Brighton Festival 2018Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

Showing 1 to 25 of 67 items

Brighton Festival 2016 announces Children’s Parade theme

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2016 Children’s Parade - which will take place on Saturday 7 May - is ‘Brighton celebrates’.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and supported by local businesses Class of their Own and Riverford, the annual Children’s Parade officially launches Brighton Festival and has delighted participants and spectators for over 25 years. The largest of its kind in Europe, the parade is attended by almost 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.

With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet and Brighton street names to books, mermaids and even slices of cake. In 2016 participants will be invited to be part of a major historical milestone as Brighton Festival celebrates its 50th year, taking inspiration from the people, places, ideas and innovations that shape the city’s unique character and identity.

Established in 1967, the three week celebration of music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate and family events has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin.

Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world. The 50th Brighton Festival - which will take place from 7-29 May 2016 - will feature a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies including site-specific pieces, exclusives, world and UK premieres.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival 2016’s Children & Family programmer says: 'In 2016 Brighton Festival proudly enjoys its 50th birthday, and we can think of no better way of launching this special event than by inviting the children of Brighton to take to the streets with the theme of celebration. Brighton schools and community organisations will be working hard over the coming months exploring creative ways of representing the very best of the people, places and ideas which form our beautiful city. 5000 children will take part in the annual opening parade on Saturday 7 May representing Brighton characters past and present, landmarks old and new and the ideas and innovations that will carry us into Festival 50 in an explosion of sound and colour.'

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the event, with creative teams instructing teaching staff how to teach dance and parade chants, run free masterclasses, help develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky says: 'All of us here at Same Sky are excited to be working with over 75 schools to celebrate the best of our lovely city. For 50 years Brighton Festival has engaged, entertained and entranced, both us locals and a national and international audience. This year's theme will allow us to highlight the wonderful qualities of our unique and diverse city by bringing these stories alive with art, music and dance. See you on the streets!'

The event will be sponsored in 2016 by Class of Their Own - who return for a third year as sponsors of the event – and Riverford Organic Farms.

Stephen Spears from Riverford Organic Farms says: 'I was so touched by being involved in last year’s event that I knew Riverford Organic Farms should continue to support the wonderful Children’s Parade this year. Riverford delivers organic fruit, veg, dairy, deli and meat to your door. Through this sponsorship we will continue to promote healthy eating, inspiring recipes and delicious pesticide-free produce to families across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.'

Sam Thomson and Tanya Petherick from Class Of Their Own said: 'We are delighted to be able to support such a fantastic community event for the third year running. This year will be a particularly special year as we will be celebrating 15 years and Brighton Festival is celebrating 50 years. We look forward to celebrating at the Children’s Parade with local children and families and to seeing you there.'

The Children’s Parade is on Saturday 7 May 2016. The 50th Brighton Festival will take place on 7-29 May 2016. 

Sponsorship opportunities for 50th Brighton Festival

Local businesses are being offered a unique opportunity to be part of a major historical landmark next year as Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England – celebrates its 50th year of bringing arts and culture to the city in 2016.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. This milestone year offers a chance for companies to be a part of the celebrations and also to demonstrate the spirit of partnership that will enable the city to thrive for the next fifty years.

With audiences reaching over 460,000 in 2013, Brighton Festival not only encourages visitors the city, but also engenders a sense of pride that increases leisure visits. Audience data demonstrates that 36% of Brighton Festival bookers are from outside the city and of the rest - a third of these local resident bookers - also buy tickets for visiting friends and family.

The annual Children’s Parade - the largest of its kind in Europe - which traditionally opens the Festival is embraced by the whole city, attended by 5,000 children from over 80 schools and community groups from across the region and watched by many thousands of spectators.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: “I believe Brighton Festival has become part of the city’s DNA – one of the things everyone thinks about when they think of Brighton and part of the reason businesses and visitors want to come here. One of the most exciting thing is that the whole city gets involved, from our colleagues in the cultural sector to the city’s hotels and pubs. Together, we make sure the month is not only a cause for celebration, but also one that contributes tens of millions of pounds to our local economy every year.”

As a registered arts charity with just 34% of its operational costs covered by regular public funding, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival has to raise from a variety of sources, the other 66% needed to operate and to continue to successfully run the various strands of the organisation. Sponsoring Brighton Festival not only allows businesses to raise their profile, reach new customers by engaging with over half a million audiences and expand their networks, but also meet corporate social responsibility objectives by supporting the local community through outreach work.

2015 sponsors included University of Sussex, Southern Water, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, London Gatwick, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Class of Their Own, Riverford Organic Farms, DMH Stallard, The Montefiore Hospital, Nutshell Construction Limited, Griffith Smith Farrington Webb LLP solicitors and GM Building.

Confirmed sponsors for 2016 already include Nutshell Construction and SELITS.

Managing Director, Nutshell Construction, Ben Copper said: “We are delighted to be renewing our sponsorship of the Brighton Festival during its 50th anniversary year. Sponsorship of the event gets us in front of potential customers, it raises our profile by associating our business with a gilt-edged brand and it makes real business sense – as well as giving us a chance to support the arts and our home town.”

Andrew Comben continues: “Bringing Brighton Festival together every year is an incredible privilege. We wouldn’t be able to present the sheer number of quality performances, installations and exclusive talks that make up Brighton Festival without the help of sponsors, many of whom also support the work of Brighton Dome year-round. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th celebrations in 2016 - and with the help of new and returning supporters we hope to make it very special indeed.”

To find out more about sponsorship opportunities for the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, please contact Kata Gyongyosi on 01273 260 810 or email kata.gyongyosi@brightondome.org

Dance Film Festival UK to screen Brighton Festival films

Two films shot during Brighton Festival 2014 by Hove-based Supernova Learning have been selected from a high number of applicants for screening at this year's Dance Film Festival UK. Three Score at the Station documents the journey of Three Score Dance Company (TSDC) – a dance company for the over 60s – from early rehearsals to their world premiere performance of choreographer James Finnemore's Plans at Brighton Station. A second film – Plans at Brighton Station – features the entire performance in full.


'It’s exciting for Three Score, and the individuals and organisations supporting us, to have this wider interest in our wonderful performance experience at Brighton Station. It’s deserved recognition for our choreographer James Finnemore. It’s rewarding for me as a filmmaker to have the prestigious acceptance of the dance film community.’

Vincent Thompson, Supernova Learning

Plans was commissioned by Brighton Festival in association with South East Dance as part of Brighton Festival 2014’s programme of events. Crowds, commuters and tourists came to a standstill as TSDC’s eighteen dancers performed throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday in a flash-mob.

Choreographer James Finnemore – a former dancer with the critically-acclaimed Hofesh Shechter Company – said of the performance:

‘I came with pretty much a blank slate. I had the title and quite a strong structure in terms of floor plans… but with a bit of organised chaos in the middle! I prefer simplicity in general. If people don’t want to do a dance phrase, then I don’t want to make them. I find that sometimes less interesting. I prefer it to be more human, more simple.’


TSDC is the vision of two local women, Saskia Heriz and Christina Thompson, both of whom have been inspired by the work of The Company of Elders; a dance company for the over 60’s resident at the internationally renowned Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. Although many members of Three Score have had no prior dance training, their wealth of life experience brings a unique quality to their work. The company is led by Rehearsal Director, Jason Keenan-Smith, with professional choreographers commissioned to create bespoke pieces for performance.

The company is currently housed at Brighton Dome. Three Score Dance Company is supported by South East Dance in association with Brighton Dome. Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Dance Film Festival UK is part of The Fi.ELD Festival 2014 and takes place on the 9th & 10th August 2015 at Stratford Circus. 

Artist Opportunity: Caravan 2016

Are you a professional, England-based artist or company specialising in theatre and/or performance?

Want to get your work seen by international and national promoters, festival organisers and presenters?

Don’t miss your chance to show off your work in The Caravan Showcase 2016, as part of Brighton Festival. The Caravan Showcase is one of the UK’s leading programmes of new and exciting site-specific and interactive theatre and performance. Applications are now open for Caravan 2016, and they’d love to hear from you. For more information and how to apply, please visit caravanshowcase.org.uk/showcase/artists

The deadline for submissions is 10am on Thu 23 July2015

Winners announced for competition to raise awareness of water scarcity

Brighton Festival, Brighton & Hove environmental education (BHee), Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere and Southern Water have announced the winners of the Our Water Matters competition.

The competition saw primary-aged children challenged to think of ways that they, their families and their schools could save water, with an aim to raise awareness amongst families in the city and beyond about the precious water resource lying beneath our feet.

Both drawings and written entries were submitted by children from over 35 schools, with many including the competition in lessons about the water cycle. Hundreds of entries were received, with ideas ranging from challenging our habit of washing clothes that are not really dirty through to creating a book featuring 24 water saving ideas and illustrations.

Six finalists - Lola Leonard (age 9), Ophelia Sullivan (age 6), Katherina Ilieva (age 11), Junior Fokou (age 10), Zach Wall (age 7), Hope Burnell (age 7) - were invited to a special ceremony at Brighton Dome Café-bar attended by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove Councillor Lynda Hyde on Friday 3 July. Lola Leonard was chosen as the overall winner of the competition for her ‘bath box’ idea which would save 70% water and energy from a normal bath.

Helen Peake, BHee Education Officer and one of the judges, said, ‘the judging team were really impressed by both the number and quality of entries, and choosing the winners was no easy task. There was a great mix of ideas: simple actions which we can all take to save water every day; exciting new inventions; and ideas for working together and spreading the water-saving message to others. It’s truly inspiring to see the youngest members of our communities with such positive attitudes to caring for our unique local environment.’

Our Water Matters was launched during Brighton Festival 2015 in response to Gauge – a fully immersive and interactive installation based in Circus Street Market which offered visitors a hands-on encounter with weather and water to create a playful and curious investigation into climate change. Created by sonic artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey and sponsored by Southern Water, the exclusive work featured several large scale installations created by a group of Australian artists and scientists to reflect the beauty and importance of processes related to water.

The installation also played host to a special weekend of events in which Gauge interacted with Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere, following the local area’s recognition by UNESCO in 2014 as an international site of excellence that is pioneering a positive future for people and nature and incorporates countryside, coast and city. Our Water Matters sought to support their work and raise awareness of the unique area we live in.

Rich Howorth, Biosphere Project Officer explains ‘we are lucky to live in a fantastic environment here which we call our ‘Biosphere’; the Downs, towns and coast are all very special places which we want people to enjoy and look after for the future. Perhaps the most precious thing we have is our natural source of pure drinking water that lies hidden beneath the ground. We need to use it wisely and not waste it.’


Sponsorship support lifts Brighton Festival to new levels of success

Brighton Festival 2015 - the largest and most established of its kind in England - came to a soaring conclusion last month, buoyed up by a plethora of new and returning sponsors who provided invaluable support for the event while also gaining significant exposure for their business.

The three-week Festival - guest directed by award-winning author Ali Smith - featured a thrilling selection of events spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate by artists and performers the world over, drawing audiences in droves and unanimous critical acclaim.

The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest in Europe. Supported by local businesses Class of their Own and Riverford – as well as Gatwick Airport who fittingly came on board for the first time - the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event.

One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York ( supported by University of Sussex) which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Other highlights included an interactive installation inspired by the weather in Circus Street Market (sponsored by Southern Water) to an extraordinary feat of rock balancing (sponsored by Nutshell Construction) and a night-time promenade theatre piece in Stanmer Park (sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter).

Stewart Wingate CEO of Gatwick Airport says: “As the airport continues to grow year on year, we are delighted to welcome artists from abroad to our arrivals lounge. Brighton and Hove is an important city for our airport, with one in 30 passengers arriving from here every year – so we were thrilled to have given it our wholehearted support this year”.

'The exposure of our name alongside prestigious events is very important for our profile”, says Martin Williams, Partner Mayo Wynne Baxter solicitors, who have been sponsors since 2011. “Clients remark positively on our involvement with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, which helps cement our position in the city.'

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘We wouldn’t be able to present the sheer number of quality performances, installations and exclusive talks that make up Brighton Festival without the help of sponsors, many of whom also support the work of Brighton Dome year-round. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year - and it is thanks to their help that we can continue to make Brighton Festival and the city itself such a magical place to be in May.

Other sponsors included Brighton and Sussex Medical School,  DMH Stallard, SELITS, GM Building, Brighton and Hove Jobs.com, Echo Video, Grandad, Hoi Polloi, IEP Financial, Midnight Communications, Moshimo, MyHotel, One Digital, Terre a Terre and WSP.

Sponsoring Brighton Festival & Brighton Dome not only allows businesses to raise their profile, reach new customers by engaging with over half a million audiences, but also meet corporate social responsibility objectives by supporting the local community through outreach work. To find out more about sponsorship opportunities for the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, please contact Kata Gyongyosi on 01273 260 810 or email kata.gyongyosi@brightondome.org

-ENDS-

For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press and PR - emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260 803

Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838

Anna Whelan, Digital and Admin Officer – anna.whelan@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260825

Ticket Office - 01273 709709 | brightonfestival.org

Follow us on Twitter - www.twitter.com/brightfest (@brightfest)

Join our Facebook fan site - www.facebook.com/brightonfestival

Listen to our monthly podcast - http://soundcloud.com/brighton-dome

NOTES TO EDITORS:

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established annual mixed arts Festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and in 2013 achieved a new record audience reach of 468,000

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013 and choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round – a three space, Grade 1 listed building made up of the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre.

• Each year, the work of the Creative Learning team reaches over 15,000 people in Brighton & Hove and beyond through innovative projects such as Miss Represented - an arts collective of vulnerable young women who have been involved with the criminal justice system and isolated young women in the community; the Umbrella Club - a membership club for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their siblings and carers; and Three Score Dance Company, created to offer contemporary dance opportunities for men and women aged 60+ in Brighton & Hove.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is a registered arts charity (registered charity no 249748)

Brighton Festival 2015 soars to a close

Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-wining author Ali Smith at the helm as Guest Director - came to a soaring conclusion this weekend.

Over the three-week Festival - the biggest and most established in England - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions were explored in a thrilling selection of events which spanned music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate featuring artists and performers the world over from Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha to the newly Palme d’Or honoured filmmaker Agnès Varda.

Three central themes - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - provided a fascinating jumping off point to explore some of the key ideas and issues of the moment as well as a memorable visual image of a swift in flight which proved a fitting and popular emblem for the 2015 Festival.

The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest of its kind in Europe. Supported by regional businesses Class of their Own, Gatwick Airport and Riverford, the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event. Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, costumes included bird life in all its forms as well as flying machines, creatures from fantasy and fable, bugs, bees and butterflies.


The Children's Parade. Photo by Jordan Hughes

During the ensuing 23 days it wasn’t just the kids who took flight – with more reviews praising the artistic excellence of this year’s programme than ever. One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Stage and the artsdesk amongst others described them as “exemplary”, “extraordinary”, “profound” and “faultlessly directed”. This was swiftly followed by the top accolade going to violinist Isabelle Faust’s amazing feat of solo virtuosity, Paine’s Plough’s poignant exploration of love and relationships in Lungs and Nina Conti’s extraordinary tour de force of improvised comedy amongst others.


Fleeting on Brighton Beach. Photo by Chris Bethall

At just under 400 performances across 150 events, including 34 that were entirely free to the public, Brighton Festival 2015 featured the highest number of exclusives, premieres and commissions to date including a sizeable proportion of events that cannot - and could not - be experienced anywhere else outside of Brighton Festival, from Sam Lee’s intimate Nightingale Walks on the Downs to Laurie Anderson’s one-off concert All the Animals and Festival finale Fleeting, the spectacular installation over the West Pier by And Now in which hundreds of individual points of fire created shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2015 saw a plethora of shows - including high profile events such as physical theatre show The Spalding Suite which takes as its subject the UK's basketball sub-culture and Jess Thom’s inspiring and uplifting exploration of her experience of living with Tourette’s, Backstage in Biscuit Land - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival also reached out beyond the centre more than ever before, working with Without Walls to present a number of family-friendly performances in Saltdean and Woodingdean for the first time as well as the enthralling 451 at Preston Barracks and playful Ear Trumpet in Queen’s Park. This was complemented by a fantastic response to community driven events such as a new children’s birdwatching trail which was generously embraced by the business community, and the return of the Guest Director’s Guests, the Peacock Poetry Prize and the Young City Reads schemes.


Backstage in Biscuit Land. Photo by Victor Frankowski

Other Festival highlights included a one off live screening of Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy; the English premiere of Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland’s The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a homage to one of Scotland's most likeable, most individual and most unexpected 20th century figures; a new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing; and the UK premiere of The Forgotten / L’Oublié(e), the directorial debut of Raphaëlle Boitel, one of the most remarkable performers on the European visual and physical theatre scene.

Brighton Festival 2015 featured 396 performances across 150 events including 45 exclusives, premieres and commissions and 34 free events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “From the 5 stars across-the-board success of Richard Nelson’s extraordinary Apple Family Plays to the headline-grabbing performance of Kate Tempest and a very special personal appearance by newly Palme D’Or honoured Agnes Varda - this year really has been a Festival to remember. Ali Smith, as Guest Director, has been an absolute pleasure to work with and a wonderful inspiration to us all. Her remarkable sense of possibility, wonder, imagination and excitement at anything that she encounters has been evident every step of the way, from her invaluable input during the programming process to her lively and engaging presence throughout the month. The Festival’s continued ability to not only bring such an eclectic range of artists onto one bill but to make it a resounding success, is testament to the extraordinary support we have from funders, sponsors and from audiences themselves. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year. I cannot wait to lift the lid on what surprises we have in store for the city and beyond.”

Brighton Festival 2015 soars to a close

Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-wining author Ali Smith at the helm as Guest Director - came to a soaring conclusion this weekend.

Over the three-week Festival - the biggest and most established in England - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions were explored in a thrilling selection of events which spanned music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate featuring artists and performers the world over from Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha to the newly Palme d’Or honoured filmmaker Agnès Varda.

Three central themes - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - provided a fascinating jumping off point to explore some of the key ideas and issues of the moment as well as a memorable visual image of a swift in flight which proved a fitting and popular emblem for the 2015 Festival.

The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest of its kind in Europe. Supported by local businesses Class of their Own and Riverford, the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event. Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, costumes included bird life in all its forms as well as flying machines, creatures from fantasy and fable, bugs, bees and butterflies.

During the ensuing 23 days it wasn’t just the kids who took flight – with more reviews praising the artistic excellence of this year’s programme than ever. One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Stage and the artsdesk amongst others described them as “exemplary”, “extraordinary”, “profound” and “faultlessly directed”. This was swiftly followed by the top accolade going to violinist Isabelle Faust’s amazing feat of solo virtuosity, Paine’s Plough’s poignant exploration of love and relationships in Lungs and Nina Conti’s extraordinary tour de force of improvised comedy amongst others.

At just under 400 performances across 150 events, including 34 that were entirely free to the public, Brighton Festival 2015 featured the highest number of exclusives, premieres and commissions to date including a sizeable proportion of events that cannot - and could not - be experienced anywhere else outside of Brighton Festival, from Sam Lee’s intimate Nightingale Walks on the Downs to Laurie Anderson’s one-off concert All the Animals and Festival finale Fleeting, the spectacular installation over the West Pier by And Now in which hundreds of individual points of fire created shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2015 saw a plethora of shows - including high profile events such as physical theatre show The Spalding Suite which takes as its subject the UK's basketball sub-culture and Jess Thom’s inspiring and uplifting exploration of her experience of living with Tourette’s, Backstage in Biscuit Land - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival also reached out beyond the centre more than ever before, working with Without Walls to present a number of family-friendly performances in Saltdean and Woodingdean for the first time as well as the enthralling 451 at Preston Barracks and playful Ear Trumpet in Queen’s Park. This was complemented by a fantastic response to community driven events such as a new children’s birdwatching trail which was generously embraced by the business community, and the return of the Guest Director’s Guests, the Peacock Poetry prize and the Young City Reads schemes.

Other Festival highlights included a one off live screening of Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy; the English premiere of Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland’s The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a homage to one of Scotland's most likeable, most individual and most unexpected 20th century figures; a new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing; and the UK premiere of The Forgotten / L’Oublié(e), the directorial debut of Raphaëlle Boitel, one of the most remarkable performers on the European visual and physical theatre scene.

Brighton Festival 2015 featured 396 performances across 150 events including 45 exclusives, premieres and commissions and 34 free events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says:

“From the 5 stars across-the-board success of Richard Nelson’s extraordinary Apple Family Plays to the headline-grabbing performance of Kate Tempest and a very special personal appearance by newly Palme D’Or honoured Agnes Varda - this year really has been a Festival to remember. Ali Smith, as Guest Director, has been an absolute pleasure to work with and a wonderful inspiration to us all. Her remarkable sense of possibility, wonder, imagination and excitement at anything that she encounters has been evident every step of the way, from her invaluable input during the programming process to her lively and engaging presence throughout the month.

The Festival’s continued ability to not only bring such an eclectic range of artists onto one bill but to make it a resounding success, is testament to the extraordinary support we have from funders, sponsors and from audiences themselves. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year. I cannot wait to lift the lid on what surprises we have in store for the city and beyond.”

-ENDS-

For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press & PR - emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260 803

Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838

Anna Whelan, Digital Officer – anna.whelan@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260825

Ticket Office - 01273 709709 | brightondome.org

Follow us on Twitter - www.twitter.com/brightdome (@brightdome)

Join our Facebook fan site - www.facebook.com/brightondome

Listen to our monthly podcast - http://soundcloud.com/brighton-dome

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established annual mixed arts Festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and in 2013 achieved a new record audience reach of 468,000

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013 and choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round.

In Photos: Brighton Festival Week Three

Wow - what a month we have had! We've enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2015 and we hope you had a blast too. This past week, we've had outdoor spectaculars, dreamlike circus, ventriloquism, incredible music and much more. Explore the happenings of week three by clicking the photos below...

The fun continues with a host of eclectic and exciting events...

Posted by Brighton Festival on Friday, 22 May 2015

Peacock Poetry Prize winners announced

The winners of the Peacock Poetry Prize 2015 - an annual creative writing competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) - have been announced.

The annual creative writing competition, produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC), asks local poets aged between 7 - 18 years to explore and respond to a specific subject in an imaginative and inventive way. 2015 saw the writers respond to the theme of ‘birds’; a subject chosen by Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director and award-winning author Ali Smith – which reflected one of the central themes of the Festival itself.

Read all the finalists entries

As Ali Smith writes -

Who were the first singers?

What direct link back to the days of the dinosaurs can we see all round us in the air, in the trees, on the ground, every day?

What has bones that are hollow to make themselves even lighter?

Birds. They're waiting in the wings.

What kind of creature – apart from people in an aeroplane, I mean – can fly for miles but be completely asleep all the way?

Which ones can fly backwards, and which can beat its wings 50 times a second?

Which can fly underwater?

Which can fly nearly a thousand miles a day?

Which helped with the war effort in both the first and the second world wars, and were even given medals for their service?

And here's a question as old as the birds : why did that chicken cross the road?

A charm of chaffinches, a chime of wrens, a colony of gulls, a congregation of eagles, an exaltation of larks, a flamboyance of flamingos, a gaggle of geese, a glittering of hummingbirds, a gulp of swallows, a huddle of penguins, a kettle of hawks, a murder of crows, a murmuration of starlings, a paddling of ducks, a quarrel of sparrows, a wisdom of owls.

Spread your wings.

Submissions were divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 7-10 years, 11-14 years and 15-18 years old.

If Birds Could Talk by 10-year old Laura Boyd won the 8-10 years category, The Boy and the Bird by Sarah Adegbite aged 13 won the 11-14 category, and 16-year old Olivia Sutherland won the 14-18 age range with Pigeonholed – A Sonnet for the Birds.

Winners were presented with their prizes by Ali Smith.

Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said, 

‘the quality of work submitted is always astounding and we hope the poets pursue their dreams of making careers from their writing.’

Chris Thomson, Principal at BHASVIC said 

‘I’m delighted that the BHASVIC-inspired Peacock Poetry Prize goes from strength to strength. It is a wonderful way of bringing the writing talents of young people from all across Sussex to a focus. Thanks to the brilliant work of Brighton Festival staff, the Prize opens a door not only into the world of poetry but also into our marvellous Brighton Festival for all our entrants.’

Brighton Festival Live: PSK Trio

Africa Railway Project is the new live concept from Portuguese master bassist Theo Pascal, vocalist Carmen Souza and Mozambican percussionist and drummer Elias Kacomanolis. For the last few years, they have been conquering stages around the world with the Carmen Souza Project. Now PSK Trio sets out to explore other African roots and rhythms - especially those from Lusophone countries - in a more intimate set. You’re invited to join them on the Africa Railwayand embark on a new journey to an unknown destination.

In pictures: Week 3

Wow - what a month we had! We've enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2015 and we hope you had a blast too. In the last week, we had outdoor spectaculars, dreamlike circus, ventriloquism, incredible music and much more. Explore the happenings of week three by clicking the gallery above.

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Chis Bethall and Jordan Hughes

Have you spotted our birds flying across windows?

They get around, our yellow birds. You may have seen them swooping and diving across some of the windows of local businesses. Some of these shops/bars/cafes/restaurants have been taking part in our Big Bird Trail and some are just getting into the Festival spirit. We'd like to say thank you to the following local businesses for getting involved in Brighton Festival this year:

Cybercandy
East
Oxfam Books
The Manor
Fidra Jewellers
Appendage
RSPB Shop for Nature
Pussy Home Boutique
Whirligig Toy Shop
Terre a Terre
Sally Salon Services
The Dorset Street Bar
Mucho Burrito
Yoma
Punktured
Silverado

Brighton Festival and Sussex Uni Film Project

In the last few months it has been a pleasure to work with Sussex University students, as they've worked to create a short promotional clip for Brighton Festival 2015. In the run up to the Festival, we were delighted to showcase this fantastic, animated, promotional clip for our 26 Letters programme of children's literature events across Brighton Festival channels.


Here's a selection of our favourite projects submitted...






Sam Lee celebrates unsung Brighton folk legend in special Nightingale walk

Mercury Prize nominated folk singer and song collector Sam Lee is paying homage to the late Mary Ann Haynes – a legendary Brighton-based Romany gypsy singer – as part of his award-winning Nightingale Walks (Tuesday 19, Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 May from 9pm) at Brighton Festival 2015.

Born in 1905 in a Faversham wagon parked behind The Coach and Horses in Portsmouth, Mary Ann Haynes settled in Brighton where she worked as a flower-seller on the waterfront, earning enough to support her family but never achieving success as a singer in her lifetime. After her death in 1977 she was discovered by renowned folk recordist Mike Yates and her legacy of many hundreds of songs have now entered into the folk revival repertoire and adopted by self –confessed song collector Sam Lee.

‘I first discovered Mary Ann Haynes while I was indexing the Sound Archives at The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library about 10 years ago. I was set to work on the Mike Yates archive - he was the one who discovered her and recorded her singing, so I got the privilege of listening to all the songs he recorded beyond the ones that were publicly released on Topic Records in the 70s,’ explains Lee.

‘I think her songs have been a go--to repertoire as she had wonderful full and melodically interesting versions of some classic songs, and had that unique gypsy modal style that gave her tunes this wonderfully exotic twist to them.. I think it was some years before the taste for these versions came more popular, hence her possible lack of featuring in the revival festivals and folk clubs.’

In a recent concert at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange Lee met Betty Date, Mary Ann Haynes’ only surviving child who had seen him talk about his love of Hayne’s music at the launch of Brighton Festival 2013.

Sam Lee will perform Haynes’ Trees they Do grow High, Colour of Amber, Lovely Johnny and The Tanyard Side during his Brighton Festival event; a one-of-a-kind promenade performance taking place in ‘a melodius plot of beechen green’ out on the South Downs. In the dead silence of the night, accompanied by musicians, Sam will sing traditional songs to the nightingales as they sing back to him from the thickets in what promises to be a spellbinding and unforgettable call-and-response collaboration between man and bird. 


In Photos: Brighton Festival Week Two

With Moomins and wolves, spectacular visuals and super sounds, this past week at Brighton Festival has been pretty incredible! Peruse our pics by clicking below and see all the fun that was had... 

Too see what other Brighton Festival fun awaits head to our What's On page.

All photos by Victor Frankowski


We've had a blast this week, with lots of exciting events to inspire and delight us, and there is much more to come! Find out what's on at: https://brightonfestival.org/whats_on/

Posted by Brighton Festival on Monday, 11 May 2015

Brighton Festival Live: Masha Gessen

The Harriet Martineau Lecture
Introduced by Ali Smith
Presented with New Writing South

Celebrated Russian-American journalist, author and activist Masha Gessen is world-renowned for her outspoken opposition to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and as Russia’s leading LGBT rights activist. At one stage she was, in her own words, ‘probably the only publicly out gay person in the whole of Russia’. Her latest book, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, is an investigation into the origins and motivations of the dissident art-punk group that made headlines around the world.

An exploration of freedom of speech and investigative journalism.

Masha Gessen delivers the annual Harriet Martineau Lecture commissioned by Writers’ Centre Norwich and first performed in Norwich on Saturday 16 May as part of the City of Literature programme. Norwich is England’s only UNESCO City of Literature. www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk

Commissioned by Writers’ Centre Norwich to celebrate the life and legacy of Harriet Martineau, a 19th century radical thinker, writer and the world’s first female journalist.

Guest Blog: Montefiore Meets Biscuitland

What to make of a show that asks you to view a neurological disorder/disability, as a 'superpower'? Well Jess Thom wants you to know that Tourette's is what makes her special and she's changing the world 'one tic at a time' and has turned her tics into some riotous entertainment.

The show, Backstage in Biscuit Land, is a mini-guide into the life of Jess who lives with the tics and outbursts caused by the syndrome. The lazy language of writing about disease wanted me to instantly nominate Jess as a Tourette's 'sufferer' but there was not much suffering on display during an anarchic show in which Jess and her co-performer Jess Mabel-Jones (known throughout as 'Chopin') told us about Jess's life.

Her Tourette's required no description. Her vocal tic of 'biscuit' and repetitive chest beating were on clear display throughout and cleverly incorporated into the show. At times it was difficult to tell whether what we were hearing was an inventive script or a new tic. As a show it more resembled Vic Reeves at his most absurd than a medical documentary.Tourette's is a neurological disorder that has become a lazy comic shorthand for scatological and offensive behaviour. Backstage in Biscuit Land trod a fine line in both debunking and reinforcing that view. Whilst we laughed at Jess's disinhibited and furiously inventive swearing, we were also educated as she explained that only 10% of those with the syndrome will swear in this way. We also sympathised as she explained that the same behaviour which had brought her to the theatre as performer had also seen her turned away from theatres as an audience member.

The context was important but dislocating. Her behaviours were exhibited prominently and for comic effect; seeing Jess massacre a plate of strawberries on a stage in a show was hilarious but seeing the same thing unprepared in a communal dining experience might be terrifying. The medic in me wanted to know what short circuit in neurological wiring led to this, whether she hurt her chest and why she was getting worse (a fact that was signified by a comedic love letter to her wheelchair).

In the middle of all the hilarious insanity of free biscuits, songs about bestiality and hedgehog finger puppets, we were pulled up short when an audience member was asked to read Jess's care plan in the event of her tics culminating in a full-blown seizure (a common event). As the seizure was superbly enacted by Chopin's puppetry the volunteer struggled to read the banal medical algorithm (with its' litany of safety and diazepam) without shedding a tear. The theatre was silent but for Jess's own unavoidable interruptions. In that moment we saw that in sharing her superpower with us Jess was also allowing us the privilege of seeing her vulnerability.

As 'Touretteshero” Jess has positively incorporated her disease into her reality in a way that many of us could never do. Her resilience and humour in the face of being different is a lesson for us all.

By Richard Simcock, Consultant Oncologist, Montefiore Hospital.
The Montefiore Hospital working in partnership with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, supporting community wellbeing via the arts.


In pictures: Week 2

With Shakespeare and sunshine, spectacular visuals and super sounds, this second week of Brighton Festival was pretty incredible! 

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Chis Bethall and Jordan Hughes

The Measure Of All Things' Sam Green On...

The Measure of All Things is a new live cinema performance by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green (The Weather Underground) with acclaimed chamber group yMusic. Here he discusses the film and his love of world records (book here for The Measure of All Things)

Sam Green on...

… describing The Measure Of All Things as a ‘pretty weird’ movie:

It’s a meditation on the Guinness Book of World Records. To me the book is very striking because in it are many records that say so much about Fate and how we live in a world we don’t understand. The basic building blocks of our lives are dealt with and evoked in the book, so my show is a meditation on that; a series of portraits of people, places and things, from the oldest person to the tallest person to the oldest living thing. In that sense, it evokes a kind of poem about fate, time and mystery of being alive.

… loving the Guinness Book of World Records:

Yeah – when I was a kid, I was totally obsessed with it and spent a lot of time just looking at the pictures. About 5 years ago I came across an old paperback copy of it and I was struck by two things; one – I remembered all the photos… looking at them I was automatically transported back in time to being a kid, but two – I was struck by the serious side of it, that it was, in some ways, a tragic, odd self portrait of humanity and the outer contours of the human experience. It really moved me. That’s where this came from.

… on the motivation to find record-breakers:

It was about putting together a poem that evoked the themes that I felt from the book. It’s an empathic impulse – a sense that we are all living with the mysteries of being alive. Take the guy who was struck by lightening seven times, he - in a way - is the quintessential person dealing with Fate in all its inexplicableness. He has no idea why he was struck seven times, and we all have that, to some extent; wonderful things happen to us and terrible things happen to us, and we never quite understand why. It’s all a mystery to some extent. The piece came out of trying to evoke that feeling.

… on choosing the subjects of the films:

That’s the fun part – I basically went through the book and pursued the things that resonated with me emotionally. Y’know, like the tallest man and the dolphin [Bao Xishan used his long arms to dislodge fatal plastic accidentally ingested by a dolphin at an aquarium] – I love that one. I had someone shoot him in Mongolia and got the footage of him with the dolphin, so it’s just a great story that hits all the right notes. It’s odd, tragic, and beautiful in a way. It was very fun to look into these.

… on the appeal of live cinema:

A lot of different things! I got started in it when making the film about utopia. I was a little grumpy about the fact that as a filmmaker now, you have to accept that people will be watching your work on their laptops whilst their checking Facebook. I do it – it’s how we do things now! We pay attention in fleeting ways on our computers – everything is a little more throwaway – and I didn’t want my work to be in that context. So there’s a lot of reasons why live cinema appeals to me; from aesthetic, to political to economic. I feel we’re being pushed by technology and the market all the time to be more alone with our devices, watching things in very fleeting ways. I feel, especially with cinema, that people coming together and having a collective experience is powerful – that’s the magic of cinema. I love that feeling when the lights go down and the movie starts, and I want my work to be in that world. I think there’s something much more meaningful about it. People often say ‘well so many less people will see your work if you do it this way’… y’know, you have to travel all the way, they have to travel to see it; that’s true, the audience is radically smaller, but I’d much rather have far fewer people have a meaningful experience – something that will linger with them for a while after – than for millions of people to have a throwaway experience when we watch a video online. Also, it is fun, I get nervous, it’s a challenge, and it’s great to work with musicians and travel around with bands. I just keep trying to see what the form can do. Each time I’ve done it, I’ve said ‘well I’m going to try and do it like this’. I’m still curious and inspired about it.

… on the fleeting nature of world records:

I’ve always liked that connection between the form and the content. In this case, the piece is about the fleeting nature of life, the provisional nature of all our efforts. In that sense, the form fits that. For example, the current oldest person in the world just died, so the piece is an organic, ephemeral work that changes and is never quite the same… which is how life is.

… on band yMusic:

yMusic is fantastic. They are a new music chamber group. I went to see the band The Dirty Projectors in New York and yMusic was playing with the band, sort of as their backing band. They played a few songs themselves to start the show and I was mesmerised. Their sound was huge. They had this epic, huge quality to their sound which I really wanted for this piece. One of the great things about the live form is that you can do so much more than you can with a regular movie. The music they play in a regular movie would probably be too much, but in a live context somehow it works and you give yourself over to it more. They’re at the nexus of classical and rock – it’s a really interesting new music world. They’re also very cool.

…on the most interesting person he spoke to in the making of The Measure of All Things:

I think the woman with the longest name. She has this enormous name which just goes on and on. Her mother gave her that name, so it’s not as if she created it herself. At first I thought it was just gibberish… like someone fell asleep on the keyboard… but if you look closely at it you start to see words. Her mother made this crazy long name, but within it there’s city names like ‘Paris’, qualities like ‘love’, there’s other peoples name’s from her family; it’s an odd and wonderful quilt of all these different pieces of ideas and aspirations… and it works! She likes it and gets attention from it. She was on Jay Leno and he gave her a driver’s license as a gag! It’s really interesting to me because there’s the idea that a name makes a person – you name a person and they grow into that name.

… on breaking a record himself:

The great irony of all this is that I did end up in the Guinness Book of World Records this year… and I didn’t even have to hula-hoop for 78 hours! They got in touch with me because they found a photo online of me at the quietest place on earth – an anechoic chamber – and it’s a photo of me holding a microphone. They asked me if they could use it to illustrate the quietest place on earth. I said of course – I always wanted to be in the book, but could never figure out how. I’m on page 74, right next to the ‘Most Valuable Tongue’.

The Tallest Tortillas, to the World’s Largest Timewarp - we investigate Brighton's world record attempts

The Measure of All Things, coming to Brighton Festival on Sat 23 and Sun 24 May, is an innovative ‘live documentary’, created by Academy Award-nominated film-maker Sam Green. The multi-disciplinary performance incorporates film, a live soundtrack from yMusic, and live narration from Green. This format allows him freedom from the restrictions of film, combined with the energy of a live audience, in an unparalleled production which promises to push the boundaries of the documentary genre. 


The Measure of All Things by Sam Green from The Kitchen on Vimeo.

Loosely inspired by the Guinness Book of World Records, the film weaves together portraits of record-breaking people, places and things: from the tallest man on earth, to the oldest living thing. Green tells Extended Play “in my mind, it’s a piece about time and fate and weird things we’re compelled to do — things we don’t even understand why we’re compelled to do them”. World Record Breakers form the basis for a poignant exploration of what Green calls the oddness and ‘inexplicable nature of being alive’.

In the spirit of The Measure of All Things, we decided to delve into Brighton’s very own collection of World Records (and attempts), from the wonderful to the wacky. Here are some of our favourites:

  • The Official UK Rocky Horror Fan Club danced their way to victory as the most people dancing the Time Warp in costume on Brighton Beach in 2009. 1635 people took part, but were outdone in 2010 by 8239 time warp-ers at the Annual Halloween Carnival in Hollywood. Watch the Brighton Time Warpers...


  • Heroic Brighton resident Dan Lawson holds the World Record for treadmill running, managing 226 kilometers in 7 days – the equivalent of 20 marathons! Keeping occupied by watching films, and fuelling himself on rice, veggie burgers and poppadums with mango chutney, he ran across the finish line in 2009 and remains unbeaten.
  • The Wold Record for the most people crammed in a Mini is 27, and was achieved by Dani and the mini-skirts at the London to Brighton Mini Run in 2014. See how it's done...



  • Brighton’s beloved Volks Railway holds the record for the First Public Electric Railway Still in Operation - it set off on its maiden voyage in 1883.
  • The tallest stack of tortillas was created in Jubilee Square in 2010 – standing at an impressive 58 cm (1 ft 10 in)
  • Karl-Heinz Hille from Germany is the holder of the World Record for most wins at the World Beard and Moustache Championships. Helping him make history was his title of Best Imperial Partial Beard at the 2007 Championships in Brighton.
  • In 2012 over 300 people gathered in an unofficial record attempt to bring together as many people dressed as Kate Bush re-enacting the dance to the iconic Wuthering Heights music video. Here is the final result...

Book now for The Measure of All Things


Sources:

More on Sam Green Extended Play 
Timewarp record Timewarp.org 
Treadmill record - The Argus 
Mini record Guinness World Records 
Volks Railway Guinness Book of Records
Tallest stack of Tortillas Guinness World Records
Beard Championship Record Guinness World Records
Spooning Record Virtual Festivals 

Director Susannah Waters on Being Both...

Being Both is an original production commissioned by Brighton Festival, directed by Susannah Waters and starring renowned mezzo-soprano Alice Coote. Inspired by Handel’s ‘bravura, amazing, profound’ arias and his ‘incredible compassion for human foibles’, Being Both curates the richest moments from Handel’s repertoire, in order to explore the complexities of gender in a modern context.

The production brings together vocals from Alice Coote, the world-class English Concert Orchestra led by Harry Bicket, and visual references from Ali Smith’s book How to be Both in a beautiful and thought-provoking meditation on what it is to be male, female and everything in-between.

We chatted to Susannah about the complexities of gender, her love affair with Handel, and how the orchestra in Being Both will be part of the action.

Susannah Waters on…

…The role of gender in Being Both

“Really, what we’re doing is trying to explore the whole hugely complex subject of gender and the world as it is today and how we’re affected by our own sense of gender: how masculine or feminine we feel we are and if that is a bit of a mismatch with how we’re meant to be, or how our job asks us to be. Also, very much thinking about how an audience sitting in a theatre is affected by gender: by someone’s costume, or the way they look and if someone costumed like a man is singing those words. If someone who has the appearance of a woman is singing those exact same words, they’re very different and they have very different connotations, even if it’s the exact same text.”

…Handel

“All the music is by Handel which is, of course, the best starting point in the world. I keep saying to Alice that there are some arias that are almost unbreakable in terms of the director screwing them up, or anyone screwing them up. They’re like Shakespeare: there are some pieces in the world that you can do almost nothing bad to, because they are infinitely playable and so full of richness. So we’ve got quite a lot of those really bravura, amazing, profound arias in the piece. Harry Bicket was saying yesterday, it’s kind of the greatest hits of Handel that we’ve collected. It’s really, actually, the pieces that Alice and I really wanted to explore and she wanted to sing.

He’s much above in terms of humanity, and understands everyone’s weaknesses and strengths and courage. For me, that fluidity is in his music; that compassion. He was very much a theatre maker. Like Shakespeare, he would nab a bit of music from that thing he’d written twenty years ago, and put it in this bit. A lot of the pieces were very piecemeal: recycling bits of music, recycling bits of ballet and sticking it here, and turning that into an aria. You never feel that it’s just kind of, lazy un-thought through music. He was very much a man of the theatre. He felt happiest in that theatrical milieu, in the middle of all those people that create an opera.”

…On working with Harry Bicket and the English Concert Orchestra

“I’m such a fan of this orchestra. I’ve gone to see them in concert, doing concert performances of operas. The last time I saw them, doing Alcina at the Barbican, it was an amazing line-up of singers, but I spent a lot of my time watching the orchestra, because they are so engaged when they play. Sometimes you go and see orchestra concerts and the orchestra look a bit jaded, they look a bit kind of ‘another show’. The English Concert Orchestra are just in their bodies, they’re so with the music, so in our show they’re very much onstage. I’m bringing forward some of the soloists to the forestage to be part of the action with Alice. I really wanted them to be an equal part of the visual show, so they are very much there on stage. They’re just fantastic, for me they’re my favourite Baroque orchestra around – just amazing players.”

Book now for Being Both

Agnès Varda is first woman to receive honorary Palme D’Or at Cannes

Agnès Varda – who made a very special personal appearance at Brighton Festival 2015 – is to receive an honorary Palme D’Or at Cannes this year in recognition of her career.

The legendary French filmmaker and artist, whose incredible body of work is celebrated at Brighton Festival this year with a new art installation called Beaches, Beaches at University of Brighton Gallery, a series of screenings of a selection of her films, and a special lecture at Duke of York’s, will be the first woman ever selected for the distinction.

Varda joins the ranks of only three other directors — Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Bernardo Bertolucci —in being recognised in this way for the global impact of their body of work.

Already the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award by the European Film Academy for her outstanding body of work, Varda - now 86 - has created some of the most interesting female protagonists in 20th-century cinema.

Audiences can visit her Brighton Festival gallery installation ‘Beaches, Beaches’ at University of Brighton Gallery until 24 May 2015. Comprised of images and videos related to French beaches, the installation references, in Varda’s words:

 “memories of an old photograph, a puzzled image of a young man on the beach, colourful plastic objects such as flip flops and rubber rings and all through the lovely sound of the sea border.”

The free installation runs from Saturday 2 May to Sunday 24 May, open daily from 10am – 5pm (and 10am – 8pm on Thursdays) at University of Brighton Gallery. Click here for more information.

Varda’s work is often connected to the French New Wave, and her early films were clear precedents for the stylistic tendencies which the New Wave directors delineated. However, her work remains particular to her own unique perspective on the world, resisting the paradigms of movements in art and film.

The themes and issues in her films focus on time and people, the collective unconscious, and social taboos. Her work is also distinct from the French New Wave for its crossing of genres, as she is known as much for her documentaries and short films as for her feature-length dramas. Not limiting herself to France, her films have been shot in a variety of locations, including the USA, Cuba and Iran.

Brighton Festival Live: Stephen Upshaw & Veronika Trisko

Exoticism and Folk Music
viola & piano


Bloch Suite for Viola and Piano
Raymond Yiu Elegaic Fragments
Bartók Romanian Folk Dances

Travel to far-off lands with the American violist Stephen Upshaw and his regular collaborator Veronika Trisko. Stephen’s quest for new musical horizons has taken him to the furthest reaches of the repertoire, including pieces written specially for him, such as Raymond Yiu’s Elegiac Fragments, inspired by Middle Eastern music. Also rooted in the East is Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Piano and closer to home, Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances are irresistibly rhythmic.

Brighton Festival Live: DakhaBrakha

(Ukraine) plus dj set
Brighton Festival Exclusive

Plumbing the depths of contemporary roots and rhythms, Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha creates a world of unexpected new music. Rooted in Ukrainian culture but fusing Indian, Arabic, African, Russian and Australian instrumentation, the quartet has created a truly trans-national sound. Expect moments reminiscent of Radiohead, Chicks on Speed and even Hip-hop.

With a name that literally translates as ‘give/take’, DakhaBrakha was created in 2004 at Kiev’s Center of Contemporary Art by avant-garde theatre director Vladyslav Troitskyi. Theatre has left its mark on the band, with a strong visual aesthetic remaining an integral part of its thrilling live act. 

Since its formation, DakhaBrakha has performed at festivals in over 30 countries, bringing Ukrainian melodies to the hearts and consciousness of Ukraine’s younger generation and music-lovers worldwide.