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

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VIDEO: Choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard talks about This Bright Field

Brighton-based choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard spoke to Vámonos creative agency about dance, design and his new show This Bright Field which has its world premiere at Brighton Festival on 25 May.

'It's important to me as a contemporary artist to not be making work within an arts bubble, but to be responding to the world that we are living in, and this is a time of massive change. With the new work there's been something for me about not taking for granted some of our basic human rights'


Interview: Richard Nelson on The Gabriels

Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Nelson spoke to Edwin Gilson, Entertainment Writer at Brighton’s Argus Guide about his highly-acclaimed trilogy of plays, The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family ahead of their UK premiere at Brighton Festival

When did the idea for The Gabriels first come about?

I wanted to write about an American family with three plays all around the same national event – the election. Unlike with The Apple Family Plays [the trilogy Nelson brought to Brighton in 2015], which were about people moving to the little village of Rhinebeck and finding a home, this is a family of people who feel pushed out. These people are feeling like they are losing a home.

The play was written in real time. Does the fact that you were reacting immediately to the unfolding election keep the script alive?

Yes, I think so. The goal of the play, in essence, was to try and see the world through these characters’ eyes. I was constantly reading the news and trying to figure out what they might be thinking. I wanted to make it as immediate to the time of the play as possible. The last play is set, and was performed, between five and seven at night which is why the characters never know the result of the election. Each play I would write up to the opening night. They act as three snapshots in a year.

Would it be fair to say the play is more about people and their relationships than the election per se?

It’s not about who is going to win or lose. There are little to no arguments in the play and as a writer I’m not trying to make a point in any way. I just want to show how the familial, the personal, the financial, the artistic and political are all intertwined. The ambition of the play is to present the complexity of people. In each of the plays the characters cook a meal. When you’re cooking, conversations happen in a certain way that is very different to any other time. Human beings are the only animals that cook, therefore cooking is one of the things that makes us human beings. The play is about the complexity of human beings who centre around this fundamentally human activity.

What kind of people are The Gabriels? Where would you place them in the American social scene?

They grew up in this very small village but they are very cultured and play musical instruments. These are educated people who feel the pressure of a world in which they are being forgotten – at least in terms of economics.

The blurb for Women of a Certain Age, the third play, includes the line “the game seems rigged”. Is there a sense of determinism at play?

There is a refrain in the play that is quite significant in that sense; “what about us.” That feeling goes all the way through the play and it suggests a certain futility.

In an interview you said your characters are marked by a certain sense of “exile”. Can you pinpoint where this theme comes from in your work?

I think that’s accurate. It’s that sense of home, whether that’s feeling at home, homeless or in the process of losing a home. That theme is related to that feeling of not quite fitting in or being forgotten or lost. I also think my characters are resilient and there is a strength to them in the face of some serious problems, though.

Why did you take the decision to stop the narrative before Donald Trump was announced as winner?

Well, the play is not about the election in a news-like way. I’m trying to write about how the politics relates to people in both human and complex terms. I think that’s what’s not conveyed often in the news or television. It’s much more about the horse race and who wins and loses. That’s something others do – it’s not what the play is about.

How did you go about merging the personal and the political in a subtle way, without overstating the election narrative?

I think if any of us look at our lives, politics is involved. If there’s any kind of political event it’s going to be talked about by you and your family. It might not come up as the number one thing you have to keep talking about, though – it’s more incidental than that.

What was the audience atmosphere like in the election night performance of Women of a Certain Age?

It was an extraordinary night because the audience had no idea what was happening in the voting while they were watching the play. Everybody lived in that moment, in the present. We left and there was a party with big television screens so we could see the results. Everyone in the audience and those involved with the show were very, very surprised.

This interview was originally published in the Argus Guide. Visit the website for the latest news, in-depth interviews, features and reviews on the best events in Brighton, Hove and Sussex

The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family takes place Sat 20 - Sat 27 May at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. You can book here for the individual plays, or click here to get a bundle for all three, which you can see together in one glorious sitting on Sat 20, Sun 21 or Sat 27 May, or in any combination of the performances (including evening performances on Tue 23, Wed 24 and Thu 25 May). 

Brighton Festival Book Swap Bus stops at the pier

All are welcome aboard Brighton Festival Book Swap Bus which will be at the entrance to Brighton Pier on Thursday 30 March, 11am-5pm.

Bring down your old favourites and swap them for something new to read. Stick around for refreshments and to enjoy your ‘new’ book, or browse the Brighton Festival brochure.

The Brighton Festival Book Swap Bus is inspired by the Book Swap Boxes that have been placed around Brighton and Hove as part of City Reads 2017, allowing anyone to informally and anonymously share books.

City Reads culminates in a Brighton Festival event on 14 May with this year’s chosen author Sharon Duggal talking about her book The Handsworth Times.

The bus has been donated for the day by Brighton Pier to mark English Tourism Week.

ACE funding success for Brighton Festival 2018 event

Arts Council England has announced our success in a recent application for funding, in collaboration with LIFT festival, to bring a piece of world-class Korean music theatre to English audiences in May and June 2018, as part of a £1.4 million in international collaboration and exchange with Arts Council Korea.

LIFT and Brighton Festival will collaborate to present a fascinating adaptation of Trojan Woman by the internationally-renowned director, Ong Ken Seng, with the National Changeuk Company and the National Theatre of Korea. The two festivals will each present this extraordinary piece of work that combines the musical storytelling and drumming tradition of Korean opera and pansori with the best of contemporary theatre.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “We are delighted that our joint funding bid was successful. I was lucky enough to go to Seoul for the premiere of the work in autumn 2016. It is an incredibly powerful piece of theatre which marries a familiar aesthetic with a completely different cultural form. I can’t wait to see it again at Brighton Festival in 2018.”

You can read about the other funded projects from this Arts Council England and Arts Council Korea funding pot here.

City Reads Book Swap Boxes offer 'books for everyone'

Brighton Festival and Quercus have collaborated with City Reads 2017 to get more people in Brighton & Hove reading: for free! Several Book Swap Boxes throughout Brighton & Hove from March until May will allow everyone to informally and anonymously share books, inspired by crime writer William Shaw’s ‘homemade’ box of his own.

These exciting Book Swap Boxes give you the chance to engage with reading for free, in a fun and rewarding way. Improve your memory and reduce stress by reading new books and expanding your knowledge.

City Reads will be posting the box locations via their website and various social media channels; City Readers are encouraged to take a book, leave a book, read a book and share!

A number of copies of this year’s City Reads choice The Handsworth Times by Sharon Duggal will be in each box. Books by two of Quercus’ best-selling authors – Brighton residents William Shaw and Elly Griffiths – will also be found in the Book Swap Boxes. William Shaw’s own box is located at Redwood Café, and Elly Griffith’s box at Pavilion Gardens Café.

City Reads 2017 events run from 2 Mar to 14 May, finishing with Sharon Duggal at the Brighton Festival.

A. F. Harrold introduces Young City Reads 2017

Author A F Harrold welcomes you to this year's Young City Reads and Brighton Festival reading adventure! 

Young story-lovers, get ready to enjoy another thrilling book this year. You are invited to read and discuss A.F. Harrold’s Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) – the story of a boy, a book, some very bad people, some very brave deeds, and the importance of rubber teeth for lions.

This city-wide 'big read', brought to you by Collected Works CIC, is designed to spread a love of books to the widest possible audience of young readers throughout Brighton & Hove.

Brighton Festival announces Radio Reverb as Broadcast Media Partner for 2017

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that RadioReverb, Brighton’s not for profit radio station, will be Broadcast Media Partner for 2017.

RadioReverb will be working with Brighton Festival to produce a daily digest of Festival performances for the month of May. 

RadioReverb started broadcasting in 2004 for two weeks during Brighton Festival, and was then awarded a full community broadcasting licence from OFCOM in 2007, making this year a ten-year anniversary celebration for the team of home-grown broadcasters who produce a vibrant mix of locally relevant, advert free, speech and music programmes.  

Emma Robertson, Head of Press & PR at Brighton Festival says: 'We are delighted to be partnering with Radio Reverb this year. Our Guest Director Kate Tempest is passionate about the power of the arts to bring communities together so it is extremely fitting that we are working with a radio station that provides a platform for such a diverse spectrum of voices. With Radio Reverb’s support, we hope that Brighton Festival 2017 will encourage the whole city to come together to celebrate the creativity in their communities and try something new.'

Tracey Allen, Director of RadioReverb says 'As we celebrate our tenth year of having a broadcast license, it was very apt that we once again worked with Brighton Festival, which was the catalyst for RadioReverb becoming an official station in the city. Having Kate Tempest curate the festival fits in perfectly with our values of community, diversity and using communication for social good and entertainment. We can't wait for Brighton Festival to start.'

Listeners can hear the Brighton Festival shows on RadioReverb at 97.2FM, on DAB and on-line at www.radioreverb.com.

The show will be repeated 10pm each evening and at 8am the following morning.

Podcasts of all the show will also be found behind RadioReverb’s Listen Again button. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate Tempest on Brighton Festival 2017 theme Everyday Epic

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

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

Produced by echovideo.co.uk

Full programme unveiled for Brighton Festival 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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