan.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: 'We are thrilled and honoured to announce such a major international figure as Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2016. In our 50th year, it feels right to reflect on the original intentions of the Festival which from the start were about celebrating international culture, the new and the avant-garde. Laurie Anderson has been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed – indeed, she’s been a part of the Festival’s journey in past years with some very special commissions and appearances in the city. She continues to break new ground in her own work and through collaborations with some of the most promising artists of the future, and we are looking forward to celebrating all this in what we hope will be a very special 50th Brighton Festival in May.'

Alongside the pieces announced at this stage, Brighton Festival 2016 will feature a major new commission in partnership with 14-18 NOW - whose nationwide programme of arts experiences seeks to connect people with the First World War - as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations (full details of which will be announced on 20 January 2016). Brighton Festival 2016 will also see a Books and Debate programme delivered in a special partnership with Guardian Live, as well as the return of caravan (15-17 May 2016), a three-day biennial curated industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which this year features eight performances which will be open to the public.

Full programme details of Brighton Festival 2016 will be announced on Wednesday 17 Feb 2016. 

Key commission revealed as 50th Brighton Festival takes shape

The Complete Deaths – performed by physical comedy company Spymonkey and directed by Tim Crouch – is the first show revealed as part of the 50th Brighton Festival programme.

A Brighton Festival commission, the world premiere is a partnership between two Brighton-based artistic powerhouses to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus. They range from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra; from Pyramus and Thisbe to young Macduff. There are countless stabbings, plenty of severed heads, some poisonings, two mobbings and a smothering. Enorbarbus just sits in a ditch and dies from grief. And then there’s the pie that Titus serves the Queen of the Goths.

Spymonkey will perform them all - sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically. The four ‘seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns' (Time Magazine) will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them.

The Complete Deaths is directed by Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), designed by Spymonkey regular Lucy Bradridge and presented by Spymonkey in co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate.

Spymonkey is the UK's leading physical comedy company, based in Brighton and comprising a core creative ensemble of five lead artists: artistic directors Toby Park, Petra Massey and Aitor Basauri, and associate artists Stephan Kreiss and designer Lucy Bradridge. They’ve been making sublimely hilarious and deeply ridiculous theatre since 1998. Recent Brighton Festival appearances include Oedipussy (2012) and Cooped (2006)

Tim Crouch is a multi-award winning playwright and performer living in Brighton. His work has played in theatres and at festivals around the world. His four award-winning solo Shakespeare plays I, Caliban. I, Peaseblossom, I, Banquo and I, Malvolio were commissioned by Brighton Festival. 

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is a three week celebration of music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate and family events has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. 

Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world.

The 50th Brighton Festival takes place from 7-29 May 2016.

Listings information:


The Complete Deaths by Spymonkey & Tim Crouch
World Premiere.
Commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Wed 11 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, 2.30pm
Theatre Royal Brighton
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare (75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus). From the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. And then there’s the pie that Titus serves his guests. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, always hysterically. These ‘seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns’ (Time Magazine) will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them. Directed by Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), The Complete Deaths is a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  

-ENDS-


For further enquiries, please contact:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press and PR – emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org I 01273 260803
Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838
Ticket Office - 01273 709709 | www.brightonfestival.org

Follow us on Twitter - www.twitter.com/brightfest (@brightfest)
Join our Facebook fan site - www.facebook.com/brightonfestival

NOTES TO EDITORS:


About Brighton Festival –

• Brighton Festival is an annual mixed arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May, with an average audience reach of 150,000

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013, choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014 and award-winning author Ali Smith in 2015..

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established mixed arts Festival and a major milestone in the international cultural calendar

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round. It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives and inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.

• The first Brighton Festival in 1967 controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival manages a year round programme of arts at Brighton Dome – a three space, Grade 1 listed building made up of the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre - and produces the annual Brighton Festival in May. 

• It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives, and to inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival are a registered arts charity

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival are working with the Royal Pavilion & Museums on a joint masterplan to realize a future vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate. For updates and news please visit www.brightondome.org or contact 

The Complete Deaths at Brighton Festival

Your first glimpse at Brighton Festival 2016

Key commission revealed as 50th Brighton Festival takes shape

The Complete Deaths – performed by physical comedy company Spymonkey and directed by Tim Crouch – is the first show revealed as part of the 50th Brighton Festival programme.

A Brighton Festival commission, the world premiere is a partnership between two Brighton-based artistic powerhouses to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus. They range from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra; from Pyramus and Thisbe to young Macduff. There are countless stabbings, plenty of severed heads, some poisonings, two mobbings and a smothering. Enorbarbus just sits in a ditch and dies from grief. And then there’s the pie that Titus serves the Queen of the Goths.

Spymonkey will perform them all - sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically. The four ‘seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns' (Time Magazine) will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them.

The Complete Deaths is directed by Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), designed by Spymonkey regular Lucy Bradridge and presented by Spymonkey in co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate. The Brighton Festival performances are supported by ZSTa.

The 50th Brighton Festival takes place from 7-29 May 2016 – a full programme of events will be announced mid-February 2016 when tickets will go on sale. Click here to become a Member and be first in line to book.

More news about the 50th Brighton Festival programme will be announced shortly.