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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 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

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 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

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...






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

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

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.

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.

Charlotte Vincent on...

Vincent Dance Theatre – the Brighton-based dance company and associate company of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival founded by choreographer and director Charlotte Vincent – is celebrating its 21st birthday this year in style as they head to Brighton Festival 2015 with two very special works; Underworld and Look At Me Now, Mummy, as part of their 21 Works / 21 Years tour.

Both shows will be performed as normal on Tuesday 12 May, before a wholly unique live event on Wednesday 13 May which sees Underworld and Look At Me Now, Mummy performed concurrently, and back to back, in an epic four hour and 45 minute durational and immersive experience… one in which audiences are invited and encouraged to walk between each show, coming and going as they please.

We spoke to Charlotte who shared her thoughts on the two shows and the durational performance.

CHARLOTTE VINCENT ON…

...Look At Me Now, Mummy:

“You can read Look At Me Now, Mummy in several ways; as a new mother, someone who’d like to be a mother, someone who has lost children or babies… it’s not as literal as it sounds; the context is a slight domestic madness, really. It’s a beautiful solo performance – very few words and not a lot dance, but it’s all movement based – with a soundtrack of white noise and some beautiful bits of BBC Radio 3-type music. The rest is silence… we almost made it a bit like a silent movie; it’s a woman lost in her own imagination, going through a series of rituals to keep herself sane… but actually in doing those rituals, she’s going a bit madder by the minute! Motherhood is a kind of repetitious madness, which I don’t think is talked about much.

“It’s completely choreographed down to the last gesture, look and breath… but obviously in the durational version, those very finely tuned deliveries start to break down a little bit just through tiredness and exhausted… by the sixth version of her forty minute show, dancer Aurora Lubos is actually going a bit mad with the delivery of it as a performer, never mind as the persona on stage”

...Underworld:

“Underworld is a vastly different piece of work to Look At Me Now, Mummy. It’s a huge ensemble piece for eight performers. It has a haunting score of children’s voices, church bells and the river that runs under the railway arches where we originally did a site specific version of the show. It’s really strong, powerful and moving. It’s very loosely based on the Orpheus myth - the dancers are trapped in an underworld. You can sit in it for thirty minutes and be quite transfixed, but most come in and end up staying for two-and-a-quarter hours and watch it as a show. It wasn’t made like that, but people get drawn into the world and stay, because they want to see what happens next. We’re finding most people sit it out and come away quite transformed.”

...The five hour durational performance of Underworld and Look At Me Now, Mummy:

“All the performers are at the top of their game… they’ve got incredible stamina. For them, it’s a real challenge to do what is the equivalent of two two-and-a-half shows in one night. As it’s a very physical work, fatigue starts to play a part… but fatigue is part of this world, which is why we’ve done it like this. In Hades, there is no respite or rest, so Underworld is a restless churning that they’re caught up in and they cant really leave… and that’s the parallel of Look At Me Now, Mummy… she can’t get out of her – albeit very different – world either.”

...Encouraging audiences to move between the two shows:

“It’s more of a visual, physical installation than a performance. It’s a very un-British way of watching dance theatre, and I’d invite people not to be worried about disturbing others by coming in and out. You don’t worry so much about that in a gallery situation – you look at a painting for as long as you like and then move on – so we’re trying to encourage people to view the work in a slightly different way.”

...Audience reaction to the shows:

“People don’t quite know what to make of it… but they get drawn in. The word I keep coming back to is ‘transfixed’. Some of the sections are slow, some are energetic, so the energy and pace keeps changing as well as the visual images. I think it’s quite an unusual piece because of that. It’s not your usual ‘beginning, middle and end’ dance piece - it will appeal to people who are interested in all forms of art. It’s an unusual event, it is in celebration of our 21 years of making work and it’s great to be in our home town doing it!”

...Vincent Dance Theatre turning 21:

“I set out 21 years ago to be heard, to express myself through movement and to move people and make them think. With 21 Years / 21 Works I want to draw new audiences in through creative, nostalgic, socio-political, visual, aural, feminist and participatory strands of activity – no longer just aiming for the established ‘dance and theatre’ audiences we have targeted until now.”

To book tickets for the shows, click here.

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.

In pictures: Week 1

Our 49th Festival with Ali Smith at the helm opened with the incredible Children's Parade. We had heaps of fun and with a plethora of great theatre, circus, dance, music, classical, outdoor, family, books and debates and visual art and film events.

In Photos: Brighton Festival Week One

Our 49th Festival with Ali Smith at the helm has been a joy so far. We've had heaps of fun and with a plethora of great theatre, circus, dance, music, classical, outdoor, family, books and debates and visual art and film events still  to come the fun is nowhere near over yet!

Take a look back over our first week of Brighton Festival 2015 right here...

The past week has flown by and lots of exciting events have happened so far at Brighton Festival 2015 and there's still so much more to come! Check out what’s up next at: https://brightonfestival.org/whats_on/

Posted by Brighton Festival on Friday, 8 May 2015

Brighton Festival performance takes visitors into maze of tunnels under Old Ship Hotel

Ticket holders for Brighton Festival event Vast White Stillness will get a sneak peak into a unique Brighton space as the performance takes them deep underground into the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel.

Reality, imagination and memory blur in the intriguing new work which has been created by Brighton composer Claudia Molitor and director Dan Ayling. Part installation, part performance, Vast White Stillness combines music, image and theatre to create an immersive journey through the nuances of memory - the fleeting glance, the not-quite-heard, the half-remembered - that colour a lifetime.

The piece has its roots in Claudia’s personal experience of a trans-national upbringing - she grew up in the Bavarian Alps and now lives in the South of England – and how that has affected her experience of identity and memory: ”The idea of being from one place only, having only one nation that you would call home, seems quite an odd idea to me. There is always this sense of longing for the other, no matter where you are - a sense of home sickness - that you will always have because you are multiple. I don’t mean this in a negative way; it is, in fact, a sense of freedom from being bound to a particular national identity.”

One of the intentions of Vast White Stillness is for audiences to have as unmediated an experience as possible and relate what they hear and see to their own experiences and memories. On using the space Claudia said: “I had no idea the spaces under the hotel existed until Laura Ducceschi, from Brighton Festival, suggested them and took us there. We fell in love with their potential straight away. You never quite know how a space is going to inflect your work and how in turn your work might colour the space. So a sound that appears lovely in one situation - say some trickling water in a forest brook - could sound quite ominous and frightening in a dark cellar. And, as with all live work, each performance depends very much on the audience attending”

Vast White Stillness is at The Old Ship Cellars from 8-10 May 2015. Returns only

Brighton Festival Live: The Spalding Suite

Inua Ellams, Benji Reid & Fuel

A new physical theatre show inspired by the UK's basketball sub-culture. 

‘When we were young, we worshipped stars.
Gleaming long-limbed gods
framed in the act of impossible flight,
For a time we tried to follow,
to carve out our own piece of sky
with a butter-smooth arc of an arm
and a Spalding ball glued to the fingertips’

Fresh poetry combined with contemporary movement celebrates the elegance and beauty of basketball. Seen from a British perspective, The Spalding Suite gets to the heart and soul of the gravity-defying game and delves into the hopes and dreams of those who play it. Six dynamic performers mix live beat-boxing, hip-hop, music, moves and poetry, taking us from the fleeting high of the score and the robust camaraderie of the team, to the poignant lows of a body too worn to play the game.

Conceived and written by Inua Ellams
Directed by Benji Reid
Inspired by the poetry of Nick Makoha, Bohdan Piasecki and Roger Robinson, with poems from Jacob Sam-La Rose and Nii Ayikwei Parkes
Sound by Eric Lau/MC Zani
Design by Ti Green
Lighting by Benji Reid & Lee Grey

Produced by Fuel
Commissioned by Southbank Centre and Contact
Funded by Arts Council England and a Wellcome Trust Arts Award

Behind the scenes... on GLOW

With the highly anticipated children’s show GLOW opening today, Professor Anna Franklin from the Sussex Baby Lab discusses how their studies on infant vision, colour perception and what babies find most stimulating helped theatre company Flying Eye create the show

What have you found out so far in the Baby Lab?

The Rainbow Project, which is investigating how babies see colours, is still ongoing but we’ve just analysed the data from the first phase.

So far, we’ve found that babies can categorise colours and our analysis of recent data shows that they use the basic channels of colour vision to divide up the colour spectrum. So it suggests that when we group colours into categories such as green and blue that there is some kind of biological underpinning for how we do that; it’s not just random. And that’s been debated for a long time. People have argued that colour categories are random because there are different terms in different languages but it turns out that babies actually use the biology of their colour vision to do it, which provides some constraint on how languages can then divide up colours into different terms.

Babies have got some colour vision when they are born but it’s limited. It develops quite rapidly over the first couple of months of life and they’re trichromatic by the time they’re three months old, so three types of photo receptors are functioning. We work with babies at four months old upwards, once we are sure that they have got colour vision.

Colour perception gets a lot better as the baby develops. It actually gets better up until adolescence and then it actually starts to get worse. In toddlers we are looking at how they learn the words for colour but also how they keep colours constant in their mind when the lighting changes – something called colour constancy, which means that if you look at a banana under any colour light, you still see it and think of it as yellow. It’s basically because our brain factors out the illuminant so it can keep the surfaces constant so we’ve got a more constant world. We’re looking at that in toddlers and seeing how it develops.

Why is it important to understand these things?

It’s important for several reasons. First of all, from a scientific viewpoint, it’s important to know how the brain develops and how the brain learns to process the information in the world around it. And colour is a good way of testing questions around that - it’s a good testing ground for looking at the effect of environment on brain development and processing of stimuli. So, basic, fundamental questions about our cognition can be addressed using colour.

And there are practical implications. For example, we’ve done consultancies with toy companies on products related to infants, talking about what infants can see and what they prefer to look at and what will grab their attention.

Also, potentially there are implications down the line for how you educate children and what kinds of educational materials they respond well to. For example, if you’ve got colour vision deficiency, how would that impact on your learning in the classroom and your use of coloured education materials?

As a group, we’re most interested in the scientific questions - the goal of understanding the human brain and how we learn. But there is also practical, commercial application as well.

A huge guiding principle is that to understand how adults do something, or how the adult brain works, you need to understand how that process develops. So, for example, if you want to understand memory, then, by researching how memory develops, you can understand a lot about it in its adult form. And so the same goes with vision and with colour. Seeing things develop and seeing that development in action, you can actually understand the mechanisms much more.

How do you find your baby subjects?

We have a research assistant in the lab, Gemma, who advertises the Baby Lab studies on Facebook, and Alice keeps Baby Lab followers updated about our latest studies on Twitter. And then basically anywhere where there’s a baby in Brighton or Lewes or Eastbourne we try to get our postcards, which advertise what we’re about. A lot of people we get coming in have been told about the Baby Lab by friends who have also bought their babies in. It’s something fun that parents can do, something interesting, and they learn something about their baby in doing it.

Has anything you’ve found particularly surprised you (eg. gender differences)?

We’ve not found any gender differences before. There’s some evidence in the literature that male babies might be less good at one of the subsystems of colour vision; the red/green one. But we’ve not found any evidence of that ourselves.

The most surprising thing to me has been that infants tend to look longer at the colours that adults like. You tend to think of colour preference as being something fairly idiosyncratic – it’s just a personal choice – but actually the fact that adults’ colour preferences map on to infants looking suggests that there’s some kind of early origins of something about those colours that make us like them but also make infants look longer.

Colour is an interesting stimulus because it’s always there in everything that we look at and it can have quite subtle effects on us and our behaviour, how we process things and our emotional response. But we’re rarely really aware of that happening – it’s almost like an invisible vapour or something that you don’t really know is there but it does affect you. So it’s quite interesting from that viewpoint.

How did the Brighton Festival show come about?

Sachi and Kristina, who are the directors, just contacted me; they found the Baby Lab on the web. They wanted a play that was going to resonate with babies and that would fit with babies’ abilities in understanding and seeing. They came to the lab and we showed them some babies taking part in our research. We talked about infant vision and cognition, gave them some things to read and we just had ongoing discussion really about that so they could feed it into their play.

It was really interesting to see how science could be drawn upon in art. They’re such creative women and it was really interesting to see how they took the scientific findings and used them. I went to a couple of the shows where they were developing the different components of the play - to see how you get from the scientific work to putting it in action was really interesting for me.

Was the process quite different to how you approach things as a researcher?

Absolutely, yes. There is definitely creativity in research but their creativity has got a different goal.

I was surprised when I watched the test show how engaged babies were and how much enjoyment they got from it and also how it led to this bond between the baby and the parent. It seemed quite a rich experience for the parent to have their baby engage with something so much. When we were having conversations talking about the science and talking about their ideas, I didn’t realise that it was all going to knit together so effectively.

There’s certainly a need for more things that are directed towards infants. The GLOW show sold out on the first day that it was released and that really shows that we should be producing more things for babies. Especially because early experience is really important for shaping visual development and cognitive development, so we want to give young minds a rich experience.

Glow plays on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 May. For tickets, click here.

To find out more about the Sussex Baby Lab and how babies can take part in Baby Lab research, click here.

Nun on the run needed!

Award-winning theatre company seek volunteers for Brighton Festival performance

Theatre company Burn The Curtain are URGENTLY NEEDING an additional volunteer ‘nun’ to take part in stewarding their Brighton Festival 2015 performance The Company of Wolves (7 – 9 May). The company are seeking volunteers to don a habit and take part in the promenade theatre adventure created for runners and walkers across Stanmer Park. We need a Nun steward who can lead running audience members through the show. MUST be an experienced/regular runner.

The volunteer would need to be available:

Wed 6th – Sat 9th 18.30 to 11pm at Stamner Park

The performance turns Angela Carter’s macabre imagination into a spine-tingling outdoor experience; the tale unfolds as you progress along a pre-determined route which will be between two and five miles long, depending on which path you take. Those taking part can choose to either run or walk the course… with a warning that should you stray from the path for one instant, the wolves will eat you!

Those interested in getting involved are asked call Joe on 07941 471 917 

Fancy A Spot Of Bird Watching? Do The Brighton Festival Big Bird Trail

We are twitching with excitement about our Big Bird Trail! Take your bird-watching on the move – gather stickers from local businesses and venues, for a chance to win some amazing prizes.

Enjoy a luxurious Lunch for 2 at local bistro, The Manor. Grab some sweet treats from Cybercandy for the sugar enthusiasts. Appendage and Pussy Home Boutique are offering a selection of quirky goodies. Pamper yourself with a range of hair-care prizes from the North Laine Hair Co. Get your hands on a £50 Brighton Dome voucher to spend on the upcoming shows of your choice. Plus, no respectable bird-watcher’s life would be complete without a Bird Feeder from the RSPB! See the full list of prizes

The shops participating are:

• Cybercandy
• EAST
• Oxfam Books
• Fidra Jewellers
• North Laine Hair Company
• Appendage
• Pussy Home Boutique
• Whirligig Toy
• The Manor
• RSPB Shop for Nature
• Gauge
• Ticket Office- Brighton Dome

For more info and the shops addresses head this way.

Grab a copy of the trail in our Family Festival Guide, available at the Brighton Dome Ticket Office to get started.

Exploring a Beautiful Cosmos - who was Ivor Cutler?

The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, coming to Brighton Festival this May, tells Cutler’s fascinating life story, interwoven with his songs, stories and poetry, but you’re out of luck if you are looking for a traditional tribute musical. Director Matthew Lenton tells The Observer it is, “an anti-Mamma Mia”, and it is only fitting that a play based on the life of a maverick defies convention. Mark Fisher from the Guardian calls it “a big grin of a show, as funny and idiosyncratic as Cutler and every bit as embraceable.” while The Telegraph describes it as “Funny, evocative and celebratory”.

Ivor Cutler was a poet, performer and certified eccentric. Born in Glasgow in the 1920s, he began writing songs and poems in the 1950s while teaching by day (a profession he took up after being dismissed from the RAF for ‘dreaminess’). Cutler began appearing on BBC Radio and after an appearance on Late Night Line-up in the 1960s, he was noticed by Paul McCartney. Cutler was subsequently championed by John Peel and released numerous albums to critical acclaim, but he remained ambivalent about his popularity and famous following, and was renowned for telling fans attempting to take his picture, “don’t you ever do that again”. He continued to ride his bike, hand out sticky labels covered with cryptic messages, and tell stories through song accompanied by his harmonium, such as I believe in bugs, Egg Meat and Mary is a cow, until his death in 2006. Cutler lived life by his own rules, his whimsical outlook and refusal to conform continues to capture the imagination and is set to enchant audiences of The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler. Read on to discover more about this wonderful man.


Ivor performing Beautiful Cosmos in 2004

As a young man, Cutler joined the RAF as a trainee navigator, but was promptly dismissed for being 'too dreamy and absent-minded' after being caught sketching clouds in mid-air.

He had an unorthodox approach to teaching and rebelled against the use of corporal punishment in his school. He cut the leather belt he had been given to discipline children with into 50 pieces, and handed them out to his students when he quit. He subsequently joined a progressive independent school ‘with no rules’ where he would challenge his pupils to improvise songs.

Cutler appeared in the Beatles psychedelic 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour as Buster Bloodvessel - the conductor of their multicoloured bus, accompanying them on their magical adventure. He was subsequently invited to teach the Beatles children but declined on socialist principles, saying, "What made their kids more special than other kids?"

He often communicated by handing out stickers with cryptic messages on them, both to people he knew and people he didn't: he would randomly distribute stickers bearing messages like, Funny smell, Let me out and To remove this label take it off.

Enjoy this short video of Ivor Cutler performing I’m Happy in 1986

His famous fans include: The Beatles, John Peel, Billy Connolly, philosopher Bertrand Russell and Johnny Rotten

He was in a relationship with English poet Phyllis King for over 40 years and the pair often collaborated. Despite their close relationship, they lived in separate houses to maintain their independence and Cutler lived in the same small second-floor flat surrounded by his collection of masks, paintings and sculptures until his death.

From the 1990s he was largely retired, but continued to ride around Central London on his bicycle, wearing pink flamingo shorts and a selection of curious hats and loud ties, accosting complete strangers in the street and asking them if they wrote poetry.

Book your spot now to see The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler.


Photos: Children's Parade

Our 49th Brighton Festival got off to rollicking start with the Children's Parade, co-produced by Same Sky. This year everyone surpassed themselves and the immense talent and creativity of our fair city was made abundantly clear. A plethora of winged creatures and their creators took to the streets in a flurry of colour and sound to mark this year's theme 'taking flight'.


Brighton Festival 2015 took flight with incredible Children's Parade - co-presented by Same Sky. It was truly AMAZING!...

Posted by Brighton Festival on Saturday, 2 May 2015

Photos: Brighton Festival 2015 Opening Weekend

This weekend Brighton Festival began and we had smashing time! Here are some photos that showcase the festivities and it's nowhere near over yet, as there are lots more exciting events to come - see our What’s On page for full details

Brighton Festival 2015 kicked off with a bang this weekend, with an exciting programme of events .

Posted by Brighton Festival on Monday, 4 May 2015

Brighton Festival Live: Beyond

Circa (Brisbane)

'A masterpiece that sparkles like the finest champagne' Berlin Morgenpost

After their heart-stopping performance in How Like an Angel (Brighton Festival 2013), the exhilarating Australian ensemble Circa makes a welcome return to Brighton Festival with its bold new vision of contemporary circus.

Performers explore their animal instincts as they push their bodies to extremes, combining feats of breathtaking skill with Rubik’s Cubes, blindfolds, white rabbits and a dash of cheeky humour, all set to a soundtrack of ballads, show tunes and electronica. Small red-curtained stages within stages will transport you to a cabaret, a zoo or an asylum, as a deliciously surreal and surprisingly beautiful world emerges before your eyes.

This dazzling show has been thrilling audiences the world over – so join the hugely skillful Circa as they invite you to go Beyond for a performance of audacious showmanship.

'Audiences have come to expect the earth from Circa... Beyond gives them the moon as well' The Stage

Book now

Award glory for Brighton Festival 2015 author

Fresh from winning the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 last night for her moving non-fiction work The Iceberg, author Marion Coutts will appear at the annual Brighton and Sussex Medical School debate as part of this year’s Brighton Festival.

Coutts’ book The Iceberg is not a novel, but a memoir of sorts on art, work, death and language in response to the diagnosis, illness and death of her husband, the art critic Tom Lubbock, who died of a brain tumour in January 2011. It is an exploration of the impact of death in real time, a sustained act of looking that only ends when life does and gives an account of a small family unit under assault and the inventiveness by which they tried to stay together. It charts the deterioration of Tom's speech even as it records the developing language of his child, and navigates with great power the journey from home to hospital to hospice.

The Wellcome Book Prize is an annual award, open to new works of fiction or nonfiction that have a central theme which engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness with an aim to excite public interest and encourage debate around these topics.

Announcing the winner, Chair of Judges, Bill Bryson, said:

'Highlighting the importance of literature in exploring the human experience within medicine, the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 has spotlighted a pleasingly diverse array of subjects and genres. From an extremely strong shortlist of books that blend exquisite writing with scientific rigour and personal experience, The Iceberg stood out.

'Marion Coutts’ account of living with her husband’s illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed. Reading it, you have the sense of something truly unique being brought into the world -- it stays with you for a long time after.'

As well as winning the 2015 prize, The Iceberg was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014, the Costa Biography Award 2014, the Pol Roger Duff Cooper Award 2014 and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2014.

The Brighton and Sussex Medical School debate, titled Facing Cancer, will examine the challenging subject from multiple perspectives.The author is set to appear on the panel of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School’s annual debate Facing Cancer on Sunday 24 May 2014. Given the very word ‘cancer’ elicits a strong emotional response and the fact that rates are increasing with half of us expected to develop some form of the disease during our lifetime, the engaging debate will examine the difficult topic from multiple perspectives including the medical, the ethical, the research and, most importantly, the personal.

Fellow panelist, academic surgical oncologist and Dean of Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) Professor Malcolm Reed said, 

‘With cancer affecting most of us, either directly or through a close family member, we wanted to take our debate wider than the purely medical. By tackling this emotive subject through a more holistic approach, and with an engaging and diverse panel, we believe Facing cancer will really hit home with our audience, many of whom will know the illness only too well.’

For more information, on the Brighton and Sussex Medical School debate Facing Cancer, click here.

Eclectic beats and kaleidoscopic visuals: Get ready for a journey through sound and space with Squarepusher

Legendary electronic producer Squarepusher joins us at Brighton Festival with new album, Damogen Furies. With a career spanning 20 years, and 14 albums under his belt, he remains at the forefront of the electronic scene - constantly pushing the boundaries with his unique sound and approach to performance. Damogen Furies was created using instruments, hardware and software of his own invention, enabling him to record each track live and in one take, and capture the energy and freedom of his live show. 

His unique approach has been met with glowing critical acclaim: with the NME praising his “dark, musical imagination” which keeps him way ahead of the game, and Louder than War giving the album 9/10, “his unique and pioneering electronic sound meets his boundary-warping drum n’ bass. In short, it’s a stonking good listen”.

His live show promises a sonic explosion, bringing together his diverse influences of acid-house, jazz and electronica, with mesmerising visuals in a high-octane show to bombard the senses. For Squarepusher, the visual elements of his show are as important as the sound, he has “hijacked the world of imagery” to forge a deeper sonic connection with his audience. This recent live session, gives you a taste of what’s to come at his live show in May: a burst of limit-pushing, bass-thumping energy which promises to take you on a “2001-esque trip to the edge of the universe...Goodbye Earth!”


Want to go on a journey with this symphonic sorcerer? Tickets are available for his hotly anticipated Brighton Festival show at Brighton Dome on the 8th May.

Read the full review by NME 
Read the full review by Louder than War

Feathered Facts: 15 more things you never knew about swifts and starlings…

This year’s Brighton Festival draws heavily from the themes of art and nature, particularly from our winged friends. The RSPB have kindly supplied us with some fascinating facts about starlings and swifts - the inspiration for this year’s Festival imagery. Keep reading and discover 15 more things you never knew about swifts and starlings…

  1. Between 1995 and 2011, we lost about a third of all the Swifts breeding in the United Kingdom.
  2. Swifts - the parent birds eat most of their chicks' droppings (possibly to recycle the mineral content); there are no great piles of droppings beneath swift nests.
  3. An adult Common Swift can eat as many as 40,000 flying insects each day.
  4. Swifts have four toes, arranged in twos, each pair pointing sideways rather than forwards, a bit like a chameleon or a koala.
  5. A swift weighs about the same as a Cadbury’s Crème Egg, Crunchy (or any other 40g chocolate bar).
  6. Swifts’ eyes are deep seated and have moveable bristles in front – sunglasses for reducing glare.
  7. At about a month old, swift “babies” do press-ups in the nest, lifting themselves up by pushing down on their outstretched wings, probably to build muscle. By the time they’re ready to go, they can hold their bodies clear of the ground like this for several seconds.
  8. Eugene Schieffelinm and his friends determined to introduce all of the animals mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare to North America and in 1890 released 100 starlings. The species now has a US population of hundreds of millions.
  9. Starlings look black at a distance but when seen closer they are very glossy with with pale speckles over a sheen of purples and greens, like oil on water.
  10. The oldest known wild starling was 21 years old.
  11. Since the mid 1970’s, starling numbers have dropped by about two thirds, making them a red-listed species of conservation concern.
  12. Once a common sight in both urban and rural areas of Britain, starling numbers have dropped by a staggering 92% in woodlands.
  13. Each year during autumn, flocks of starlings form across the skies of Britain, creating "dark clouds" above fields, woodlands and reedbed, these are called murmurations. As seen annually from Brighton pier.
  14. Scientists say the birds flock for a number of reasons including safety, warmth and to "exchange" information such as feeding areas. In winter European starlings migrate to the UK swelling numbers.
  15. Starlings belong to the family of birds which includes vocal mimics known as myna birds, so they’re capable of imitating man-made sounds like ring-tones and doorbells, or the songs and calls of other birds.

And if that isn't enough facts for you can read Feathered Facts: 15 things you never knew about starlings, swifts and nightingales and also Feathered Facts: 15 more things you never knew about swifts

Vikings, snogging & spies… Behind-the-scenes with Noggin the Nog (Photo story)

You’ll never believe what happened when one man and his camera went behind-the-scenes at the rehearsals of The Sagas of Noggin the Nog!

The legendary adventurer Noggin the Nog joins us this May at Brighton Festival. Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin’s iconic stories have been theatrically reimagined by Third Party Productions. 1970s classic The Sagas of Noggin the Nog will be playfully and affectionately brought to life and imaginatively retold using puppetry, original music, film and a cast of silly Vikings.

Third Party Productions and Mischievous Theatre have been busy rehearsing. Take a look at the photos below and see what fun to expect this May.

Noggin the Nog at Brighton Festival Groliffe the Ice Dragon is put through his paces



Noggin and Nooka meet!

Noggin and Nooka take a break


Nooka ... will she be the new queen of the Nogs?


A mock up of the new Ronf, the little man from the Hot Water Valley, in rehearsal


Nogbad the Bad spies! 

Snogging the Snog

Whether you are familiar with the tales or this is your first time, the performance is perfect for adventurous children and adults alike - book now 

Feathered Facts: 15 more things you never knew about swifts…

This year we draw inspiration from the avian world - starlings, swifts and nightingales feature in several Brighton Festival events this May. In this series of posts we celebrate our feathered friends with some fascinating facts. This week we explore the lives of swifts - read on to discover 15 more things you never knew about these birds…

  1. Swift nests need to be high-up as the birds legs are too weak to launch themselves into the air. They literally have to fall into flight.
  2. Swifts were once known as devil birds and were believed to nest in pond mud. The name may refer to their scream-like call, their forked tails, dark colouring or the mystic qualities of their lives.
  3. Despite appearances, swifts are not related to swallows or house martins. Their nearest “bird” relatives are the New World’s hummingbirds.
  4. As the sun sets swifts will gather and chase each other, screaming as they go, before rising to an altitude of some 10,000 feet, where they’ll sleep on the wing.
  5. The oldest recorded age for a swift is eighteen years. This individual would have travelled four million miles; the equal of eight trips to the moon and back.
  6. Swifts migrate to the UK around May, staying to lay eggs and raise their chicks, departing for Africa’s warmer climes in August.
  7. Each morning, swifts will descend from their high altitude sleep to fly around their nests and feed their young.
  8. Swifts gobble-up airborne insects and spiders. These bugs are collected into a ball or “bolus” in the swift’s throat to regurgitate for their young back on the nest.
  9. Each bolus (ball of food) brought to the babies weighs just over a gram, and contains 300 to 1000 individual insects and spiders. The average is 300-500 food items per bolus.
  10. The first three to four years of a swift’s life are spent in the air. Only when they’ve reached adulthood will they touchdown on solid ground to nest and raise their first brood.
  11. Swifts are able to navigate through different wind speeds while sleeping, automatically adjusting their flight to stay on a specific course.
  12. In the early days of radar in the 1950s, air traffic controllers would routinely spot unidentified flying objects, referred to as "angels". It’s now thought these blips could have been sleeping swifts.
  13. Approximately 80,000 pairs of swifts migrate to Britain each summer, although the numbers have been declining. 
  14. Originally cave, tree-hole and cliff dwellers, swifts have nested in high man-made structures, (under tiles, in the eaves, in lofts, spires and towers) since Roman times.
  15. The parent birds eat most of their chicks' droppings (possibly to recycle the mineral content); there are no great piles of droppings beneath swift nests

Explore events relating to the theme of art and nature

Facts kindly supplied by the RSPB.

Read even more bird facts.

5 minutes with... GoGo Penguin’s Chris Illingworth

Returning to Brighton Festival this year, GoGo Penguin’s groove-heavy, lyrical acoustic-electronica sound and exhilarating live shows have made them the band to see on the UK’s contemporary jazz circuit. We caught up with GoGo Penguin’s Chris Illingworth to find out a little more about him…

The band / artist that made me want to be a musician was…

Alfred Brendel

The first gig I went to was…

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist

The first album I ever bought was…

Mezzanine by Massive Attack

The proudest moment of my musical career was when…

We signed to Blue Note Records earlier this year

My favourite part of touring is…

When we get the occasional day to explore the city we're gigging in

The best show I ever performed was…

So far, Uber Jazz in Hamburg last year

My favourite song to perform live is…

One Percent

The last song I listened to was…

Cream Puff War by Grateful Dead

People would be surprised to learn that…

I like to draw and paint portraits in my free time


Video: Emily Gravett illustrates The Imaginary Girl from The Imaginary

Take a moment and watch the award-winning Emily Gravett illustrate The Imaginary Girl from A.F. Harrold's The Imaginary in this beautiful time lapse video.

You can meet the creators of this frightening, captivating and funny tale at Brighton Festival on Sat 9 May. Find out more about this event 26 Letters event.


The making of... Brighton Festival 2015 trailer

By Leonora Lonsdale of Hoi Poilloi

One day I received a call from Pete Shuttleworth, a Producer who I had long wanted to work with, saying he had a job for me. It was for the Brighton Festival and the brief was to try and create a visual piece to accompany Ali Smith’s vision for this year’s festival. Ali had written about how she wanted this year’s festival to focus on the meeting places between the art forms, on what happened when the borders between them opened up and melted. 

I was fascinated how Ali in her own work, particularly ‘Artful’, jumps forms, time and perspective constantly. One minute you are present day observing something, and within the same sentence you are examining a memory one year-old. She references with relish James Williamson’s short “The Big Swallow” where a man essentially eats the camera and the viewer. These references, playful and obsessed with the permeable screen, were what gave me the idea of how to bring Ali’s ideas to the screen. It seemed a little mad, and a bit ambitious, but we thought we’d try and show many different art forms, and navigate seamlessly between them using the transitions as the “meeting place” and the opportunity to blend perspective. 

We had some fantastic people come together to make this film. The aerialists from Starfiz who you see whirling on the sphere up in the air have been working together since the age of 8 years old. I would have loved to include more of their work, it was spellbinding to watch. We had an incredible actress and ballerina, Azzurra Caccetta who braved the elements to come and dance and mime on Devil’s Dyke in Brighton. British skydiving champions, FreeFly Euphoria, gave us their footage to use. Tanya, our producer, plays the violin having studied in a Russian conservatory as a teenager.

Little Lily came in as the little girl at the end and was a total natural. And then the team at Brighton Dome helped us put together all the difficult projections and rigging. It was a huge effort, particularly from Alex our wonderful editor who did all the VFX shots and Xavi our fantastic DP. It’s definitely a surreal little film that could not have been made without the support of many wonderful collaborators. We hope you enjoy.


Feathered Facts: 15 things you never knew about starlings, swifts and nightingales…

Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? This year's Brighton Festival celebrates, in as many ways as birds have songs, the vital crossovers between nature and the arts. Starlings, swifts and nightingales feature in a number of events this May and in this series of posts we celebrate our feathered friends with some fascinating facts…

  1. This years' Big Garden Birdwatch found that the Top Three most common garden birds in Brighton & Hove are, in order of most common first: house sparrows, starlings and feral pigeons.
  2. The highest densities of nightingales in the UK are found in the south east: Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Kent and Sussex.
  3. Between 1995 and 2008, the UK’s nightingale population more than halved (53 per cent).
  4. The song of the nightingale has been described as one of the most beautiful sounds in nature, inspiring songs, books, and a great deal of poetry.
  5. Southern England is the northern limit of the nightingales’ range. They breed in forest and scrub in Europe and south-west Asia, and winter in West Africa.
  6. The name nightingale is more than a 1000 years old and means 'night songstress'. Early writers assumed the female sang when it is in fact the male.
  7. Each year during autumn, flocks of starlings form across the skies of Britain, creating 'dark clouds' above fields, woodlands and reedbed, these are called murmurations. As seen annually from Brighton pier.
  8. Single males sing regularly at night to attract a mate. Singing at dawn is assumed to be important in defending the bird's territory.
  9. Homer (not Simpson), Sophocles and Ovid all referenced nightingales in their writings. T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land also evokes the nightingale's song.
  10. Other literary references to nightingales have included John Milton's sonnet To the Nightingale (1632–33) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem, printed in 1798.
  11. Modern ornithologists dispute the facts behind the popular World War II song A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (published 1939), believing it unlikely to be a nightingale and most probably a blackbird.
  12. Swifts are uniquely aerial creatures, spending almost their entire adult lives in the air; they eat, mate and even sleep on the wing.
  13. Swifts are considered the fastest birds in sustained flight, achieving average speeds of around 70 mph (peregrine falcons can achieve more than 200 mph in a dive).
  14. In a single year the common swift can cover at least 200,000 km, that’s the equivalent of circumventing the earth five times.
  15.  Swifts Latin name is Apus apus, from the Greek ἄπους, apous, meaning ‘without feet’. They have very short legs as they rarely need to stand rely on their wings to manoeuvre in their nests.

Explore events relating to the theme of art and nature

Facts kindly supplied by the RSPB.


Exploring a Beautiful Cosmos - who was Ivor Cutler?

The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, coming to Brighton Festival this May, tells Cutler’s fascinating life story, interwoven with his songs, stories and poetry, but you’re out of luck if you are looking for a traditional tribute musical. Director Matthew Lenton tells The Observer it is, “an anti-Mamma Mia”, and it is only fitting that a play based on the life of a maverick defies convention. Mark Fisher from the Guardian calls it “a big grin of a show, as funny and idiosyncratic as Cutler and every bit as embraceable.” while The Telegraph describes it as “Funny, evocative and celebratory”.

Ivor Cutler was a poet, performer and certified eccentric. Born in Glasgow in the 1920s, he began writing songs and poems in the 1950s while teaching by day (a profession he took up after being dismissed from the RAF for ‘dreaminess’). Cutler began appearing on BBC Radio and after an appearance on Late Night Line-up in the 1960s, he was noticed by Paul McCartney. Cutler was subsequently championed by John Peel and released numerous albums to critical acclaim, but he remained ambivalent about his popularity and famous following, and was renowned for telling fans attempting to take his picture, “don’t you ever do that again”. He continued to ride his bike, hand out sticky labels covered with cryptic messages, and tell stories through song accompanied by his harmonium, such as I believe in bugs, Egg Meat and Mary is a cow, until his death in 2006. Cutler lived life by his own rules, his whimsical outlook and refusal to conform continues to capture the imagination and is set to enchant audiences of The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler. Read on to discover more about this wonderful man.


Ivor performing Beautiful Cosmos in 2004

As a young man, Cutler joined the RAF as a trainee navigator, but was promptly dismissed for being 'too dreamy and absent-minded' after being caught sketching clouds in mid-air.

He had an unorthodox approach to teaching and rebelled against the use of corporal punishment in his school. He cut the leather belt he had been given to discipline children with into 50 pieces, and handed them out to his students when he quit. He subsequently joined a progressive independent school ‘with no rules’ where he would challenge his pupils to improvise songs.

Cutler appeared in the Beatles psychedelic 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour as Buster Bloodvessel - the conductor of their multicoloured bus, accompanying them on their magical adventure. He was subsequently invited to teach the Beatles children but declined on socialist principles, saying, "What made their kids more special than other kids?"

He often communicated by handing out stickers with cryptic messages on them, both to people he knew and people he didn't: he would randomly distribute stickers bearing messages like, Funny smell, Let me out and To remove this label take it off.

Enjoy this short video of Ivor Cutler performing I’m Happy in 1986

His famous fans include: The Beatles, John Peel, Billy Connolly, philosopher Bertrand Russell and Johnny Rotten

He was in a relationship with English poet Phyllis King for over 40 years and the pair often collaborated. Despite their close relationship, they lived in separate houses to maintain their independence and Cutler lived in the same small second-floor flat surrounded by his collection of masks, paintings and sculptures until his death.

From the 1990s he was largely retired, but continued to ride around Central London on his bicycle, wearing pink flamingo shorts and a selection of curious hats and loud ties, accosting complete strangers in the street and asking them if they wrote poetry.

Book your spot now to see The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler.


Marcus Coates talks birds, shamanism, intoxicated animals and Brighton Festival with the Artsdesk

Marcus Coates brings his work Dawn Chorus to Fabrica this year. This immersive piece uses unique digital methods to explore the relationship between birdsong and the human voice, drawing out similarities between the behaviour of birds and humans. Recently, he spoke with Thomas H Green for The Arts Desk about his influences and works, past and present.

‘Coates tendency towards the bizarre and comic mask a deeply held desire to explore humankind’s understanding of nature and the world around.’

Find out more about the artist himself and his work in an enlightening interview with The Arts Desk.

‘Birds are particularly interesting because their lives mirror our own. They build homes, they have very complex ways of communicating vocally, a lot of their culture is similar to ours. Birdsong is a very interesting parallel because even the form of their song - repetition, endurance, musicality - is reflected in how we use music and language in song. We can see so much of ourselves in what birds are doing.'

Read the full interview






Photos: Brighton Festival Street Art by Sinna One

Brighton based artist and illustrator Sinna One has been busy creating some brilliant Brighton Festival pieces and transforming these utilitarian boxes around town. Featured in a number of books and exhibitions, Sinna One’s work ranges across a wide spectrum and includes large-scale murals, live paint display for events, festival sculptures, illustration and more.

Spray painted around our fair city, there are plenty to see. Take a look at the photos below to see how these wonderful beasts take form…






Video: Squarepusher - Most Valid Reason

Producer, bass virtuoso, composer and sound artist, Squarepusher aka Tom Jenkinson has constantly strived to push the boundaries and limits of music, drawing on influences as broad as drum and bass, acid house, jazz and electroacoustic music - with pretty incredible results. Watch him now in this new video performing Most Valid Reason via VICE Japan or - even better - experience Squarepusher live in action on Fri 8 May at Brighton Dome.

Back with eagerly anticipated new material, Squarepusher brings his all-new live show to Brighton Festival 2015. Jenkinson Told BBC 6Music,

‘It’ll be very fast, very experimental, it’ll be an evening of extremity… the music I’m writing is born to be heard at a very high volume on stage, accompanied by a visually slamming presentation.'


And we can't wait...

Share your West Pier memories for Brighton Festival 2015 finale event

Brighton Festival and acclaimed visual performance company And Now are looking for members of the public to share their memories and thoughts relating to Brighton & Hove’s West Pier and the evolving nature of the city’s population. The oral histories will be recorded and blended with composed music to create a soundscape to the large-scale performance of Fleeting, which takes place on the beachfront on Sunday 24 May and marks the finale to this year’s Brighton Festival.

Members of the public are invited to Brighton Dome’s Café-bar on Monday 30 (11am – 1pm) and Tuesday 31 (3pm – 5pm) March to share stories – as well as ideas about murmurations and migration – about the history of the city and the derelict pier.

Fleeting is a punctuated installation on the beach created by And Now: artists who specialise in creating unexpected visual experiences inspired by the natural world. Their recent works have taken place at Wakehurst Place, Wilderness Festival, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and also in two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Wye Valley River Festival and Inside Out, Dorset. The event will act as a tribute to the West Pier, the people of Brighton & Hove, and the transformative power of nature. 

Nuns on the run needed!

Award-winning theatre company seek volunteers for Brighton Festival performance

Theatre company Burn The Curtain are on the look-out for ‘nuns’ to take part in stewarding their Brighton Festival 2015 performance The Company of Wolves (7 – 9 May). The company are seeking volunteers to don a habit and take part in the promenade theatre adventure created for runners and walkers across Stanmer Park.

The performance turns Angela Carter’s macabre imagination into a spine-tingling outdoor experience; the tale unfolds as you progress along a pre-determined route which will be between two and five miles long, depending on which path you take. Those taking part can choose to either run or walk the course… with a warning that should you stray from the path for one instant, the wolves will eat you!

‘Character Peter the Priest is seeking devoted sisters for light nunning duties,’ explains Joe Hancock, Artistic Director of Burn The Curtain. ‘One nun will run with runners, one nun will float between runners and walkers and one will walk with the walkers. Your role is simple - keep the Hunters and Gatherers in line, keep them from straying from the path. A sense of rhythm and great dance moves may be useful but not essential, and devotion to any deity optional. Look of grim determination or abject fear an asset’.

Those interested in getting involved are asked to email Joe on info@burnthecurtain.co.uk – deadline for applicants is Tuesday 31 March 2015.

Burn the Curtain are a group of performers, artists and educators based in the South West who create unique hands-on site specific events where audience and performers travel together, work together, and build the performance together. They won an Argus Angel at Brighton Festival 2013 for their promenade performance of The Adventures of Don Quixote by Bicycle which saw audiences ride across the South Downs alongside the titular hero and his reluctant squire Sancho Panza.

Get involved: Wonderful ways to be part of Brighton Festival

There are plenty of wonderful ways to get involved with Brighton Festival and we’d love you to be part of it. We’ve tonnes of volunteer and artist opportunities - we’ve got options for writers and readers, performers and greeters and treasure seekers and culture needers, not to mention, there’ll be heaps of competitions to enter over the coming weeks.

Peacock Poetry Prize

Put another feather in your cap and enter the Peacock Poetry Prize - a poetry competition for ages 7-18 and this year’s theme is Birds. Fly this way to see how you can enter. 


Volunteer with us

You could be meeting artists, helping with artistic planning, turning your hand to a spot of marketing or being right in the middle of the action as a front of house volunteer team member. Fill in our survey to get involved.


Young City Reads

There’s a city wide read going on and it’s rather exciting! This year young storylovers are invited to read and discuss the arnarchic Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom. Carnegie Medal shortlisted author William Sutcliffe and illustrator David Tazzyman take centre stage for a live, interactive schools event to talk about this thrilling book and tell us more about Shanks’ Impossible Circus. Find out more about this amazing project launched on world book day. See what happened on their launch day in the video below...


Collidescope

Collidescope offers artists an in-depth insight into Brighton Festival and is suitable for artists who have been making work for at least five years, this opportunity will provide an immersive experience through a packed show schedule across the 23 days of Brighton Festival, and the chance to meet Guest Director Ali Smith and Festival artists in up-close encounters. Artists and creators making work in all areas of the performing arts are welcome to apply - 6-8 participants will be selected.


Fleeting

We are looking for volunteer performers ideally with some dance, movement or performance experience for our closing show. Evoking a sense of awe, wonder and calm contemplation, Fleeting will be a tribute to the West Pier, the people of Brighton and Hove and the transforming power of nature – a fitting finale to Brighton Festival 2015


Join in the festivities

Explore our programme and come and see a show - there’s heaps on offer – join in our celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events. Immerse yourself fully and challenge yourself to see all our free events this May too!

Keep an eye open for competitions. Rapid review will return, with plenty of tickets as prizes and they’ll be plenty more competitive ways to get involved with Brighton Festival 2015 – just watch this space… 

An Introduction to Brighton Festival 2015

Learn more in our introduction to Brighton Festival from our Chief Executive Andrew Comben. 

This year's Brighton Festival Guest Director is award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith. Recently named winner of both the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize for boldly original fiction, Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form; fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful.

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists. With three central themes at its heart - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - this year’s Brighton Festival challenges visitors to look again, featuring an eye-opening array of artists and performers with the power to deliver the world we think we know to us re-seen, renewed, with a visionary twist in the tale.

Five of the best…Female Filmmakers at Brighton Festival

After picking up a lifetime achievement award at the European Film awards last year, the amazing and iconoclastic French filmmaker Agnes Varda commented by saying ‘What I have noticed is that it is very sweet to receive this award but when I see the nominees here, I feel there are not enough women...I think more women should be included. I know a lot of very good female directors and women editors and I would like them be more represented and helped by the European film academy.’

We agree – and to mark International Women’s Day this Sunday we thought we would shine a light on five of them – who all happen to feature in this year’s Brighton Festival programme...

Agnes Varda

Often dubbed the ‘Godmother of the French New Wave’ the varied and brilliant career of Agnes Varda has spanned six decades. Her films, photographs, and art installations focus on documentary realism, feminist issues, and social commentary - with a distinct experimental style. We are delighted that the 86-year-old filmmaker and artist will be curating an installation in the Brighton University Gallery which will be open throughout the Brighton Festival 2015. We’ll also being showing many of her ground-breaking films such as the 60th anniversary screening of La Pointe Courte (1955) on Sun 3 May at Dukes at Komedia at 1.30pm and a 30th anniversary screening of Varda’s Vagabond (1985) at The Duke of Yorks on Sun 10 May, 1.30pm.

Carol Morley

British film director Carol Morley first came to prominence with her documentary The Alcohol Years, a BAFTA nominated film that was later released on DVD to critical acclaim. The film was nominally an autobiography but became as much about the people in it as Morley herself - and was seen to define the era and place in which it was set (Manchester in the 1980s). We will be bringing a screening of her acclaimed 2011 film Dreams of a Lifewhich explores mysterious the life and death of Joyce Vincent. Morley will also take part in a Q&A session after the screening on Mon 11 May at Dukes at Komedia.


Clio Barnard

Winner of various awards, British filmmaker Clio Barnard’s most recent film The Selfish Giant, about two boys who scavenge to survive on a Bradford estate, has been called 'a Kes for the 21st century'. For Brighton Festival 2015 we revisit her acclaimed debut feature The Arbor (2010) to Dukes at Komedia on Mon 18 May, 6.30pm. The film focuses around the life of the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. Barnard will also part in a post screening discussion.


Joanna Hogg

Joanna Hogg is an utterly distinctive figure in contemporary British cinema, making thoughtful, provocative arthouse movies about the lives of bourgeois characters. Her films are intimate, closely focused character studies that probe away at the behaviour and discontents of her protagonists in a forensic but quietly comical fashion. We are delighted that Joanna Hogg, will be taking part in a Q&A discussion at the Dukes at Komedia on Sun 17 May following a screening of her film Archipelago (2010) at 1.15pm. The film surrounds Edward (Tom Hiddleston) and his family as they have a get-together before he departs for a volunteering trip to Africa.


Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood has been working in the British film industry for over 10 years and has won several awards for her work. Her latest film projects have all been an exploration into ideas of the archive using found footage. Wood will be joined by film-maker Lucy Harris in this year’s visual art event at the Onca Gallery. Commissioned by Brighton Festival and a Brighton Festival Exclusive A Murmuration explores the natural world especially the relationship between art and nature in collaboration with writers Helen MacDonald and Olivia Laing.

By Charlotte Newell

Be part of the action and volunteer with Brighton Festival 2015

Volunteer with England's biggest mixed arts Festival and be at the heart of the action. Find out more at our volunteer drop-in session on Tue 10 Mar. 

Pop in and see us on Wed 10 Mar, 6-8pm at the Brighton Dome Café-bar and learn all about volunteering at Brighton Festival 2015. 

You could be writing engaging #BF2015 tweets, meeting and greeting the public or even liaising with the performers and artists themselves. What better way to spend a sunny May than being at the centre of Brighton’s cultural map whilst gaining work experience?

Find out more about volunteering here or join our Facebook event for more details.

The lovely Alice from OfBooks.org’s has written about her experience of volunteering at Brighton Festival 2013 check it out here.

The drop in session will take place at Brighton Dome, Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UE..Click here for more venue information.

Welcome to Brighton Festival

'Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird'. 'Imagine the borders between the artforms'. 

Our amazing Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2015 Ali Smith shares with us her thoughts and excitement for this year's festival

Brighton Festival 2015 highlights

Re-live some of the highlights of Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-winning author Ali Smith as Guest Director - ahead of next year’s 50th celebrations. The milestone year is a major landmark in the Festival’s history and promises to be its most ambitious yet.

Brighton Festival 2015 Trailer

This Brighton Festival 2015 we continue our tradition of celebrating and showcasing incredible art with three weeks of spectacular exclusives, premieres, commissions and groundbreaking performances from across the globe. In this trailer our Guest Director Ali Smith introduces Brighton Festival 2015 and invites you to “Imagine the borders between the artforms… so that poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance meets thought meets sculptural meets rhythm meets fiction meets the natural world.”

Film by Hoi Poilloi

Read more about the making of this trailer.

Brighton Festival 2015 Teaser Film

'Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird. Imagine the borders between the artforms'. Our amazing Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2015 Ali Smith shares with us her thoughts and excitement for this year's festival.

Spreading our Wings with Brighton Festival 2015 Branding

As we swoop headfirst into another jam-packed year of festival goodness we thought we’d tell you a bit more about Brighton Festival 2015’s avian branding.

You may have noticed our yellow, big bird, but there’s no hint of Sesame Street about it. Working with our Guest Director Ali Smith and agency Johnson Banks to create this striking, bespoke identity has been a lot of fun.

Drawing inspiration from Ali’s words and this year’s theme has led us to our final design. See Ali Smith’s welcome for the full introduction to the concepts behind this Festival’s programming, which include Art & Nature, Crossing Places and Taking Liberty.

Our designer’s Johnson Banks spoke of their inspiration and direction, ‘This year’s image was inspired by guest director Ali Smith’s words and thoughts on her themes for the festival. She says ‘Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird’, and talks specifically about swifts as they migrate to the UK in May. This fits perfectly with the time of year the festival takes place.

We felt swifts were also a great analogy for the artists coming together from all over the world to perform at the festival. So we imagined how Brighton could look from a swift's perspective. As it flies overhead it casts a yellow shadow of the city itself on the ground. The swift graphic is designed with flexibility in mind, to ‘fly' over various parts of Brighton from the sea, to its parks, to the lanes and streets. For the principal image, we enjoyed the harsh contrast of the swift’s vibrant colour against the stark concrete street, perhaps symbolising the diversity of the festival itself.’

Here’s a little insight into the design process...


So now you know - why not take inspiration and enjoy the view at this year’s Brighton Festival? See the full and fantastic line-up here.

New sponsors announced as Brighton Festival 2015 launches full programme of events

A plethora of new sponsors have pledged to support Brighton Festival as award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith takes the role of Guest Director in its 49th year.

Southern Water, Gatwick Airport ,The Montefiore Hospital, Riverford Organic Farms and solicitors Griffith Smith Farrington Webb will sponsor a number of differing events, including Gauge (2 – 24 May); an interactive arts installation in Circus Street Market created by artists and scientists, and the popular Children’s Parade, which opens the three-week long celebration of culture across the city and beyond.

Stephen Spears of Riverford Organic Farms said ‘we at Riverford Organic Farms are supporting the wonderful Children’s Parade this year. Riverford delivers organic fruit, veg, dairy, deli and meat to your door - through this sponsorship we hope to promote the benefits of delicious, pesticide and chemical free produce to families across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.’

They join the likes of University of Sussex, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Class of Their Own, DMH Stallard, Nutshell Construction, SELITS, GM Building, Brighton and Hove Jobs.com, Echo Video, Grandad, Hoi Polloi, IEP Financial, Midnight Communications, Moshimo, MyHotel, One Digital, Terre a Terre, WSP in sponsoring the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England.

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

Each year, Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme. Recently named winner of both the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize for boldly original fiction, Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director Ali Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form; fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful.

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 is thanks to their continued help that we can make Brighton Festival unique and the city itself such a magical place to be in May.’

During Brighton Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists.

Sponsoring Brighton Festival and Brighton Dome allows businesses to raise their profile, reach new customers, and meet corporate social responsibility objectives. To find out more, please contact Kata Gyongyosi on 01273 260 810 or click here.

Brighton Festival 2015 launches with award-winning author Ali Smith as Guest Director

Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England - has launched today with award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith as Guest Director.

Recently named winner of both the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize for boldly original fiction, Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form; fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful.

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists; from a rare UK visit by 86-year-old legendary film maker and artist Agnès Varda to rising stars Kate Tempest, George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

With three central themes at its heart - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - this year’s Brighton Festival challenges visitors to look again, featuring an eye-opening array of artists and performers with the power to deliver the world we think we know to us re-seen, renewed, with a visionary twist in the tale.

Posing questions about whether life imitates art or art imitates life, Art and Nature is explored in a host of events including an exclusive nightingale walk, with Mercury-nominated folk singer Sam Lee; an immersive multi-screen film installation of Marcus Coates’ entitled Dawn Chorus, featuring singers who uncannily recreate birdsong and bird movement; a discussion of the urgent conservation issues that face us today with celebrated author and bird enthusiast Margaret Atwood and her partner and fellow writer Graeme Gibson; and Fleeting, an outdoor spectacular over the West Pier by And Now, in which hundreds of individual points of fire create shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

Central to the programme is the notion of Crossing Places - where poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance – from works that defy categorisation such as The Measure of All Things, a new live cinema performance by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green to Claudia Molitor’s part installation part performance Vast White Stillness in the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel. In Being Both, acclaimed mezzo soprano Alice Coote, English Concert’s Harry Bicket and Susannah Waters stage a theatrical journey into the heart of Handel’s sublime vocal music, which, in a nod to Smith’s own prize-winning work How to Be Both, explores and challenges the experience and perception of gender.

Set against the backdrop of the General Election, Liberty, equality and freedom is celebrated in all its shapes in an astonishing cutting-edge line-up of artists, performers, thinkers and commentators - all contemporary game changers in their chosen forms. These include Liberty Director and author Shami Chakrabati who hosts an evening in celebration of the Human Rights Act featuring a dazzling collection of writers and performers such as Billy Bragg, Neil Bartlett, Rachel Holmes and Jackie Kay; Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson who brings the European premiere of his highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York; award-winning Pakistani/British author Kamila Shamsie; celebrated Russian-American journalist, author and activist Masha Gessen, Turkish writer Elif Shafak and Turner Prize nominated artist Nathan Coley, whose new commission Portraits of Dissension explore ideas of unrest, edge and shift, space and occupation.

Other highlights include Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy accompanied by a one-off live performance of its seductive score by Cat’s Eyes - the collaborative project of The Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan and Italian-Canadian singer and composer Rachel Zeffira; a series of screenings and accompanying talks by prominent female directors including Joanna Hogg, Carol Morley and the legendary Agnès Varda who will also create a special installation at Brighton University Gallery for the duration of the Festival; 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; the UK premiere of Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, a theatrical ode to the life - and afterlife – of Lucia Joyce, the adored daughter of James Joyce created by legendary New York theatre ensemble Mabou Mines; 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; and Laurie Anderson: All the Animals, a specially curated performance by one of America’s most daring creative pioneers.

Ali Smith says:

“It's tremendously exciting to have been asked to help programme the 2015 Brighton Festival. I'm delighted and honoured – what a gift, to be asked to do this, imagine – the biggest international multi-arts spectacular in England. I've always loved Brighton's sense of fun and friendliness, its vibrant open-mindedness, the way it opens to sky, the way the rest of Europe is so close it's almost visible. It's a city that's always known how to live on the edge, a place full of endless energy, argument, possibilities, light. No matter the wildness or mildness of the weather, no matter the zigzag of zeitgeist elsewhere north or south of it, Brighton is always itself, and always uniquely welcoming.”


Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Ali Smith, as Guest Director this year, has been a wonderful inspiration to us all in programming the festival. In her writing, Ali is renowned for pushing form and working with her has taught us to think differently about how we programme and the work that we bring. She has also brought an incredible range of artists to the festival who are responding to the world in a particular way, both people she knows well, and also people she has loved for many years and perhaps longed for an opportunity to work with - from Agnès Varda to Elif Shafak, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood and Mabou Mines - the list is long and extensive and I think thrilling. I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience another exciting and innovative month of events in May.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Brighton Festival puts the city in the spotlight as a centre of arts excellence, not just in the South East, but nationally and internationally, and we are proud to be a major funding partner. It brings vast numbers of people to the town to enjoy a wide ranging and exciting programme of arts exhibitions, performances, talks and much more. Brighton Festival continues to reflect the vibrancy of Brighton & Hove itself – it is a place where artists and artistic organisations blossom and flourish. Brighton Festival’s value to the city and the region extends beyond entertainment and inspiration – it also provides a significant economic boost for local businesses as artists and audiences travel from near and far to become involved.”

The seventh Guest Director of Brighton Festival, Ali Smith takes on the mantle from visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012), poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013) and choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014) in shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has a rich history of pushing boundaries. In its inaugural year the 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 for artists and audiences, Brighton Festival is known for commissioning and producing an ambitious programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere. It has been widely recognised for presenting exciting site specific work, thought provoking debate and newly commissioned works.

The annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 2 to 24 May 2015. Brighton Festival 2015 features 396 performances taking place across 150 events including 42 exclusives, premieres and commissions.

-ENDS-

For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

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

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NOTES TO EDITORS

Download the press release here

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.

About Ali Smith

• Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge

• Her first book, Free Love, won the Saltire First Book Award

• Hotel World (2001) was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize in 2001 and won the Encore Award, the East England Arts Award of the Year and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 2002

• The Accidental (2005) won the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize

• How to be both (2014) was named winner of The Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Folio Prize.

• Ali Smith’s numerous other acclaimed novels, short story and essay collections including Like (1997); Other Stories and Other Stories (1999); The Whole Story and Other Stories (2003); Girl Meets Boy (2007); The First Person and Other Stories (2008); There But For The (2011) and Artful (2012)

• Ali Smith, was made a CBE in the 2014 New Year's Honours list.

Brighton Festival 2015 announces full programme of events

Clear your diaries in May as England’s largest mixed arts festival returns with award-winning author Ali Smith as its Guest Director

Brighton Festival – under the watchful eye of award-winning author Ali Smith as this year’s Guest Director – has announced its full programme of events.

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists; from a rare UK visit by 86-year-old legendary film maker and artist Agnès Varda to rising stars Kate Tempest, George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

With three central themes at its heart - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - this year’s Brighton Festival challenges visitors to look again, featuring an eye-opening array of artists and performers with the power to deliver the world we think we know to us re-seen, renewed, with a visionary twist in the tale.

Ali Smith says: “It's tremendously exciting to have been asked to help programme the 2015 Brighton Festival. I'm delighted and honoured – what a gift, to be asked to do this, imagine – the biggest international multi-arts spectacular in England. I've always loved Brighton's sense of fun and friendliness, its vibrant open-mindedness, the way it opens to sky, the way the rest of Europe is so close it's almost visible. It's a city that's always known how to live on the edge, a place full of endless energy, argument, possibilities, light. No matter the wildness or mildness of the weather, no matter the zigzag of zeitgeist elsewhere north or south of it, Brighton is always itself, and always uniquely welcoming.”

Posing questions about whether life imitates art or art imitates life, Art and Nature is explored in a host of events including an exclusive nightingale walk, with Mercury-nominated folk singer Sam Lee; an immersive multi-screen film installation of Marcus Coates’ entitled Dawn Chorus, featuring singers who uncannily recreate birdsong and bird movement; a discussion of the urgent conservation issues that face us today with celebrated author and bird enthusiast Margaret Atwood and her partner and fellow writer Graeme Gibson; and Fleeting, an outdoor spectacular over the West Pier by And Now, in which hundreds of individual points of fire create shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

Central to the programme is the notion of Crossing Places - where poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance – from works that defy categorisation such as The Measure of All Things, a new live cinema performance by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green to Claudia Molitor’s part installation part performance Vast White Stillness in the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel. In Being Both, acclaimed mezzo soprano Alice Coote, English Concert’s Harry Bicket and Susannah Waters stage a theatrical journey into the heart of Handel’s sublime vocal music, which, in a nod to Smith’s own prize-winning work How to Be Both, explores and challenges the experience and perception of gender.

Set against the backdrop of the General Election, Liberty, equality and freedom is celebrated in all its shapes in an astonishing cutting-edge line-up of artists, performers, thinkers and commentators - all contemporary game changers in their chosen forms. These include Liberty Director and author Shami Chakrabati who hosts an evening in celebration of the Human Rights Act featuring a dazzling collection of writers and performers such as Billy Bragg, Neil Bartlett, Rachel Holmes and Jackie Kay; Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson who brings the European premiere of his highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York; award-winning Pakistani/British author Kamila Shamsie; celebrated Russian-American journalist, author and activist Masha Gessen, Turkish writer Elif Shafak and Turner Prize nominated artist Nathan Coley, whose new commission Portraits of Dissension explore ideas of unrest, edge and shift, space and occupation.

Other highlights include Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy accompanied by a one-off live performance of its seductive score by Cat’s Eyes - the collaborative project of The Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan and Italian-Canadian singer and composer Rachel Zeffira; a series of screenings and accompanying talks by prominent female directors including Joanna Hogg, Carol Morley and the legendary Agnès Varda who will also create a special installation at Brighton University Gallery for the duration of the Festival; 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; the UK premiere of Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, a theatrical ode to the life - and afterlife – of Lucia Joyce, the adored daughter of James Joyce created by legendary New York theatre ensemble Mabou Mines; 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; and Laurie Anderson: All the Animals, a specially curated performance by one of America’s most daring creative pioneers.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Ali Smith, as Guest Director this year, has been a wonderful inspiration to us all in programming the festival. In her writing, Ali is renowned for pushing form and working with her has taught us to think differently about how we programme and the work that we bring. She has also brought an incredible range of artists to the festival who are responding to the world in a particular way, both people she knows well, and also people she has loved for many years and perhaps longed for an opportunity to work with - from Agnès Varda to Elif Shafak, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood and Mabou Mines - the list is long and extensive and I think thrilling. I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience another exciting and innovative month of events in May.”

The annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 2 to 24 May 2015. Brighton Festival 2015 features 396 performances taking place across 150 events including 42 exclusives, premieres and commissions.

Peacock Poetry Prize to return in Brighton Festival 2015

Annual creative writing competition takes theme of ‘birds’

Brighton Festival 2015 has announced the return of the popular Peacock Poetry Prize. 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 theme in an imaginative and inventive way. Submissions are divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 7-10 years, 11-14 years and 15-18 years old.

This year’s is ‘birds’; a subject chosen by Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith.

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.

Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said, ‘the Peacock Poetry Prize is always a wonderful opportunity for young people to get involved with Brighton Festival. I’m always taken aback at the number and range of submissions we receive, and this year I hope Ali Smith’s theme of ‘birds’ will see our young writers’ imaginations soar into the clouds to produce some wonderful poetry.’

Chris Thomson, Principal at BHASVIC said ‘the Peacock Poetry Prize is a wonderful way of bringing the writing talents of young people from all across Sussex to a focus; encouraging them to engage with the Festival’s theme and to look on themselves as practitioners as well as participants in this world-class arts festival on their doorstep.’

Finalists of the competition are treated to a reception during Brighton Festival in May, at which the winners are announced.

To enter, budding bards are invited to email your entry (including your name and age) by Monday 20 April to writing@brightonfestival.org with ‘Peacock’ in the subject line, with no more than 3 entries per person and a maximum poem length of 40 lines.  

Click here to download an entry form

Click here for useful tips and competition rules

Young City Reads 2015 title revealed

William Sutcliffe’s Circus Of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom chosen for annual children's reading project.

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that William Sutcliffe's Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom has been chosen as the 2015 Young City Reads book for children across Brighton & Hove.

Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom tells the funny and heartwarming tale of Hannah, whose life is boring, boring, boring… until she meets Billy Shank, his astonishing camel Narcissus, and a host of other bizarrely brilliant members of the circus. But all is not as it seems; Armitage Shank, evil ringmaster and Billy's surrogate father, has a dastardly plan involving light-fingered thievery. Can Hannah and Billy stop his stinking scheme before it's too late…

'I’m thrilled to be chosen for Young City Reads, and not just because I like any excuse to visit Brighton. An initiative like this, that encourages children and adults to enjoy books together, and that gathers a community to enjoy the written word in a spirit of inter-generational fun, is exactly what every children’s book writer dreams of participating in.' William Sutcliffe, Young City Reads author

The concept of Young City Reads is simple - one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with. The brainchild of Brighton based award winning literary organisation Collected Works CIC – a social enterprise devoted to promoting shared reading in the community – Young City Reads was established in 2013, when broadcaster and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen (that year’s Guest Director of Brighton Festival) agreed to champion the project. Michael Rosen has praised the scheme for ‘inventiveness and simplicity’ in its approach to encouraging children and young people to read for pleasure’

‘The more we read, and the earlier we start reading, the wider and more fruitful the big wide world becomes and the more thoughtful and versatile our understanding of it. Young City Reads is a gift to young minds….’ Ali Smith, Guest Director, Brighton Festival 2015

The initiative invites primary school teachers and classes to register online for free and agree to read the Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom together in class. Throughout the project, participating classes will receive weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom quizzes, puzzles and fun activities to complete. Visit cityreads.co.uk to sign-up and get reading!

‘Young City Reads has become an integral part of Brighton Festival; to see the city’s young people come together to read one book is always an exciting prospect – involving city-wide discussion, exploration and creative engagement. With award-winning author Ali Smith as Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director, the written word plays a very important role in this year’s full programme of events, and Sutcliffe’s tale of a truly unique – and incredibly mischievous – circus promises to be a great fit given the number of extraordinary performances, stories and characters than head to Brighton & Hove in May.’ Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival

Young City Reads 2015 will conclude on Wednesday 20th May 2015 at a special Brighton Festival event featuring William Sutcliffe and illustrator David Tazzyman.

Honours and awards for Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director

Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director receives New Years Honour and is named winner of the novel category in the 2014 Costa Book Awards.

We’re only six days into the New Year, but Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director Ali Smith is already making headlines.

On Wednesday 30 December 2014 it was announced that the Scottish writer was to be made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire – or CBE – in the New Years Honours list for her distinguished and innovative contribution to literature.

As if to underline this contribution, last night Ali Smith was announced as the winner of the Costa Novel award for How to be both.

“I’m completely amazed to have won the category – and really delighted. The category shortlist was such a very good one, I felt lucky enough just to be on that. I can’t quite believe it.” – Ali Smith

The novel will now join the winners of the other four categories – the Costa First Novel award (won by Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing), the Costa Poetry award (won by Jonathan Edwards’s My Family and Other Superheroes), the Costa Biography award (won by Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk and the Children’s Book award (won by Kate Saunders’ Five Children on the Western Front) – in competing for the Costa Book of the Year award.

The overall winner will be decided by a panel of judges chaired by the author Robert Harris and announced on Tuesday 27 January 2015.