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

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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. 

Festival Hot Seat… For the Birds

We caught up with Jony Easterby, lead artist and Producer of For the Birds on the immersive night-time adventure he is exclusively bringing to Brighton Festival 2017

How and where will the work be staged?

For the Birds is an immersive walk through a secret woodland location in Brighton. Within that landscape we are going to be placing various different sound and light installations which you will be able to discover. All the installations share a common theme which is based around our observations and love for birds and all things avian. So, flight, bird-song, movement and other narratives based around extinction and migrations, but also a celebration of their life and beauty.

Why should someone come and see your show?

One of the unique things about the show is that we have a lot of separate pieces, which are actually quite small, intimate works but added together they actually create a large landscape composition. As you move around the site sometimes you find yourself by yourself and then you might turn around the corner and then be with a crowd experiencing something quite magical. You will hear sounds come from near, from far, you’ll be able to get up very close to the work as well. We hope everyone is going to enjoy it as much as we do.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The idea for the work actually came from quite a dark place in a way. I had been working as part of a research project up at the Centre for Alternative Technology to try and address ideas on environmental change, climate change, degradation of landscapes and extinction stories and I realised that if I concentrated too much on the negative aspects of things then I was startling myself in to non-activity. So, the bird narrative arose out of a way of actually both celebrating nature but also identifying that birds are really an indicator of the health of our own humanity and our planet and the way that we treat it. They literally are the canary in our coal mines.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the piece?

I’m hoping it will allow people to take away a sense of wonder and joy that we felt as we’ve been creating the work. I also want people to feel that sense of togetherness and conviviality - the way that people are drawn together to come and experience something communally, which is a really rare and beautiful thing to find in this day and age.

Finally, what does it mean to you to be a part of Brighton Festival?

Well to be a part of Brighton Festival for me is a real privilege. I’ve got almost a 30-year history of working in Brighton - the very first piece of theatre that I created was in 1987 after the great storm with a Brighton based company called Red Earth in Stanmer woods. So, to come back to Brighton for Brighton Festival is a fantastic sort of creative homecoming for me.

Book now for an immersive night time adventure where sound and light take flight with For the Birds, at Brighton Festival Sat 6 - Sun 28 May (except Mon & Tue)

Spotlight: For the Birds

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

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

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Storytelling Army

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

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

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

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk


Spotlight: Depart

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

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

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

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Five Short Blasts: Shoreham

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

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

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

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

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

Interview: Dr Blighty projection mapping expert Paul Wigfield

We shine a light on the technology behind the Dr Blighty projections with Paul Wigfield, director of QED, the company behind the projection mapping that's enabled the beautiful and poignant transformation of the Royal Pavilion this Brighton Festival. 

How did you get involved in the project and what is your role?

I've been discussing this with the Festival over the past two years as it seemed a fitting way to mark its 50th anniversary. Our role was to produce and deliver the entire project.

It’s quite an ask - what did you think of the brief?

Our brief was to produce something spectacular for the Festival, but really it was the building itself that defined the brief, challenging us to tell the story of its role as a WW1 Indian military hospital.

What are the challenges of projecting onto a building of that scale?

The building is big, but by no means overwhelming - it's the immense amount of intricate detail that's the biggest challenge.

We therefore decided to cover every feature from every possible angle in order to project both onto and behind all the columns, as well as onto the onions and other architectural features. This enabled the content creators Novak to design uninterrupted continuous material that flows across all surfaces.

It's hard enough to project onto a large building from so many different angles, but even harder to create a digital canvas for something so heavily featured that still enables a story to be told and which can be appreciated by a large audience from all viewing angles.

It is a truly pioneering projection mapping project of the most intricate detail and quality, and we've had to deploy 500,000 lumens of projection power to enable it to happen before nightfall.

What does video mapping actually entail? Can you take us through the process in layman’s terms?

It's a lengthy and detailed process, however the concept and workflow is relatively simple. We first laser scanned the Pavilion and the surrounding environment and built a 3D model from the data. We then created a UV map of the building for the creatives to use as a content template. The UV map is essentially a flattened out 2D template that divides the building into the specific sections. It's like a jigsaw puzzle where all the individual pieces are sent to each projector and reassembled when projected back onto the building to create a completely seamless image.

Here we are sending 22 individual synchronised HD outputs from the media server in order to achieve coverage required. We knew it would require a large number of feeds but we didn't know quite how many until we pre-visualised the building with test content.

How did you feel when you saw it realised?

Absolutely amazing. I managed to resist the temptation to see it before the opening night as I wanted to fully experience and enjoy it from the perspective of a member of the audience. It's the culmination of many months of hard work and of many years waiting for the opportunity to arise.

We simply had to do justice to the Royal Pavilion, to honour the WW1 commemorations and to celebrate 50 years of the Brighton Festival, so we put all our resources and skills behind it.

Find out more about all the Dr Blighty events


Dr Blighty is a Nutkhut production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival, and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, QED, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.


In Photos: Dr Blighty Pavilion Projections

Dr Blighty projections light up Brighton's Royal Pavilion from 9.30pm every day until Sat 28 May.

This major outdoor event in the Royal Pavilion Garden inspired by the story of the thousands of Indian soldiers who were treated in the temporary military hospital housed in Brighton Pavilion.

Dr Blighty is a Nutkhut production co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, Royal Pavilion & Brighton Museums & 1418 NOW : WW1 Centenary Art Commissions.

Photos: Victor Frankowski

Discover more about Dr Blighty events and see what everyone's been saying about the whole project below...