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

Showing 1 to 10 of 22 items

Festival Hot Seat...SPECTRA: CAST

Artist duo Walter & Zoniel plan to transform Brighton Beach into the biggest canvas in town with SPECTRA: CAST, which is part performance, part installation. Here they tell us more about what’s in store.


Can you tell us what your show is about?

SPECTRA: CAST is a large-scale public installation where we will be painting Brighton beach multi-coloured. It is an interactive art piece, so everyone is invited to take part.

The installation is purposefully simplistic in terms of interaction yet it works on multiple levels, so each person will take something different from it.

It deals with themes of inclusivity in art and accessing creativity through crossing lines we aren’t normally allowed to. We use fun and mischief as tools in the installation to inspire engagement with the subjects.

How and where will the work be staged?

The work takes place on the beach in between Brighton Pier and the Doughnut Groyne. The active part will be on Doughnut Groyne, so anyone wanting to take part should head there. It can be viewed from all around, including the promenade and the pier, for those wishing to just watch the piece take shape.

Those taking part are invited to cast their multi-coloured stones onto the ‘canvas’of the beach. Each stone is coloured to represent each person’s individual opinion.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It will be fun, surreal and beautiful and those who input will be part of a massive artistic creation which will remain on the beach until nature takes its course.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

For our SPECTRA series of installations we wanted to use mischief and surrealism, getting people to cross lines they wouldn’t normally be allowed to cross. We were inspired by societal concepts of rules which led to the idea of crossing lines and using colour to change spaces in people’s consciousness.

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

It’s important for us to look at what restrains us and what fuels us on a daily and societal level, what rules are there and why, and when it’s useful to step aside from them to think creatively. Also, public engagement with art is a key element of this piece. Everyone should feel empowered to engage and have access to art, and we are strong advocates of that. The artwork exhibited on the beach will be a representation of everyone’s opinions.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who likes fun, or art, or expressing their opinions. Also anyone who enjoys being part of something bigger than themselves.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

That it works on multiple levels. There is much more to it than the simple act of throwing a coloured stone. We’re not telling you what, or it wouldn’t be a surprise.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

We are really into Kate Tempest’s curation and how it’s focusing on the accessibility of art, as this is a subject close to our hearts. Brighton is such a vibrant and colourful city and the festival team is pushing boundaries of what can be created. We are looking forward to it all.

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

There are so many interesting events going on, it’s hard to choose. The light installation in the woods ‘For The Birds’ looks pretty intriguing.

SPECTRA: CAST is at Brighton Beach, Doughnut Groyne from 13-14 May

Festival Hot Seat...Rich Hall's Hoedown

Rich Hall and his musical mates present the Hoedown, a mash-up of the very best of music and comedy, featuring his critically-acclaimed grouchy humour and deadpan style. He explains a bit more about the show.


Why should someone come and see your live show?

I love the fact that when a live show is over, it’s gone. It's happened, and it will never happen like that again. It can’t be replicated. That’s a great magical moment.

In every single show, there are always two or three moments where I’m thinking, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ You’re constantly thinking on your feet.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

I try to tap into what is happening locally and address that musically by writing an improvised song based on the town I’m in.

Once audiences realise you're not just trotting out your regular act, people think, ‘He’s made a real effort. He’s on our side, so we're on his side.’ Then you can take them anywhere.

Where did the idea come from to do the improvised songs?

I like to do something custom-made every night, otherwise you would just be like a robot. That can really wear you down. Nobody gets more sick of hearing their own voice than a comedian.

When you're improvising a song, you think, 'I may never do this one again, but it’s a special moment for everyone here.’

Music works in my show because it connects with people on a very personal level. Having a band there makes it a much richer experience – if you’ll pardon the phrase!

A lot of comedians just come on stage and say, ‘I was on a bus and I passed so and so.’ But that’s just a reaction to something rather than a specific, custom-made song that engages people. The magic is more important than the material. People really respond to that.

What are the other inspirations for your comedy?

It is always good to articulate anger. If you don’t, you’re merely preaching to the converted and asking, ‘Have you ever noticed?’ Yes, we are paying you to notice things we haven’t already noticed!

You want to reach the point where audiences say, ‘I’d like to see that guy again’. You want to deliver the goods and be Old Reliable. I’m not a big showbiz hound, but for me being on stage is the most satisfying thing imaginable.

Rich Hall’s Hoedown is at Theatre Royal Brighton on Sun 21 May at 8pm

Festival Hot Seat...FK Alexander

The Glasgow-based performance artist is all set to give a performance like no other at this year’s Brighton Festival. Here she tells us more about (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow


Can you tell us what your show is about?

It’s not really a show – it’s an interactive one-to-one performance art piece, where I sing Over The Rainbow to one audience member at a time. Other people can witness the song being sung, and the Glasgow-based noise band Okishima Island Tourist Association play a wall of noise throughout the whole situation. I am singing live to a recording of the last time Judy Garland performed Over The Rainbow, a few months before she died, and while I sing I am holding the person’s hand and not breaking eye contact. It’s quite a loud situation, but filled with love.

How and where will the work be staged?

It will be presented at The Spire, which is a stunning site. There will be three different days where we will be sharing the work, in four hour durations.

Why should someone come and see your show?

People who love Judy Garland might connect to this, as well as fans of noise music, people seeking a moment of full attention from a stranger (myself) and people who are curious or enjoy intimate performance. Also, people seeking something real, intimate and genuine. Or maybe people who just like loud work!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Judy Garland is my spirit guide and for a long time I was seeking to make a work where I might occupy the space of her spiritually in the current time. I wanted to display the complexities of her, and her history and myth. I also wanted to draw on the tensions between the iconic song and the misunderstood music genre of noise, of which I have been a fan for years.

I wanted to make a real, live connection between myself and others, that happened in real time. It was a very personal process to make this when it was first shown in January 2014 in the Arches in Glasgow. I wanted to explore vulnerability and strength at the same time - of myself and others.

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

It’s not a story, it’s not a metaphor – it’s real!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone is open to come along – my work is never for anyone in particular. Everyone is welcome.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

It’s loud, it’s repetitive, there are no hidden sections. People are often very moved and I’ve held the hands of people crying. I am surprised by how emotional I feel every time.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

I’ve never been! But I understand Brighton Festival to be of a very high quality, with an international programme that means a lot to the local community and those coming specially to see a diverse range of form-pushing and mind- and heart-expanding work.

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

I hope I see something I have not experienced before. It’s a huge programme with an unlimited scope for new sensations and so much I haven't heard of, which is really exciting.

(I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow is at The Spire on 26-28 May.

Festival Hot Seat...One Hundred Homes

One Hundred Homes is a lovingly conceived intimate performance by Belgian theatre maker Yinka Kuitenbrouwer. Full of warmth and insight, the show won rave reviews at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. We talked to Yina to find out more. 


Can you tell us what your show is about?

One Hundred Homes is an intimate performance based on over 100 talks about ‘home’. I went to visit over a hundred people in their houses. I tried to visit a lot of different kinds of people: those living in special houses such as boats, train stations and squats, along with people who fled their country or who moved around a lot. Based on all these talks, with the help of pictures, tea and biscuits, I perform my show.

How and where will the work be staged?

One Hundred Homes will play in a community pub, in a very intimate setting of a little kitchen and is always played to a small number of people. This way, I really get in touch with the audience, so the show is an encounter similar to the ones I had while visiting people researching the show.

Why should someone come and see your show?

One Hundred Homes is more than a regular performance, it’s an immersive encounter between the audience and me, the actor. It’s also about a topic that relates to us all – being at home. And there will be biscuits!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was born and raised in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. When I was 19 I moved to Ghent in Belgium to study Drama. Although I always planned to go back to Amsterdam after my graduation, I started to feel more at home in Ghent than in Amsterdam, although I had been living there for the larger part of my life. This realisation made me wonder what ‘home’ really is and this idea formed the starting point for the show. While I was doing my interviews as research, I was struck by the openness of the people I visited, and the intimate stories they told me, even though I had never met them before. This inspired me to make the show personal and honest.

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

It’s universal and very relevant to the current times with refugees crossing borders in order to find safe new homes.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Someone who likes to discover new places where theatre can be performed, who likes stories and meeting new people. Also, someone who likes an intimate setting where it’s a bit different to a regular performance. And who likes biscuits!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The range of people that are involved in the show and the fact that there are so many stories about home, but in the end everybody is more-or-less searching for the same thing. Also, people may not realise that there this is a special Brighton adaptation with local interviewees involved in the show.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

It will be my first time visiting Brighton and the Festival. I’m very excited to be part of the Festival as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I’m also excited to be coming back to the UK after my run at the Edinburgh Fringe last August.

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

There is a lot to choose from, and with my seven performances in three days, and biscuits to bake for each, I don’t know if I will have time to see as many other performances as I’d like to! I’m really looking forward to enjoying the atmosphere of the city during the Festival.

One Hundred Homes is at the Bevy Community Pub from Friday 26 May to Sunday 28 May.

Festival Hot Seat... Now You See It

Antonia Grove, artistic director of Brighton-based dance theatre company Probe, tells us about her brand new solo work, co-directed with Sue MacLaine.

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Developing strategies for coping with family members, difficult scenarios, and life in general! 

Finding a way of making myself visible and finding a way to disappear. 

Interrogating facts and searching for the truth. 

Questioning what I might be missing. 

Channeling frustration and finding an expression through the liberation of movement and speaking out loud.

How and where will the work be staged?

It’s me, for an hour, in a big and beautifully lit theatre space.

It’s taking place at the wonderful Attenborough Centre, at the University of Sussex on 14 May 7.30pm.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because its authentic, emotionally charged and physically impressive. Because it communicates through story-telling and dance so the work can be felt and experienced on many different levels.

Because the lighting and sound score create a rich, visceral, and exciting environment to be in.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The idea came from my head. From things I felt needed to be said. About experiences I felt others could relate to.

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

I think it’s so important that we continue to make unique, impassioned and challenging work, no matter how hard that is, and no matter how much we think we need to escape from the challenges of life.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Most importantly anyone who likes to see and hear real life experiences being untangled and interrogated.

For anyone who has felt invisible or wanted to disappear themselves.

For people with questions, people who love dance and people who love theatre.

I would like to think anyone of any age and background would enjoy this show, although it’s probably best understood above the age of 12.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

You might be surprised by what you see… or what you don’t see… I don’t want to give anything away yet ;)

It’s both poignant and uplifting, so don’t miss it!

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

It’s my city, it’s where art in the city comes to life. It’s about being on the streets, being at a gig, in a theatre, talking about great work and having new experiences.

Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

I have been part of the festival as a company or as a performer for the last 5 years. All those experiences have been extremely different and memorable, especially when you have a full house at a show you are particularly proud of, I’ve had a few of those moments.

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

Some great female works this year.

  • Vincent Dance Theatre, Virgin Territory, A film installation at Onca Gallery which I am a performer in.
  • The Hiccup Project, May-We-Go-Round? at The Spire, a great venue and a very entertaining work I was dramaturg for.
  • Sharon Duggal presenting her fantastic new book The Handsworth Times at Sallis Benney Theatre
  • Kate Tempest, can’t wait to see her in action again!

Also, Theo Clinkard, whom Probe was originally founded with, has his big new commission, This Bright Field, at Brighton Dome Concert Hall.

Now You See It is at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) on 14 May.

Festival Hot Seat… No Dogs, No Indians

Writer Siddhartha Bose gives the low-down on his new play No Dogs, No Indians, which has its world premiere at Brighton Festival

How and where will the work be staged?

No Dogs, No Indians will be staged at The Spire, Eastern Road on 17-18 May. Four actors will play multiple characters across three time zones in India: the 1930s, the late 70s, and 2017.

Why should someone come and see your show?

No Dogs, No Indians explores the legacy of British colonialism in India, and will commemorate the 70th anniversary of independence. It tells the story of a forgotten female revolutionary, Pritilata Waddedar — I like to think of her as a sort of Malcolm X to Gandhi’s Martin Luther King. The play also examines the fictional story of Shyamal Chatterjee, who is a relic of the Raj era — a ‘brown sahib’ who loves, and models himself on, British culture. Finally, the play will also transport you to contemporary India, a nation that aspires to be a world power while simultaneously dealing with the ghosts of its past.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

This play has been gestating for a few years. For a while I've wanted to write a historical, Raj-era play. I was particularly interested in forgotten stories from the Anglo-Indian encounter. If you look at any film or TV series that looks at this period — from David Lean’s Passage to India to Channel 4’s Indian Summers — you will find symbols of exclusion, in particular, the sign, ‘No Dogs, No Indians’ or ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’ outside any British club in colonial India. I wanted to respond to the power of these words, and to explore how Indians felt, and responded to, such a provocation. And then, almost by accident, I found Pritilata Waddedar’s story...

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

2017 is the 70th anniversary of Indian independence (and the UK-India Year of Culture). Despite this, I think there is a certain level of historical amnesia about the realities and complexities of colonialism and its legacies. In No Dogs, No Indians I'm aiming to help us remember, explore and engage. I think it’s a timely play which tells an important story (or two!) in a poetic way.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I hope No Dogs, No Indians will appeal to a broad audience, from theatre-goers to people interested in history. The play asks a lot of questions about cultural appropriation and power that are particularly current at the moment.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The play revolves around the premise of neglected stories and forgotten characters. In that sense alone, there will be much to surprise the audience. Stylistically, the play will be innovative and fresh as well.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

Brighton Festival is one of the world’s leading and most daring arts festivals, and I am honoured that No Dogs, No Indians has been commissioned by, and will receive its world premiere, here. I can't wait to find out what audiences think of it.

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

There’s so much to choose from but Theo Clinkard’s This Bright Field looks amazing.

No Dogs, No Indians is at The Spire 17-18 May.

Festival Hot Seat… Songs for the End of the World

Dom Coyote gives us an insight into a show that mixes music gig and epic theatre, inspired by Philip K Dick’s post-apocalyptic novel Dr Bloodmoney, the star-gazing world of Ziggy Stardust, and the age of austerity Britain

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Songs for the End of the World is a high-octane rock n' roll, gig-theatre show about the end of the World. It's an eccentric, angry, messy, epic, ridiculous sci-fi explosion and a good old fashioned love story. It is set in New Albion - a near-future post-brexit, austerity Britain, owned and controlled by mega-corporation New Global.

Jim Walters, a totally unprepared and hapless astronaut is shot into space to become the first man on Mars. On the day of the launch, armageddon hits and Jim’s rocket gets trapped in orbit around the dying earth. With an ever decreasing amount of Oxygen, all he can do is broadcast his songs for the end of the world in the hope that someone might here…

How and where will the work be staged?

The show is performed by a five piece band of multi-instrumentalists, Dom Coyote & The Bloodmoneys, who all transform into bizarre, comic-book like characters at the drop of a hat. You experience an eclectic, ‘50s infused music gig, at the exact same time as an eccentric, theatrical story about a dystopian future England. It will be performed at the Theatre Royal on May 16th.

Why should someone come and see your show?

If you are enraged by the dystopian world we live in right now, come and see our show.

If you want to shout at the Gods, and shake our sleeping leaders awake, come and see our show.

If you love amazing, imaginative science fiction, like Terry Gilliam's Brazil and authors like Philip K.Dick, China Mieville, Ursula Leguin, Margaret Attwood and John Wyndham, come and see our show!

If you love music, but want something more than just an ordinary gig set up, where a band of awesome musicians create a whole world in front of your eyes, come and see our show.

If you love eccentric, surrealist comedy, come and see our show.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Ten years ago, I read the most bizarre and brilliant science fiction novel, Dr Bloodmoney, by Philip K. Dick, a post-apocalyptic masterpiece with mutating animals, telepathic handymen and a man stranded in orbit, the last DJ of Earth. When the National Theatre asked me what story I wanted to tell, I said it was that one. And then I completely re-wrote it.

Also, I've worked a lot with Kneehigh Theatre. They inspired me to put live music right at the heart of storytelling, and to fill the stage with fire and anarchy. We made this show at the Kneehigh Barns on the cliffs of Cornwall and we let the wild in. Songs for the End of the World revels in it. The unkempt. The wild. The uncontrolled. The stuff of life.

It also came from listening to Ziggy Stardust on repeat.

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

This story is vital. It's really all about us. Now. England. Little England, with its inflated ego, narcoleptic leaders, isolating itself from the world around it. It's about the last days of man. It's time to wake up.

This is a show for everyone. It is not hi-brow or elitist. Far from it. It's radical, provocative, and utterly accessible.

It's time to reclaim the word Populist. Populism has been claimed by the far-right, suggesting that left to their own devices, the masses want to close the doors to the world and be controlled by fear and hate.

Songs for the End of the World suggests the opposite. That people, left to our own devices, have a huge capacity for love, community, survival, and hope.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

People who love science fiction and comic books! Geeks get especially excited about this show. It's full of references from David Bowie, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and (spoiler alert) the last line is sort of taken from a famous film about a planet ruled by apes....

Music lovers, love this show. It is really eclectic, genre wise. You can hear shades of ‘50s rock n' roll, blues, early soul, but with crunky analogue synths and a punk rock spirit. It's really contemporary, catchy and a bit twisted and inspired by mid-20th century pop music.

Also, fans of quirky alternative theatre love this show. There are artists from Kneehigh and Little Bulb in the show and it definitely has a ridiculous, epic, story based eccentricity about it.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Well there's an apocalyptic preacher who transforms into a hideous mutant, telepathically connected to God. That's pretty surprising...

It also manages to make you laugh and cry at the same time, if we do it right...

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

This is our first time playing at Brighton festival and we are ridiculously excited about it. My favourite festival always has to be Glastonbury. It is sprawling and epic and there are still dirty dark secrets in the cracks....

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

It's obvious. Kate Tempest! I've been following her work for 10 years now, right from the early shows at Shambala and SGP. She blows my mind, every time.

Also, I am really excited about Mica Levi's live soundtrack for Under the Skin, such a gem of a soundtrack. I'm a big fan of the film and also the book it was inspired by, by Michael Faber. Creepy and unnerving, the best kind of sci-fi...

Songs for the End of the World is at Theatre Royal Brighton on Tue 16 May

Festival Hot Seat… Raising Lazarus

Award-winning performance artist, playwright, director and producer Kat Francois brings her solo show Raising Lazarus to Brighton Festival

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Raising Lazarus is the story of how I discovered that I had a relative, Lazarus Francois, from the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada, who had fought for Britain during World War One. In the play, I play several characters, from the present day back to 1915, covering my personal journey of discovery, and also the life of Lazarus, and the West Indian soldiers like him, who came to Seaford during World War One, and then went off to conflict zones around the world.

Why should someone come and see your show?

My play is not just for theatre-goers, or people who know me from my spoken word background. It is a true story about a part of history that is only now just being understood. How young men came from around the globe to defend Britain, and at that time, its empire. I think people will come away from the show having learned more about Britain, the Commonwealth, and even Seaford’s involvement in the story.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

In 2009, I had been preparing to take my partner to Grenada for the first time, where my family came from in the 1960s. He decided to read up on the island’s history before travelling, and came across a picture of a war memorial in a book. The memorial was in Grenada, and on it was the name “Francois”. He asked me if I had a relative who took part in World War One, and I instantly said no…. I would have known if I had. But a nagging doubt pushed me to ask my mum and gran if they knew any more, and that’s when I found out that I had indeed this relative, Lazarus Francois. We researched more and more, and as a performance artist, I decided to tell both mine and Lazarus’ story and take it to the stage.

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

It’s 100 years since the First World War, and Britain has been deep in commemoration of the many who took part and the devastation that sliced through a generation. But when I was at school, these stories were very much about British contributions, so being of Caribbean heritage myself, I found it difficult to relate to these stories, and history as a subject in general became of little interest. Suddenly I find out that this history does include people like my relatives… can you imagine as a child how that would have made me feel? It’s important we share everybody’s stories and tell shared histories, especially at a time of such division in society. We have to concentrate on what brings us together.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Lovers of theatre and spoken word. Lovers of history, but also lovers of a human story.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

That I play many characters, including a white nurse from Sussex!!

Raising Lazarus is at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) on 9 and 10 May.

Festival Hot Seat… Five Short Blasts: Shoreham

Following the success of Gauge (Brighton Festival 2015) we are delighted to have Australian duo Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey back this year. Here the artists tell us more about the UK Premiere of their hotly anticipated show Five Short Blasts: Shoreham at Brighton Festival 2017.

Can you describe the show you are bringing to Brighton Festival?

The show that we are bringing her is called Five Short Blasts: Shoreham and it’s a journey in a boat, where you listen to the sound of the place and the sound of the people in the place. You listen to where you are but also you listen to voices and sounds that we have orchestrated and created for you as we traverse a journey.

How and where will the work be staged?

Audiences will arrive at a Jetty, they will be welcomed aboard the boat and then they will take off and travel the river – the river Adur in Shoreham Port – out into the sea and back again. Over that experience of time they will encounter things that are both designed and of the site. The river Adur has an incredible intersection of people who are using this space both recreationally and commercially and that gives rise to a whole lot of interesting ways of looking at and working with the water. It’s been really fun talking to the people of Shoreham about their relationship with the water. Being from somewhere else, we couldn’t do a project like this without a really great local support and a local liaison.

Why should someone come and see your show?

There is something special when you go in a boat and when you listen in a boat, it is a very different kind of thing than just going to a concert for example, obviously. There is something meditative which takes you to a different state of mind. When you hear people’s stories and you are actually sitting on the water listening to it you get a more deeply sensed appreciation of where this place is and what it means. We hope as people experience Five Short Blasts: Shoreham they will be able to see and hear something that they did not know was there before.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The work initially came out of an invitation, but also out of a respect for those people who have a connection to the water and opened that world to us. We started doing some research for the beginnings of this idea of a work on the water and the first person that we talked to had been a harbour master and he talked us through the signalling systems. Of course, as audio artists, if anybody is talking us through a system that is all about sound and its meanings - it’s so appealing! So, immediately we wanted to use that language of the sea. Five Short Blasts in marine signalling language means I am unsure of your intentions and I am afraid that we are going to collide. That’s a metaphor for what the show’s about – which is about the differing uses, the sometimes conflicted and conflicting uses and experiences on the sea.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

In this work the tides are crucial. We can only access the river around high tide - two hours either side of high tide – so, that’s a beautiful ticking process over that whole month for us. The times of the performances that are possible change, so the varieties of lights and waves and the manor of things that are happening on the water will change over that whole season.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

It’s a great honour to come back. We really loved Brighton audiences, we had a fantastic time when we did Gauge for a month. The variety of people that come, the variety of different ways that people respond, the sorts of conversations that are possible – that is a really nice thing to be around as an artist. I am looking forward to seeing what happens this time, who we meet this time and how those people respond to what our offer is.

Five Short Blasts: Shoreham is at Shoreham Harbour Sat 6 – Sun 28 May

Festival Hot Seat… Storytelling Army

Stef O’Driscoll, the Artistic Director of nabokov Theatre Company talks to us about working with Kate Tempest, making the arts social and the formation of the Storytelling Army

How and where will the work be staged?

The Storytelling Army are a collective of diverse voices, of people from all walks of life that will pop up all over Brighton during the Festival – be it in the local supermarket, the pub or on the top deck of a bus - and tell their stories which celebrate the theme of Everyday Epic. Everyday Epic looks at us as human beings, at what we do on a daily basis and celebrates those little achievements - whether it is that today I am sober, or I have managed to take my kids to school and I suffer from depression, or whether it’s my first day of paid work - whatever that everyday epic is, it’s the chance to celebrate that and tell that story.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The idea really came from looking at Kate Tempest’s philosophy of making the arts less exclusive and more social. Kate is an absolute mastermind and I’ve been very fortunate to work with her over the years in terms of directing some of her plays. A couple of years ago, we started to think about other ways that we could work with each other and we could engage new audiences in theatre and storytelling. We started talking about what happens if you have someone just walk in to a pub and start telling a story, but you don’t realise they’re actually telling a story. How would that even function? How would that even work? Could you do that? Could you just be sat at the bar with someone and then they start delivering a poem or telling a story? So, that was the birth of the idea and then when Kate became a Guest Director of the Festival we started to rethink about that idea and whether this would be the right platform to do that. Hence the army of storytellers was born!

How did you begin to research and develop the project?

We started to have a conversation about the different groups that we’d like to work to champion people’s stories. In Brighton, there’s lots of issues in terms of drug use and addition, there’s lots of homelessness and vulnerably-housed people and so we started to identify different organizations and charities that we’d want to work with in partnership to create that army of storytellers.

Why do you think it’s important that these voices are heard?

I think it’s really important that we champion diverse voices in regards to storytelling so that people have stories that they can relate to. Within our theatrical landscape there’s a lot of communities and a lot of voices that are not championed and are not heard. There’s a really important exchange that happens when you see a story where you understand that world, or you identify with that character - you as an audience member are able to understand what your role is within the world. For example, Kate Tempest’s novel, The Bricks that Built the Houses talks about a South London that I know, that I’m a part of. It deals with subcultures that were very much a part of my experience of growing up. There’s a beauty and magic that happens from reading a book that exists for me championing my world, that speaks in a language that I understand. So, we have to champion diverse voices from all walks of life to be able to give that experience to wider communities, for people to actually engage in the arts – people that wouldn’t normally. Otherwise it’s going to remain an elitist thing, which can’t happen.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

The main hope is to engage new audiences in to accessing the arts by breaking down those barriers. So, for someone who wouldn’t normally expect to experience the arts, to just stumble across it. They could be doing their shopping and they come away with a story, with identifying with something or just in part be entertained. It becomes a joyful experience that you haven’t had to pay for.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The beauty of this project is that it is pop up – almost like flash mob-esque. So, as an audience member you could be on your morning commute on your way to work, and you’re on the top deck of a bus and you experience an epic, beautiful poem, or this story that you weren’t really expecting. So, what will they expect? I think the unexpected.