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

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Guest Director Kate Tempest's Picks

With this year’s celebration of the everyday epic fast approaching, we felt there was no one better to guide us through the month ahead than our pioneering Guest Director, Kate Tempest.

Below she lays down the events she is especially excited about in the hope you will see, hear and feel something new.

Five Short Blasts Shoreham

Five Short Blasts Brighton Festival

Who? Austalian artist duo Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey (the team behind Gauge, Brighton Festival 2015)

What? Cast off aboard a small boat into the River Adur and navigate the uncertainties of the changing tide whilst tuning in to the sounds of the people who live and work on the water.

They Say“Five Short Blasts Shoreham is 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.”

Kate says“There’s a site-specific piece of theatre, kind of environmental music installation art, by this incredible duo from Australia. It’s called Five Short Blasts which is the signal that you give when you are in a sea-way, that means ‘I’m confused about your intention and I’m nervous that we are going to collide’. This is the premise of this sound art piece and I’m really excited about bringing that to Brighton.”

Where? Shoreham Harbour

When? Saturday 6 – Sunday 28 May, around high tide (every day except 8, 9, 15 – 17, 24 & 25 May)

Let Them Eat Chaos: Rearranged

Kate Tempest, photo credit Eddie Otchere

Who? Guest Director Kate Tempest with Mica Levi & Orchestrate

What? Hip-hop inspired storytelling meets cinematic orchestration as Kate Tempest teams up with musician and composer Mica Levi and ensemble Orchestrate, to perform Kate’s full album, Let Them Eat Chaos reworked for strings.

The critics say“Kate Tempest’s refusal to recognise genre boundaries – her material nimbly regenerates itself into performance poetry, rap-style narratives against a backdrop of electronic music, a novel – might appear at odds with the consistency of her concerns.” – Alex Clark, The Guardian

Kate says“It’s a kind of reinterpretation of Let Them Eat Chaos for strings, composed by Mica Levi who is an incredible artist and a friend which is really exciting! I can just feel the shape of the piece changing and what’s going to happen to my voice against the resonance of those strings is really exciting.

Where? Brighton Dome Concert Hall

When? Let Them Eat Chaos: Thursday 11 May, 7,30pm

If you like this, you will also like… A film screening of the critically acclaimed Under the Skin, accompanied by a live orchestral performance conducted by Mica Levi of her ethereal soundtrack, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Sunday 7 May, 8pm

The Odyssey

The Odyssey at Brighton Festival 2017

Who? Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton

What? Leading storytellers Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton tell the gripping story of the Odysseus’ ten-year journey from Troy, an epic adventure story punctuated with moments of insight, humour and horror.

The critics say'The nation's most celebrated storytelling duo in a performance that is serious, moving and vital' Times

Kate says… “There’s a guy called Daniel Morden, who’s from Wales and he’s a storyteller – he knows the whole Odyssey back to front in his head, and he can tell it to you while you’re sitting there, it will feel like a blockbuster movie. He’s incredible, I’m really excited about what he’s going to bring!”

Where? Sallis Benney Theatre

When? Saturday 13 May, 6pm

Your Place

your place

Who? Community steering groups from Whitehawk and Hangleton, with Kate Tempest

What? A diverse and exciting programme of music, dance, theatre and spoken word events in the Hangleton and Whitehawk communities, created with and for the community, this one is for everyone to enjoy.

They say… “The community has been really hands on engaged form start to finish in the overall planning and management of the project [...] I think the arts and creativity are important to everyone, I think everyone is creative but not everyone gets the opportunity to express that creativity. The arts help us figure out what it means to be human.” - Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of the Brighton People’s Theatre

Kate says…We’ve got this really cool initiative called Your Place – which is probably the thing I’m most excited about. We have developed two community hubs, one in Whitehawk, one in Hangleton, in community centres there and we’ll be programming events going on for two weekends across the Festival. There will be performances from Brighton Festival artists, also participatory events and workshops. Everything is free - completely free - programmed in conjunction and consultation with people that run some of the community programmes out of those community centres.”

Where? Hangleton & Whitehawk

When? Hangleton: Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 May, Whitehawk: Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May

Yussef Kamaal

Yussef Kamal

Who? Yussef Daves and Kamaal Williams as Yussef Kamaal

What? Shaped by the sound of London, the hum of jungle, grime and broken beats from pirate radio broadcasts has formed this duo’s self-taught approach to jazz with this drum and keys heavy performance.

The critics say…This is one of the most engaging acts you’ll see live” – Bonobo

This is the kind of record that inspires new listeners to explore unfamiliar sounds and musical histories; the kind of record that bodes very well for the future of British jazz” - Clash Magazine

Kate says… “I am really excited about Yussef Kamaal, Yussef Dayes is a drummer that I’ve known since I was very young and I’m really excited to see him”

Where? St Nicholas’ Church

When? Saturday 20 May, 1pm

Ocean Wisdom and High Focus Records

Ocean Wisdom, The Four Owls & Jam Baxter

Who? High Focus Records presents Ocean Wisdom, The Four Owls and Jam Baxter

What? Resurrecting the legacy of UK hip-hop, label High Focus Records offers up three acts from their impressive family of artists. Meteoric riser, Ocean Wisdom, Fliptrix led collective The Four Owls, and outlandish lyricist, Jam Baxter.

They critics say… “Ocean Wisdom’s Chaos 93 is vital work in a maturing genre by a young talent, which should be as gripping a listen for those who know they’ll love it, as it is necessary for those who think they won’t.” – Tariq Goddard, The Quietus

Kate says… “There’s a rapper called Ocean Wisdom, a rapper called Jam Baxter and a group called Four Owls who are going do an event as a part of a High Focus showcase. High Focus are a record label championing extremely delicate, powerful and playful lyricism in the UK.”

Where? Brighton Dome Concert Hall

When? Friday 21 May, 7.30pm

Lyrix Organix


Who? Poet, musician and visual artist Kojey Radical & UnFold platform featuring Toby Thompson, Solomon OB, Laurie Ogden & London String Collective

What? Exploring what it means ‘to be human’, acclaimed platform, Unfold, with the next young stars of spoken work meets the extraordinary lyricism of 24 year-old artist, Kojey Radical in this double headliner collection of live performances threaded together by London String Collective

The critics say… “One of the most innovative and exciting presentations of the spoken word I have experienced” - Dean Atta, poet and winner of the London Poetry Award

Kate says… “There’s a real emphasis on storytelling, on lyricism which is something that is really close to my heart. We’ve got a load of poets that we’ve programmed and storytellers and lyricists from across the board. When you immerse yourselves in narratives that are overtly narratives like storytelling, or cinema or theatre or dance, it can help you tune in to spotting the narratives that are more carefully hidden.”

Where? The Spire

When? Tuesday 23 May, 7.30pm

If you like this, you will also like… Voted the best poetry night in the UK by The Times, Bang Said the Gun’s unique brand of stand-up poetry is an energetic blend of the freshest talent, described by Kate as ‘mud wrestling with words’, The Spire, Saturday 20 May, 8pm

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

In Pictures: Brighton Festival 2016

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

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

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

Photo credits: Victor Frankowski, Adam Weatherley, John Hunter

In Pictures: Week 2

The second week of Brighton Festival 2016 saw two performances from our Guest Director Laurie Anderson: the spellbinding Song Conversation, where she performed with fellow musician-composers Nik Bärtsch and Eivind Aarset, and Slideshow, a sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant journey touching on projects, memories and adventures from her past. 

On top of this, there were blockbuster performances from Duke Garwood and Haçienda Classical, Children's Laureate Chris Riddell answering questions and illustrating the answers live, the sonically spiritual Lou Reed Drones, and much more besides. 

Find out what's going on in the third and final week of Brighton Festival 2016. 

Photo credits Adam Weatherley, Vic Frankowski

In Pictures: For the Love of Dogs

Last month we launched a competition inspired by our Guest Director Laurie Anderson's canine concert Music For Dogs and her new film Heart of a Dog.

We asked you to send in photos of your dogs and tell us a bit about them, so we could pick 50 to be immortalised in a mural. We were touched and delighted by the stories we received, and it was pretty tough to pick just 50 for the wall. 

On Sat 14 May all the winning dogs had been painted and we invited dog and owner alike to come and see the mural. 

The dogs’ owners were delighted. One said, ‘I’m just a dog fan...for Stanley to be immortalised in the North Laine – I’m so proud!’

Another said, ‘I think it’s fantastic – he’s famous! We came to live in Brighton about two years ago…and the idea that our dog is now on a mural feels like we’ve finally arrived and been fully accepted into the city. It’s the happiest thing!’

Big thanks to Sinna One for creating such a fantastic piece! You can see it yourself in Kensington Street in Brighton's North Laine or check out some pictures of the piece in progress and the grand opening!

Photo credit: Vic Frankowski. 

In Pictures: Music For Dogs

Brighton Festival plays host to the UK premiere of Laurie Anderson's unique concert for dogs this week. 


Brighton Festival played host to Guest Director Laurie Anderson’s Music for Dogs this week – a pair of concerts specially designed for the canine ear. Around 400 dogs were in attendance accompanied by their human counterparts at BOAT (Brighton Open Air Theatre).

This was the UK premiere of Music For Dogs following performances at Sydney Opera House, and again in New York’s Times Square earlier this year which made headlines around the world. The idea was initially prompted by a backstage conversation with cellist Yo-Yo Ma in which Laurie mused: 'Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog?' 

Here is a selection of photographs from the evening.

Photo credit Vic Frankowski

In Pictures: Week 1

Brighton Festival 2016 kicked off in grand sunny style with the Children's Parade (click to see more photos) on Saturday, and we've been celebrating since then! 

Here are a few photos from the first week, from the touching Portraits in Motion to a very special canine concert in Music For Dogs. 

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Tom Oldham, John Hunter and Adam Weatherley. 

Festival Hot Seat... Song Conversation

Our Guest Director Laurie Anderson is bringing Song Conversation to Brighton Festival, a free-wheeling collaboration with musician-composers Nik Bärtsch and Eivind Aarset. In this Festival Hot Seat Nik and Eivind tell us about the show and how they came to work with Laurie Anderson

This is your second song conversation together – How did the original collaboration come about?

Nik: I had the chance to invite two musicians for the program "Song Conversation" initiated by Thomas Wördehoff for the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele in Germany. Eivind immediately came to my mind since he is a great collaborator and we’d already played a few times together. Usually there should also be a singer on board for this program but I had a challenge to think of a person that would be inspiring to collaborate. I talked with Mr. Wördehoff and he suggested Laurie. I was immediately enthused since I loved records like “Bright Red” and “The Ugly One with the Jewels”. I listened to these records a lot when I was in my twenties. The idea of “Song Conversations” was also to include songs that were inspiring during an artist’s life.

All together we had lots of fun and also found answers to many artistic questions that were raised when we talked about “a song”. So the initial idea of covering influential songs developed into a general musical conversation about the song itself and its contexts. Of course Laurie is brilliant in this and her stories worked on several meta levels which was totally in the sense of us all.

Why ‘Song Conversation’? What exactly does the show involve?

Nik: The notion of a “song conversation” embraces the idea that songs can talk to us and they can talk to each other. Also there can be a dialogue about the song itself or we can enter the song like a house.

Eivind: We treated the subject of a “song conversation” in a kind of loose way. Not so much playing concrete songs, but more looking at the subject, and exploring different themes thru association.

Nik: We had so many ideas about the possibilities of this “conversation” that the performance jumped constantly from one meta level to the next. We played self-invented songs, songs about songs, stories about songs and we interpreted songs composed by us and other artists like Alban Bergs and Lou Reed.

How much of the show is improvised? What do you enjoy about that approach?

Nik: We improvise a lot, to serve the song and its context. We will also improvise with the moods around Laurie’s stories, some flow directions are agreed but then the moment decides how the piece develops. I like the approach to have a flexibility while respecting the songs’ integrity.

What is it like to work with Laurie Anderson?

Nik: Very inspiring of course. I like the story telling singing and her approach to always think about the meta level of content and context. We also seem to share an interest in ironic or droll moments in music and performances, whilst also an appreciation of the serious spiritual deepness in them.

Eivind: I have been a fan for many years, so it was a fantastic for me to be invited to work with Laurie. I was even more impressed after working with her. Just hearing the sound of her voice, experiencing the timing she has when telling a story, and having my sound being a part of this, was a very inspiring experience. She also has a very clear, playful, creative and focused mind, with this beautiful ability to come up with conceptual ideas that go beyond music, crossing borders of art forms in a very organic way, and all the time, it seems to me, with the aim to get a deeper message or meaning across.

Will the show cross all genres of music?

Eivind: I think the show reflects our different personal sounds, and therefore is totally undogmatic when it comes to genre. Even though I often play at jazz festivals I don´t really consider myself to be a jazz player, my background is more rock and ambient music. And Nik has a very personal touch and with aesthetics that go beyond genres. Laurie is a genre of her own.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Eivind: I think people who are interested in all kinds of music and poetry will enjoy it.

Nik: The good thing with music is, that you never know an answer to this question...

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

Nik: When I was a teenage student, long ago in a kind of bizarre phase of my life, I visited Brighton whilst staying in Hastings. I am happy now to have a second chance to enjoy this famous place for such an inspiring festival with such fantastic artists!

Eivind: I have been to Brighton a couple of times before, and enjoyed it a lot, but previously my visits have been too short. Luckily this time I will have the chance to stay for longer, so I am very much looking forward to it.

Book now for Song Conversation

Combined ticket deal with Laurie Anderson's Slideshow available in person or on the phone

10 Things you might not know about Guest Director Laurie Anderson

Henry Holloway of The Argus brings us this list of surprising facts about our Guest Director Laurie Anderson. Laurie is bringing two shows specially to Brighton Festival: Slideshow and Song Conversation. Click to find out about the shows, or read on to discover more on the pioneering artist herself.

1. Her relationship with JFK

As a student politico she wrote to John Kennedy, who was waging his campaign for Presidential candidacy, seeking advice and the young politician responded.

Anderson said: “He sent me a telegram and some roses. It was a long crazy love story between a kid and a politician.”

2. She has invented two musical instruments

The first was a tape bow violin in 1977. The instrument uses magnetic tape instead of horsehair across the bow, enabling her to play pre-recorded sounds on the instrument.

The second is the talking stick, a 6ft long baton which can replicate any sound.

3. She was the first and last Artist in Residence at NASA

The world’s leading space agency brought Anderson on board to be their official artist.

She toured the facilities and staged a show titled The End of the Moon, before the $20,000 programme was scrapped.

4. She won a Prize for her Outstanding Contribution to the Beauty of the World

The full description for the Gish Prize awarded to Anderson is “outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life”.

She won the award in 2007.

5. She performed a concert exclusively for dogs

One of the events Anderson will be bringing to the Brighton Festival is her concert for dogs.

Based on the simple musing “what if you looked out from the stage and the audience were dogs?” Anderson performs music audible only to the canine ear.

6. She created a self-playing violin

Anderson modified a violin with a built in speaker and amplifier – producing music without the human touch.

The piece is now in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and featured in the making music exhibition in 2008.

7. Her friends accused her of being a “sell out”

She enjoyed her most commercial success with the track O Superman – which went to number 2 in the charts in 1981.

She said she had no interest in the pop world but when the song charted well he friends told her she was a sell out.

8. Her first piece was a symphony played on car horns

One of her earliest recognised pieces was a symphony at a drive-in theatre using cars.

She used the horns and other car parts to create the spectacle entitled An Afternoon of Automotive Transmission in 1972.

9. She once froze herself into two blocks of Ice

Another of Anderson’s early works featured her performing a duet with herself with her feet frozen into two blocks of ice.

Wearing ice skates she stood and performed until the ice blocks melted, which signalled the end of the show.

10. She created a video game

As part of her album Bright Red she released an interactive CD-Rom called Puppet Motel.

The game involves people exploring the motel with 32 surreal rooms with names like Violin, Ice, the Hall of Time, Ouija and Motel.

Book now for Slideshow and Song Conversation