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Record-breaking 50th Brighton Festival comes to a dazzling conclusion

The three week celebration of the arts was the most successful in its history with more people engaging with the festival, both as audiences and participants, and more tickets sold than ever before.

Drawing inspiration from Brighton Festival’s origins as a celebration of the new and the avant-garde, as well as Guest Director Laurie Anderson’s own multidisciplinary career, the 2016 programme featured the highest number of commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres to date, by some of the most innovative national and international artists the world over: from the UK premiere of Anderson’s own Music for Dogs, a concert specially developed for canine ears to the world premiere of Minefield by acclaimed Argentinian theatre-maker Lola Arias, developed with and performed by veterans of the Falklands conflict.

Laurie Anderson: "I'm so happy to have served as Guest Director of Brighton Festival in its historic 50th year. I have been at the Brighton Festival a few times now and it’s always been fun. I always feel like I’m part of the town and that’s a crazy feeling because at many festivals maybe only theatre people come…. but here everybody comes. I was really struck by that."

The Festival’s biggest talking point was Nutkhut's Dr Blighty; an ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during the First World War. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty captivated audiences and critics alike. With audiences reaching almost 50,000 over its five day run, it set the city and social media abuzz. A video clip of the projections went viral, attracting over 500,000 views and accolades such as ‘spectacular’, ‘incredible’, ‘unique’ and ‘best festival event ever’.

At the heart of the 50th programme was the theme of ‘home’, with an abundance of work both about Brighton and by some of the artists who make the city their home. Highlights included The Complete Deaths, a re-enactment of every onstage death from the plays of Shakespeare from Brighton-based artistic powerhouses Spymonkey and Tim Crouch; Digging for Shakespeare - Marc Rees’ site-specific homage to 19th Century Brighton eccentric and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps; Blast Theory & Hydrocracker’s immersive undercover police drama Operation Black Antler and specially-commissioned film Brighton: Symphony of a City, screened to a new orchestral score by Ed Hughes.

Brighton Festival 2016 also explored universal issues and ideas around home, via new work such as experimental composer and musician Yuval Avital’s potent and thought-provoking new work, Fuga Perpetua, which reflected the stories of refugees; and the UK premiere of Berlin’s Zvizdal, a filmic portrait of an elderly couple’s solitude in the region affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

From the annual Children’s Parade on the opening weekend featuring 5000 participants from schools and community groups from across the region, to Onca’s FutureGazers, which asked school pupils to imagine the city in 50 years’ time, to the city-wide City Reads and Young City Reads produced in partnership with Collected Works, Brighton Festival 2016 also saw a record number of community-focussed events throughout the programme with participants of all ages and from all walks of life. And it wasn’t just the humans – 50 dogs found themselves immortalised on a mural on Kensington Street painted by Brighton-based artist and illustrator Sinna One in homage to Anderson’s own dog-oriented events.

Anderson continues: "I think Brighton is really a one-of-a-kind festival. First of all because it’s very sophisticated in terms of what experimental art it brings in but it’s very inclusive in other ways. I can’t really think of another festival that has that broad a base so I would have to say it’s unique.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “From over-50s company Three Score Dance’s performance of Lea Anderson’s work Tall Tales at the West Pier, to Giddy Brighton’s intergenerational encounter between students from Longhill High School and men and women in their 70s and 80s reflecting on their teenage selves, the 50th Brighton Festival has been a wonderful celebration of our community.  We’ve also had more people engaging with the festival, both as audiences and participants, than ever before." 

This year’s Festival has once again been a triumph of partnership working, made possible through collaborations with many major organisations across the city and beyond including Lighthouse, Fabrica, HOUSE, University of Brighton, University of Sussex, Onca Gallery, Theatre Royal Brighton, Without Walls, LIFT and 14-18NOW amongst others. 2016 also saw the highest number of shows yet live-streamed to audiences around the world for free, thanks to the on-going partnership with City College Brighton and Hove. Still available to view on, highlights include stand-up from Alexei Sayle, magical a cappella singing from choir Vox Luminis and thought-provoking debate Let’s Talk about Death.

2016 also saw Brighton Festival work with Guardian Live in a special partnership to deliver the Books and Debate programme with an impressive line-up of writers and commentators that included a panel debate on the forthcoming EU Referendum and a visit from former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis as well as appearances from an Orange Prize winner (Lionel Shriver) and two Booker Prize winners (Marlon James and Howard Jacobson). Brighton Festival 2016 also saw the return of Caravan, a three-day industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which this year featured eight performances open to the public.

Sponsorship and corporate support has been critical to our success this year. New and returning sponsors and supporters include Rampion Offshore Wind, University of Sussex, Gatwick Airport, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, Class of Their Own, Riverford Organic Farmers, Hamptons International, ZSTa, Nutshell Construction, SELITS, GM Building, Griffith Smith Farrington Webb LLP and The Big Lemon. 

Andrew Comben continues: "Artist and musician Laurie Anderson, as Guest Director, has been a fitting figurehead for this special milestone having been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed. She also told some beautiful and unforgettable stories. In fact, in helping us put together this year’s festival, themed around home and place, Laurie wanted us to help everyone tell their own stories and to focus on some of the people whose stories are less often heard. That we’ve seen such wonderful examples of that during Brighton Festival is something I believe the whole city can be very, very proud of. Here’s to the next 50 years!”

Brighton Festival Brochure Covers: 2007 - 2018

Have a peek at Brighton Festival's recent brand history

Browse through the fifth decade of Brighton Festival Programme Covers. Here's to another five decades!

You can check out the the firstsecondthird and fourth decades of brochure covers, or find out more this year's branding to mark our milestone 50th anniversary. 





2011 Designed by Harrison Agency

2012 Designed by Harrison Agency

2013 Designed by Johnson Banks

2014 - Designed by Johnson Banks

2015 - Designed by Johnson Banks

2016 - Designed by Johnson Banks

Brighton Festival Brochure Cover 2017 Designed by Johnson Banks

2017 - Designed by Johnson Banks

Brighton Festival Brochure Cover 2018 Designed by Johnson Banks

2018 - Designed by David Shrigley

Five minutes with... Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle joins us this Brighton Festival to discuss his new memoir, Thatcher Stole My Trousers. We pinned him down for a quick, but seriously funny five minutes of questions...

I knew I wanted to be a comedian when…

I never wanted to be a comedian that’s why I seem so angry all the time.

My first public performance took place at…

My mother used to make the neighbours come around and watch me do little shows from about the age of six.

The first comedy gig I went to was…

There was a guy called John Dowie who came along just too early for the alternative comedy boom who I saw at the Bush Theatre in 1976.

The first album I ever bought was…

The Four Tops. On Top.

My favourite part of touring is…

Not touring.

My favourite comedian is…

I’ll say Louie C K because he is no threat to me.

My favourite place to perform live is…

The Soho Theatre in London. I can get the 19 bus there using my old person’s bus pass and be home again by 10.00. All for free.

The last song I listened to was…

“Circles” by Kate Tempest.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when…

I MC’d Glastonbury in 1985 a famously muddy year and I said from the stage “a woman’s lost a contact lens, if you could all just have a look for it...”

The best show I ever performed was…

Glastonbury 1985.

If I wasn’t performing, I’d probably be…

Eating a sugary cake such as a Lemon Yum Yum from the patisserie counter at Waitrose.

People would be surprised to learn that…

I don’t have diabetes.

Interview: Lola Arias on Minefield

Ahead of the world premiere of Minefield, Argentinian artist Lola Arias tells us about working with veterans, the legacy of the Falklands war 33 years on, and the impact she hopes her work will have. 

For someone who knows nothing about the project, can you give us some context around Minefield - what the piece is about and how it developed and why you chose to explore the conflict?

In 2013 I did a project called After the War, and that’s when I started to work with veterans. I did a video installation in which Argentinian veterans reconstructed moments from the war in the places they work today. In the Falklands-Malvinas war there were a lot of conscripts, and these people are now completely different from the soldiers they used to be. For example, one was an opera-singer and another a sportsman, like a swimmer.

The gap between the men they used to be and the men they are now started to interest me a lot and I thought about continuing the project with British veterans. So, Minefield will be the first time a group of British veterans and a group of Argentinian veterans are reconstructing together their memories of the war and this will be rehearsed in Argentina and in England so we will be creating together a whole picture of what happened to them at that time and who they are now.

This project is all about memories, how they are still important for them today even if it’s 33 years later. How even if it was a war that lasted only two months, it’s still present every day for them.

You must have been six years old during the Falklands War - what were your personal memories of the conflict?

During the Falklands-Malvinas war, I was in my first year of primary school and we were asked to write a letter to the soldiers. I remember everyone was writing letters to the soldiers. They all started the same way: ‘to the unknown soldier’, then it was ‘I’m a student of such-and-such school and I’m wishing you the best for the war’, and so on.

When I started to work with the Argentinian veterans, they had kept these letters from the unknown students from all over the country. Some even contacted the people who wrote them. One guy told me that he met his wife, because she was a secondary school student who wrote him a letter saying ‘I wish you the best’ and after the war he got in contact with this woman. They met and they fell in love and have been married for 10 years.

So you never know what can come out from a letter from an unknown student to an unknown soldier.

You work often draws on many different genres and disciplines - what form will Minefield take and what can audiences expect to happen?

We’re still developing it, but it will be a project where people are telling their own stories in an informative way, but there will still probably be media and music. We are even thinking about having a band, with British and Argentinian veterans because some of them play instruments – one plays the drums and two of them play guitar. We thought that it could be really interesting to have them play together, so we’ll see what language they play in – English, Spanish or Spanglish.

What have you discovered about the various characteristics of the veterans so far? What are the similarities/differences?

It was surprising to see that English veterans were as affected as Argentinian veterans by the war. I had the impression that because most of the Argentinian veterans were conscripts – so they were only 18 and not really prepared to go to war, they only had a few months’ training – for them it was a totally traumatic experience.

But I thought that people who were well-trained and inside the military before going to war – it’s just one more mission in their life – but I realised that for British veterans this was also a traumatic experience and they all went through very hard moments and all of them have a story to tell.

Why is Minefield an important and relevant work for today's audiences? What do you hope the legacy of the work to be?

For Argentinians it’s a very present topic, it’s not something forgotten or lost in history, but for the British people it’s just one more war. I think it’s not so much about the relevance of this war in terms of in terms of the history. But it is in a way very interesting to reflect on how these people who were there even for two months are still affected today, 33 years later: they go through fear and pain and they were very marked by this experience. If you think about this happening to people that were only there for two months, you cannot imagine the consequences that are facing British soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and so on.

All of them are looking forward to this encounter. For people who were in a war 33 years ago, they don’t have the feeling that the other one is the enemy anymore, they just have the feeling that they’re just other veterans of the same war. They fell very connected, emotionally. I think it will be very moving to see them interacting and telling each other their stories.

Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction, what do you think about the meaning of 'truth' in the processes of truth and reconciliation, and what possibilities does theatre open up in addressing post conflict reconciliation?

I’m not doing this because of reconciliation. I don’t think they need that. For me it’s more about how people can build up a history together using their personal stories. I think that through their personal stories you will get a kind of whole picture of the war and what the consequences were for everyone. You’ll be able to reflect on the history of both countries and how politicians from both sides used the war for their own purposes.

Minefield will premiere at Brighton Festival as it celebrates its 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture. What does it mean for you to be part of Brighton Festival in this milestone year?

I’m very happy to be part of the celebration of a festival which is doing very challenging, wonderful work.

I remember being at Brighton Festival with My Life After in 2013 and people were emotional about it and very grateful afterwards. A lot of people came after the plays to talk to the performers and to me about the play and that was really beautiful.

I’m very proud to be a part of it. 

Book tickets for Minefield now. 

Festival Hot Seat ... Zvizdal

We catch up with Yves Degryse, Artistic Director of Berlin, who are bringing their ‘filmic portrait’ Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close) to Brighton Festival

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Over four years we have been filming near Chernobyl in the forbidden zone. Each time we went it was to meet two people, Petro and Nadia, a couple in their 80s, living in Zvizdal and who refused to be evacuated following the nuclear disaster. They have been living with no water or electricity and no means of communication with the outside world. Every time we went we took a plane and hoped they were still there. We spent time filming them in their everyday lives.

How and where will it be staged?

The audience will be seated in two tiers in front of a big screen, and underneath the screen will be three scale models of the couple’s house and grounds, depicting three seasons. There will be two cameras filming the models and these images will be interspersed in the film.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The French journalist Cathy Blisson, formerly a critic, but who moved into reportage, came into contact with Petro and Nadia and asked if we would be interested to collaborate with her, and we quickly decided to start the project.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

The moment you enter the forbidden zone, you are entering a microcosm of human experience. It is a very extreme situation, but there are layers that you recognise, and as you spend time there the layers become more visible.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Our work can be complex but at the same time it appeals to a very broad audience.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

There will be surprises, relating to the concept of the piece, but the surprises you should not know beforehand.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

We have brought work to Brighton Festival before including Perhaps All The Dragons in 2014, and Lands End in 2012. What I really like about Brighton Festival is that I have the impression that the audiences are very eager to discover things. I think it’s connected with the way the Festival approaches the audience, not underestimating the audience.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I’m very happy that we will be part of that moment.

Book now for Zvizdal.

Stella: An Encounter with a Truly Remarkable Person.

'Most of all, I hope people are going to realise that even though she's dead 100 years, and even though she lived this unimaginable life in a very different culture, in fact Stella is asking herself the same questions that we are all asking ourselves' Neil Bartlett

Award-winning director, writer and performer Neil Bartlett OBE talks to Kathy Caton about his new show Stella, co-commissioned by and premiering at Brighton Festival.

The show is inspired by Ernest Boulton – one half of the infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella - and intimately examines his strange life and lonely death.

In this interview, Neil discusses how he first discovered Stella, her extraordinary history, and how his work both past and current examines her life and character.

This new teaser trailer features the actors Oscar Battingham and Richard Cant as the enigmatic flipsides of Stella, and gives a glimpse into their tumultuous lives. 

From our Spotlight video series, Neil discusses bringing Stella to the 50th Brighton Festival and what he hopes audiences are going to get out of the show. 

Stella is on at the Theatre Royal, Fri 27 & Sat 28 May. Book now.

Festival Hot Seat… Breaking the Rules

Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, composed some of the most intense and glorious music of the Renaissance. He was also a brutal killer, and the full horror of his crimes stands in stark contrast to his astonishing music. We talk to Clare Norburn, the author of The Marian Consort’s Breaking the Rules to find out more about this unique show…

How and where will it be staged?

In All Saint’s Church, Hove (very fitting as the play is set part in Gesualdo’s chapel and partly in his head!) – it is half a concert/half a one man play – and our wonderful director Nicholas Renton (best known for his TV work on Musketeers, Lewis and George Gently) has staged it so that the music and text are really blurred and we try to bring the action around the audience. We want the audience to feel that Gesualdo is really speaking to them personally.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Well, our pilot performance and preview have had a really amazing audience reaction. People are fascinated by the story and seem to leave wanting to know more about the man and his music – which makes me feel we’re on to something special. Also, it’s rather unusual being half a play and half a concert – no one has toured a show quite like it before.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

I think Gesualdo’s life and music has been misunderstood. He’s underrated as a composer and not often performed because the music out of context is seen as “difficult” – but it really isn’t once you adjust your ears. It’s extraordinarily powerful and exciting. I see Gesualdo as a kind of Gustav Mahler figure of the late 16th century – once people were given a way into Mahler’s music, he quickly became a “cult classical music figure”. I think the same could become true of Gesualdo.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

If you like slightly dark stories and something a bit different then this is the show for you!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Hopefully the music. The story. And the way that we have tried to create a completely different kind of show – half a concert/ half a play.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

Do you have a favourite Festival moment? I grew up in Brighton and as a teenager I sang in the Brighton Festival Chorus so I got to perform in many Festival concerts in the mid 80s. As a teenager, I didn’t really have a lot of access to arts events in London and so the Brighton Festival was for me the time when the city (which felt quite ordinary in the mid 80s – not as arty as it is now) became a truly magical place where anything could happen and where I felt part of a cultural community. I loved hanging out after performances at the Festival Club and seeing who might turn up!

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I came to the Festival launch in February and, although I was already thrilled that we had been asked to take part, hearing about all the other starry events made me feel particularly excited and honoured to be involved this year. Brighton Festival has been a huge part of my life – as a teenager performing with local choirs, as a singer performing as a young artists in the classical lunchtime series and now with my play here too.

What are you most looking forward to in Brighton Festival this year?

I am keen to see La Nuova Musica’s Dido and Aeneas (they are a particularly exciting up and coming young group and I just saw them in London) and I’m really interested to see Stella by Neil Bartlett at the Theatre Royal. As a teenager I was fascinated by local history and so the story of a local cross-dressing Victorian actor brought to life on a Brighton stage sounds fascinating.

Book now for Breaking the Rules

Brighton Festival Brochure Covers: 1997 - 2006

Dip into Brighton Festival design history

Browse through the fourth decade of Brighton Festival Programme Covers.

You can check out the the firstsecond and third decades of brochure covers, or find out more this year's branding to mark our milestone 50th anniversary. 











Interview: Stewart Hurwood on Lou Reed Drones

'I like to think of it as a sonic massage…'

As we host the UK premiere of Lou Reed Drones, an installation of guitars in feedback mode, Lou Reed’s long-time guitar tech and right-hand man Stewart Hurwood tells us about what it was like to work with a music legend, how the piece came about and exactly what he hopes audiences will get out of it…

How did you meet Lou Reed and how long did you work with him?

I worked with Lou Reed for the last ten years of his life. I became his right-hand man handling many more things than just his guitars, equipment and managing the stages he played on.

What was Lou like to work with?

Lou was very demanding on everyone including himself. He was always pushing his art and didn't want to stand still or rest on his laurels. This made the work extremely challenging and very rewarding.

How did Lou Reed: Drones come about? Was it something you discussed directly with Lou?

In 1975 Lou Reed released Metal Machine Music. This was a noise album featuring a constant drone of guitar feedback from start to finish, in fact, the album was made so the end would continually repeat until you lifted the needle from the record.

Around 2008 Lou wanted to tour and perform a noise type improv similar to Metal Machine Music. We did extensive testing of guitar feedback and ultimately Lou decided that we would use four guitars and amplifiers feeding back as the foundation of the Metal Machine Trio Tour. It was during this testing that Lou Reed gave the title ‘The Drones’ to the four guitar, amp wall of feedback.

During that tour in Sydney, while setting the feedback Lou shouted to me: "I feel healed in The Drones"! He was ill at the time and I fully acknowledged the gravity of his statement.

What was Laurie Anderson’s role?

After Lou passed there was a meeting at his house. People were discussing what should happen to Lou Reed's guitars and equipment. Many said the equipment should be in a museum. I spoke up and said, "Lou would hate his instruments gathering dust, he was about moving forward and creating". I told Laurie Anderson about my experiences with Lou Reed and The Drones, how I wanted to use them as therapy for Lou and the idea of a feedback wall. Laurie Anderson said: "The feedback wall is a great idea...and YOU must do it"!

Laurie set things in motion and I performed a three hour (MM3) session at The Steven Kasher Gallery on 23rd Street in Chelsea, NYC. Laurie Anderson and Antony Hegarty were deeply moved by the tribute and a second session was scheduled...this time at The Kitchen in NYC.

Laurie was invited to perform in a tribute show for Ornette Coleman at The Bandshell in Brooklyn. She had The Drones as part of the performance. I set a soundscape foundation and Master Ren Guang- Yi (Tai Chi teacher to Lou Reed) performed The 21 a movement created for Lou Reed.

Laurie came out on stage with John Zorn and Bill Laswell and all three improvised over The Drones. was beautiful!

What exactly will the audience be able to see/hear/do?

Ideally the room will be pretty dark with some slow moving lights generated from a mirror ball. The idea is to instigate a little disorientation and second guessing about the space you're in. I will set soundscapes in motion these will encourage the listeners' imagination to open.

They can sit, lay, listen, meditate, sleep, cry, dance, chant, perform Tai Chi - whatever they get emotionally from the sounds they can react to. I would encourage people to drone along, making their own drone resonating inside their chest cavity. The sound is interactive changing with the movement of people within the space, other sound sources (musicians and instruments, or chants etc.).

How many guitars are there in the installation? Were they all owned by Lou?

I tour with seven guitars, six are leaning against the amps ready to be included in the soundscape, I can use the extra guitar to swap out a guitar and alter the tunings available to me. All the guitars and amplifiers were owned by Lou Reed...many of which people have seen Lou play live, or in videos of live gigs.

How has the installation been received to date?

The Drones fall between an installation and performance art as I manipulate and interact with them. People, even musicians as usually surprised by how musical and moving it can be.

What do you hope audiences will get out of it?

I hope that they experience the gateway of their imagination to be opened! The Drones generate so many harmonics in the air that people hear different things within the drones; some hear birds, or horns, brass bands, others hear strings, or voices. In addition the sound waves hit the body perhaps penetrating and shaking internal organs, releasing endorphins etc. I like to think of it as a sonic massage!

I had one person tell me, amazingly he slept during parts of the performance. He went on to say he suffers with insomnia and the vibration had made him feel incredibly relaxed... he had a great nap and vivid dreams. I see this as a success!

And finally…. Exactly how loud is the feedback?

Not as loud as Metallica...louder than a string times approaching the sound and volume of Lancaster bomber but more musical!

Head this way for more info on free event Lou Reed Drones

Brighton Festival Brochure Covers: 1987 - 1996

Take a turn through Brighton Festival's brand history

Browse through the third decade of Brighton Festival programme covers.

You can check out the first two decades here and here, or find out more this year's branding to mark our milestone 50th anniversary. 











Festival Fifty: Five Biggest Hits

From pyrotechnics to pendulums, some events at Brighton Festivals past have attracted audiences tens of thousands strong. Here are a few of the biggest hits from recent times – how many of them did you see?

Joueurs de Lumnieres, Groupe F, 2006

Some 70,000 people descended on Preston Park for the ultimate pyrotechnic show as the French company pushed the boundaries of your typical firework display to create an event that told a theatrical story. Led by flame master Christophe Berthonneau – the man behind the Millennium fireworks in Paris and both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Greece – it set the Sussex sky on fire. Zap Art’s Dave Reeves, who programmed the piece as part of 2006’s Streets of Brighton, explained ‘one minute you are watching something lyrical and delicate; the next you're shell-shocked by the sound of eight tons of explosives being detonated. It feels as if the sky is caving in on you.’

41 Places, William Shaw, 2007

Writer Shaw’s bold vision was to take true life onto the streets – literally – as the stories of the people who live, work and play in Brighton were printed on everything from paving stones to brick walls to create a giant work of art across the city. Each story was installed in the place where they happened – with audiences free to stumble across this treasure hunt of stories or navigate their way around the city via a specially produced map. Designed by Richard Wolfstrome – a Sussex-based graphic designer who went on to win an award from the International Society of Typographic Designers for piece - the site-specific publishing project was explored and interacted with by a huge 190,000 people during May.

41 Places. Photo credit: Matthew Andrews

Before I Sleep, dreamthinkspeak, 2010

Inspired by Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival associate company dreamthinkspeak led by Artistic Director Tristan Sharps took over the former Co-operative department store on London Road for this special site-specific promenade experience. Blending performance, film and installation, audiences were led through numerous spaces inhabited by the key characters in Chekhov’s classic. It broke ticket office records at the time as 21,000 people visited – leading the run to be extended by 9 weeks – and was universally praised by both the local and national press, with The Argus writing ‘it is an unforgettable, amazing experience’. The company’s Brighton Festival follow-up The Rest Is Silence - which took place in an old warehouse in Shoreham in 2012 - was equally well received, leading to weeks of extra performances.

Before I Sleep

Time Passing By, Kaarina Kaikkonen, 2013

The Finnish artist was the talk of the city as her special commission between Brighton Festival and Fabrica saw the city’s Clock Tower bedecked in thousands of colourful shirts for the month. Donated by local residents and then given to Oxfam following the exhibition, the piece – presented in tandem with The Blue Route inside Fabrica – was seen by hundreds of thousands given the installation’s prominent position in town. As Kaikkonen said to The Argus, ‘I wanted to give my art for everybody in a way. I wanted to face those people who never go to art galleries. I wanted to go to the street. It is quite a challenge to meet all these people who sometimes hate art.’

Time Passing By

Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No.2, William Forsyth, 2014

This large-scale choreographic installation featured 400 swinging pendulums hanging from an automated rig on the ceiling of Circus Street Market. Visitors were encouraged to dodge between them to create their own unique and often intricate dances and moves. Some 12,500 people took part across three weeks; the acclaimed choreographer himself was even spotted taking part ahead of an intimate Q&A event with that year’s Guest Director Hofesh Shechter. It’s success stretched to the virtual world too; a video documenting the installation of the piece shot by Brighton-based company Shy Camera had over 90,000 views whilst Instagram tweeted shots of the piece to over 1m followers.

Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No.2. Photo credit: Heidi Kuisma

Competition: Twitter Rapid Reviews

Tweet us a rapid review during the festival to be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to one of our shows. 

Skilfully craft your review of a Brighton Festival event into 140 characters, and tweet it to @brightfest with the hashtag #RapidReview to enter the contest.

We'll be picking our favourites once a week throughout May so keep 'em coming!

Terms and Conditions and important info:

• The prize is for one pair of tickets to a show
• We’ll select winners once a week between Sat 7 – Thu 26 May. Winners will be notified via Twitter direct message, so make sure you follow us so we can get in touch.
• We’ll message and tweet you at least 24 hours before the show to tell you if you’ve won. If you don’t respond by 2 hours before the show starts, your tickets will not be held
• The prize is for the show offered only and cannot be carried over
• We may use your review and share it on our Social Media channels, website and in future publicity for Brighton Dome and Festival
• Selection of Winners: The winners will be chosen by a representative of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival
• Winners list: The winner consents to their Twitter profile being made publicly available on Twitter via our Twitter/ updates
• Other: No correspondence will be entered into regarding either this competition or these Terms and Conditions. In the unlikely event of a dispute, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s decision shall be final. We reserve the right to amend, modify, cancel or withdraw this competition at any time without notice
• No refunds can be given on existing tickets

Festival Hot Seat... Portraits in Motion

Volker Gerling spent over a decade touring Germany by foot, capturing the people that he met in his distinctive flipbook portraits. We caught up with him to find out about the development of his craft and his extraordinary show Portraits in Motion

Can you tell us what your show is about?

In the summer of 2002 I took an old wooden kitchen tray and made it into a simple hawker’s tray. It had room for six photographic flipbooks, which showed portraits of my friends, and I hung a sign on it saying “Please visit my traveling exhibition”.

I walked through Berlin, showing people my flipbook ‘movies’. I screwed an empty honey jar underneath the hawker’s tray so that visitors could pay a symbolic entrance fee.

For nearly a year I showed people my flipbook movies in Berlin. Then, I decided to become a journeyman – I wanted to find out how people all over the country would react to my flipbooks.

And I wanted to make some new flipbooks.

I was afraid that I would miss something if I travelled too quickly, so I decided to walk. In the summer of 2003 I walked from Berlin to Basel – a walk of 1,200 kilometres – and it was a great experience. So I decided to do it again.

Since then I have walked nearly every summer and in total I have walked some 3,500 kilometres, nearly all in Germany. On all of these walks my only source of money came from showing my flipbooks. Portraits in Motion is based on my long summer walks and the people I met on them.

Volker with his tray of flipbooks

How and where will it be staged?

I leaf through the flipbooks under a video camera that projects them onto a large screen, and I tell the stories about the people that are portrayed. The show is a reflection on the passing of time and what it means when people meet each other.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To see my protagonists come to life on screen in a way that you’ve probably never experienced before.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my fascination for human beings, faces, portrait photography, walking and storytelling.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

Because every story that is told from the heart is important.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everybody who is able to see great things emerge from small things.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Nothing will prepare you for the intimacy of the flip books. There's something magical about these miniature glimpses into human souls.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It feels like a big honour for me to be part of the festival this year.

Book now for Portraits in Motion

Brighton Festival celebrates 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death falls on Saturday 23 April, and Brighton Festival 2016 is marking four centuries since the death of the most prominent playwright in the English language with a spectacular line up of events

Digging For Shakespeare takes place at Roedale Allotments Sat 7 - Sun 22 May. This promenade piece explores the story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps - a 19th Century polymath, eccentric and Shakespeare Scholar - who lived on what is now Roedale Valley Allotments in Brighton.

Next up we have The Complete Deaths at Theatre Royal Brighton Wed 11 - Sun 15 May. Directed by Tim Crouch, clowning troupe Spymonkey will perform all 74 onstage deaths in the plays of William Shakespeare – sometimes movingly, sometimes messily, always hysterically.

Shakespeare Untold at Brighton Dome Studio Theatre Sat 21 May & Sun 22 May gives a glimpse of people behind the scenes of Shakespeare's iconic plays. This show features two famous stories told from the perspective of not-so-famous characters – the Capulet’s party planner, and Titus Andronicus’ pie maker.

Globe Theatre on Tour return to Brighton Open Air Theatre Wed 25 - Sun 29 May to hurl Shakespeare's anarchic comedy into the 21st century in this riotous production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Festival Fifty: Experimental poetry, fire and baseball... Five events from 1967

Brighton Festival kicked off in 1967 with an incredible variety of shows, concerts and exhibitions. Here are five of the biggest events from the first Festival half a century ago, from world-class rock bands to an iconoclastic beachside bonfire

Concrete Poetry, around Brighton, daily

Curated by artist Stephen Bann, this city-wide project saw verse, rhythm and rhyme take physical form via a series of large outdoor typographical structures. In the Laines, visitors experienced a communal project on the ‘five vowels’ produced by the students of Bath Academy and a set of ‘typographical columns’ designed by German Hansjorg Mayer, whilst on a board outside the Royal Pavilion the word ‘seas’ appeared repeated with the word ‘ease’ in the middle. The project also saw two early poems erected by Ian Hamilton Finlay who would later become critically acclaimed for his poetry, art and writing. These particular structures became feted in the press who praised this new poetic form, hailing that it could compare with the ‘direct method of Concrete Art’.

Kinetic Audio Visual Environments, West Pier, daily

Created and arranged by The Advanced Studies Group at Hornsey College of Art under the collective titled K4, this immersive audio visual arts installation incorporated three different experiences at the end of the West Pier. The Kinetic Labyrinth was a succession of small spaces which exhibited international art work involving pulsating lights and strong colours whilst the Video Drum was a device for singular use which played material concerned with dream fantasies. The largest space was the Kinetic Area; a nightly discotheque which, on Saturdays, featured live performances from the likes of as-yet-un-famous prog-rock legends The Pink Floyd and British artist, performer and eccentric Bruce Lacey (with his Humanoid Robots) alongside endlessly changing patterns of light and colour projected onto screens. The installation also featured a soundscape designed by pioneer of electronic music Delia Derbyshire titled LIGHT/SOUND WORKSHOP.

One of Bruce Lacey's Humanoid Robots

International Baseball, Preston Park Cricket Ground, Sunday, April 16

This unique baseball match played between England and USA attracted a bumper crowd of over 5,000 people to Preston Park Cricket Ground, many of whom were intrigued with the exciting prospect of witnessing a sport not native to British shores. Possibly unsurprisingly, England lost 12-1. The programme to the event contained a message from the then Mayor of Brighton, Kathleen Watson-Miller, wishing the visitors from the States “a very warm welcome” and hoping that they “thoroughly enjoy their brief visit to Brighton and that they may be able to come again some day” alongside a useful two pages explaining the rules of the game.

The Destruction of Hideous Objects, Brighton beach, Saturday, April 29

In a wholly unique event, this huge public bonfire saw hundreds of items deemed ‘hideous’ by 1967 standards – from furniture to art – torched in an aesthetic culling. Allegedly, the bonfire was topped by a wooden cut-out effigy of the then Principal of Brighton College of Art. The fire itself was lit by Brighton Festival chair Ronald Bates, artistic director Ian Hunter and world-renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin; who burst into an impromptu solo whilst the flames took hold.

Yehudi Menuhin

Cleo Laine, John Dankworth and his orchestra, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Wednesday, April 26

Famed for her scat singing style and for her vocal range of four octaves, Jazz singer Cleo Laine joined her husband – jazz composer, saxophonist and clarinettist John Dankworth – on stage for the first of many Brighton Festival concerts over the years. Married in 1958, the couple were feted as helping to bring the marginalised world of jazz into the mainstream over their careers. Dankworth’s jazz scores sound-tracked some of the most memorable films of the 1960’s including Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Darling, whilst Laine’s career became truly international from the early 1970s – to date, she is the only female singer to have received Grammy nods in the jazz, pop and classical categories.

Watch a trailer with rediscovered footage from the 1967 Brighton Festival:

Festival Hot Seat... Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal

Chilean company Silencio Blanco tells us more about the UK Premiere of their show Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal at Brighton Festival. 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Chiflón, The Silence of the Coal is the story of the mines, from the perspective of the people who worked them. A young miner is expelled from the coal pit where he works, and to keep working he has to accept a job in ‘El Chiflón del Diablo’, an infamously sinister mine. Silencio Blanco portrays the miners’ world through everyday situations and anonymous characters - also focusing on the role of women in these mining communities. 

How and where will it be staged?

Chiflón is going to be presented at the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, and it’s a simple collaboration between the puppets and their manipulators, who give life to the marionettes in a manner almost like a little dance between them. This is supplemented with simple scenery made with recycled materials like old wood, to show the simplicity of the work and the lifelike detail of every movement.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This play is unmissable, primarily for the visual language that’s used: marionettes constructed of newspaper and chopsticks, which, together with other day-to-day elements that have been recycled and re-purposed, give life to these bodies and to a fascinating and moving story.

Furthermore, despite us coming from far-away Chile - at the edge of Latin America - this language allows us to tell a completely universal story, focusing on the depths of these people, touching the very fibres of their being through everyday situations, just using movement and gesture.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

This play emerged from our intention to portray a particular job, a lost job, anonymous and lonely. That’s why we chose miners, inspired by Baldomero Lillo’s tale, Chiflón Del Diablo. Lillo is a brilliant Chilean author, naturalist, and witness of the world that he observes. He is considered to be the Chilean Emile Zola.

To develop the idea and the inspiration, we traveled to the town of Lota, in southern Chile, where we met mining families and ex-miners that today have no jobs. They told us their stories and experiences, their sadness, pains and dreams, and we realised that the miners’ history is a living treasure that we want to tell with our work.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

Mainly because it’s a universal story.

It’s inspired by a town in Chile, but it cuts across all of humanity, because it talks about the human emotions of the workers faced with these conditions, and the role of the women and their uncertainty of not knowing if their men will come back from the mine or not.

Also because it talks about history - from the little stories of anonymous characters and the daily situations they face. It tells history from the perspective of the defeated, not the winners.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone aged 6 to 99.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The magic of the marionettes – how delicate and natural they are.

The illusion that can be produced through the marionettes is able to stir even the deepest emotion in the heart.

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

No we haven’t visited Brighton before, but we’re really excited to get to know the city and enjoy the festival. We don’t have any expectations – we just want have fun and enjoy it – but we hope people there will love and enjoy our work, which was prepared with a lot of love, care, attention to detail and, of course, hard work.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

We’re excited to be part of this huge festival and celebrate together the 50th anniversary. To us, it’s very important be part of this, because this is the first time that a Chilean company has participated in Brighton Festival, so it’s an honour to represent our country there – particularly with a very Chilean story, the story of the miners. It’s a privilege to present this work, and we are sure that everyone is going to enjoy it. We are bringing you a little piece of our history. 

Book now for Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal

Festival Hot Seat... Slap and Tickle

We catch up with Liz Aggiss, the 'unclassifiable' performance artist behind Slap and Tickle 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

As the title suggests it’s a show of opposites; slap and tickle, punishment reward, push and pull……..all the way home. It’s about inconsistencies, propaganda, interpretations, mythologies, platitudes and expectations on, and of, girls, ladies, women, mummies, mothers, grannies, pensioners and senior citizens. It’s about using performance as a means to create a discussion, a dialogue about the observed and received cultural mores, forays and sexual taboos.

How and where will it be staged?

Slap and Tickle is presented in three fast moving acts, using a visual and aural collage of movement, text, props, costumes (Holly Murray), sound (Joe Murray) and cover versions (Alan Boorman/Wevie). The performances take place in the intimate black box Studio Theatre space on Thursday 19th May at 8 pm, and Friday 20th May at 7pm and 9.30 pm.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because for the past 40 years I have been re(de)fining my own brand of British contemporary dance performance, dodging categorization and being classified as unclassifiable. Because there are limited opportunities to see live work. Because if you don’t come to see the work in Brighton the next chance will be London, then, Tasmania, India, Norwich, Bournemouth, Scotland and I can’t guarantee it will return to Brighton in the near future. No contest! Because I invite the audience to ‘…..have a party’ and then confound their expectations of what this party might be. Because I make, funny, accessible, empowering and thoughtful work. Because what are you waiting for? Permission? Because it’s granted!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was born on Nanny Goats Common, Dagenham, Essex, a post war baby, into a repressive era in the suburbs, where parents were truly in charge and children were seen and not heard. I never had a clue who I was, or what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to be seen and heard. I come from a pre televisual age, a world of radio drama, Mrs. Mills, post music hall variety acts, cor blimey and oooer missus, that opened the dark tabernacle into the soul of early feminism. It is this personal history when placed alongside feminist politics that compels me to create a context in which to scratch that particular itch. Slap and Tickle is that itch.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Bring an open mind and no preconceptions as to what you think a mature, ageing, post menopausal, solo, female, dancing body should be doing, why she should be doing it, and where it should be done, and you should be just fine. There are no limits except for those under 15 on account of the strong language. Not my call!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The pace, the speed, the unpredictability, the roller coaster ride.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?

Flexing my performance muscle and presenting Slap and Tickle in three consecutive performances. Apart from that taking a punt on unknown and new discoveries in unexplored locations, whilst soaking up Brighton and the festival atmosphere.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I’ve lived in Brighton since 1975. I’m still here, still making, still performing, still touring, nationally and internationally, still in the picture……… though not so still, I can’t stop moving! Must be the sea air.

Book now for Slap and Tickle

Festival Hot Seat... Clairière Urbaine

We caught up with Retouramont to find out more about their UK premiere Clairière Urbaine

Why should someone come and see your show?

The show - and more broadly the artistic work of the company Retouramont - offers new perspectives on the city. It doesn’t consider walls as limits but rather as openings and opportunities - and a means to invent new choreography. In our shows we aim to shift perspectives and invite the audience to discover their neighbourhood in a very new way.

How and where will it be staged?

It will be staged in Lavender Street. Some anchoring will be made on two buildings so the dance can evolve on the wall of one of them and in-between, in the air and over the audience.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It came from the desire to go beyond, but not in the usual sense. As a climber, cliffs or boulders are limits you want to go over. I like when this movement can also be inventive and aesthetic. In the city, I find this desire for crossing and going over particularly joyful and creative.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everyone can enjoy this aerial and acrobatic dance show that grabs the city in all its dimensions. We do not try to impose any story on the audience - each person can create their own story. This is our way of inviting the audience to feel and accept a shift of perceptions and take a new look at their surroundings.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

We propose a different and new use of the city that no one has seen before, not even the architects or inhabitants of the neighbourhood. They may look up for the first time and see buildings differently from now on.

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

This is my first time in Brighton - I'm curious to discover it.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It’s great to see such longevity in a festival of art, vertical dance is about 25 years old. In this sense, I find it very interesting to question and analyse our practices in the long-term: how did street arts emerge? What is their social role? etc.

Head this way for more info on free event Clairière Urbaine.

Festival Fifty: Producers' Standout Moments

In our 50th year, five producers look back and share their personal highlights of past festivals, from hunting around the globe to find and reconstruct the score to Laurence Olivier’s Henry V, to wiping sheep sneezes off Anish Kapoor’s C-Curve

Philip Morgan, producer (1991 – present day)

One of my most memorable Brighton Festival moments was Gaudeamus by the Maly Theatre in 1996. This devised show was directed by Lev Dodin - considered to be one of the best theatre directors in the world. It’s based on a Russian short story about life in the army in 1980. It was a steeply raked stage covered in artificial snow and honeycombed with traps which the cast of twenty literally dived in and out of. We flew a grand piano across stage with a couple making love on top of it. It was an incredibly exciting show demonstrating ensemble work that no longer exists in the UK and we built a temporary theatre in Brighton Dome Corn Exchange to show it.

Pippa Smith, producer (1990 – present day)

In 1990 I was working at Same Sky when Brighton Festival director Gavin Henderson asked us to take over the organisation of the annual Children’s Parade. In my previous job I had been involved with Notting Hill Carnival so I was able to bring many of their ideas to Brighton; it was a really exciting to see them work with children and train teachers to make the parade the amazing spectacle it is today! In the early years the entire event would end up on the Café lawn of Pavilion Gardens; all the children, their parents and teachers could gather on the one lawn and there was still room for the Millstones – the Blatchington Mill Big Band! The parade now features dozens of bands, every single school from Brighton and Hove and many from outside the city.

children's parade 2
Children's Parade

Beth Burgess, producer (2015 – present day)

A producer’s first festival is always memorable, but in 2015 there was a great moment when I was sitting in my office which overlooks Castle Square. I had run up to do some quick e-mails and the Children’s Parade was still going past… I had been on the ground, so to speak, as it began and that made me smile from ear to ear, but seeing it from above, it was amazing. As I leaned out my window to watch all these amazing costumes, sculptures and children marching past, I could not believe that I was part of something so huge, so joyous and this was just the beginning! There were all sorts of wonders but, later that week, sitting with Agnes Varda - my all-time heroine of cinema - was my dream come true. She was such a lovely human being and delightful to work with. I learned so much from her and her work. What could be better?!

Gill Kay, producer (1985 – present day)

One of my most memorable festival moments was the 2007 performance of Laurence Olivier’s film Henry V with Carl Davis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing the famous Walton score live. That year was Olivier’s centenary and Granada Film/TV were issuing a new celebratory HD print of this iconic 1944 film. The original score had been lost, and so began a hunt which took us, literally, around the world to the US, via Italy and back to Christie’s in London. Finally, along with a brilliant composer/transcriber Dominic Sewell we managed to reconstruct the score… only to find that all the sound on the film had been put onto one track so extracting the music to enable ‘live’ performance became a mammoth task. Dominic, myself and some dedicated Granada technicians spent hours going through the film frame by frame to produce this new version of the score and film. It can now be performed by any orchestra anywhere in the world so definitely worth all that effort!

Tanya Peters, producer (2007 – present)

In 2009 bringing Guest Director Anish Kapoor’s C-Curve to Brighton was definitely one of my most memorable Festival experiences. The location was up on a South Downs hill that overlooked the Chattri and down across the city to the sea. For such a stunningly simple-looking piece it was deceptively complex to do in terms of agreeing the site, transporting the valuable sculpture across farmland, the meticulous installation and maintenance. One unanticipated issue was the local lambs sharing the field would cuddle behind it as a windbreak overnight – they’d keep sneezing on it and I’d have to go back up there at 6am to remove the evidence and buff it up! One day I remember looking down toward Brighton and seeing all these dots on the hill. After a while it dawned on me that they were people; it was the first day of the Festival and lots of people were walking up to see the sculpture! This continued throughout May – people arriving throughout the night and at dawn, from campers to cyclists and poi jugglers. You’ve got to love Brighton people haven’t you – we are going to put an amazing sculpture in the middle of absolutely nowhere and everyone comes along - I love that! What amazed me, and this is really what Brighton Festival is all about, is how the piece inspired so many people, with many then creating their own works of art. Beautiful photography and portraits created in response to it were being shared online and across social media. It was amazing and Anish loved seeing that too. I miss my days starting with a walk in the Downs and sheep sneezes.

Anish Kapoor's C-Curve
Photo by Matthew Andrews

Competition: For the Love of Dogs

What is it about our relationship with our dogs that is so special?

We’re giving our audience the chance to pay tribute to the animals who love us so unconditionally. We’ll be selecting 50 dogs to be immortalised in a special Brighton Festival graffiti mural in a city centre location.

Brighton Festival Guest Director Laurie Anderson is presenting two events this year around dogs. In her film Heart of a Dog, her relationship with her pet rat terrier Lolabelle provides the starting point for a meditation on love, loyalty and memory.

If you would like to see your furry friend featured on this one-off mural, email by Thu 21 Apr with:

  • The name of your dog and up to 50 words on why your dog is so special to you
  • A high-quality portrait-style photograph
  • Your name and email address

50 dogs will be chosen to be immortalised on a Brighton wall, a tribute to unwavering loyalty and to 50 years of our bold, brilliant & sometimes barking mad Brighton Festival. We will also create an online gallery featuring all dog submissions and their stories.

Festival Hot Seat... The Last Resort

In the first of a new blog series we caught up with artists Tristan Shorr and Rachel Champion aka Art Of Disappearing to find out more about upcoming Brighton Festival commission The Last Resort

Can you tell us what your show is about?

The Last Resort takes a wry look at a rather bleak future. It throws out questions and ideas and possibilities. It’s an experience that should challenge imagination and thought.

How and where will it be staged?

Two participants at a time embark on a fictional tour of a forgotten resort. They move along the barren stretch of beach, imagining what might or might not have been, led by an immersive score.. The site is near the dock at Portslade which we chose for its bleakness and solitary position, the perfect environment for the imagination to be set loose!

Why should someone come and see your show?

If you enjoy dystopian ideas, beautiful barren landscapes and sci-fi whilst spending time in an imaginative experience then this is the show for you. With an original score, the chance to spend quality time with friend, family or stranger, and a shop to buy The Last Resort goodies...what more could you want!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The outdoor site in Portslade was a perfect fit for certain ideas we have been mulling over for a while. The opportunity to create a work for Brighton Festival gave us the chance to bring the idea to life in a very real and raw way.

How we make the work and what the work is about are intrinsically linked for us. Within the creation of imaginary realities and reinterpreted landscapes the work looks to inspire, challenge and feed the participants imagination and create a space for action rather than passivity.

The context is of a future where our imaginations and our ability to think for ourselves as individuals is placed in doubt. Our inspiration is in the making of a work that encourages both active listening and active participation from our audiences.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

Its both exciting and depressing to think about the future...what will happen, what are we doing and what choices will be made….this work looks at one extreme possibility all wrapped up in the nicest possible experience. It’s important to think ahead…

The Last Resort is a work that hopefully you leave asking a few questions.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The nudist beach along the route might be an eye opener!

The show is unusual, in that it uses sound along with the participants imaginations to create an immersive world.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who holds a fascination with the future, enjoys being outdoors, loves listening to music in headphones, enjoys the challenge of spending time with a friend, a stranger or a family member and definitely anyone who wants to broaden and challenge their imagination.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?


I was born locally and have lived near Brighton for the majority of my life. Brighton has always been a place of positive escapism for me, the live music, the great coffee shops and the Brighton Festival. I actually performed in Brighton Fringe with my school 27 years ago! Ouch! It’s always been there...long may it continue!


I think at a time where funding for the arts is dwindling and when challenging audiences and social passivity to the world around us is also taking a step back, it's hugely important that arts and cultural festivals like Brighton Festival exist. It is also important that places that support work and artists pushing the boundaries of the arts exist too and this is what the festival means to us both.

This isn't to say that we view ourselves as particularly radical in our approach, but we definitely appreciate the importance of Brighton Festival giving a place for us artists to call home!

Do you have a favourite festival moment?

It hasn’t happened yet!! The festival is always great, the city wakes up! Can’t ask for more than that! We’re going to be pretty busy this year with the show so it will be a very different experience… we might have to hear about it rather than join in!

Book now for the last remaining slots of The Last Resort.

Peacock Poetry Prize 2016

For the 50th Brighton Festival, our annual poetry competition in partnership with Brighton, Hove & Sussex 6th Form College (BHASVIC) takes the theme of ‘Celebration’. Rejoice in the everyday or revel in the outlandish: what will you choose to celebrate?

Entries will be judged by our panel of experts and prizes awarded at a special ceremony at Brighton Dome on Thu 26 May, 5pm. There are four categories, for ages 8–11, 12–15, 16–17 and 18+. You can submit up to three poems with a maximum length of 40 lines per poem.

Email your entry, together with your full name, age and date of birth to 

Deadline for entries: Fri 22 Apr, 5pm

The Peacock Poetry Prize is an annual competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) to encourage young writers to explore the written word from a creative point of view. The aim is to get young people writing right across Sussex and encourage them to engage with the Festival’s theme. The competition is open to residents of Brighton & Hove, East and West Sussex aged 8 and over.

Supported by GM Building

Brighton Festival celebrates the city's memories with new oral history app

'Jimi Hendrix signed my tambourine and I had to run for my life...'

A free interactive oral history app unfolding the ordinary personal stories of young love, loss and rebellion in the 1940s, 50s and 60s is launching during May as part of Brighton Festival 2016.

The Giddy app, from Brighton arts collective The Nimbus Group and funded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, takes users on an alternative walking tour of the city, punctuated by GPS triggered personal histories straight from the mouths of the people who lived them.

From a chance meeting with Jimi Hendrix in the back of a beaten up MG and tales of daytime runaways who never got caught, to stories about sneaking into strip bars and dancing til dawn with the Teddy boys, Giddy offers a view of life in the postwar years that is conspicuously absent from the history books.

All of the content – the stories, photographs, app design – has been gathered and created by teenaged pupils of Brighton’s Longhill School, with the support of a team of archive specialists, oral history interviewers and photographers.

‘Every generation of young people thinks they are the first to experience the intense highs, lows and giddy adventures of the teenage years,’ says Carina Westling of The Nimbus Group. 

‘We wanted to use digital technology to create something that celebrates the stuff of life that unites us as humans, reveals our individuality but also highlights universal themes associated with youth that span the generations,’ she says.

‘Oral history offers a perspective of the past that stands outside the received wisdom of the history books. Our intention for Giddy is to bring history to life in such a way that the young (or not so young) people who hear these stories will never look at older people in quite the same way again.’

Giddy is available for iOS and Android smartphones from May, sign up for a notification of the app’s release at

An accompanying online archive and exhibition featuring portraits and archive images gathered during the making of the app will launch at University of Brighton's on 7 May 2016, which will be open to the public till the end of the Festival on 29 May.

Laurie Anderson on...

… Brighton Festival 2016’s theme of ‘home and place’:

‘I’m really happy to be part of Brighton Festival this year. I love the theme, maybe because I’m a working musician and often on the road, the idea of home is pretty appealing. It’s also a great idea for a festival, trying to find out who and where you are. It’s a pretty amazing collection of work. See you there!’

… Brighton Festival 2016 exclusive performance Song as a Place:

‘We’ll be doing a lot of new things in the Festival, one is a collaboration with Nik Bärtsch and Eivind Aarset. They are incredible musicians and we’ve played together once before. It’s going to be like a song conversation. Imagine walking through a piece of music with people you really like and we get to play it and kind of think about it and talk about it at the same time… it’s going to be a blast.’

… Brighton Festival 2016 exclusive performance Slideshow:

‘This is about an attempt to describe several places I’ve been in my life and what they might have in common. This is a brand new piece so I can’t tell you that much about it, it’s going to be a surprise to me too!’

… her unique concert for dogs making its UK premiere:

‘I’m so curious who is going to show up. We’ll be playing things that are kind of in their range - although they hear very well across the spectrum - so we’re going to see what happens.

… on the Brighton Festival 2016 screening of her critically acclaimed film Heart of a Dog:

‘It’s full of stories about how you make a story. It’s nominally a film about me and my dog, but really it’s not… it’s about love and language, I guess. I hope you like it.’

… on what Brighton Festival 2016 audiences can expect of her works:

‘I like to make a really big, fun, interesting playing field and not predict what people are going to get from of it. It’s so different for each person. I’m often really surprised when people tell me what they’ve got from my work, and then I think “that’s really interesting and brilliant… but that had really nothing to do with the work I was doing”. It’s your interpretation, so I guess that’s what I hope… that people use it to go places themselves.’

… the UK premiere of Lou Reed’s Drones project:

‘We’re going to be doing a really exiting installation plus sort of ‘improv site’, let’s say. It’s based on Lou Reed’s feedback work - he worked with guitars and the incredible harmonics and sound structures that happen when you use feedback. His guitar tech, Stewart Hurwood will be doing it with Lou’s guitars and Lou’s amps… so it’s kind of as close to Lou’s music as we can get these days. It’s a very hypnotic, beautiful sound, I think you are really going to like it. We’re inviting musicians to come and do improvisations with it as well - that is really fun - so I hope you get a chance to come by and play. You could improvise any way you want really, you could come and do some drawings or pottery… I guess… bit messy!’

… on being Guest Director of Brighton Festival in May:

‘Brighton Festival is so big and sprawling and exciting and there’s so many different things going on - it really has a kind of celebratory, crazy, art party feel to it. I also love the chance to meet other artists and hang out with them. It’s a free for all so I’m really looking forward to it.’

Danny Wallace introduces Young City Reads 2016, Brighton & Hove

Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC are rather excited for the 2016 Big Read. The concept is simple: one book, by one author is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with. This year's featured book is Danny Wallace’s Hamish and the Worldstoppers

Watch the video and see what Danny Wallace has to say about this year's Young City Reads and head over to Collected Works CIC website and find out more.

More on the Young City Reads Big Event