Brighton Festival 2018 commission nominated for acclaimed theatre award
Creation (Pictures for Dorian) - a Brighton Festival 2018 highlight performed by the British/German arts collective Gob Squad - has been nominated for an Offies award.
After receiving its UK premiere at Brighton Festival 2018, the show ran at Southbank Centre as part of LIFT festival, resulting in a nomination for the TBC Award (for productions that defy traditional categories) in The Off West End Theatre Awards.
The meditative work Creation (Pictures for Dorian) - inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray - saw Gob Squad joined by six volunteer performers: three under the age of 22 and three over 60. The middle-aged members of Gob Squad interact onstage with the six performers, questioning the nature of beauty and asking why we so crave the eye of the beholder.
The show garnered a clutch of positive reviews during its Brighton Festival run, with Lynn Gardner writing in The Guardian that the piece is a ‘woozily beautiful meditation on intention, perception, what we see and what remains invisible’. Bella Todd meanwhile wrote in The Stage that the show is ‘sly yet sumptuous, playfully experimental yet heady and deeply human’.
The Offies are hosted by OffWestEnd.com, a website which ‘exists to celebrate the full spectrum of Off West End theatres and to draw increasing numbers of the general public into the heady darkness and dangerous passion of these little powerhouses'.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: 'Gob Squad’s Creation was one of this year’s Brighton Festival highlights so it is extremely pleasing to have it recognised in this way'.
Creation (Pictures for Dorian) was co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, LIFT and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, and will be touring internationally from 29th August. Future performance date can be found via Gob Squad’s website.
Image credits: Carys Lavin
Adopt an Author scheme ends on a cake-filled high as Brighton Festival draws to a close
Adopt an Author, the exciting school’s initiative that links local classes with children’s authors, ended its 2018 scheme with an annual 'Meet Your Author' Festival party. With cake, pizza and pet beetles, it was a fun-filled finale to the 15th year of the Adopt an Author project.
This year, 110 children took part from four classes at four different schools - Stanford Juniors, Mile Oak Primary, Benfield Primary and Carden Primary – and four authors, including two returning adoptees, Rob Lloyd Jones and Alex Milway. For eight weeks, classes adopted an author, writing them weekly emails and completing tasks set by them while they read one for their books, with the project culminating in the ‘Meet your author’ finales full of fun activities for both authors and adoptive classes.
Rose Muddle author Imogen White took Team Carden on a historical journey around Brighton and Hove before dress-up, performance and a quiz, whilst Benfield Primary were treated to a live drawing session of the loveable Pigsticks and Harold with their brilliant author Alex Milway. Stanford Juniors welcomed Beetle Boy author M. G. Leonard and her very special insect guests and Mile Oak were taken on a mysterious journey with Wild Boy author Rob Lloyd Jones.
Imogen White, Adopted Author for Carden Primary School says: "The Adopt an Author project has been my most rewarding author experience to date. Having the opportunity to really get to know a class of mixed abilities, and watch their writing skills progress throughout each task, has been simply amazing. It really is such a special project, one that reaches children in the community that might otherwise miss out. It has been a total privileged to take part”
Alex Milway, Adopted Author for Benfield Primary School says: “Adopt an Author is always so enjoyable to be a part of. Setting tasks for children and receiving feedback from the schools and teachers involved makes you feel that you are making a difference, no matter how small. And most importantly, for what could be quite a complicated scheme, everything always runs so smoothly. There really is nothing like it."
And it wasn’t just the Authors who enjoyed their time on the scheme! A Year 5 participant said: "I loved Adopt an Author because I loved doing the tasks each week" whilst another from Year 2 told their author “You have meant so much to me. You are the best author in the entire world." Many of the participants expressed their new-found excitement in reading; “I can't wait to read the next book, they're really hooking me in!", and a want to start reading and writing more often.
Adopt an Author is a Brighton Festival initiative that began in 2003, designed to develop relationships between classes of students and children’s authors with the aim to promote literacy, and encourage writing. Adopt an Author is produced and delivered by Collected Works CIC, an award-winning reader development organisation based in Brighton. The organisation specialises in delivering innovative projects, events and activities based around shared reading. Its largest projects are City Reads and Young City Reads which it delivers annually, alongside Adopt An Author.
The project has been kindly supported by the Mrs A Lacy-Tate Trust and The Lynn Foundation.
David Shrigley on Brighton Festival 2018
We chatted to David Shrigley about his experience guest directing this year's Brighton Festival. Here's what he thought...
When we asked what had prompted you to say yes to being Guest Director, you said that you thought it would be fun. How have you found the experience of guest directing Brighton Festival?
The experience of guest directing the Brighton Festival has been fun! I was hoping it would be fun, and it has been fun. I think the most fun thing has been meeting people - people who are performing, people involved in programming, people who are collaborating with me, people visiting the Festival. It’s been a really social experience, and a really positive one.
I feel really embraced by the arts community In Brighton, but I also feel that I in turn have embraced the arts community back. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the Festival in such a big way, and to have met so many people. I feel very lucky.
What have been your highlights?
The Festival is always a voyage of discovery for me. My favourite discovery was Attractor which was an Australian based dance company with Indonesian musicians which was just really, really unusual and crazy, it was very much my kind of thing. That was definitely my highlight. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but that’s the one I’ll remember and definitely would go see again.
Bridget Christie was fantastic, I’m kind of amazed at her energy and that she can be so consistently funny and self-deprecating. She’s a tour du force, a force of nature, a force of comedy! My other highlights have been Brett Goodroad’s show, which obviously I had a lot to do with putting on, Deerhoof, who are always fantastic, Fauna was really great. Lexicon circus was really great. Malcolm Middleton and Iain Shaw - they’re always great. Too much to mention!
You have presented a lot of work at the Festival this year. Has it felt different presenting the work in the place that you live?
I think that presenting my work in my home town, my new home town, is a great privilege. I feel like when you’re an artist and you make work, sometimes the people you know and live alongside don’t usually get to see what you do, often because you usually do it somewhere else. So, it’s been really nice to show my work here and to make some work here, and to collaborate with people.
I’ve realised that Brighton is an incredibly vibrant place. The piece I made here – Problem in Brighton - was a performance piece, and there is no shortage of performers and musicians here, so that’s been fantastic. It’s not really something I’ve done before – directing and being directly involved with writing music. I think that making the project in Brighton really has been a great thing. It’s a town that’s really synonymous with a vibrant music scene, so it was a definitely the right place to do it. I’ve learned so much and made some really fantastic connections here, so I’m really happy.
What was it like to appear at Your place?
I was in Hangleton at Your Place last weekend, and it was really great. I think because I haven’t been in Brighton that long, I haven’t really explored the city limits as it were so, it was great to go out there and meet people and see what a great resource they have in the community facilities. I think it’s also important for the Festival to have a presence throughout the city, so its great to have an outpost of the Festival there so that people can engage with it.
Have you learned anything else about the city or the Festival that you didn’t know before through the experience?
I think I’ve learned a lot about the city that I didn’t know. I think it takes a long time to live in a city and really discuss what the city is about, because really, most people only know their own bit of the city, its not until you start going elsewhere, and working elsewhere and meeting people that you start to get a measure of the place. I guess I’m still discovering Brighton but I feel that this has been a fast track to discovering the city and I’ve learned a lot in these three weeks.
What makes Brighton Festival special in your opinion?
I think what makes Brighton Festival special is the fact that it’s in Brighton! That’s what makes it special for me, because I live in Brighton and its great that its here. I can just walk outside my house and see so much that’s going on. But, on a not so purely selfish level, to have a Festival that celebrates and presents the arts so well and so thoroughly is something very positive. I think Brighton is a positive city and the Festival is a really positive thing. I think it makes a real change in people’s lives, and it’s something to treasured.
Most participatory Brighton Festival ever comes to a close
We look back at Brighton Festival 2018, highlighting some choice stories, facts & figures, alongside a few words from Guest Director David Shrigley
As the first locally-based Guest Director, David Shrigley was the most active and present yet – involved in more events than ever across the programme - from Life Model II, which invited everyone to take part in a life drawing class with a difference, to the world premiere of alt/pop rock musical Problem in Brighton, created with Brighton musician Lee Baker and fronted by local Spymonkey Stephan Kreiss and actor Pauline Knowles.
Taking its cue from David Shrigley’s offbeat artistic take, Brighton Festival 2018 had an absurd sensibility and spirit of participation at its heart. This year’s programme had more opportunities than ever for people to get involved: over 12,500 visitors took part in David Shrigley’s life drawing class installation, Life Model II, 200 residents joined Over 60’s dance company Three Score Dance to create Pina Bausch’s extraordinary promenade on the seafront, The Nelken Line, 150 budding performers took up the invitation to become integral parts of overnight choral sleepover The Arms of Sleep, 40 volunteers took part in immersive dance performance Attractor, and six local performers took part in Gob Squad’s intergenerational piece about aging and beauty, Creation, to memorable effect.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “This year’s Brighton Festival had more opportunities than ever for everyone to get involved and participate - truly highlighting that Brighton Festival is not just three weeks of quality performance, art and debate but also an opportunity for the whole city to celebrate and embrace the arts and culture that enrich our daily lives.”
David Shrigley says: “The experience of guest directing Brighton Festival has been fun! I think the most fun thing has been meeting people - people who are performing, people involved in programming, people who are collaborating with me, people visiting the Festival. It’s been a really social experience, and a really positive one. I feel really embraced by the arts community In Brighton, but I also feel that I in turn have embraced the arts community back. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the Festival in such a big way, and to have met so many people. I feel very lucky.”
Brighton Festival 2018 also featured an abundance of free events including Nick Steur’s extraordinary rock balancing performance, A Piece of 2, which played out to enthusiastic and sun-drenched crowds on the beach level by the i360 throughout the first week, and A Weekend Without Walls, the annual free celebration of family friendly outdoors performance packed with acrobatics, aerial circus, dance, installations, music and theatre, at Easthill Park and by the i360 over the final weekend.
Kate Tempest debuted her new album in an exclusive performance at Your Place (which returned for its second year) bringing a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to Hangleton and East Brighton communities. As Artists in Residence, Kate McCoy explored Random Acts of Neighbourliness, where residents learned what neighbours thought about their area in an interactive exhibition, while Kiki Stickl presented life-sized “avatar” cut outs inspired by the local community. This year’s events were bigger and better than ever before, with approximately 2,400 people attending over the two weekends.
The Pay-It-Forward scheme also returned for its second year, showcasing the generosity of Brighton Festival audiences. Those booking tickets for Festival events were given the option of paying an extra £5 (or an amount of their choosing), which Brighton Festival then matched. This resulted in 1,175 ticket vouchers being offered to people who may otherwise have been unable to experience Festival events.
As ever, Brighton Festival 2018 featured a host of strong commissions and co-commissions from a wide range of national and international artists including The Arms of Sleep; Hofesh Shechter’s Grand Finale; A String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a new work from leading maverick director Calixto Bieito, Cuckmere: A Portrait, a filmic homage to the changing moods of the Cuckmere river accompanied by a live score; KAYA from the Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc’s all-female company and Creation (Pictures for Dorian), a new piece inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray from acclaimed British/German arts collective Gob Squad. Brighton Festival 2018 also featured the first incarnation of Brownton Abbey, which saw Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall transform into a kaleidoscopic, afrofuturist party celebrating the work of queer artists of colour.
One of the most popular Festival events was an extended visit from internationally-renowned NoFit State circus who presented their dazzling new production Lexicon in a Big Top circus tent on Hove Lawns. Over the 11 night stay, over 9,700 people were dazzled by the spectacular show, which featured a large live band, a smorgasbord of impressive acrobatic set pieces – including an astonishing array of unicycles, quadricycles and everything in-between – and much more in a two hour feast for the senses.
Adam brought trans narrative centre-stage in the National Theatre of Scotland’s remarkable, true story of a young trans man and his journey to reconciliation, directed by award-winning theatre director Cora Bissett. The uplifting play was a word-of-mouth highlight of the Festival, along with a joyous and energising performance from West African all-female supergroup Les Amazones D’Afrique, and the delightful expedition of Rear View, which enabled audiences to see Brighton as they never had before in a unique poetry performance viewed from the back of a bus.
A special Brighton Festival moment was the 50th anniversary for Brighton Festival Chorus, who celebrated the occasion with two large-scale performances. The BFC joined forces with Britten Sinfonia and Orchestre de Picardie to mark the centenary of the end of World War One with a moving performance of Britten’s War Requiem. Just as in its 1968 debut, Brighton Festival Chorus was joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Belshazzar’s Feast for a special, historic commemorative concert on the final night of Brighton Festival 2018.
Image credits: The Nelken Line - Michael Fung
Gob Quad - Carys Lavin
A Weekend Without Walls - Victor Frankowski
Brownton Abbey - Victor Frankowski
Adam - Victor Frankowski
In Photos: Week 3
Wow - what a month we have had! We've enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2018 and we hope you had a blast too. This past week, we've had outdoor spectaculars, incredible music and much more.
A Change is Gonna Come
David Shrigley Talk
The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety
The Wave Epoch
2018 in photos
Thank you so much for helping to make Brighton Festival 2018. Below are just a few of our favourite photos from the past three weeks.
Problem in Brighton
The Boy, The Piano and The Beach
The Arms of Sleep
Cuckmere: A Portrait
The Big Book Group
Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet
A Change is Gonna Come
David Shrigley Talk
The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety
The Wave Epoch
Listen again: Brighton Festival radio shows & podcasts
We have a cornucopia of great interviews, previews and reviews to stream from our media partners BBC Sussex and Radio Reverb, so we thought we'd round up a selection for you!
BBC Sussex have arranged a special weekly radio show called Brighton Festival 2018: Live, which is brimming with live interviews and music as well as prerecorded pieces from rehearsals and outdoor events. Allison Ferns hosts the show, and Melita Dennett and Guy Lloyd contribute too.
This week's episode includes interviews with Neil Bartlett ahead of Medea, Written in Rage and Cathy Tyson from The String Quartet's Guide to Sex and Anxiety ahead of this week's shows, as well as features on Gob Squad, Snigel & Friends and Brighton Festival Chorus's 50th anniversary concert.
Radio Reverb are hosting a daily radio show at 5-6pm, and also offer Bitesize podcast chunks:
Brighton Festival Live: The Cult of Water
The Cult of Water will be live streamed from 7.30pm on Sat 5 May.
Join ‘masterful storyteller’ (Radio Times) Dr. David Bramwell for a candle-lit journey in search of the supernatural secrets of our waterways....
Aided by a witch, Jarvis Cocker, and magician-author Alan Moore, David Bramwell battles his own thalassophobia (the fear of ‘what lurks beneath’) to unearth little-known stories and myths that surround our rivers.
The River Don is the focal point for this psycho-geographical journey that blends music, animation and film with captivating monologue. You’ll also learn about Brighton’s lost River Wellsbourne in a post-show Q&A.
Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan Colleg
Brighton Festival Live: Brownton Abbey
Brownton Abbey will be live streamed from 8pm on Fri 25 May
With Big Freedia, Rachael Young, Ria Hartley, Malik Nashad Sharpe, Lasana Shabazz & DJ Sets from Sista Selecta
From the folks that brought Mykki Blanco to Brighton Festival 2017 comes Brownton Abbey - a new Afro-futurist collective that will take you to church!
For this pastoral performance party, celestial beings from queer dimensions will transform Brighton Dome into a kaleidoscopic off-world temple. Congregate with your fam, drench yourself in contemporary ritual, and get transcendental on the dance floor!
Headlining will be New Orleans ‘Queen of Bounce’ Big Freedia, who you’ll know from Beyonce’s Formation, her collaborations with Diplo and RuPaul, and her own Netflix series. Plus performance interventions throughout the evening by a heavenly constellation of Queer Artists of Colour.
Peacock Poetry Prize winners announced
The winners of the Peacock Poetry Prize 2018 - an annual creative writing competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) and supported by Lulu.com - have been announced.
The eight finalists were chosen from 100 entries - a record number for the competition - which this year had the theme of ‘hard work’, a subject inspired by Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley’s book of the same title
Submissions were divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 11-13 years, 14-16 years 13-16 years and 17-19 years.
‘Working with Words’ by George Linehan won the 11-13 years category, ‘Alzheimer’ by Lottie Erratt-Rose won the 14-16 category, and ‘The Farrier’ by Amelie Maurice-Jones won the 17-19 age category.
The rest of the finalists were as follows: Yasmine Conway, Cole Hodler, Lillia Hudson-Amatt , Sylvie Goodwin and Christopher Clay.
Each finalist received a cup featuring designs by Guest Director David Shrigley.
The Peacock Poetry Prize aims to encourage young writers to explore the written word from a creative point of view. Each year encourages them to write on a different theme, with this year being ‘hard work’. Whether completing an assignment, building a relationship or breaking a habit, we all work hard on aspects of our daily lives. Each finalist submitted up to three poems with a maximum length of 20 lines per poem.
Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children and Family Producer, says: "The Peacock Poetry Prize offers a great opportunity for young people to have their writing seriously appraised and appreciated. Our panel of judges reads and discusses every poem and it is always a struggle to decide which of our many talented entrants will be invited to the finalists’ award party. We are thrilled that so many young people in Brighton and Hove are Writing poetry. The standard of entries remains high, once more, showing a real love of language, and composition that is truly astonishing and a maturity even from our youngest entrants"
William Baldwin, Principal of Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College, says: "BHASVIC is proud to have sponsored the Peacock Poetry Prize. Poetry is imaginations language, helping us understand and appreciate the world around us. A great poem can describe what we ourselves have no words for. As poetry is such a universal vehicle of human expression it is vital that we continue to nurture a love for it in the younger generation."
Entries were judged by our panel of experts, led by Kat Head, and prizes were awarded to the winners in each category at the ceremony at Brighton Dome Founders Room on Wednesday 23 May.
Brighton Festival film screening celebrates learning disabled workers
Brighton Festival & Carousel’s Oska Bright Film Festival are presenting a special film screening event entitled Lose Your Head at Duke’s At Komedia on Wed 23 May, celebrating learning disabled workers in a selection of short films from around the globe.
Carousel’s Oska Bright Film Festival is the leading international festival of films made by, or featuring, people with learning disabilities. It is produced, managed and presented by a learning disabled team. The biennial Oska Bright runs over three days, shows 100+ films from around the world and welcomes 3,000 people. The next Festival is in 2019.
In non-festival years Oska Bright screens its award-winning films at cinemas and film festivals around the world, showcasing the talent of learning disabled creatives.
On Wed 23 May, as part of Brighton Festival, Oska Bright’s lead programmer Matthew Hellett will introduce his selection of films from past Festivals, responding to the theme of ‘Hard Work’, inspired by Guest Director David Shrigley’s book of the same title.
Matthew Hellett says: “There is a lot of effort and consideration that goes in to making films. Filmmaking is hard work in general, but being a learning disabled filmmaker is even more difficult. We’re marginalised in society and we have to carve out spaces for ourselves to show our work.”
The screening will include short film The Mask by Sharif Persaud, a unique look at autism, identity and Al Murray which picked up the award for ‘Best Story’ at an earlier Oska Bright Film Festival. Meanwhile, in the slice of life drama Checkout (USA), Kelly is a supermarket packer who knows she deserves promotion whereas Man Without Direction (Sweden) sees businessman Dante lost in a Lynchian nightmare.
Oska Bright Film Festival puts people learning disabled people where they should be, behind the camera and on the screen. By doing this, it hopes that people’s perceptions of who learning disabled people are and what they’re capable of will be challenged. It is part of arts organisation Carousel, championing learning disabled creative people in the City for over thirty years.
Brighton Festival Live: Elephant and Castle
Elephant and Castle will be live streamed from Wed 23 May at 7.30pm
The first time my wife and I shared a bed I told her, ‘I want to get in a wardrobe and take you to Elephant and Castle.’ I was asleep. Do people tell the truth when they talk in their sleep? Could anyone be on the verge of admitting some dark desire, or telling the person beside them what they really think?
That’s the dangerous premise behind Elephant & Castle, the result of three years of Tom Adams’ recorded sleep-talk. With original songs performed live by Adams and Henley, this is a tender, funny and entirely unique gig theatre show about the joy and terror of talking in your sleep
Local performers join Gob Squad for unique intergenerational show
British/German arts collective Gob Squad have performed all over the world for 25 years. Now, they come to Brighton Festival with a brand-new show, Creation (Pictures for Dorian) where they will be joined onstage by six local Brighton-based performers.
Gob Squad is a British-German collective based in Nottingham and Berlin. Having worked collaboratively since 1994 in the fields of performance, video installation and theatre, they create mid-scale work that combines audience interaction with real-time video editing. The company often use popular culture to explore the complexities of everyday life and have a history of involving members of the audience in its performances. Yet, for the first time ever, Gob Squad have recruited local Brighton performers to take part in Creation (Pictures for Dorian).
Long-standing Gob Squad core member Sean Patten says: “We want to really lift the lid and explore beauty, aging, morality, mortality from different perspectives. [We’ve found] people older than us, and people younger than us, and people who – like us – spend a life on stage, or who want to spend a life on stage so that we can connect to them and find out what it’s like, and what it means to be visible in visible, looked at and regarded as an object of beauty.”
The chosen participants - three under the age of 22, three over 60 – all have some experience of performing, or in the case of the younger bracket, aspire to be on stage, with two of the young performers in their last year of studying drama at The University of Sussex.
One of the participants, Dorothy Max Prior, explains that: “I first read A Picture of Dorian Gray 50 years ago. Then, a budding teenage dancer; now, well into my sixties and still dancing, just a little more creakily… Gob Squad’s Creation isn’t a version of Oscar Wilde’s iconic book, it’s a kind of homage to it; an exploration of its themes, especially the central fantastical idea of keeping a portrait of yourself in the attic that ages whilst you remain eternally young-looking.
“Gob Squad are in the middle phase of their lives, as performers and as human beings, and they decided that they wanted to investigate both the idea of framing, of portraiture; and the obsession with looks, image, and ageing, using a cast of older performers (60+) and younger (aged around 20) student performers, who appear alongside the core cast as the models and muses. The show has a tight structure, but with room for improvisation within that structure. The guest performers are led by the hand throughout, often literally – moulded, guided, instructed. We are invited to respond not as lifeless mannequins but as ourselves… It’s great to be involved, and an interesting learning process. You can teach an old dog new tricks!”
Gob Squad member Sharon Smith explains that Creation is partly inspired by the members of Gob Squad hitting middle age and contemplating youthful vitality and good looks slowly ebbing away. “We wondered what it would be like if we were presented with people that reminded us of ourselves in the past, or who we would like to be in the future,” says Sharon, referring to their volunteers.
“We’re all about 50, not really looking forward or back. It’s a kind of waiting place – neither here nor there. That’s why we were interested in this multi-generational meeting.”
The project is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s character, Dorian Gray, who meddles in the domain of the gods with the aid of a magical painting. He suspends the process of ageing and remains young and beautiful forever, at a terrible cost to his soul.
In Photos: Week 2
Leading disabled dance artist brings multi-sensory new work for babies to Brighton Festival
Leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch’s colourful and immersive new production for babies under one and their respective adults, Snigel and Friends, comes to Brighton Festival next weekend. Co-created by Caroline Bowditch and designer Laura Hook, Snigel and Friends is a piece of dance theatre that aims to redress the under-representation of disability-inclusive work for young people.
Caroline Bowditch says: “Since 2008 I have been working annually with Skanes Dance Theatre in Malmo, Sweden. Each year when I’ve visited, their Programmer, Liselotte, has talked about how difficult it is to find good quality dance work for young audiences and how it’s virtually impossible to find work that includes any form of body diversity…I started to question ‘Why weren’t disabled artists making work for young audience?’ I took this question to Fiona Ferguson in Jan 2017 and the project grew out of this.”
Bowditch is one of the UK’s leading disabled dance artists. Audience’s may be familiar with her previous works Proband, Leaving Limbo Landing and Falling in love with Frida as well as collaborative works for Scottish Dance Theatre: NQR and The Long and the Short of It. There are very few companies making work for children with disabled performers. Caroline has long been working with Imaginate on the Weren’t You Expecting Me Project, taking a closer look at the impact, if any, that this may have on disabled and non-disabled children, particularly looking at the effect on aspirations, self-esteem and overall perceptions of disability.
Snigel the inquisitive snail - played by Caroline - dances, sings and makes music with their insect friends, brought to life by dancers, Welly O’Brien and performer and musician Zac Scott. Performed in the traverse and with the audience encouraged to sit on the floor, Snigel and Friends is an immersive and intimate performance allowing children to interact with the performers up close.
Designer and Production Manager Laura Hook says: “There are very few shows that made specifically for babies this young. We worked with our ‘baby board’ to make sure we created the best possible environment for little ones to engage in the colours and live music of the undergrowth while interacting with the characters and the props. I created a set that is built in proportion to Caroline, which also means all the action happens at perfect baby height. The leafy canopy creates a magical world that allows the audience to relax in the undergrowth...It’s an exercise in mindfulness and diversity that allows a positive theatre experience for parents and their wee ones.”
5 things you didn’t know about Brighton Festival Chorus
We caught up with Brighton Festival Classical Programmer and long standing member of the Brighton Festival Chorus, Gill Kay to find out more about the prestigious choir...
- Brighton Festival Chorus was formed to sing in Brighton Festival in 1968, the second Brighton Festival ever. At the time there was a Hungarian musician who was working at the old Gardner Centre at the University of Sussex. He was quite well known as a chorus master, a man named Laszlo Heltay.
The festival approached Lazlo and asked whether he would form a chorus especially for the Brighton festival next year, as they wanted to put on a piece by William Walton as part of the programme. He agreed and auditioned a whole load of people and formed the BFC. He trained them to sing, and for their first ever concert in 1968 they sang William Walton’s Belshazzar's Feast. William Walton was still alive at this point, so he himself conducted. It was such a success, and the chorus were so brilliant under Lazlo’s directorship, that since then, Brighton festival chorus has performed at every single Brighton festival since.
Arguably Lazlo himself is the reason why BFC became so popular in the first place. He still ran the chorus when I first joined in about 1985 and he absolutely terrified me, he was terrifying, but he was brilliant. He would do things like move people around mid-rehearsal. When he did, it would sound like a completely different section. He just had a brilliant ear. He understood how to fine tune the big choral sound that over 100 singers can create.
- Brighton Festival Choir is very traditional in terms of its sound, and are brilliant at traditional British repertoire. The other thing that I think the BFC is excellent at is singing incredibly quietly. It really is the most exciting thing when one moment you’re listening to a 140-person strong wall of sound sing as loudly as they can, and the other to 140 people singing incredibly quietly. It’s pure magic. There is a certain quality that 140 people singing quietly has. It’s something other than just the volume, it creates a presence in the room, in the sound… It’s quite hard to explain
- In 2006, we performed Tavener’s three-hour long The Veil of the Temple with no interval. We took all the seats out of the Brighton Dome Concert Hall and had staging in the middle. It’s the most complicated score! Tavener has got specific parts for different areas of the concert hall. So, we had singers stationed at a north point, a south, west and east, and then on the central bit there was an 8-foot Tibetan horn on it, alongside temple bowls and a duk duk.
At the end of this piece – bearing in mind that this had already gone on for three hours nonstop – Tavener writes that another 500 singers to enter from all doors in the auditorium and come in and join for the last twenty minutes in a kind of Persian chant. We managed to get a whole load of choirs to join, about another 300 singers. At the end everyone just walked off singing this chant and disappeared into the bar. The audience were clapping and clapping. Tavener himself was there, and he walked on stage and the applause went on for about 15 or 20 minutes, it was phenomenal.
- We performed the War Requiem on Saturday 12 May as part of Brighton Festival. It is a requiem Mass, with some traditional Latin singing interspersed with Wilfred Owen war poetry. We wanted to make our version of the War Requiem quite unique by combining a French orchestra and a British orchestra and our chorus and the two soloists. We performed the War Requiem across Northern France in the last 25 years quite a few times, so in a way, this relationship that the chorus has got with northern France is really quite special.
- We'll be performing Belshazzar's Feast on Sun 27 May at 7.30pm. It's a particularly special one because not only is it is the 50th anniversary of the BFC, but it is also the 50th anniversary of that song. We have even booked the same Orchestra - The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - who played with us in 1958! We want to emphasise where BFC started, and celebrate where we are today.
A Weekend Without Walls
The annual free celebration of family friendly outdoors performance is back, promising a fun programme of acrobatics, aerial circus, dance, installations, music and theatre that is sure to thrill, inspire and entertain audiences of all ages. So gather your friends and family, don't forget to pack a picnic, and head outdoors...
Installation and family-friendly performance theatre
Bird in the Hand Theatre's The Bewonderment Machine
A brand new theatre company combining the talents of puppet maker and director Alison Duddle and puppeteer extraordinaire Mark Whitaker. The Bewonderment Machine is an artist-built cycle powered carousel with riding space for up to 10 small children. A quirky dreamscape and magical miniature theatrical flight.
Helen Eastman Production's Bicycle Boy A bicycle powered musical for children aged 6–10 and their families. Sam and Mike loved their bikes as youngsters and pretended to be superheroes. Now grown-up, they’re clearing out their grandad’s old bike workshop and sharing childhood dreams with laughs, songs, and percussion played on spare bike parts. A celebration of pedal power!
Ramshacklicious' The band at the end of the world! (Sat 26 May only)Raucous brass music, processing with a home-made, water spurting, flaming, roaming vehicle. A punk marching band existing within their very own miniature apocalyptic microclimate. These idiots are convinced that the end of the world is upon us – how do we take responsibility for the world we live in?
Travelling Light Circus' The Playground of Illusions Play with three giants' toys which each contain a visual or sound illusion! Inspired by steampunk and using vintage industrial machines to make quirky gadgets with levers to pull, buttons to push and pedals to press. An unforgettable and fascinating experience for all ages which will ignite your imagination.
Candoco Dance Company's Dedicated to… Critically acclaimed company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. This new duet choreographed by Caroline Bowditch, reveals the extraordinary bonds we make throughout our lives. A touching portrayal of female strength, support and friendship and how people come in and out of our lives and evolve and can shape us.
Flex Dance Company's WIREDA solo performance by George Williams who in 2015 became the first dancer with a learning disability to tour with the National Youth Dance Company of England. From the comfort of his bedroom George forges connections to all that is special to him: Music, games, the world-wide web and more. At times a hive of activity, at others a sanctuary, Everyday objects can become a playground. It’s hard to focus when you’re this wired!
Rosie Kay Dance Company's Modern Warrior (Sun 27 May only)Fast-paced urban takeover inspired by martial arts movies with exciting and dramatic sequences as two opposing groups meet in an epic stand-off. Pick a side, join either the Mods (Modernists) or the Trads (Traditionalists) and train to be a MODERN WARRIOR. Join in and become part of the action or simply watch as the legend unfolds. Rosie Kay Dance Company won Best Independent Dance Company in 2015 by the National Dance Awards and is nominated again for 2018 with winners announced on 19 February.
Hikapee's Look Up
A beautiful, highly visual and inspiring performance of circus, puppetry and theatre for families. When we are constantly glued to our mobile phones, what joy can we find when we dare to look up and appreciate nature.
Brighton Festival is part of Without Walls, the UK’s largest commissioner of outdoor arts shows, taking inspiring new work to audiences all over the country and beyond. Find out more: withoutwalls.uk.com
A Weekend Without Walls is supported by Southern Water
Kate Tempest debuts new album at secret Your Place gig
2017’s Guest Director Kate Tempest made a surprise return to the city on Sat 19 May for a secret gig as part of our Your Place initiative, performing an exclusive rendition of her unreleased new album in full at Hangleton Community Centre
Billed only as a ‘special guest’ at 5pm, the sold-out show rounded off a glorious sunny day of free entertainment for residents of the Hangleton area, presented by Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre. Tempest told the crowd that she was “thrilled to be back” and asked for no filming of the work from her upcoming third solo album. Tempest’s exclusive performance of the brand new work came after a barnstorming performance from Culture Clash, a training area for young writers and performers in the Brighton area, who performed a three way-battle of spoken artforms in Poets vs. Rappers vs. Comedians.
Kate Tempest commented: “This year I’ve come back to play a little unannounced gig at Hangleton Community Centre, which is one of my favourite places ever to play a gig, to be honest. I had this idea as part of my Guest Directorship that what would be the most exciting way to use that opportunity would be to bring some of what was happening in the Festival out to the communities around. And one of the most important things about that idea was that it had life after our year. It was such an exciting time for everyone, for the people that run the Festival to meet the community steering groups, and everyone was so blown away by how much enthusiasm and excitement there was. And now I’ve come back and it’s popping off basically, there’s a massive bandstand, everyone’s dancing, it feels really good here. I feel really chuffed and really happy to be back.”
Saturday’s line-up at Hangleton included a popular dance-a-thon through the decades from the Charleston to the Macarena with The Ragroof Players’ Happy Feet, as well as an interactive game zone for all ages with The Actual Reality Arcade. Brighton & Hove Music and Arts (who united with Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival last year) presented performances by inclusive music group Orchestra 360 and the dustbin-utilising Percussion Ensemble at Morag Myerscough’s touring Belonging Bandstand, and the Brighton-based all-female group Qukulele and Brighthun Voices’ showcase of the rich musical heritage of Hungary were other highlights on the day.
Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brings a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. Reflecting Tempest’s belief that “the arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes”, the inaugural project in 2017 was a resounding success. Over 2,000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, and participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.
Brighton Festival 2017 also heralded the Pay-It-Forward initiative (which continued this year), offering the chance to donate £5 on top of ticket prices which was match-funded to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response was phenomenal with over a thousand people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.
The East Brighton-based second Your Place weekend runs over Sat 26 & Sun 27 May and will see The Ragroof Players and Culture Clash return, along with free football sessions from Albion in the Community, a singing workshop with Banyan Tree Theatre Group, comedian Jo Neary’s new children’s show Peg in the Gallery, and much more. Go to brightonfestival.org/yourplace to find out more.
Brighton Festival Live: The World of Moominvalley
The World of Moominvalley will be live streamed from Sunday 20 May at 3:00 PM.
The World of Moominvalley with Philip Ardagh & Daniel Hahn
Join award-winning children's author, Philip Ardagh, and Daniel Hahn as they introduce The World of Moominvalley. This beautiful new book is filled with illustrated maps and family trees, facts about Moomin behaviour and habits, all you could wish to know about each beloved character, the world in which they live and their creator Tove Jansson. A family event for Moomins fans young and old.
Brighton Festival Live: Ezra Furman
Ezra Furman will be live streamed from Sat 26 May at 8pm
Plus support from Du Blonde & Honey Harper
‘The kind of performer that makes you feel like a teenager all over again’ The Guardian
Tears. Heartbreak. Unbridled joy. Ezra Furman is the real deal.
Fans of Chicago’s rock’n’roll hero will testify as to the electric energy of his live shows that teeter on the edge of hysteria.
His onstage presence, hook-laden garage-punk (think Jonathan Richman meets Spector-era Ramones meets the E Street Band), and confessional lyrics about sexuality, depression, faith and politics, have all earned him a legion of followers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Back with his newly re-christened band The Visions, and hot on the heels of the release of latest album Transangelic Exodus, this is a performer that must be seen to be believed.
Du Blonde, AKA Beth Jeans Houghton, is a multidisciplinary artist and musician, working with animation, illustration, sculpture, video editing, songwriting and music production.
Honey Harper is both an old and a new project. The songs were written in the past three years but they’ve been around for much longer. They resist temporality and eschew spatial specificity. Whether they were written on a lake in northern Ontario, a haunted hotel room in Atlanta, or in a car at 5AM in east London makes little difference as they all reside within. Honey Harper is intrinsically honest, pure, universal country.
Festival Hot Seat: Tangomotan
The passion and the power of Tango are given an audacious new dimension by Tangomotán, a dynamic quartet that is weaving new musical sounds into the Tango tradition. We caught up with the quartet to find out more.
Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Hola, we are Tangomotán. During a concert, we, the 4 musicians (2 women and 2 men), bring the audience into pure tango music sensations. Our show is about tango: how the traditional music sounds today, and how the new compositions describe modern life. We are trying to lead our music into the biggest vertigos.
Why should someone come and see your show?
Our music talks about the struggle in life, as it was in Argentina in the 19th century (birthplace of the tango). Along our multiple concerts, we experimented how this music expresses a universal feeling of human condition and its dilemmas, that reaches everybody's heart.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea was to pursue the tango's story by adding new interpretations and new compositions. It was also the idea to mix people from different musical background having a common language of music in one band. Some musicians come from the tango, others from the classical music education and our roads cross a few years ago. The inspiration of this special sound mixes traditional tango music and uses the contemporary environment of each of us that come from France, Armenia, Finland and Argentina. Our music has no borders, and talks about everything.
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
We believe that it is important to touch people's heart and soul and give them energy, but we don't deliver any message. Our purpose is to give people energy by the vertigos. We want that our music gives them strength to dance with the life.
We play instrumental tango, far from traditional milongas, and we claim our affiliation to the modern instrumental music, which is something rare today, because we want to popularize and defend the sensation that comes out of pure music.
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think we get too wrapped up in the mundane bricks and mortar of the world, we forget
the possibility of the unexpected, the slightly out of the ordinary. Not the through-the-back-of-the-wardrobe fantasy of a children’s story, but the excitement of finding a spiralstaircase that leads down into the dark… and the ability to go have a look at what’s down there.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
All the music lovers (we hope)!!!
What’s going to surprise people about this show?
What's surprising nowadays is the universality of the tango and the energy of this music.
What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
It's a great opportunity to share our music in your festival. We are very eager to live our first favourite moments in Brighton Festival. Furthermore, Brighton is a cost and sea-side like Buenos Aires!
What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We are excited to see a modern English production and to see Brighton for the very first time.
Budding young artists selected to meet Brighton Festival Guest Director David Shrigley
A group of aspiring young artists, illustrators and graphic designers are to meet Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley for an afternoon of coffee and conversation next weekend. The group of seven 16 to 19-year-olds have all been specially selected for the honour after successfully making the case for why the opportunity would be helpful to them.
Each year Brighton Festival invites a group of young people to join the Guest Director for an informal chat over a cup of coffee. Those who are interested in a career in the arts can ask questions, gain advice and learn invaluable lessons from a leading exponent of their field.
Many of these guests are starting their journey towards studying at University level, or A-Level, hoping to pursue a career in the arts. One applicant says: “Meeting Shrigley would be a great experience as I am currently studying at Brighton Met on an Art Foundation and will be going to University next year to study Graphic Design. Personally, I would be interested in finding out more about Shrigley’s experience at university seeing as he went to GSA (a university I have applied for) and more about how his practise has evolved since graduating”
Another’s application reads: “I was just seven-years-old when I discovered a postcard in a storage box belonging to my parents. I liked the image on the card immediately and promptly stuck it on my bedroom wall with Blu-Tack. I'm now a student at Goldsmiths University but when I go back to Brighton the card is still there, in pride of place above my bed. Yet it was only three years ago that I realised that this funny little plasticine face holding up a strange note to a lamppost was the work of David Shrigley.”
This year, this event will be hosted by David Shrigley, best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, Shrigley’s darkly humorous compositions reflect the inconsequential, the bizarre, and the disquieting elements of daily life. While drawing is at the centre of his practice, his work spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music.
Widely admired by the art world and public alike, David Shrigley was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013 for his solo show David Shrigley: Brain Activity at the Hayward Gallery. In September 2016, Really Good, a 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, was unveiled as the latest incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth - described as the ‘tallest and most positive yet’.
Brighton Festival Family Programmer says: “We are thrilled to see the return of our annual event where young people between the ages about 17 and 19, come along and meet our Guest Director, have a coffee and have the chance to ask questions. There are so many people doing witty, clever drawings inspired by Shrigley at art school at the moment. They want to meet him because they’ll in the same world, and they look up to him a lot. I’m really looking forward to the meeting, it’s always great.”
Festival show harnesses the power of the Tesla coil in electrifying multi-sensory performance
In XFRMR, Robbie Thomson uses the power of the Tesla coil to create a unique sensory phenomenon in a gig-cum-visual art performance as lively as electricity itself. Accompanied by live soundscapes inspired by the sounds of space weather and percussive sections rooted in industrial music and techno, XFRMR will be on at The Spire until Sunday 20th.
XFRMR is a live audio-visual performance which explores the creative possibilities of the Tesla Coil as a musical instrument. The technology is based on Nikola Tesla's 1891 design which was originally developed for long range power transmission. Tesla tamed lightning with his Tesla coil, a device that renders electricity visible. Now, more than a century later, Glasgow-based artist Robbie Thomson utilises the coil in a wholly unique way. By synthesizing the ever-changing sonic geometries of the apparatus to produce distorted tones and percussive stabs, XFRMR offers a glimpse into the subatomic relationships that govern the universe.
Housed in an imposing steel Faraday cage and accompanied by audio-reactive projections, the Tesla coil itself is a physical assault on the senses. The grid of the cage displays ever-changing geometries, as light seems to fuse with sound to make synesthetic patterns, in a unique sensory phenomenon.
This is Glasgow based artist, Robbie Thomson’s first ever Brighton Festival. He says: “I think people will be surprised by how musical the Tesla Coil can be, you can make it really expressive and create quite delicate timbres as well as distorted tones and harsh percussive stabs. I was interested in high voltage devices and so was drawn to using the Tesla coil on a visual level and from a historical perspective before I was really aware of its musical potential. The direct correlation of the sonic and visual elements and the real physicality of the coil as an electro-acoustic instrument (the air ionising to create sound and light) made it ideal to use in an artistic context.”
“The ways in which technology is being used to synthesise natural phenomena relates to so many aspects of where the frontier of science is at today. The boundaries between synthetic and natural worlds are constantly being tested (whether that be in artificial intelligence or nanotechnology) so it's interesting to consider the nature of electricity and invisible wavelengths within this context, as it is something that we usually either ignore or take for granted”
XFRMR is a Cryptic commission for Sonica in association with Cove Park. As an Associate Artist for Sonica, Robbie has toured worldwide with his kinetic sculpture, music and lighting design. XFRMR has toured extensively including sell out performances at Melbourne Festival and was selected for the Made in Scotland showcase during the 2017 Edinburgh Festival. His Cryptic projects have also been presented in Australia, France, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands and widely around the UK.
Over 60’s dance troupe recreates Pina Bausch's 1982 masterpiece – the NELKEN-Line - on Brighton's seafront
Three Score Dance, the Brighton-based contemporary dance company for over 60s, will re-create Pina Bausch’s masterpiece, The NELKEN-Line, with a team of around 200 volunteers along the Brighton beachfront this weekend (Saturday 19th May, 6.30pm) as part of Brighton Festival.
The legendary Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter sequence is from one of Pina Bausch’s best-known works, the 1982 piece Nelken, and features West End Blues by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five.
The Three Score Dance company will be joined in the participatory performance by around 200 people, many of whom attended workshops to learn the four iconic movements led by Three Score Artistic Director Jason Keenan-Smith
The aim is to create the most fabulous and colourful NELKEN-Line on Brighton seafront, becoming a part of an exciting world-wide project run by the Pina Bausch Foundation and ARTE which invites people to submit their own NELKEN-Line video to the Foundation’s website.
In France, Ireland, Chile, Cyprus, Spain and Germany, dance lovers of all ages – professionals and amateurs – have responded to the call and danced their own individual NELKEN-Line, with performance videos from around the world posted on the NELKEN-Line website. Three Score has already uploaded their own Company version, the film made by Company member Vincent with long term collaborator DOP Patrick Duval.
Three Score Dance Volunteer Management Group member Vicki Crowther says: “Being part of Three Score Dance means we are standing up for the older dancer and we’re looking forward to leading a glorious celebration of Pina Bausch with people from all walks of life as we dance The Nelken Line along the beach from the i360 to the peace statue on Saturday.”
The company is led by Rehearsal Director, Jason Keenan-Smith, with professional choreographers commissioned to create bespoke pieces for performance. As an associate Brighton Dome company, Three Score have a history of commissioned pieces 50th Brighton Festival celebration Tall Tales - a special reconstruction from memory of a series of performed paintings believed to have been presented at some time during the Festival’s history.
Brighton Festival Live: The Last Poets
The Last Poets will be live streamed from 7.30pm on Tue 15 May
Legendary Godfathers of hip hop and creators of influential albums - The Last Poets (1970) and This is Madness (1971) – The Last Poets fuse politically outspoken lyrics with inventive percussion in an electrifying celebration of 50 years of the power of words and music. The Last Poets are modern day griots, with withering attacks on everything from racists to government to the bourgeoisie, their spoken word albums preceded politically laced R&B projects such as Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and foreshadowed the work of hard-hitting rap groups such as Public Enemy.
Now in a rare appearance, Umar Bin Hassan, Abiodun Oyewole and Donn Babatunde - legendary Godfathers of hip hop - bring an electrifying celebration of 50 years of powerful words and music to Brighton Festival.