Brighton Festival 2019Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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Singers sought for Brighton Festival 2018's ‘The Arms of Sleep’

Brighton Festival & The Voice Project seek to form a new choir to perform as part of a unique audience sleepover project and invites people over 16, who enjoy singing, to join a new choral project The Arms of Sleep, for Brighton Festival in May 2018.

The Arms of Sleep is an overnight experience for the audience, where the choir provide music in both the morning and evening. The Arms of Sleep is a large-scale choral music-theatre piece devised and directed by Jonathan Baker and Sian Croose from the acclaimed Voice Project.

The Arms of Sleep will be presented on the Firle Place estate, near Glyndebourne, where audiences of up to 50 people will each be given a comfortable bed, to experience a dreamlike night of music and stories, sound and images.

There will be a preview on Fri 11 May, followed by performances beginning on the evenings of Sat 12 May to Tue 15th May and concluding the following mornings (full details to be confirmed).

Voice Project Co-Director Sian Croose said ‘We’d like to welcome absolutely anyone over 16 with a desire to sing to join the choir. There are no auditions and all rehearsals are conducted in such a way that no previous experience of singing or music is required.’

For performances, choir members will be performing between approximately 9pm - 11pm, and 7am - 8am the following morning. Rehearsal dates are below and each choir member would need to be available for up to 3 performances.

The Arms of Sleep is a co-production between The Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Brighton Festival, and the Voice Project and was a huge critical success in May 2017 in Norwich. The music for The Arms of Sleep has been specially written by Brighton-based composer Orlando Gough, Jonathan Baker and Helen Chadwick.

There is a no-obligation taster session for anyone who thinks they may be interested in joining the choir at The Basement, 24 Kensington Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4AJ on Sunday 7th January 2018, 10.30am-1pm. 

Should you decide that you would like to partake in this very exciting project, a members fee of £60 will be required.
(Please speak to the Voice Project administrators for bursary solutions).

The Voice Project’s Sian Croose and Jon Baker will be joined by Brighton’s own Kirsty Martin who will be co-running some of the rehearsals. 

For more information please contact info@thevoiceproject.co.uk
To book on to the taster session and express your interest in the project follow the link below. 


Fill out this form to register your interest

The Voice Project are based in Norfolk and were founded by joint artistic directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in 2008. They have taken their unique vision of what a community choir can be to international jazz festivals in mainland Europe, appeared on prime time French TV and had one of their London concerts broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The Voice Project Choir is now one of the best-known choirs in the East of England, having given many hundreds of singers the opportunity to take part in unique creative performances of high quality new vocal music.

Listings info: The Arms of Sleep Taster session
Sun 7 Jan 2018, 10.30am-1pm
Location: The Basement. 24 Kensington Street. Brighton. East Sussex. BN1 4AJ
No obligation taster session, everyone welcome, no experience needed.

Rehearsal dates for 2018 (later dates and times subject to change):

Sunday 7th January 10.30am-1.00pm
Tuesday 23rd January 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 7th February 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 21st February 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 3rd March- 10.30am-4.00pm
Tuesday 6th March- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 21st March- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 24th March – 10.30am-4.00pm
Tuesday 10th April- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 14th April 10.30am-4.00pm
Sunday 15th April- 10.30am-4.00pm
Wednesday 25th April- 7.30-9.45pm
Tuesday 1st May- 7.30pm-9.45pm

Rehearsals on site from 8th May- exact dates and times TBC
Fill out this form to register your interest

Title revealed for Young City Reads 2018

Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal chosen for city-wide 'big read' as part of Brighton Festival 

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal has been chosen as the 2018 'big read' for children across Brighton & Hove and beyond. The concept is simple: one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.

Familiar to radio audiences as the hosts of Radio 1’s Greg James Show and its accompanying podcast That’s What He Said, Greg James and Chris Smith’s Kid Normal tells the story of a boy who accidentally enrols in a school for children with superpowers. Chris Smith’s literary career so far includes winning the H E Bates Short Story Competition 1981 (under 10s section) with his tale Where Are the Brandy Snaps?

The idea for writing their first children’s book arose from the pair enjoying creating characters together on their podcast, such as the Brandy Butter Monster or the receptionists at CERN. The plot concerns Murph Cooper, who feels out of depth in his new school after his mum has enrolled him at a school for superheroes by mistake. Unlike his fellow students, who can all control the weather or fly or conjure tiny horses from thin air, Murph has no special abilities whatsoever. And not far away is a great big bad guy who is half man and half wasp, and his mind is abuzz with evil plans...

Greg James and Chris Smith said: ‘We know that Brighton is full of superpowers: seagull evasion, shingle navigation and dolphin racing, to name but three. And now we're looking forward to adding a few new ones with the help of your awesome powers of creativity. We hope you enjoy meeting Murph and his friends in Kid Normal, and we can't wait to meet you all to make up some new stories!’

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘Young City Reads is always a highlight of Brighton Festival and a testament to our strong partnership with Collected Works. By providing an opportunity to encourage young booklovers to come together to discuss and share their love of reading – we are hopefully nurturing a new generation of artists and art lovers for the future.’

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, Collected Works CIC, commented: ‘Young City Reads is all about sharing our love of stories. It inspires children to take time over the reading of a book and then encourages them to discuss it with friends, teachers, carers or parents. We are delighted to be welcoming Radio 1 personalities Chris Smith and Greg James to Brighton in May to celebrate their funny and warm hearted book with schools across the city and beyond. Our young readers are in for a treat!’

Primary school teachers and classes are being invited to register online (for free) and agree to read Kid Normal together in class between (1 March – 18 May 2018). The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads website.

Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Kid Normal literacy resources and fun activities to complete. This is a great way for classes to get excited about a book and to experience the benefits of shared reading and the fun it brings.

Sharon Duggal’s The Handsworth Times was chosen for City Reads 2017 and A.F. Harrold’s Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) was the title for Young City Reads 2017.

Brighton Festival announces 2018 Children’s Parade theme

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2018 Children’s Parade - which will take place on Saturday 5 May - is Paintings. 

Each school will be allocated a painting from a selection which have been chosen to reflect the diversity of artists worldwide. The paintings will be studied and explored in detail in the schools before being presented in costume, music and carnival structures on the streets in May.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky, and supported By Yeomans Toyota Brighton for the second year and for the first time by the University of Brighton, 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 around 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 to the Prince Regent and Fat Boy Slim. This year participants donned costumes ranging from cats and clowns to The Giant Jam Sandwich in homage the theme of Poetry in Motion which was chosen by poet, rapper and musician Kate Tempest who headed up Brighton Festival 2017 as Guest Director. The parade was let by Grammy-nominated Hot 8 Brass Band, who brought their New Orleans style to Brighton’s streets.

The 2018 theme, ‘paintings’, is inspired by visual artist David Shrigley, who was recently unveiled as the latest artistic figure to take up the role of shaping the three-week programme of cultural events as Guest Director. Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, his work also spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music. Nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013, Shrigley’s Really Good, a seven-metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, is the current incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children & Family programmer says: “We were so impressed by the way that schools took their poems to heart last year and we believe that the same will happen with the paintings. The works will be studied and explored and become part of the school culture between November and May. This in-depth exploration of a work of art is something that most people don’t have the opportunity to do until they go to art school.”

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the Children’s Parade 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: “Same Sky is very excited by the 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley and his theme for the parade. We will be working with 70 Brighton & Hove schools to create the parade and enable the children to hit the street with dazzling costumes, puppets and sounds. Same Sky once again thanks Brighton Festival for giving us this great opportunity to work with nearly every school in our wonderfully creative city.”

Luke Devitt-Spooner, General Manager at Yeomans Toyota Brighton says: 'Yeomans Toyota Brighton are once again proud to be supporting Brighton Festival’s Children's Parade. Bringing an ever-cleaner automotive future for our children's world with Hybrid, Electric and Hydrogen powered vehicles'

Hugh Jones, University Brighton says: “The University of Brighton are proud to sponsor the Children’s parade as part of their commitment to the city, creativity and education.”

Brighton Festival will take place from 5-27 May 2018. The full programme will be unveiled on 15 February 2018 but a handful of events have already been announced. These include the co-commission Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter- a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall, which has recently opened to glowing reviews at Sadler’s Wells; Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; and The Voice Project’s Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images.

First shows announced for Brighton Festival 2018

Ahead of the full programme launch on Thurs 15 Feb 2018, here’s a quick round-up of the Brighton Festival events that have already been revealed…

Hofesh Shechter: Grand Finale

Brighton Festival co-commission

This latest work from internationally-celebrated choreographer (and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director) Hofesh Shechter is a spectacularly bold and ambitious new piece featuring ten dancers. Designed by Tom Scutt with lighting by Tom Visser, Grand Finale is at once comic, bleak and beautiful, evoking a world at odds with itself, full of anarchic energy and violent comedy. Filtering this irrepressible spirit, Shechter creates a vision of a world in freefall, part gig, part dance, part theatre and wholly original.

Produced by Hofesh Shechter Company and commissioned by Georgia Rosengarten. Commissioning partners are Sadler's Wells, Théâtre de la Ville-Paris / La Villette-Paris and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival


The Voice Project: The Arms of Sleep

Brighton Festival co-commission

An overnight choral sleepover experience created by directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images. Guests will be given a bed each and spend the night surrounded by sound and shadows, drifting between sleep and wakefulness. The ethereally beautiful music has been written by Helen Chadwick, Orlando Gough and Jonathan Baker.

Co-commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. Co-produced by Norfolk & Norwich Festival and The Voice Project. The Arms of Sleep premiered at Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017.


Calixto Bieito: The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

The tempestuous relationship between sex, anxiety and music comes to a head in a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito. Music and drama collide as the award-winning string powerhouse The Heath Quartet performs alongside an equally stunning quartet of actors to deliver an unmissable montage of melody and madness. The eight artists will take you on a journey through time to explore how our innermost thoughts battle with our artistic impulses.

Presented by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, in association with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.


Your Place

19-20 May 2018, Hangleton Community Centre and Hangleton Park
26-27 May 2018, Manor Gym, basketball court and playing fields

Two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Artists, community groups and an artist-in-residence are currently being sought to take part in Your Place 2018

Visual artist David Shrigley is the Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director. Read the full Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director announcement.

Brighton Festival 2018 will take place from 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be unveiled on Thu 15 February 2018.

Visual artist David Shrigley named as Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director

We are delighted to announce that the 2018 Guest Director is the Brighton-based visual artist David Shrigley

Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, Shrigley’s darkly humorous compositions reflect the inconsequential, the bizarre, and the disquieting elements of daily life. While drawing is at the centre of his practice, his work spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music.

Widely admired by the art world and public alike, David Shrigley was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013 for his solo show David Shrigley: Brain Activity at the Hayward Gallery. In September 2016, Really Good, a 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, was unveiled as the latest incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth - described as the ‘tallest and most positive yet’. An active member of the Save the Arts campaign, Shrigley recently contributed a series of illustrations depicting the benefits of the arts to health and wellbeing to accompany a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

On his appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director David Shrigley says:

“The great thing about Brighton Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’ve never heard of before. What I’m looking forward to about the role of Guest Director is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.”

David Shrigley is the first visual artist to take on the role of Guest Director since the inaugural Guest Director, Anish Kapoor in 2009. Other previous Guest Directors include the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest (2017), pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson, who led the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, award-winning author Ali Smith (2015) and musician Brian Eno (2010) who have all taken turns shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says:

“Like Brighton Festival, David Shrigley’s work is for everyone. Both powerful and funny, his work manages to navigate ‘high’ and ‘low’ art and speak to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he has also joined in championing the power of the arts to help health and wellbeing. We are thrilled that David is bringing his distinctive take to the Festival and the city he has now made his home. We look forward to a programme that we hope will entertain and inspire.” 

Brighton Festival 2018 (5-27 May 2018) will feature new work from David Shrigley alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies.

Full programme details will be announced in February but a handful of events that can be revealed now include the co-commission Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter- a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall, which has recently opened to glowing reviews at Sadler’s Wells; Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; and The Voice Project’s The Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images.

Next year’s Festival will also continue its emphasis on programming work in the community with the return of Your Place - two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Artists, community groups and an artist-in-residence are currently being sought to take part in Your Place 2018.

Following its successful trial last year, the Pay-it-Forward scheme will also return for 2018. Audiences are encouraged to donate £5 (or an amount of their choosing) on top of ticket prices as they complete their purchase, which is then match-funded by Brighton Festival to give a special £10 Pay-It-Forward Festival Ticket Voucher (valid for all Festival events) to someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response last year was phenomenal with over 1000 people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.

Brighton Festival will run 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be announced on Thursday 15 February 2018. 

Read an interview with David Shrigley on his appointment as Guest Director

INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley

The visual artist and cartoonist on following in the footsteps of the illustrious roster of Brighton Festival Guest Directors, his love of art, music and football and why he decided to make Brighton his home

When you were first approached to be Guest Director of Brighton Festival, what was it that prompted you to say yes? What most excites you about the role?

When I was approached to be the Guest Director of Brighton Festival, I said yes because I thought it was going to be fun! What I’m most looking forward to is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.

You’re following in the footsteps of the likes of Anish Kapoor, Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno in accepting the role of Guest Director, how does it feel to be taking up the baton from such company?

It feels pretty flattering given the illustrious roster of people who have fulfilled this role before me, so, yeah, I feel quite humbled to be in such company.

Are there any particular dream artists on your wishlist for Brighton Festival this year?

I think it would be good if David Bowie would come back from the dead and play at the Festival, but that’s probably not going to happen! The great thing about the Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’d never heard of before. So, what I’m really looking forward to is the stuff that people haven’t heard of before, that they’re going to be surprised and amazed by.

You’ve recently moved to Brighton, what drew you here and what has been your relationship with the city and the Festival to date?

I lived in Glasgow for 27 years until two years ago when I moved to Brighton because I fancied it, because the weather’s nicer than Glasgow and it’s a town that I’ve always really liked. My sister used to live here in the 1990s so I used to visit quite a lot and I have very happy memories of being here then. When I first started visiting Brighton with a view to moving here, it was around the time of the Festival that Ali Smith was the Guest Director, and it seemed like there was a lot going on, it was super busy and there was a lot of interesting stuff to go and see. The Festival is a great time to be in Brighton.

I hear you’re a fan of Whitehawk football club. Is that something you’ve got into since you moved to Brighton?

I started going to watch Whitehawk play football pretty soon after I moved here. I’m a bit of a football nerd, and I tend to go and watch football wherever I go. I really enjoy watching Whitehawk because it’s a lot of fun, and because the fanbase have really good politics. They are anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, which I think is very important, and is very refreshing, having been a football fan since the 1970s. I also like the fact that you can drink beer and take your dog to Whitehawk.



How important are arts and culture to your own life, and what do you think festivals like Brighton Festival can bring to communities?

The things that I like most in life are art, music, and football, and I think a lot of people like those things as well. I think people need to value the arts perhaps more than they do, because they are very important culturally, but also in terms of people’s wellbeing. Engagement with the arts has a real therapeutic value as well as a cultural value, an entertainment value, and that’s something I’m very passionate about.

You are a member of the Save the Arts campaign, why is it important to you to support the campaign?

I’ve been involved with a few arts organisations that have a political dimension to them. I’ve been involved in community education for a lot of years when I lived in Glasgow, and I’m the patron of a charity for a children’s art gallery there. I’ve been involved in the Save the Arts campaign, which was a lobbying group to campaign not to cut arts funding from the government. More recently I’ve been involved in a policy document about the arts, health and wellbeing, which is to illustrate the value of the arts for people’s health and wellbeing, and how it can be something that needs to be taken seriously by government in those terms, rather than just as entertainment or culture – it’s also a very valuable thing for people’s day to day lives.

Your sculpture - a giant bronze thumbs-up called Really Good – can currently be seen on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. How did you feel about being asked to do such a prestigious commission and what role do you think public art plays?

I wrote a kind of slightly ironic blurb about it where I said that basically it was going to make the world a better place through some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, where you say that everything’s really good and then it becomes really good. And, in a way, that was ironic because it’s slightly ridiculous to suggest that a giant sculpture makes the world a better place. But then at the same time, as an artist, you have to believe that what you do makes the world a better place on some level. So I guess that piece has a strange duality to it, in that it’s both ironic and sincere at the same time.

Brighton Festival 2018 will take place from 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be unveiled on Thurs 15 February 2018.

Your Place returns for Brighton Festival 2018

Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free entertainment in Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre - is set to return for 2018 following last year’s inaugural programme.

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A resounding success, over 2000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, with participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest said of the thinking behind the initiative: “We thought it was important that as well as having this very exciting, cosmopolitan festival happening in the city centre, with all this buzz and hype and all this energy that gets built up from people seeing something, spilling out on to the street, it also represented the wider population of Brighton who maybe can’t afford to get in to the city centre. We wanted to bring a bit of what was happening in the Brighton Festival out to a bit more of Brighton.”

2017 highlights included workshops and performances from Kate Tempest, acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere, award-winning poetry slam champion Tommy Sissons, Appalachian folk artists Anna and Elizabeth and a new Brighton Festival commission from Three Score Dance and Ceyda Tanc Youth Dance company. Discover more about this year's Your Place:



Valerie Foucher, Hangleton Community Centre Manager and a member of the Steering Group said: “When we were told our premises had been chosen for Your Place it was fantastic news yet we were so far from imagining that it would be such a collaborative process. Bringing an entire weekend of workshops and performances with so many talented artists and a technical and front house back up of such high standard, not to mention having Kate Tempest perform her Let Them Eat Chaos album was so amazing we still haven’t fully recovered from it. Most importantly it has inspired us. Your Place has opened a door that we do not want to close again.”

Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre are currently looking for small-scale performances, workshops or exhibitions by local community groups, schools, youth groups and local artists living in Hangleton or East Brighton, as well as professional artists to be a part of Your Place 2018.

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre said: “Having amazing artists like Kate Tempest performing in community centres in the city created a fantastic buzz. We'll be building on what worked so well and are also introducing two new elements to Your Place in 2018. One is a co-commission between Brighton Festival and Brighton People's Theatre to put an artist in residence into community centres in East Brighton and Hangleton who will collaborate with local people to create a new performance for Your Place. The second is programming art made by the local community. We know there is a lot of creativity in Hangleton and East Brighton and we hope to hear from local choirs, school shows, youth music groups, knitting or crafting groups who would like to be part of the Your Place programme."

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Bringing Brighton Festival together each year is a great privilege, but it is vital to us that the Festival continues to reflect and involve the whole city. One of the key things about Your Place is that the communities have been really engaged in the overall planning and management of the project and it felt really important to be able to build on this work and the relationships we have developed again this year. Our hope is that this project will continue to expand and grow and become something that everyone looks forward to as part of Brighton Festival each year.”

Your Place 2018 will take place in Hangleton Community Centre and Hangleton Park (19-20 May 2018) and Manor Gym, basketball court and playing fields in East Brighton (26-27 May). 

If you would like to find out more about how to get involved in Your Place 2018 please visit our webpage

VIDEO: 'The arts should be in our communities’

Brighton Festival 2017 reached more new audiences and more parts of the city than ever before. We shone a light on some of this year’s flagship community events and projects 

Reflecting Guest Director Kate Tempest's belief that: ‘The arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes’, events took place across the city - from the South Downs to Brighton Marina to Woodvale cemetery - drawing a ticketed audience of over 81,000, the largest ever in the Festival’s 51-year-history.

In this film we shine a light on some of this year’s flagship events and projects including new ventures The Storytelling Army, which saw a dynamic collective of storytellers from all walks of life pop up in locations from bus stops to Brighton pier; and Your Place, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, which brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities Festival artists and local residents to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities.

Eddie Otchere's Brighton Festival photo picks

Acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere immersed himself in the city during this year’s Brighton Festival, soaking up the atmosphere, camera always in hand. Eddie facilitated workshops at Your Place in Hangleton and East Brighton and set up The Bright Room – a community darkroom. Here he picks out some of his favourite contact sheets from across the Festival period.

‘It’s not the final image that makes the photographer, it’s the contact sheet itself that makes the experience’

Brighton & Hove Albion promotion parade taken by Eddie Otchere: I was walking down the street and I realised Brighton was having a parade. The turn-out and the level of production and the effort they put in to throw that party was ridiculous. It’s a reflection of the Brighton that I have come to know; a positive reflection of humanity, the way you celebrate your team graduating to the Premier League. Crystal Palace is my local team, and we don’t do this.


Your Place East Brighton taken by Eddie Otchere: I had done my workshop in the morning, and then took a walk to the Crew Club. There was a soundcheck in progress with the Guest Director Kate Tempest. There was a great rapport between Kate and the staff. It’s a wonderful example of how free they felt in Brighton. This contact sheet symbolises that level of freedom and how good they felt. When you come to Brighton, you put aside your London angst. The Kate that the people of Brighton saw was something unique to Brighton.


Your Place Hangleton, Culture Clash taken by Eddie Otchere: Poets vs MCs vs Comedians - that’s one of the best ideas I have heard in my life. They all share a similar kind of skill but they are very different. It’s a reflection of Hangleton and the talent which was pulled together to make that event happen. What an amazing community centre Hangleton has, the energy in that particular environment. This contact sheet also shows how Kate Tempest is as much in the audience as she is on stage.


Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This contact sheet sums up the experience that most people would have had in terms of a learning experience. There are all the classic subjects, dogs, people smiling, Bart Simpson graffiti. It reflects the idea that participants walk away with a camera and just shoot their environment. The money shot is an old man with a pocket watch, which made it into The Bright Room exhibition. It’s a beautiful piece of photography.


Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This person was very geometric in their taste. In that way photography is very democratic, everyone has their own taste. I think this person got a lot out of the visual investigation. Black and white film is perfect for this as it is all about shape and texture.



Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This person was my assistant at the Hangleton workshop and then came along to The Bright Room workshops and brought her brother (who appears in the contact sheet). It is the people of Brighton experiencing the Brighton that they know. I understand how people can over-think photography because it is an artform, but I think, at it’s best, photography is an example of a moment in time. This person used the camera I used for shooting metal heads and Goldie in the ‘90s. It had a setting that meant it shoots multiple exposures when the shutter button is held down, hence the repetition. 


Walking through Brighton by Eddie Otchere: This must have been the second to last day of The Bright Room workshops. I was walking by the sea to The Bright Room. It’s that thing of being in Brighton and bumping into people. These are pictures from that walk. Once you get by the sea you start to realise how magical that sea is. I think that was the most relaxing shoot I did. It is a record of what it was like for me every morning on my route to work. To a great extent it probably sums up my Brighton experience.

Find out more about Eddie Otchere and the philosophy behind The Bright Room.

Introducing the Lulu.com short story competition winners

Here we meet the four winners of the short story writing competition run by Lulu.com, sponsor of Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army.

They will have their stories combined with stories from the Storytelling Army into the Everyday Epic anthology, which is to be published by Lulu.com.

Beki Turner - Together We Can


I live in Brighton with my daughter Rosie and my dog Frankie, and I have been here since 1999, moving impulsively from London after ending up at a party in the basement of a record shop.

Brighton is a very special and magical place, and it felt right to base my story here. I wanted to highlight the subject of loneliness, and how people of all ages can be isolated and lonely for a number of reasons. I’ve worked extensively with homeless individuals and quite vulnerable adults over the years.

Everyone has a reason for ending up in Brighton, and sometimes people get lost along the way. I wanted to show how kindness and coincidence can bring people together and change lives, and how people coming together can be really powerful.

Perhaps the characters in my story will be developed in the future because they all have a story to tell and have the potential to help each other.

I have always loved writing fiction as a hobby and promised myself that if I was one of the winners of the competition, I’d start taking it seriously.

Extract from Together We Can:

'Gav is drunk. You can see it in his ordinarily militant body; His usual brash march is more of a meaningful flounder as he meanders across the pebbles. Gav opts for an unnecessarily loud exit from the blaring serenity of Brighton beach, striding past the bank holiday families with their middle class picnics, and the hipsters with their disposable barbeques bought with their disposable incomes. They are all being circled and Gav ruffles the seagulls’ feathers as he strides noisily past them.

Tourists and locals huddle around tables, drinking premium beer from flimsy cups as the sun starts to set. Gav turns back to look at the glitter bomb ocean. The sky is as beautiful as a Bierstadt. Gav breathes in the wafts of charred meat, cigarette smoke, aftershave and salt. He listens to the voices shouting over the deafening base lines and the sirens overhead. He pulls his last can of lager out of his pocket. It’s still perfectly cold. He holds the can for a moment, feeling it penetrate his hands and enjoying the sensation. He cracks it open and takes a swig. The beer simmers in his mouth and the taste is wondrous. And at that exact moment, Gav knows it’s a good time to die.'

David Benedictus - Protected Housing


I am 79 and I am a theatre director and writer. I have written lots of stuff – too much really – and published about 15-20 novels from The Fourth of June (1962), a scurrilous book about Eton, to Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009) an authorised sequel to the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

I am a member of Nightwriters, the writers club in Brighton. My second published novel, You’re a Big Boy Now (1963) was filmed by the (very) young Francis Ford Coppola in New York. I worked for the BBC on many occasions and was commissioning editor for drama series at Channel 4 from 1984-1986. I was a London tour guide and ran a horse-race tipping service for 25 years. The Daily Mail said I was going to marry Princess Anne , but I didn’t. At the BBC I initiated the programme Something Understood.

I have 4 children, a QC, a novelist, a psychotherapist and a theatrical producer. They are amazing. I have also written a number of musicals, one of which was started in 1955 and is still awaiting a full production

I don’t know where the idea for Protected Housing came from but with just a few hours to go before the deadline I thought I ought to do something and this is what emerged. It’s not like anything I have written before and although it would benefit from a second draft I like its poignant atmosphere.

Extract from Protected Housing:

‘It really was the most marvellous garden,’ she said. ’Not that I had anything to compare it with.’

He tried to recall it. ‘It smelled so beautiful. No chemicals of course then, and it rained only when you needed it. I remember a tree,’ he said. ‘Because I used to sit in the shade and make up names for things. Then you came along, and you thought of miraculous names. Like Flutterby.’

‘You improved on that one.’ She smiled. Although her skin was so wrinkled these days, she retained a smile to charm the birds out of the trees. They seldom spoke of those days because they seemed not only to belong to a different age but to two different people entirely.

‘Would you like to go back?’

‘Well, we couldn’t, could we? For one thing, we’d never find it.’

Jenny Gaitskell - On the Threshold


My default state is daydreaming, and some days I have to go to work and pretend to be sensible, but I write stories whenever possible. While I’m writing, I can go to places I’ll never see, travel in time, meet impossible strangers and be somebody else for a while. When the stories are published, my hope is that readers will imagine something new too. I blog about daydreaming, my creative brain (who calls herself Gonzo) and the unexpected encounters which inspire me. If that sounds like fun, have a look on jennygaitskell.com, or come and say hello on twitter @jennygaitskell.

When I wrote , I’d woken up into one of those mornings when everything feels impossible, even making stuff up. Under those circumstances, obviously the best thing to do was mess about on the internet, and that’s how I found the theme for this anthology, Everyday Epics. Yup, I thought, each day’s a toughie. My page was blank and my mind was blank, except for a woman stuck behind a door. I asked myself, if she could only make herself take that first step, out into the world, what might she try next?

Extract from On the Threshold:

'On the threshold, Emily told herself: you can become the version of you that’s needed, send another letter, take one more step forward. She took it, and closed her front door quietly behind her, for the sake of neighbours who’d never noticed her. Once again, the street smelled of last night but the sky was pink with possibility. Passing across the square, she recognised, from identical mornings, another early riser. He didn’t see her smile, was too busy examining the inside of his frown. There is always tomorrow, she thought. She was right on time for the park, and ready for the dog walker’s half-hearted salute, which might really be no more than a shaking of the leash. She threw her first ever greeting, but it fell short. The walker didn’t turn to pick it up, didn’t wait to see what might happen next. But a word had been spoken, and that was better than yesterday.'

Saba Sams - Nice Light


Saba Sams just graduated from the University of Manchester with a first class degree in English Literature with Creative Writing. She has now moved back to Brighton, where she was raised. Nice Light is her second short story to be published. The first, What Do You Know About Love?, can be read online at Forge Literary Magazine. A few of Saba’s poems have also appeared in places such as Ink, Sweat and Tears, and Cluny MCR.

Nice Light was written in Manchester, on an evening spent missing those hot Brighton summers, when drunks stumble up the Old Steine, and teenagers crowd the cycle paths on the seafront. It’s a story about right now, about living in the present tense, told by a protagonist who can do nothing but cross each bridge as she gets to it. But this story is also about those tiny moments of self-reflection, those glimmers of memory, recognition, or random kindnesses that remind us who we are, or where we’re going. It’s about that time of day when the clouds split to let a little sun through, and a few minutes of nice light remind us that the ordinary can hold something extraordinary.

Extract from Nice Light:

One of those days in Brighton where the heat is thick. Everybody lying on the grass watching everybody else. Ice lolly sticks all over the playground. Dogs with their tongues out, dry. Max sleeping next to a crate of Foster’s. No clouds. A teenage boy in a grey t-shirt tapping me on the shoulder. Sweat patches, smiley. Tells me he’s looking for alcoholics. Making a short film for college. Just thought he’d ask around the park. Hot day, you know? Writes his mobile number on a rizla. Don’t have to decide now, just something to keep in mind. He’d appreciate it.

Put the rizla in my back pocket. Remember being seventeen, on a bus. Woman with a sandwich turned around in her seat to tell me to go easy on the drink. She’d seen me on this route before. Couldn’t even walk straight at eleven in the morning. Better kick it before it’s too late. Got a whole life ahead of me. Not a thing to waste, a life. I thanked her for the advice and got off at the next stop to buy four K Ciders. Guess I’ve got it written all over my face.

Copies of the Everyday Epic anthology will be available from the Lulu.com bookshop and other good retailers. To find out when the book is available to buy, follow the Lulu.com social media channels.

Acclaimed Brighton Festival 2016 co-commission goes on tour

We are delighted to announce that Lola Arias’ publicly and critically-acclaimed show Minefield is to go on tour, including a run at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts from 15-17 November

Minefield is a multi-media performance from Argentinian artist Lola Arias about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict. It uses archive footage, live feeds, music and projection to present the deeply personal and enduring stories of aftermath of conflict. In her singular style, Lola has worked with veterans Lou Armour, David Jackson, Gabriel Sagastume, Ruben Otero, Sukrim Rai and Marcelo Vallejo to create a production which tells their stories.

A co-commission for the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, Minefield garnered a clutch of 4 and 5 star reviews with The Independent describing the show as ‘An unforgettably potent exercise in remembrance’, and the Evening Standard as, ‘work of extraordinary compassion, constructed with a mix of jagged flair and careful intelligence.’ 

Minefield was originally commissioned and co-produced by LIFT, Royal Court Theatre, Brighton Festival, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Theaterformen, Le Quai Angers, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Maison des Arts de Créteil and Humain Trop Humain /CDN de Montpellier.

The original sponsor for the co-commission was The Aisbitt Family.

TOUR DATES

2 – 11 November 2017, Royal Court Theatre London

15 – 17 November 2017, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Brighton. Click here to book tickets

22 – 24 March 2018, Northern Stage, Newcastle

28, 29 & 31 March 2018, York Theatre Royal

5 – 7 April 2018, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

12 – 14 April 2018, HOME, Manchester

Winners announced of Lulu.com Short Story Competition

Four winners of the short story writing competition run by Lulu.com, sponsor of Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army, have been announced. 

The lucky winners will have their stories combined with stories from the Storytelling Army into the Everyday Epic anthology, which is to be published by Lulu.com.

Writers living in Sussex were asked to respond to the theme selected by Kate Tempest for Brighton Festival 2017, Everyday Epic, in no more than 4,000 words. The winning entries are:

Protected Housing by David Benedictus, Hove

On the threshold by Jenny Gaitskell, Lewes

Nice Light by Saba Sams, Brighton

Together we can by Beki Turner, Brighton

Jean Roberts, Business Development Director UK at Lulu.com says “The standard of the entries were all very high and it was certainly a difficult choice to come down to the final four writers. The judges all felt that these stories captured the spirit of the ‘Everyday Epic’ and really make the reader stop and think about how even the smallest event can be epic and life affirming or changing. Well done to all four winners and we hope that they continue to write stories to share.”

Brighton Festival worked with nabokov theatre company and Guest Director Kate Tempest to assemble and mobilise the Storytelling Army: a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life - including those who are homeless and vulnerably housed – who performed in unexpected locations throughout Brighton over the last weekend of this year’s Festival.

Copies of the Everyday Epic anthology will be available from the Lulu.com bookshop and other good retailers. To find out when the book is available to buy, follow the Lulu.com social media channels.

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival retains Arts Council NPO funding

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is pleased to be confirmed as a continuing part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for 2018-2022.

Funding has been maintained at current levels during the period, equating to £1,149,921 per year.

As custodians of the Grade 1 Listed Brighton Dome at the cultural heart of the city, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is the major arts and cultural provider in Brighton & Hove with an audience reach of over 666,000 annually.

Funding from Arts Council England (ACE) – along with Brighton & Hove City Council and a number of other supporters and donors - allows the delivery of an innovative year round programme spanning music, theatre, dance, comedy, literature, spoken word, visual arts, film, digital and more, as well as Brighton Festival each May; the largest curated annual multi-arts festival in England. Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness over the past half century, renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “We welcome the continued support and strong endorsement from Arts Council England for our work and our exciting plans ahead. We are also pleased to see continued funding for partners throughout the city and across the region.”

A registered charity, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is committed to offering imaginative new ways to discover and participate in the arts. Each year, the work of our Creative Learning team reaches over 22,000 people in Brighton & Hove and beyond.

Find out more about the work of our Creative Learning department.

Brighton Festival 2017 goes down a storm

The 51st Brighton Festival - with acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest as Guest Director - came to a storming conclusion last weekend. 

The three-week celebration of the arts saw events take place in more venues across the city than ever before - from the South Downs to Brighton Marina to Woodvale cemetery - drawing a ticketed audience of over 81,000, the largest ever in the Festival’s 51-year-history.

At a political and social moment that feels particularly precarious, the wide-ranging programme paid homage to what Tempest calls the ‘Everyday Epic’ - art that helps us connect to ourselves and others, explores our individual stories and differences, and encourages audiences to take a walk in someone else’s shoes.

None did this more successfully than the UK Premiere of The Gabriels, Tony-award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s extraordinarily, intimate depiction of one American family, written and set in real time during the turbulent US election year. The plays received a series of 5* reviews and were lauded by critics as ‘deeply moving portraits of the dissolving American dream’ (The Guardian), ‘a quietly stunning theatrical achievement’ (The Stage), and ‘miraculous, almost invisible craft’ (The Arts Desk).

Kate Tempest herself featured in a plethora of performances both large and small: including an exclusive opening gig of music and spoken word, her largest full band performance to date; and a live orchestration of her recent album Let Them Eat Chaos, produced in collaboration with Oscar-nominated artist Mica Levi. All were rapturously received by sell-out audiences – with fans taking to Twitter to proclaim the likes of: “Transcendent doesn't even cover it: Kate you blew my mind. Thank you”.

Reflecting on the experience Tempest says:

“It’s felt crazy - the things that I’ve been doing have been things that I never would have had the opportunity to try out, had it not been for this particular Festival, for example getting the opportunity to play with a string and woodwind ensemble. That was an experience that I’ve dreamed of, but was completely impossible. 

To get that many players of that calibre together, and to do it in a way that felt like it was providing something new for the work. It felt like a real moment of artistic endeavour and true collaboration." 

With an audience of 15,000 over 16 evenings, one of the Festival’s biggest talking-points was For the Birds, a spectacular night-time trail of sound and light installations at a secret woodland location. The largest ticketed event ever presented at Brighton Festival, this unique event set social media abuzz throughout the month, with audiences dubbing it ‘mesmerising’, ‘fascinating’ and ‘beautiful”.

Reflecting Tempest’s belief that: ‘The arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes’, two new ventures ensured Brighton Festival 2017 did just that: The Storytelling Army, a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life popped up in unusual locations across the city to tell their ‘Everyday Epic’ stories - in turn humorous, inspiring, thought-provoking, emotional, and rousing; and new initiative Your Place, in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities Festival artists and local residents to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A resounding success, 1500 people took part in Your Place across two weekends.

Brighton Festival audiences were also encouraged to join the Pay-It-Forward movement for the first time in another new initiative which offered the chance to donate £5 on top of ticket prices which was match-funded to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response was phenomenal with over a thousand people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.

As Tempest herself said:

"One of my big hopes was that we could do just what we have done, which is to bring the Festival out a little bit, open it up, and have some events going on in the communities, so people who can’t make it into town for whatever reason, still get to access some of the great programming and some of that feeling of this Festival.”

Other Brighton Festival 2017 highlights included an ethereal promenade performance through Woodvale Cemetery for Circa’s Depart; Kneehigh’s acclaimed production of Emma Rice’s staging of Tristan & Yseult; a special performance from legendary folk singer Shirley Collins; a major new co-commission from sculptor Cathie Pilkington; a virtual exploration of the Australian outback with Lynette Wallworth’s thought-provoking Virtual Reality film experience Collisions; two special events to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of Monteverdi: and an inspirational sold-out book tour event from US Senator Bernie Sanders.

As ever this year’s Festival has been a triumph of partnership working, made possible through collaborations with many major organisations across the city and beyond including Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, Lighthouse, Fabrica, University of Brighton, Onca Gallery, Theatre Royal Brighton and Without Walls amongst others.

2017 also saw the highest number of shows yet live-streamed to audiences around the world for free, thanks to the on-going partnership with Greater Brighton Metropolitan College with highlights including Kate Tempest’s collaboration with Mica Levi and Orchestrate, an extravaganza of music and performance by queer artists of colour headlined by Mykki Blanco, and playful dance theatre by Joan Clevillé Dance with Plan B for Utopia.

Sponsorship and corporate support has also been vital this year with generous contributions from new and returning sponsors and supporters including London Gatwick Airport, University of Sussex, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, GM Building, Griffith Smith Farringdon Webb, Lulu.com, Nutshell Construction, Yeomans Toyota Brighton, Selits, and ZSTa.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Bringing Brighton Festival together is a great privilege and this year with Kate Tempest’s inspiration we’ve been thrilled to have reached new audiences and achieved some fantastic new records. But it is only possible because of the extraordinary support we have from funders, patrons, supporters, sponsors, members, partners and artists. We are also blessed with one of the most adventurous, curious and experimental audiences anywhere. I would like to thank everyone for their invaluable contributions, for making Brighton Festival what it is and for bringing this wonderful city and its wonderful festival to life.”

In photos: Week 3

Brighton Festival 2017 is over! We can't believe what a fantastic month it has been – here's a few photos from events in the last week

Photos by Vic Frankowski and Adam Weatherley

Brighton Festival Live: Bernie Sanders - Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In

Bernie Sanders - Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In will be live streamed on Thur 1 June, 8.30pm

Join us for an inside account of Sanders' extraordinary campaign with Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, and a blueprint for future political action.

Bernie Sanders stormed to international headlines after running an extraordinary campaign for the Democratic primaries that saw over 13 million people turn out to vote for him, and thereby changed the global discussion surrounding US politics. But how did a relative unknown and a democratic socialist make such waves?

Sanders provides a unique insight into the campaign that galvanised a movement, sharing experiences and the ideas and strategies that shaped it. Drawing on decades of experience as an activist and public servant, Sanders outlines his ideas for continuing this revolution, arguing for a progressive economic, environmental, racial and social justice agenda that creates jobs, raises wages and protects the planet.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Brighton Festival Live: Mykki Blanco

with Travis Alabanza + Lasana Shabazz

This Brighton Festival Exclusive will be live streamed from 9pm on Sat 27 May, from The Spire

Co-produced in partnership with The Marlborough Theatre

‘Mykki Blanco is the most compelling rapper of his generation’ i-D

Hold tight for an extravaganza of music and performance from pioneering queer artists of colour from both sides of the Atlantic.

We’ve teamed up with The Marlborough Theatre to offer a chance to party, show solidarity, and vent some artistically expressed rage against the status quo.

US rapper Mykki Blanco will blow your preconceptions away with his fast, ferocious style – as much influenced by punk and riot grrrl as hip hop. The performance artist-turned-rapper has toured with Bjork, Tricky and Basement Jaxx, and counts Florence Welch and Grimes amongst his many fans. This past autumn saw the release of the long-awaited debut Mykki album, the most personal collection of work yet from the gender-bending queer pioneer.

Mykki is joined by two fierce performance artists: Travis Alabanza (currently artist in residence at the Tate), and Lasana Shabazz, a regular performer with Duckie, the V&A and Southbank Centre, who both recently featured in Scottee’s acclaimed Roundhouse show, Putting Words in Your Mouth.

The Spire Programme supported by GM Building. 

Brighton Festival Live: Kate Tempest plus REMI

Kate Tempest plus REMI will be live streamed on Fri 26 May, 8.30pm

Hot on the heels of a headline tour in support of second studio album Let Them Eat Chaos, Kate Tempest and her band bring a specially extended live show to kick off the final weekend of Brighton Festival in fine style.

A poet, rapper, playwright, and impassioned performer, Kate Tempest is an artist who refuses to conform to genre boundaries. Whether it’s her self-performed epic poem Brand New Ancients (winner of the 2013 Ted Hughes Prize), her electrifying debut novel The Bricks That Built The Houses, or her Mercury Music Prize-nominated album Everybody Down, when you experience her powerful oratory, you’ll know why she is being hailed as the voice of a jilted generation.

Support comes from Melbourne MC REMI, who, with musical collaborator Sensible J, has become one of the fastest-rising hip-hop acts in Australia. REMI's sophomore LP Divas and Demons was released last year through his own label and included the widely loved single For Good featuring Sampa the Great.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Star of The Gabriels actor Maryann Plunkett announced as narrator of Copeland’s Lincoln Portrait for Brighton Festival finale

Britten Sinfonia and Brighton Festival Chorus bring Brighton Festival 2017 to a resplendent close with Aaron Copland's rousing Lincoln Portrait, alongside John Adams's glittering symphony, Harmonium.

We're delighted to announce that our narrator will be actor Maryann Plunkett, who plays Mary Gabriel in Richard Nelson’s trilogy The Gabriels, which has garnered a clutch of five-star reviews since its Brighton Festival UK premiere last weekend.

In 1942, shortly after the USA entered WW2 Copland was commissioned to write a work to fortify and comfort people during the time of national distress. The resulting Lincoln Portrait is a stirring setting of extracts from great speeches made by Abraham Lincoln, including the Gettysburg Address.

Other famous narrators have included the likes of Neil Armstrong, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Katharine Hepburn, and Barack Obama.

Maryann Plunkett also played Barbara in Richard Nelson’s The Apple Family Plays (Brighton Festival 2015), while her Broadway credits include Agnes of God, Sunday in the Park with George and Me and My Girl (for which she received a Tony Award). 

Britten Sinfonia and Brighton Festival Chorus are at Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Sun 28 May, 7.30pm

Brighton Festival Live: Lyrix Organix

Lyrix Organix with Kojey Radical & UnFold will be live streamed on Tue 23 May, 7.30pm

Lyrix Organix explore what it means ‘To Be Human’ with a double-headliner live show, Kojey Radical & UnFold.

UnFold is a critically acclaimed live show that champions the next young stars of spoken word, in collaboration with a contemporary classical string section. This edition shines a spotlight on Toby Thompson (described as ‘the future’ by Kate Tempest), Laurie Ogden and Solomon OB (National Slam champion 2016), in a collection of live performances threaded by a soundscape from London String Collective.

In a special for Brighton Festival, the event is co-headlined by Kojey Radical, an extraordinary 24 year-old poet, musician and striking visual artist. His explosive live shows have led to sold out performances at London’s Jazz Cafe, MOBO Award nominations.

The night also features a special guest talk by internationally acclaimed poet Deanna Rodger exploring 'The Art Of Words’.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Young people from Brighton Youth Centre create graffiti mural inspired by the Storytelling Army

Young people from Brighton Youth Centre have created a mural responding to a piece of writing by a member of Brighton Festival’s Storytelling Army, under the guidance of local artist and muralist Sinna One.

Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army is produced by nabokov theatre company who are working to assemble and mobilise a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life - including those who are homeless and vulnerably housed – who will be popping up to tell their stories in unexpected locations throughout Brighton over the last weekend of this year’s Festival, 26-28 May.

The mural, which is on the wall of Coffee@33 on Trafalgar street, was inspired by a piece of writing by one member of the Storytelling Army wrote about the kindness of people who buy her coffee.

Sinna One, who runs art classes at Brighton Youth Centre, says ‘Those guys when they come into the art room at the youth centre, they don’t always get to experience what I do as a job, and out on the street as well. It’s nice because it gives them a sense of working in the community as well.’

Fashion student Finley Marshall, who took the lead painting the mural, says ‘I’ve lived here all my life and I love Brighton so much. I loved the idea of spray painting. There’s loads of graffiti work all around Brighton, and getting to be a part of it is really great. I really like the concept [of the Storytelling Army] that people are just going to start telling stories places.’

Our sponsors' top picks for Brighton Festival 2017

We asked a few of our sponsors what they were most excited about for Brighton Festival 2017. Here are their top picks.

ZSTA - Richard Zinzan – Partner

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

10 or more

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round? 

Yes

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

Chineke Orchestra

Kate Tempest with Mica Levi

This Bright Field (though not seen it yet!)

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

This is ZST architects second year supporting the Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. As a local creative architectural and Interior design practice we are passionate about culture, arts and the city. It’s important for local businesses to support the festival to allow it to continue on with its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation. The festival really puts Brighton on the cultural map and celebrates its individual atmosphere that we are all proud to be part of.

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Gary Miller – GM Building

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see? 

This year I am attending 15 events (17 if you include the all the Gabriel Plays as separate shows). I am a patron as well as a sponsor so talking to the programmers and other Patrons usually informs my choices and also The festival director, Andrew, gives a preview of the festival to the patrons which is an invaluable insight into what to expect.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round? 

Reasonably regular , I come to plays, Spectrum, rock and Pop concerts in the Dome and the odd comedy event.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

As the festival is not over difficult to say what my top pick are. But I do think the Gabriel plays will be good. Swan lake and Kate Tempests Chaos were both stunning, and I have heard nothing but praise for the Birds, and this is the sort of event that you can only see at a festival like Brighton.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

I came to the festival via the children’s parade and my daughter’s desire to be a contemporary dancer and a desire to understand the workings of an industry that was alien to me. But I continue to support the festival as it is difficult not to be moved by the enthusiasm, hard work and sheer skill of the performers and artists. Culture is a very important part of what makes Brighton the vibrant place it is and without the Dome and Festival it would be a lot duller.

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University of Sussex - Laura McDermott - Creative Director

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

I see as much as I possibly can during Brighton Festival. I love festivals, the energy they bring to a city and how they help you see your environment afresh. I'll see several events each week - obviously everything at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, where we are co-producing a programme of events including the Uk Premiere of The Public Theater's The Gabriels trilogy by Richard Nelson. I also prioritise events that are in interesting or unusual spaces - in venues like The Spire or outdoors - up on the downs or out at sea.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?

Yes - I love visiting Brighton Dome, especially for gigs in the opulent concert hall. Last time I went (to see Future Islands) a musician in the support band referenced the fact that the hall used to be the stables of the palace. She said "we're all like Prince Regent's horses". It seemed a good excuse to jump about dancing.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

Lynnette Walworth's Collisons at Lighthouse (part of the Australia in Brighton strand of the festival) - a beautifully cinematic and political use of virtual reality, which has had a real-world impact.

For the Birds by Jony Easterby et al - a truly magical woodland adventture after-dark, sensitively installed amongst the trees in a secret location up on the South Downs.

Mykki Blanco at The Spire, presented by The Marlborough Pub & Theatre - the hottest ticket, this will be a truly iconic festival closing party.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

University of Sussex is serious about its commitment to the local community and Brighton Festival is a brilliantly visible, celebratory way to demonstrate that commitment, alongside the work the University and its students undertakes year round in service to our community.

The University of Sussex are supporters of Brighton Festival. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, part of the University of Sussex, are also co-producers for Brighton Festival 2017.

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Vicky King – GSFW

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

I always try to attend a handful of events during Brighton Festival and the launch event is the best insight into the upcoming schedule – then it’s home with a highlight to work my way through the programme!

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?

I absolutely love the Brighton Dome as a venue and attend numerous music gigs, comedy performance and dance acts throughout the whole year.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

Hot 8 Brass Band – I have heard great things about this group and they didn’t disappoint! I couldn’t stand still, such a fun and lively atmosphere! For the Birds – such an unusual but interesting event, it is nothing I have experienced before but such a great opportunity to get outdoors. Breakin Convention – I love dance and music combined and this event is perfect. Looking forward to seeing the amazing talent on display.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

As a firm, this is our third year supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. We feel that is it part of the Brighton community and culture and without the support of local businesses it wouldn’t be able to continue. The events that this venue and Festival allows us all to be part of is truly spectacular and we look forward to supporting for many years to come.

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Ben Copper – Nutshell Construction

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

What we attend, and how often, differs year on year. The past few years have been a particularly exciting time to be working in UK construction, so we always expect to learn about emerging trends whenever we network at the Festival. For us, it’s all about mixing with a variety of different specialisms, from architects and designers, to local technology companies to get a real flavour of what’s going on in the South East inside and outside our bubble!

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?

We happen to come from a family of folk singers so the arts are an incredibly important part of who we are and what we do. That’s why we try to support the Dome and the variety of acts it hosts all year round. As well as visiting a range of events and performances, we’re also lucky enough to regularly host our very own events in this historical and beautiful venue.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

With a whole month of incredible events, it’s tricky to pick just 3. One of our top highlights has to be the Your Place programme, which we’re incredibly proud to have been involved in this year. It truly brought Brighton’s communities together, which is what we think the Festival is all about.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

As a Sussex company to the core, we truly value everything to do with the community and its culture. The Brighton Festival is a hugely important part of what makes the city and the county as a whole and we are always proud to be part of it. The festival also allows us to talk to clients old and new in a different setting from our usual building sites. 

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Lulu.com

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

We attended the opening day of the festival and we were stationed in the Dome throughout the day and so were delighted to see the children's carnival when we arrived and also the Kate Tempest opening gig. Throughout the afternoon in the Dome we were lucky to be able to listen to children playing music from the schools around Brighton.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?

This is the first year we have sponsored the festival and our first visit to the beautiful Dome.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

The Children's Parade was fantastic and the carnival animals were made with such care and attention. Many of the animal creations were brought into the Dome after the carnival and it was quite something to see an 8ft+ high duck coming through the door of the Dome.

The Kate Tempest opening gig was electric and a sell out and the Dome was alive and buzzing as people arrived.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

We are supporting the theme of Everyday Epic by running a short story writing competition in conjunction with Brighton Festival and nabokov's Storytelling Army. We are delighted to be able to bring together the most basic of human conditions, that of verbal story telling into the written form. 


In photos: Week 2

Another amazing week of Brighton Festival 2017 has passed already! Check out these photos from some of the incredible events over the last week.

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Caitlin Mogridge and Lucy Brooks.

Brighton Festival Live: The Big Song

The Big Song will be live streamed on Mon 22 May, 7.30pm

The universe sings. Planets sing. Comets sing. The earth itself rings like a bell and vibrates with sound. So, instead of the Big Bang, could there have been the Big Song?

The Big Song is a glorious celebration of singing that sweeps from science to spirituality, prehistory to protest, and reminds us of the central role of song in our identity and civilisation.

By Heathcote Williams, narrated by Roy Hutchins

Arrangement & Musical Direction by Kirsty Martin, featuring Hullabaloo Quire, Raise the Roof Community Choir and RISE Up Singing.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Brighton Festival Live: Boys Don't

Boys Don't will be live streamed on Sun 21 May, 4pm

What’s a boy to do? From the playground to the classroom, from home to the uncharted waters of online, boys learn that displaying their feelings is a no-no. But what happens to emotion that can’t be let out?

Through funny, familiar and sometimes heartbreaking stories drawn from the real-life experiences of its cast of poets and spoken word performers, Boys Don’t delivers insights into male experiences of growing up, and offers the possibility of more open communication for us all.

Age 8 -12 and adults (not suitable for under 8s)

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Brighton Festival Live: Bang Said the Gun

Bang Said the Gun will be live streamed on Sat 20 May, 8pm

Voted the best poetry night in the UK by The Times, Bang Said the Gun is for people who don’t like poetry. Normal rules do not apply here: it’s loud, raucous, political, trivial, serious and very funny.

Bang Said the Gun’s unique brand of stand up poetry has been described by Kate Tempest as ‘like mud wrestling with words’ and by former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion as ‘a vortex of energy and enthusiasm’. Don’t miss a rich mix of the best and freshest talent that will grab you by the collar and drag you into another world.

Featuring Dan Cockrill, Martin Galton, Laurie Bolger & Rob Auton with guests Vanessa Kisuule & Sally Jenkinson.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Brighton Festival Live: An Evening with Picador Poetry

An Evening with Picador Poetry will be live streamed on Fri 19 May, 8pm

Featuring Glyn Maxwell, Lorraine Mariner, Hollie McNish, Richard Osmond & Kate Tempest

The Picador Poetry list is 20 years old. Since its inception, its mission has been simply to publish the best work from across the art form. For this celebratory event, An Evening with Picador Poetry, Editor Don Paterson presents a wonderful line-up of established names and new voices from this broad church.

Picador is the home of Guest Director Kate Tempest’s poetry. Kate will read from her passionate, political verse from Picador collection Hold Your Own, and long poems Brand New Ancients and Let Them Eat Chaos.

Glyn Maxwell is one of Britain’s most respected and awarded contemporary poets, whose book On Poetry was described by Guardian critic Adam Newey as ‘the best book about poetry he has ever read’.

You may already know the work of rising spoken word star Holly McNish from one of her viral YouTube videos (collectively now at 4 million views), as well as her Brighton Festival 2015 performance with Kate Tempest and George the Poet.

Described as a Dorothy Parker for the internet age, Lorraine Mariner’s much loved wry style is demonstrated in her latest collection, There Will Be No More Nonsense.

The line-up is completed by poet and forager Richard Osmond, one of the Evening Standard’s ‘new guard’ of young poets, whose Useful Verses follows in the tradition of the best nature writing.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Brighton Festival Live: The Furrow Collective and Anna & Elizabeth

The Furrow Collective and Anna & Elizabeth will be live streamed on Mon 15 May, 8pm

A double bill featuring rising stars of contemporary folk from both sides of the Atlantic, The Furrow Collective and Anna & Elizabeth.

Described by MOJO as ‘a mouth-watering collaboration’ The Furrow Collective is Lucy Farrell, Rachel Newton, Emily Portman and Alasdair Roberts – four fine soloists whose shared love of traditional songs and playful musicianship has earned them two BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominations. This ‘quietly classy young folk band’ (The Guardian) move with ease from jaunty stories to poignant laments and supernatural ballads.

Anna & Elizabeth are two truly inspiring artists from Southwest Virginia and a rare treat for lovers of Appalachian roots music. As storytellers, they are almost single-handedly resurrecting the lost art of ‘crankies’ – cloth and cut-paper scrolls depicting stories and scenes from the great ballads, unfurled to musical accompaniment. Witness this culture carried forward with mastery and love.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Brighton Festival International Programme supported by London Gatwick. 

In photos: Week 1

The first week of Brighton Festival 2017 has come and gone! We've been really enjoying all the shows, events and happenings – here's a few pictures of what's been going on

Photos by Victor Frankowski and Adam Weatherley.

New app The Hum invites festival-goers to view Brighton in a new light

The Hum, a free app which highlights the beauty in the everyday, is now available to download.

A Brighton Festival co-commission conceived and directed by Nic Sandiland, The Hum is a reflection and meditation on our own everyday interactions with the city. Half cinema, half reality, the piece weaves together visuals with a specially composed soundtrack.

Festival-goers will be invited to follow a trail on their smartphone screen, guided by the app to 15 locations within walking distance, around the city, and on arrival a narrated soundtrack will be played.

The Hum incorporates text from four diverse artists including: international dance artist Wendy Houston, dance writer for The Times Donald Hutera, Maria Oshodi director of Extant Theatre Company of visually impaired people and live artist Pete Phillips, to a sound score by musician James Keane. These writers explore the subtle qualities of observed and experienced movement to create their own idiosyncratic narratives ranging from the poetic and humorous through to the ironic and subversive.

Director Nic Sandiland says ‘The Hum gives audiences a new perspective on the everyday happenings in Brighton. Set to an emotive musical score with thought provoking text the piece takes you on a journey through 15 often-overlooked places in the city, places that we take for granted. The Hum makes us look at the mundane acts which take place in these places and by elevating them to the status of a feature film. At times profound yet often personal it is an immersive work that reveals an alternative view of the city through the movements that take place within it.’

Click here to download The Hum on Apple and Android devices

The deadline for entries to Lulu.com Short Story Competition has been extended

The short story writing competition launched by Lulu.com, sponsor of Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army, is now open to entries until Wednesday 24 May.

The publisher invites all Sussex residents over the age of 18 to respond to Brighton Festival Guest Director Kate Tempest’s theme Everyday Epic, the observations and achievements of our daily lives which we piece together to celebrate and share our common humanity.

Four lucky competition winners will be announced during the last week of the Festival. The winning stories will be combined into an anthology, alongside stories from the Storytelling Army, and published as a paperback book. UK based marketing and PR company Authoright will also be supporting the book with a publicity campaign once it is published; ensuring the Everyday Epic stories reach as many readers as possible after the competition ends.

Brighton Festival is working with nabokov theatre company and Guest Director Kate Tempest to assemble and mobilise the Storytelling Army: a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life - including those who are homeless and vulnerably housed – who will perform in unexpected locations throughout Brighton over the last weekend of this year’s Festival.

Entry is free and stories must be no more than 4,000 words (there is no minimum word count) and must be received electronically by midnight GMT on 24 May 2017. Entries must be submitted electronically as a word or pdf document and the document must contain: your name, your address, your age, your e mail contact details, the title of your submission, the word count, your twitter handle (if relevant). Entries should be emailed to social_uk@lulu.com.

For full Terms and Conditions visit lulu-uk.blog. Alternatively email social_uk@lulu.com for the competition entry rules.

For the Birds and the Environment

We would like to offer our reassurance that we have undertaken an extensive consultation process over the past few months with experts and all the relevant authorities to ensure that For the Birds can be produced both safely and sensitively in its environment.

Neither Brighton Festival nor the artists take this lightly. Indeed the work itself is intended to celebrate the mystery and beauty of the avian world and highlight why it should be protected.

Specific measures include:

  • Undertaking environmental assessments of the area and locating the installations accordingly to prevent disturbance of habitats
  • Obtaining all the correct permissions for use of the location
  • Controlling the sound and light levels through bespoke, low-voltage LEDs and low-volume, localised sound installations
  • Routing the audience journey on existing, well-used footpaths overseen by security and stewards to ensure no ticket holders stray from the paths
  • Prohibiting vehicular access to the site by shuttling audiences from off-site parking via Big Lemon Buses (fuelled by repurposed cooking oil)
  • Protecting the identity of the location by not publicising it in our marketing materials to prevent disruption from non-ticket holders
  • Employing security to protect the site (which has many users including bike scramblers and dog walkers) throughout the month

Following the recent concerns raised, we have commissioned an additional survey from a further independent expert, which concluded that: “the organisers appear to have taken a great duty of care in ensuring there is a minimal impact to wildlife and the woodland environment”.

The report highlighted just one specific recommendation regarding the positioning of one of the light installations which has been actioned immediately.

The artists and on-site staff will continue to monitor the site throughout the month and be fully responsive to any new information.

The safety and welfare of the natural environment is our highest priority.

To read a full copy of the ecological report please click here.

Brighton Festival Live: Kate Tempest with Mica Levi & Orchestrate

Kate Tempest with Mica Levi & Orchestrate will be live streamed on Thur 11 May, 7.30pm

Hip-hop inspired storytelling meets cinematic orchestration as Kate Tempest teams up with musician and composer Mica Levi and ensemble Orchestrate. Known to many as the frontwoman of Micachu and the Shapes, Mica Levi is also an accomplished composer of film scores, most recently Pablo Larrain’s Jackie for which she received both BAFTA and Oscar nominations. She has long collaborated with Orchestrate, a network of some of the UK’s most accomplished and adaptable young musicians, whose work in the studio and on stage includes performances with The National, SBTRKT, Ghostpoet and Christine and the Queens.

For this special one-off performance, Orchestrate will perform a selection of Levi’s works, followed by a special performance with Kate Tempest of Let Them Eat Chaos, re-worked for string orchestra. Released late last year to universal acclaim, the album has been described as Tempest’s state-of-the-nation address: over the course of 13 tracks, we meet seven sleepless Londoners in the small hours, whose individual stories of dissatisfaction are set against a backdrop of global crisis.

An unmissable Brighton Festival collaboration.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Supported by Chalk Cliff Trust

Volunteer call-out: Depart

Take part in Circa's sold-out performance Depart at Brighton Festival –call-out on behalf of LIFT Festival

Depart is an exciting new international collaboration featuring circus artists, aerialists, acrobats, dancers, choral singers and musicians working in tandem with video, lighting and installation artists under the direction of celebrated Australian director Yaron Lifschitz and his company Circa.

Depart will be shown in Brighton as part of the Brighton Festival with 8 performances from Tue 23 to Sun 28 May at 8.30pm and 10.15pm. Show duration is 60 to 65 minutes.

Audience Guides

To compliment the artistic model and the outdoors promenade format of the show, Depart is looking to recruit 12 to 18 volunteers locally in Brighton to match the role of Audience Guides.

Audience Guides are an integral and central part of the show implementing the task of leading audience through the site following a pre-agreed route and ensuring audience’s observance, including walking in silence, not treading off the given route and not taking pictures during the show.

Mapped along the route will be performance areas featuring circus artists, aerialists, acrobats, dancers, choral singers enhanced by the elements of lighting design, sound and video work.

The production can offer an expenses cover of £100 to all volunteers for your time on the project.

Depart will offer scheduled training sessions led by Circa Associate Artistic Director Alice Lee Holland. Previous performance or audience stewarding experience is desirable, but not compulsory. Audience Guides will need to show confidence when interacting with audience and be able to follow artistic direction. All training sessions will take place at Extra-Mural Cemetery next to Extra-Mural Chapel, entrance to cemetery from Lewes Road.

Training sessions:

Sat 20 May: 4pm – 8pm

Sun 21 May: 4pm – 8pm

Full attendance is expected, if possible.

Further to that, Audience Guides will be expected to have evening 6.30pm – 11pm availability on Tue 23 – Sun 28 May. They will need to attend a technical rehearsal on the evening of Tue 23 May, a dress rehearsal on Wed 24 May, and be available on show days Thu 25 – Sun 28 May.

Costume

As part of the costume brief, Guides will be expected to come dressed in black trousers, comfortable black shoes or boots.

If they own a white shirt, they will be expected to wear that also. Alternatively the production will provide a shirt. The production will also provide each guide with a black coat. We advise that everyone dresses warm and wears layers, as those will be long hours in the outdoors.

Upon appointment, please provide production team with your coat size.

For further information, please contact Linda: linda.peterkopa@gmail.com

Your Place brings diverse line-up of music, dance, theatre and spoken word events to Hangleton and East Brighton communities

As part of a new partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Brighton Festival has been working with local residents and festival artists to programme an exciting and diverse line-up of free music, dance, theatre and spoken word in the Hangleton and East Brighton communities.

Hosted by local community centres, Your Place is coming to East Brighton and Hangleton with free workshops, performances and activities for the whole family over two weekends, beginning with Hangleton 13-14 May, then East Brighton 19-21 May. Along with community steering groups in partnership with the Hangleton and Knoll Project and Due East in East Brighton, this year’s inspiring Guest Director Kate Tempest and local company Nutshell Construction to create the space, we have selected and shaped an events programme with these communities in mind.

This programme plays a critical part of Kate Tempest’s vision for this year’s Brighton Festival of enabling as many people in the city as possible to access the festival. In her words: 'The arts should be social, not elitist. They should be part of our everyday life. They should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes.'

Highlights from the Your Place Hangleton programme (13 to 14 May) include:

Acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere’s Pinhole Camera Workshop (14 May), teaching families how to build their own pinhole camera and document local history; Guest Director Kate Tempest (13 May) performing poetry from her incredible back catalogue; Culture Clash (13 May)with award winning poetry slam champion Tommy Sissons and rapper and battle MC Ceezlin, who will both also be coaching rap, poetry and comedy; a special one-off showcase from AudioActive (13 May) a music organisation working with young people at the meeting point of technology and contemporary urban culture; a singing workshop from Appalachian folk artists Anna and Elizabeth (14 May); a performance of Tighten Our Belts, a theatre show about the cost of austerity by Brighton People’s Theatre; and an array of workshops for all ages including a workshop run by Nutshell Construction to make Book Swap Boxes (13 May), as part of the City Reads city-wide project.

Highlights from the Your Place East Brighton programme (19-21 May) include:

A night of Spoken Word (20 May) as Kate Tempest performs poetry from her latest anthology, also with performances by national poetry slam champion Tommy Sissons, and Ceezlin (on tour with Rag ‘n’ Bone Man); Tales of Birbal (19 May) where Mashi Theatre’s travelling storytellers tell ancient stories from across the Indian subcontinent; Virgin Territory (20 May) workshop delivered by Vincent Dance Theatre for young people and adults to investigate the challenges that young people face in a selfie-obsessed world; Three Score Dance & Ceyda Tanc Dance (20 & 21 May), Three Score Dance a company for people aged 60+ perform a new Brighton Festival commission choreographed by Ceyda Tanc and her youth company; an oral history workshop by acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere; Help! I think I might be Fabulous! (20 May) a hilarious and heart-warming show from Alfie Ordinary; other workshops include building and decorating Book Swap Boxes (20 May) with Nutshell Construction, and Hidden Mazes (21 May) which uses art and drama to explore the experience of navigating the world with an invisible disability.

Kate Tempest, Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director says 'I thought it was important that as well as having this very exciting, cosmopolitan festival happening in the city centre, with all this buzz and hype and all this energy that gets built up from people seeing something, spilling out on to the street, I wanted it to also represent the wider population of Brighton who maybe can’t afford to get in to the city centre. I wanted to bring a bit of what was happening in the Brighton Festival out to a bit more of Brighton. We’ve got this really cool initiative called Your Place – which is probably the thing I’m most excited about. There will be performances from Brighton Festival artists and also participatory events and workshops. Everything completely free, programmed in conjunction and consultation with people that run some of the community programmes out of those community centres.'

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre says 'The community has been really hands on engaged from start to finish in the overall planning and management of the project. I think the arts and creativity are important to everyone, I think everyone is creative but not everyone gets the opportunity to express that creativity.'

All Your Place events are free but ticketed. To book call Brighton Festival Ticket Office on 01273709709 or download a comprehensive guide 

Alice O'Keefe's most anticipated Books and Debate events

Alice O’Keefe, our Books and Debate Programmer, shares her most anticipated events from three of the most exciting writers of this year's Brighton Festival.

For reader’s out there who haven’t discovered Petina Gappah yet, you are in for a treat – her event is going to be one of my highlights of this year’s festival. The short stories in her latest collection, Rotten Row, bring alive the experience of living in Zimbabwe under Mugabe – the craziness, the poverty, the lack of justice or redress, but most of all, the inventiveness and humanity of ordinary people. She is as funny and scathing about the ageing dictator as she is about the folly of the Western aid agencies – get a ticket and catch this very special writer while you can.

Another highlight is sure to be Hanif Kureishi, who will be looking back over his whole taboo-busting and boundary-breaking career in conversation with the broadcaster Mark Lawson. From his portrayal of a cross-cultural gay relationship in the film My Beautiful Laundrette, to his very early look at Islamic fundamentalism in his novel The Black Album, Kureishi has consistently proved himself to be one of Britain’s most provocative and insightful writers. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about these and his latest novel, The Nothing.

Finally, I’m looking forward to seeing Gary Younge, who is one of my very favourite writers on politics both in Britain and America. He will be talking about his shocking and brilliant book One More Day in the Death of America, and also more generally about race, guns and Trump. He is in Brighton on the special invitation of Kate Tempest, who is a big fan - and his event is essential for anyone who wants to understand the current state of the USA.

Read more about our Books and Debate programme

VIDEO: Boys Don't director Rosemary Harris on the making of the show

Boys Don't delivers insights into the male experience of growing up through funny, familiar and sometimes heartbreaking stories drawn from the real life experiences of its cast of spoken word performers and poets. Here director Rosemary Harris talks about the making of the show.



Boys Don't is at The Spire on Sunday 21 May, 2 & 4pm

Brighton Festival Live: Plan B for Utopia

Plan B for Utopia will be live streamed on Mon 8 May, 7.30pm 

You have a plan, and then you don’t. You have a dream, and then you wake up. You fall in love, and your heart gets broken. The question is: do you pick up the pieces and try again?

Plan B for Utopia is a playful dance theatre work by Dundee-based company Joan Clevillé Dance. Charismatic performers Solène Weinachter (Scottish Dance Theatre, Gecko) and John Kendall (balletLORENT) explore the notion of utopia and the role that imagination and creativity can play as a driving force for change in our personal and collective lives.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Brighton Festival International Programme supported by London Gatwick. 

Festival Hot Seat...The Hum

Breathing new life into the mundane,The Hum takes over Brighton this year to remind us of the beauty in the everyday. We caught up with director, Nic Sandiland, to find out more.

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Yes, it’s about looking at the detail of our everyday and mundane activities within the City; things we take for granted and don’t give a moment’s notice because of their overfamiliarity. Cinema is very good at showing us this; it gives us an opportunity to dwell and reflect on such details. For The Hum, we’re simply taking some standard filmic techniques: narration and soundtrack, and using a smartphone to overlay these onto the live visuals of each site; it’s like an inside out cinema.

How and where will the work be staged?

At 15 locations around the City, each within walking distance of each other. The public uses a free app to guide them to each place which, on arrival, plays a narrated soundtrack which accompanies the day to day choreography which takes place there.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To re-experience the city from a different perspective, to hear some thought provoking text set to an emotive musical score.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was looking to develop a location-based app to give more people access to our work. Our projects are very visual but we quite quickly realised that a tiny Iphone screen was no match for the surrounding environment, however dull it seemed to be. This made me consider what it was that smartphones could bring to such environments and how we could look at these places anew. In this case, it was navigation and sound playback. Put these ingredients together and you get The Hum.

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

So much mainstream cinema and theatre is about the big events, things that most people don’t really experience in their day to day lives. The Hum, on the other hand, is about the world of the everyday, it reflects on acts such as: waiting at a bus stop, standing on an escalator or walking down the road. These are the places that we spend most of our time in, so why not elevate their status and place frames around them.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

It’s not an action movie, it’s more a reflective and emotive one. Perhaps this is for those who want to avoid the rush of the city and “stand and stare” as W.H.Davies famously said.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Possibly its simplicity, but mainly its content. Being an app-based event one might assume that the dramatic or reflective content is not such a priority; however, this is at the core to the work. It is a very personal and contemplative piece, mainly thanks to the dexterity and sensitivity of the writers involved.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

The Festival is a focal point of culture and new challenging work. I have many favourite moments over the years. Last year Simon McBurney’s The Encounter was a beautiful application of new technology. Embracing digital forms of presentation whist holding onto the intimate narrative he managed to conjure up a transfixing performance in an adept manner.

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

I’d like to see Theo Clinkard’s new piece, he’s working with James Keane, a fabulously talented composer who also created the soundtracks to The Hum!

To experience The Hum download the app here from the 6 May onwards.

In Pictures: Chidren's Parade 2017

Poetry In Motion!
A few photos from an incredible Children's Parade. What an amazing and wonderful way to mark the start of Brighton Festival 2017.

The theme for the 2017 Children’s Parade, the largest of its kind in Europe, which is jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and supported by local business Yeomans Toyota Brighton, was Poetry in Motion, and around 5,000 children from 67 schools and community groups from across the region took part.

Leading the parade was Guest Director Kate Tempest and special guests Hot 8 Brass Band, who brought a brilliant slice of New Orleans funk to the occasion. 

Participants took inspiration from poems and poets including Edward Lear, Spike Milligan, Rudyard Kipling, Christina Rossetti, Lewis Carroll and William Shakespeare, resulting in a glorious array of outfits and mannequins from an Owl and a Pussycat in a pea green boat to a giant jam sandwich!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved. Thank you all for your magnificent creations and for your enthusiasm and to Same Sky Brighton and our sponsors for making this an epic Children's Parade to remember.

Find out more about our sponsor Yeomans Toyota Brighton


Belem: a lyrical melange of merriment & melancholy through interwoven folk, tango & classical traditions

Joe Fuller previews the pioneering spirit of the cello-accordion duo ahead of their Brighton Festival debut

The rhythmic momentum of Didier Laloy's accordion and Kathy Adam's cello in Belem should make for a rousing late night gig. The duo performed together in European folk band Panta Rhei, so this concert is of interest to those interested in world music, folk and tango as well as classical music fans, and the unique interplay of the two musicians should flourish in a live setting. I'll highlight some of the best moments from Belem's music below to explore the musical possibilities in this idiosyncratic fusion of poignant jollity.

The video below highlights the differences between the two musicians' styles. Kathy Adam is mostly classical focused in her recordings and performances, although she has also worked in theatre, dance and song. Adam often seems to provide the classical heart of the works, whereas Didier can come across as almost mischievous at times, the jester to Adam's bard. Personally, I like it when the two meet in a more plaintive mode, such as the ponderous playing around the three minute mark in this clip of Le puits, romaniste.


The melodic lines are closer to pop than classical in their occasional major resolutions, such as in album highlight Scampavita, the track which comes closest to traditional chamber music. The rhythms in their work are often folky however, conjuring images of storytelling, ales, jaunts, and energy to me, with a tinge of role playing video games fantasy about them too. There is also a tango lilt to proceedings that the more lithe in the audience might enjoy, and some parts even sound like sea shanties (such as parts of Le puits, romaniste) so there is certainly a wide spectrum of moods to absorb in the show. 



Belem should be praised for trying something new in the context of chamber music, which often focuses on string quartets. More attention is inevitably directed towards individual melodies and performing styles in chamber music, as opposed to the kaleidoscope of an orchestral concert, which can result in more moving, intimate concerts. One of my most memorable classical shows was Huw Wiggin's saxophone and James Sherlock's piano in a 2015 lunchtime Festival concert, when technically challenging pieces and virtuoso playing took my breath away. Belem's show therefore might be a good choice for classical fans who might want to hear different tones, moods and colours in a concert than what they might be used to.

Live reviews have been positive, noting that the audience has responded to melancholic elements, and the vocal quality of the cello playing. The terms poetic and tender have also been used, suggesting that years of playing together have ensured that Laloy and Adam know how to grab an audience's attention in a delicate, emotive way, which is an impressive achievement considering how loud the accordion can be. It's a novel proposition to explore the tender qualities of the accordion in fact, such as in the more downbeat track Valse Noire where Laloy provides a soft, mournful underpinning to Adam's pining cello, resulting in a brighter Max Richter-type drone around the 2 minute mark.

I wouldn't be surprised to find such a duo at a smaller, rowdier venue such as The Bee's Mouth or Komedia's Studio Bar, but the picturesque All Saints Church could emphasise the more poetic aspects of the duo's refreshing collaboration. The charismatic and energetic performers should find a receptive audience in the artful, bawdy eclecticism of a Brighton Festival crowd keen to hear something new.   

Belem performs on Fri 19 May at All Saints Church, Hove. Click for more info and tickets >

Brighton Festival Live: Kate Tempest Opening Gig

Kate Tempest Opening Gig will be live streamed on Sat 6 May, 6.30pm

As Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2017, it is only fitting that Kate Tempest should take to the stage on the very first evening. Giving the audience a taster of what we can expect over the following three weeks this Opening Gig will be full of music and spoken word to open your minds and grant you an insight into Brighton Festival, Tempest-style. Tickets are sold out (returns only) but you can still join us here for a live streaming of the gig.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College



Festival Hot Seat...This Bright Field

Brighton-based choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard has built a reputation for creating affecting and visually arresting work for his company including this new piece, This Bright Field, which is in two parts and gradually builds in momentum to become a spectacle of visual and emotional power.


How and where will the work be staged?

This Bright Field will be presented at The Brighton Dome Concert Hall and is conceived in two parts. In part one, the audience enter the theatre in small groups to find themselves on the edge of the stage where they experience 15 minutes of intimate and tender solos and duets that explore touch.

In part two the audience is situated together in the auditorium and everything that has been established in part one is put to the test. Individual dancers move within a series of external conditions, both social and choreographic. The piece gradually builds in momentum to reach an epic scale, so that at one point the cast appears to be made up of hundreds of people. Live drumming and bold costumes also create memorable final scenes.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

In 2013, I was invited to make a work for the larger stage by an organisation called Dance4 and I began researching how I might rethink some of the conventions of dance presented in bigger venues.

I devised a structure where an audience might establish personal connections with the cast by initially situating them close to the action, then using the volume of the auditorium as a gentle provocation. Could the group be seen through the lens of the audience’s individual connections now that they have essentially zoomed out from the action?

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

I believe that mankind has difficulty humanising statistics, as we struggle to grasp scale. The numbers remain abstract while our brains seemingly can’t hold the information.

A group of 'other' people can easily be dehumanised when we fail to recognise the independent lives that make up the group, and the risk is often greater when we add in different belief systems. We might be able to empathise with those on our doorstep, but when the people in question are not in our immediate sphere of experience, it becomes harder.

My work could serve as a reminder to retain a human-scale perception in the world. I went on to consider the large group of performers I was working with, and even the audience themselves. The thinking is included in the way I structured and formed the piece rather than in a theatrical sense.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because they believe that dance can tap into something instinctive and human that other art forms struggle to touch upon. Also, because they are interested in how live music can radically increase the nature of performance and because they are not shy of work that comes from and speaks to the heart.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Someone who enjoys films or other artworks that require them to sit forward and figure it out for themselves, who loves to see skilled dancers in a creation that works with, empowers and celebrates their differences. Also, someone who is curious about humankind and how we see the world and believes that contemporary work has a duty to draw upon the world as it is right now.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The set-up in two parts, which is unusual in terms of where the audience is situated and what this does to their attention. The considered design that creates numerous distinct worlds on stage and the stirring live music.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

As a local, Brighton Festival means great work from around the world right on my doorstep. As an associate at the Dome, I feel I have a base from which to be in dialogue with the extraordinary work that comes through its doors, to be part of a bigger worldwide conversation and celebrate all that unites us with other worlds and contexts. It is necessary now more than ever before.

This Bright Field by Theo Clinkard is on at Brighton Dome on 25 May from 5.10pm

Brighton Festival welcomes Bernie Sanders for special Festival Extra event

Former Democratic candidate for President of the United States Bernie Sanders will speak about his new book Our Revolution at a special Brighton Festival Extra event on Thursday 1 June, with tickets on sale from Wednesday 3 May at 10am (members pre-sale Tuesday 2 May at 10am).

Bernie Sanders will join Brighton Festival’s diverse Books and Debate programme, which includes Gary Younge discussing the role of guns in Trump’s America; Tariq Ali on his portrait of Lenin, and how we might challenge capitalism today; Palestine’s leading writer Raja Shehadeh on the Israeli occupation of Palestine; celebrated novelist Hanif Kureishi looking back on a career in which he has explored identity, cultural difference, and religious fundamentalism; and Democracy Debate: What Comes Next? in which Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee chairs a panel of top thinkers and politicians to debate the future of our political system.

Bernie Sanders stormed to international headlines after running an extraordinary campaign for the Democratic primaries that saw over 13 million people turn out to vote for him, and changing the global discussion surrounding US politics. But how did a complete unknown and an avowed socialist make such waves?

In Our Revolution, Sanders provides a unique insight into the campaign that galvanized a movement, sharing experiences from the campaign trail and the techniques that shaped it. And it wasn't just his use of new media; Sanders' message resonated with millions. His supporters are young and old, dissatisfied with expanding social inequality, struggling with economic instability and who rebelled against a political elite who has long ignored them. This is a global phenomenon, driving movements from Syriza in Greece to Podemos in Spain and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK.

Drawing on decades of experience as activist and politician, Sanders outlines his ideas for continuing this political revolution. He shows how we can fight for a progressive economic, environmental, racial and social justice agenda that creates jobs, raises wages and protects the environment. Searing in its assessment of the current political and economic situation, but hopeful and inspiring in its vision of the future, this book contains an important message for anyone tired of 'same as usual' politics and looking for a way to change the game.

Bernie Sanders ran to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. He is currently serving his second term in the U.S. Senate after winning re-election in 2012 with 71 percent of the vote. Sanders previously served as mayor of Vermont's largest city for eight years.

Bernie Sanders Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in is coming to Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Thursday 1 June. 

Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival Members pre-sale: Tuesday 2 May at 10am. Tickets go on general sale: Wednesday 3 May at 10am

Interview: Eddie Otchere

Best known for his photographs depicting hip hop culture since the 1990s, acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere will be creating The Bright Room, a community darkroom at Brighton Festival. We caught up with Eddie to find out more

Can you tell us about your involvement in Brighton Festival this year? How did it come about?

My involvement with the Brighton Festival came about when I finally met Kate Tempest in daylight hours, in Vauxhall for a shoot. We got into this amazing conversation about raving, life and love. She spoke about the Brighton Festival because she was just excited that was she able to do it. She had a vision for the Festival, about the community, about society, and we talked about that.

We left it there, but then I got into a conversation about making work for the Festival with the Festival Producer, Beth Burgess. I thought let’s do something active with an open-door policy, then people can come in and be a part of the art. Let’s create a darkroom, make it transparent and clear, and get people to come in to create images and stick them on the wall. It would be their gallery; like some kind of great socialist utopia. That was general feeling of it but as I’ve started to get more into Brighton, I realise it’s something Brighton might embrace in terms of people and art almost being the same thing, at the same time.

How did you first meet Kate Tempest? What interests you about working with her?

I first met Kate in a rave in Peckham. Her and her squad were celebrating a birthday party, I was with a guy called Gerald and I was photographing him and these rambunctious people, enjoying every moment of it. At the end of the night Kate comes up to me and asked me to thank Gerald for a great set. It was two in the morning and I was not focussing on what was going on, but when I went back to look over my photos from that night Kate’s drummer was in them and I realised I must have met her.

What interested me about working with her is that everything she does is loaded with a sense of motive. It’s more like love than anything else and you can’t help but feel empowered by that. The first time I ever heard her speak, in the Battersea Arts Centre, she did the poem ‘The God’s are in the Betting Shops’ and it blew my mind that words from the mouth of someone so young could be so perceptive, so poetic and yet so street. It was like, finally we have a Shakespeare, a Shakespeare meets Joan of Arc in the 21st century. Finally, we’re advanced enough to actually understand this level of humanity. We can allow ourselves to listen this person and gain power from this person so that we can go about our lives not feeling challenged or afraid. That person, in the back of my mind is always Kate Tempest.


You will also be taking part in Your Place at Hangleton and Whitehawk. Can you tell us what you’ll be doing for that and what attracted you to the initiative?

I went to Whitehawk and bumped into Lorraine Snow, the centre manager of the The Crew Club, a community centre there, and was inspired to record her story. I wanted to know about her life in the heart of a community. The same thing happened when I went to Hangleton, I caught the bus up there and went to their community centre and the door wasn’t locked so I just walked in. Some kids were doing circus practice and I was struck that it was a living centre, beautifully run, and the reach of the Brighton Festival should extend here to the outlying communities.

I want to give people some sense of what photography is in the traditional sense. To say, here’s a roll of film, I want you to shoot your Brighton and I want that to be on display in The Bright Room, so press that button and let the camera tell your story. With that came the idea of the contact sheet as being a photographic motif of narrative; that you can just shoot a roll of film and all those 36 shots are like 36 chapters in your day in Brighton, your story.

You have described your work as a type of ‘mass observation’. Can you tell us what you mean by the term and what interests you about that approach?

Mass observation was an idea I came across that happened in this country in the 1940’s. I think it was a team of photographers who went to the working class communities of the north and started photographing everything. The images are of peoples’ lives in situ just as they were; a slice of life. I felt that I wanted to experience that for myself in regards to East Sussex and the South Coast, just turn up and start photographing.

Even in the last two weeks we’ve been walking around Lewes, Alfriston and the villages outside of Brighton just to circumnavigate the environment and the lives people live. That means walking past a house and seeing a man in wellies, in a river, cutting water-cress. You start talking and that’s actually his life, that’s what he does when he gets up in the morning. Just to observe and to allow the people of Brighton to become a part of this mass observation. I understood this idea to record working-class life not as art but more as a sort of social document. But I’m now trying to make more about art, it’s mass observation as art.

What are you hoping people will take away from The Bright Room?

I’m hoping people will come into The Bright Room to walk away with a skill; to have learnt how to develop a roll of film and print an image. To have learnt how to just go out there, take pictures and have conversations with people. To have learnt how to see themselves and their work amongst other people’s work and see that we are all one. Did I really just say that? I’m just giving you my whole world outlook, sorry!

You are committed to traditional photography and the art of darkroom printing. Why do you prefer this method and what are the benefits of this photographic approach?

I love film photography because it’s a skill and it’s using your eyes in a way we don’t do anymore. With back-projected screens and photons coming out of telephones, things are being thrown at us; we’re not looking at reflected light we’re looking at emitted light. I think we still have to remember to look at things in reality. I want people to experience film photography so they can experience what’s actually there. You can only manipulate so much in film, you have to be honest.

I’m using 8 x 10 paper so each image is small enough to stick on your fridge and you don’t have stand back and look at it. And what a gift. It’s difficult in the world we live in but I still want people to put things on their wall. For when they open their eyes in the morning they see that image and it takes them forward. We are losing that engagement. As soon as you wake up in the morning you go straight to your phone.

How did you first get into photography?

My mum had a camera and I had a chance to play with that once or twice and my generation inherited records and cameras from their grandparents. You take a camera and you put a roll of film in to to see if it still works, you go out shooting and you capture things around you. I think the first photographs I took were of a pair of trainers, the most important thing I had ever bought! After that I went to college and that was it. The minute I got to the darkroom I knew I would love photography. It was not just taking pictures, it was the whole process of developing the picture, printing it and then showing it to someone you photographed and seeing them react.

It was only in 1993 when someone offered to buy a picture of mine that I realised that you can make money from photography and it built up from there. It allowed me to make prints, making prints meant I could do shows, doing shows meant I could understand what curating is and then I could reassign my understanding of art history and add these social spaces where people, art, music and food all interact and people’s minds could be changed. You walk into a show with one mindset and by the time you walk out from that experience you have a different mindset.

For me, the minute I look through the lens at someone you see how the light frames them and you start to look so deeply that you fall in love. It is a bit oversimplified but the image ends up capturing what I see when I am in love with someone. This happened with Kate, you can see it in the contact sheets. That emotive quality, you can’t beat the rush. There aren’t many jobs that give you that level of satisfaction.


You have photographed many of the icons of the Hip Hop scene. What interested you about the capturing the scene?

At the time I started it was an underground scene, very small but very influential and there were so many characters within it who had their own voice, their own manner, their own language; they were like super-beings to me. Whether it was Method Man, Coolio or any one you can think of in that scene, they were such characters. When you turn a camera on them, you feel like you fall in love with them but also you feel like you just captured a God of some kind in the height of their prowess. Hip hop is one of those things that is very empowering.

In England it was slightly different, we didn’t really have MC personalities – our MC’s were our DJ’s in a way. Someone like Fatboy Slim who has the same energy as a rapper except he isn’t lyrical, but when he gets behind the decks and he mixes tunes together he is genuinely having a moment and your in that moment with him. When I photographed Fatboy Slim his record was number one and he was on top of the world and I love it when artists are in that moment. You can’t help wanting to photograph that as you see it happen. I still get that buzz now.

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

I’m look forward to everything this Brighton Festival, it is so strong across the board. I am looking forward to being there and recording the performers, recording the people that come to see it, recording the parts of Brighton that the performances are happening in. Celebrating the fact that Brighton has a festival! Brighton is not England’s first, second or even third city, it is way down the league but its celebrations are bigger than anything else, maybe only second to Notting Hill Carnival in my head anyway! And unlike Notting Hill Carnival which was never supported by the council, it is beautiful because it is a combination of community and the organisers’ vision for Brighton, and Brighton’s vision for itself. It is such a powerful thing to see a city celebrate itself like that. I am looking forward to being able to record it on camera and let the world know that this is how a city gets down!

The Bright Room Workshops will take place from Tuesday 23 – Friday 26 May, 4 – 7pm, 114 Church Street. Works created will be on display in The Bright Room Gallery, Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 May, 11am – 11pm, 114 Church Street.

Guest Director Kate Tempest's Picks

With this year’s celebration of the everyday epic fast approaching, we felt there was no one better to guide us through the month ahead than our pioneering Guest Director, Kate Tempest.

Below she lays down the events she is especially excited about in the hope you will see, hear and feel something new.

Five Short Blasts Shoreham

Five Short Blasts Brighton Festival

Who? Austalian artist duo Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey (the team behind Gauge, Brighton Festival 2015)

What? Cast off aboard a small boat into the River Adur and navigate the uncertainties of the changing tide whilst tuning in to the sounds of the people who live and work on the water.

They Say“Five Short Blasts Shoreham is a journey in a boat, where you listen to the sound of the place and the sound of the people in the place. You listen to where you are but also you listen to voices and sounds that we have orchestrated and created for you as we traverse a journey.”

Kate says“There’s a site-specific piece of theatre, kind of environmental music installation art, by this incredible duo from Australia. It’s called Five Short Blasts which is the signal that you give when you are in a sea-way, that means ‘I’m confused about your intention and I’m nervous that we are going to collide’. This is the premise of this sound art piece and I’m really excited about bringing that to Brighton.”

Where? Shoreham Harbour

When? Saturday 6 – Sunday 28 May, around high tide (every day except 8, 9, 15 – 17, 24 & 25 May)

Let Them Eat Chaos: Rearranged

Kate Tempest, photo credit Eddie Otchere

Who? Guest Director Kate Tempest with Mica Levi & Orchestrate

What? Hip-hop inspired storytelling meets cinematic orchestration as Kate Tempest teams up with musician and composer Mica Levi and ensemble Orchestrate, to perform Kate’s full album, Let Them Eat Chaos reworked for strings.

The critics say“Kate Tempest’s refusal to recognise genre boundaries – her material nimbly regenerates itself into performance poetry, rap-style narratives against a backdrop of electronic music, a novel – might appear at odds with the consistency of her concerns.” – Alex Clark, The Guardian

Kate says“It’s a kind of reinterpretation of Let Them Eat Chaos for strings, composed by Mica Levi who is an incredible artist and a friend which is really exciting! I can just feel the shape of the piece changing and what’s going to happen to my voice against the resonance of those strings is really exciting.

Where? Brighton Dome Concert Hall

When? Let Them Eat Chaos: Thursday 11 May, 7,30pm

If you like this, you will also like… A film screening of the critically acclaimed Under the Skin, accompanied by a live orchestral performance conducted by Mica Levi of her ethereal soundtrack, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Sunday 7 May, 8pm

The Odyssey

The Odyssey at Brighton Festival 2017

Who? Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton

What? Leading storytellers Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton tell the gripping story of the Odysseus’ ten-year journey from Troy, an epic adventure story punctuated with moments of insight, humour and horror.

The critics say'The nation's most celebrated storytelling duo in a performance that is serious, moving and vital' Times

Kate says… “There’s a guy called Daniel Morden, who’s from Wales and he’s a storyteller – he knows the whole Odyssey back to front in his head, and he can tell it to you while you’re sitting there, it will feel like a blockbuster movie. He’s incredible, I’m really excited about what he’s going to bring!”

Where? Sallis Benney Theatre

When? Saturday 13 May, 6pm

Your Place

your place

Who? Community steering groups from Whitehawk and Hangleton, with Kate Tempest

What? A diverse and exciting programme of music, dance, theatre and spoken word events in the Hangleton and Whitehawk communities, created with and for the community, this one is for everyone to enjoy.

They say… “The community has been really hands on engaged form start to finish in the overall planning and management of the project [...] I think the arts and creativity are important to everyone, I think everyone is creative but not everyone gets the opportunity to express that creativity. The arts help us figure out what it means to be human.” - Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of the Brighton People’s Theatre

Kate says…We’ve got this really cool initiative called Your Place – which is probably the thing I’m most excited about. We have developed two community hubs, one in Whitehawk, one in Hangleton, in community centres there and we’ll be programming events going on for two weekends across the Festival. There will be performances from Brighton Festival artists, also participatory events and workshops. Everything is free - completely free - programmed in conjunction and consultation with people that run some of the community programmes out of those community centres.”

Where? Hangleton & Whitehawk

When? Hangleton: Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 May, Whitehawk: Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May

Ocean Wisdom and High Focus Records

Ocean Wisdom, The Four Owls & Jam Baxter

Who? High Focus Records presents Ocean Wisdom, The Four Owls and Jam Baxter

What? Resurrecting the legacy of UK hip-hop, label High Focus Records offers up three acts from their impressive family of artists. Meteoric riser, Ocean Wisdom, Fliptrix led collective The Four Owls, and outlandish lyricist, Jam Baxter.

They critics say… “Ocean Wisdom’s Chaos 93 is vital work in a maturing genre by a young talent, which should be as gripping a listen for those who know they’ll love it, as it is necessary for those who think they won’t.” – Tariq Goddard, The Quietus

Kate says… “There’s a rapper called Ocean Wisdom, a rapper called Jam Baxter and a group called Four Owls who are going do an event as a part of a High Focus showcase. High Focus are a record label championing extremely delicate, powerful and playful lyricism in the UK.”

Where? Brighton Dome Concert Hall

When? Friday 21 May, 7.30pm

Lyrix Organix


Who? Poet, musician and visual artist Kojey Radical & UnFold platform featuring Toby Thompson, Solomon OB, Laurie Ogden & London String Collective

What? Exploring what it means ‘to be human’, acclaimed platform, Unfold, with the next young stars of spoken work meets the extraordinary lyricism of 24 year-old artist, Kojey Radical in this double headliner collection of live performances threaded together by London String Collective

The critics say… “One of the most innovative and exciting presentations of the spoken word I have experienced” - Dean Atta, poet and winner of the London Poetry Award

Kate says… “There’s a real emphasis on storytelling, on lyricism which is something that is really close to my heart. We’ve got a load of poets that we’ve programmed and storytellers and lyricists from across the board. When you immerse yourselves in narratives that are overtly narratives like storytelling, or cinema or theatre or dance, it can help you tune in to spotting the narratives that are more carefully hidden.”

Where? The Spire

When? Tuesday 23 May, 7.30pm

If you like this, you will also like… Voted the best poetry night in the UK by The Times, Bang Said the Gun’s unique brand of stand-up poetry is an energetic blend of the freshest talent, described by Kate as ‘mud wrestling with words’, The Spire, Saturday 20 May, 8pm

Festival Hot Seat...SPECTRA: CAST

Artist duo Walter & Zoniel plan to transform Brighton Beach into the biggest canvas in town with SPECTRA: CAST, which is part performance, part installation. Here they tell us more about what’s in store.


Can you tell us what your show is about?

SPECTRA: CAST is a large-scale public installation where we will be painting Brighton beach multi-coloured. It is an interactive art piece, so everyone is invited to take part.

The installation is purposefully simplistic in terms of interaction yet it works on multiple levels, so each person will take something different from it.

It deals with themes of inclusivity in art and accessing creativity through crossing lines we aren’t normally allowed to. We use fun and mischief as tools in the installation to inspire engagement with the subjects.

How and where will the work be staged?

The work takes place on the beach in between Brighton Pier and the Doughnut Groyne. The active part will be on Doughnut Groyne, so anyone wanting to take part should head there. It can be viewed from all around, including the promenade and the pier, for those wishing to just watch the piece take shape.

Those taking part are invited to cast their multi-coloured stones onto the ‘canvas’of the beach. Each stone is coloured to represent each person’s individual opinion.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It will be fun, surreal and beautiful and those who input will be part of a massive artistic creation which will remain on the beach until nature takes its course.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

For our SPECTRA series of installations we wanted to use mischief and surrealism, getting people to cross lines they wouldn’t normally be allowed to cross. We were inspired by societal concepts of rules which led to the idea of crossing lines and using colour to change spaces in people’s consciousness.

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

It’s important for us to look at what restrains us and what fuels us on a daily and societal level, what rules are there and why, and when it’s useful to step aside from them to think creatively. Also, public engagement with art is a key element of this piece. Everyone should feel empowered to engage and have access to art, and we are strong advocates of that. The artwork exhibited on the beach will be a representation of everyone’s opinions.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who likes fun, or art, or expressing their opinions. Also anyone who enjoys being part of something bigger than themselves.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

That it works on multiple levels. There is much more to it than the simple act of throwing a coloured stone. We’re not telling you what, or it wouldn’t be a surprise.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

We are really into Kate Tempest’s curation and how it’s focusing on the accessibility of art, as this is a subject close to our hearts. Brighton is such a vibrant and colourful city and the festival team is pushing boundaries of what can be created. We are looking forward to it all.

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

There are so many interesting events going on, it’s hard to choose. The light installation in the woods ‘For The Birds’ looks pretty intriguing.

SPECTRA: CAST is at Brighton Beach, Doughnut Groyne from 13-14 May

Festival Hot Seat...Rich Hall's Hoedown

Rich Hall and his musical mates present the Hoedown, a mash-up of the very best of music and comedy, featuring his critically-acclaimed grouchy humour and deadpan style. He explains a bit more about the show.


Why should someone come and see your live show?

I love the fact that when a live show is over, it’s gone. It's happened, and it will never happen like that again. It can’t be replicated. That’s a great magical moment.

In every single show, there are always two or three moments where I’m thinking, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ You’re constantly thinking on your feet.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

I try to tap into what is happening locally and address that musically by writing an improvised song based on the town I’m in.

Once audiences realise you're not just trotting out your regular act, people think, ‘He’s made a real effort. He’s on our side, so we're on his side.’ Then you can take them anywhere.

Where did the idea come from to do the improvised songs?

I like to do something custom-made every night, otherwise you would just be like a robot. That can really wear you down. Nobody gets more sick of hearing their own voice than a comedian.

When you're improvising a song, you think, 'I may never do this one again, but it’s a special moment for everyone here.’

Music works in my show because it connects with people on a very personal level. Having a band there makes it a much richer experience – if you’ll pardon the phrase!

A lot of comedians just come on stage and say, ‘I was on a bus and I passed so and so.’ But that’s just a reaction to something rather than a specific, custom-made song that engages people. The magic is more important than the material. People really respond to that.

What are the other inspirations for your comedy?

It is always good to articulate anger. If you don’t, you’re merely preaching to the converted and asking, ‘Have you ever noticed?’ Yes, we are paying you to notice things we haven’t already noticed!

You want to reach the point where audiences say, ‘I’d like to see that guy again’. You want to deliver the goods and be Old Reliable. I’m not a big showbiz hound, but for me being on stage is the most satisfying thing imaginable.

Rich Hall’s Hoedown is at Theatre Royal Brighton on Sun 21 May at 8pm

Festival Hot Seat...One Hundred Homes

One Hundred Homes is a lovingly conceived intimate performance by Belgian theatre maker Yinka Kuitenbrouwer. Full of warmth and insight, the show won rave reviews at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. We talked to Yina to find out more. 


Can you tell us what your show is about?

One Hundred Homes is an intimate performance based on over 100 talks about ‘home’. I went to visit over a hundred people in their houses. I tried to visit a lot of different kinds of people: those living in special houses such as boats, train stations and squats, along with people who fled their country or who moved around a lot. Based on all these talks, with the help of pictures, tea and biscuits, I perform my show.

How and where will the work be staged?

One Hundred Homes will play in a community pub, in a very intimate setting of a little kitchen and is always played to a small number of people. This way, I really get in touch with the audience, so the show is an encounter similar to the ones I had while visiting people researching the show.

Why should someone come and see your show?

One Hundred Homes is more than a regular performance, it’s an immersive encounter between the audience and me, the actor. It’s also about a topic that relates to us all – being at home. And there will be biscuits!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was born and raised in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. When I was 19 I moved to Ghent in Belgium to study Drama. Although I always planned to go back to Amsterdam after my graduation, I started to feel more at home in Ghent than in Amsterdam, although I had been living there for the larger part of my life. This realisation made me wonder what ‘home’ really is and this idea formed the starting point for the show. While I was doing my interviews as research, I was struck by the openness of the people I visited, and the intimate stories they told me, even though I had never met them before. This inspired me to make the show personal and honest.

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

It’s universal and very relevant to the current times with refugees crossing borders in order to find safe new homes.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Someone who likes to discover new places where theatre can be performed, who likes stories and meeting new people. Also, someone who likes an intimate setting where it’s a bit different to a regular performance. And who likes biscuits!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The range of people that are involved in the show and the fact that there are so many stories about home, but in the end everybody is more-or-less searching for the same thing. Also, people may not realise that there this is a special Brighton adaptation with local interviewees involved in the show.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

It will be my first time visiting Brighton and the Festival. I’m very excited to be part of the Festival as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I’m also excited to be coming back to the UK after my run at the Edinburgh Fringe last August.

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

There is a lot to choose from, and with my seven performances in three days, and biscuits to bake for each, I don’t know if I will have time to see as many other performances as I’d like to! I’m really looking forward to enjoying the atmosphere of the city during the Festival.

One Hundred Homes is at the Bevy Community Pub from Friday 26 May to Sunday 28 May.

5 mins with...Ocean Wisdom

Brighton-based rapper Ocean Wisdom, who has moved up the ranks over the last 12 months with his album chaos 93, answers our quick-fire questions before his Festival event.

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

Eminem / Dizzee Rascal.

My first public performance took place at…

The Dorchester Hotel.

The first gig I went to was…

Lee “Scratch” Perry.

The first album I ever bought was…

Gorillaz and The Marshall Mathers LP.

My favourite part of touring is…

Trying different food and seeing fans.

My favourite song to perform live is…

High Street.

The last song I listened to was…

Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when…

I completed my debut album.

The best show I ever performed was…

Paleo 16 /Thekla, Bristol 15.

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

A humble farmer tending to his cattle.

People would be surprised to learn that…

I’m fully Japanese.

Ocean Wisdom appears with The Four Owls and Jam Baxter at the High Focus Records Special at Brighton Dome on Friday 12 May.

Festival Hot Seat...FK Alexander

The Glasgow-based performance artist is all set to give a performance like no other at this year’s Brighton Festival. Here she tells us more about (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow


Can you tell us what your show is about?

It’s not really a show – it’s an interactive one-to-one performance art piece, where I sing Over The Rainbow to one audience member at a time. Other people can witness the song being sung, and the Glasgow-based noise band Okishima Island Tourist Association play a wall of noise throughout the whole situation. I am singing live to a recording of the last time Judy Garland performed Over The Rainbow, a few months before she died, and while I sing I am holding the person’s hand and not breaking eye contact. It’s quite a loud situation, but filled with love.

How and where will the work be staged?

It will be presented at The Spire, which is a stunning site. There will be three different days where we will be sharing the work, in four hour durations.

Why should someone come and see your show?

People who love Judy Garland might connect to this, as well as fans of noise music, people seeking a moment of full attention from a stranger (myself) and people who are curious or enjoy intimate performance. Also, people seeking something real, intimate and genuine. Or maybe people who just like loud work!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Judy Garland is my spirit guide and for a long time I was seeking to make a work where I might occupy the space of her spiritually in the current time. I wanted to display the complexities of her, and her history and myth. I also wanted to draw on the tensions between the iconic song and the misunderstood music genre of noise, of which I have been a fan for years.

I wanted to make a real, live connection between myself and others, that happened in real time. It was a very personal process to make this when it was first shown in January 2014 in the Arches in Glasgow. I wanted to explore vulnerability and strength at the same time - of myself and others.

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

It’s not a story, it’s not a metaphor – it’s real!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone is open to come along – my work is never for anyone in particular. Everyone is welcome.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

It’s loud, it’s repetitive, there are no hidden sections. People are often very moved and I’ve held the hands of people crying. I am surprised by how emotional I feel every time.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

I’ve never been! But I understand Brighton Festival to be of a very high quality, with an international programme that means a lot to the local community and those coming specially to see a diverse range of form-pushing and mind- and heart-expanding work.

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

I hope I see something I have not experienced before. It’s a huge programme with an unlimited scope for new sensations and so much I haven't heard of, which is really exciting.

(I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow is at The Spire on 26-28 May.

An exclusive concert celebrates the luminous music of Monteverdi for voice and orchestra

Hearing a sublime singer has always been one of the most thrilling live experiences, in both popular and classical music. The concert with Les Talens Lyriques with Christophe Rousset at this year's Festival, showcasing works by Monteverdi, is a fine opportunity to hear the musical voice as pioneered by the highly influential 17th century composer.

Les Talens Lyriques will have just performed the works in Holland with the Dutch National Opera in the week preceding this concert, so a lot of thought will have gone into the action and drama of the pieces. This show is the only time to hear them perform this work in the UK this year: this is therefore an exciting gig on many levels, be it for the chance to see an in-demand conductor in Brighton, to celebrate the work of a magnificent composer in his 450th birthday year, to hear a rare combination of Monteverdi's works, or to see an internationally lauded ensemble in Brighton Dome's Concert Hall perform some stunning music.

The concert will feature a combination of singers and musicians without any operatic staging, which gives a clear musical focus to the performance and gives you the chance to hear some superb singers without the often intimidating cost of the opera hall. The bill is a selection of madrigals, which is a fascinating form in musical history. A madrigal is a secular vocal composition for a number of different voices, and Monteverdi strove to illuminate every shade of emotion in the poetic works by introducing music to the form (early madrigals were a capella).

You don't have to be a historian or musicologist to appreciate the concert however, just try any of my Spotify playlist to sample some of the beautiful music you'll get to hear. I've selected a punchy, fast-paced Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, because I love how the pace can hurtle along (like it does around the 6.50 mark) and then crawl down into mournful tones with a drone-like backing. It's irresistibly gorgeous, but the riveting twists and turns might take a few listens to unpack for anyone unfamiliar with early music.


You can then switch from the tragic tale of Tancredi mistakenly killing his lover Clorinda in Il combattimento to the more danceable, sprightly Il ballo delle Ingrate, which shimmers with a prominent harpsichord and decadent orchestration. Il ballo is beautiful in a more lustrous, languid and opulent manner to Il combattimento, and I've included a link to a sharply recorded version that handily breaks up all of the smaller movements to give you a taste of the diverse short bursts of the whole piece. The Overture alone is expansive and enveloping, and directly melodic in the bold way that early music can be: immerse yourself in it now to reap the musical rewards on the evening.

Lamento d'Arianna meanwhile sounds more aria-like than the other works, rendered all the more sparsely striking in Anne Sofie von Otter's performance on the playlist. The fragment from a lost opera is imbued with the grief of Arianna who longs for death in words non-Italian speakers might not understand, but the powerful, emotive vocal part is devastatingly moving regardless.

Musical Director Christophe Rousset is a renowned harpsichordist and conductor, who will conduct the upcoming production of early Mozart opera Mitridate, re di Ponto at the Royal Opera House in the summer. You can hear him conduct Les Talens Lyriques performing the work via this Spotify link if you want to hear if Rousset and his ensemble play to your liking!

Whether you're a classical muso or a music lover of any stripe, this concert presents a highly affordable opportunity to hear some of the earliest, most moving writing for voices ever composed, performed by some of the world's best singers and musicians. The works will have been carefully honed over six performances with the Dutch National Opera in the week before the Brighton gig, and it will be thrilling to hear the fresh interpretations that Les Talens Lyriques will bring to the Concert Hall.

Words by Joe Fuller 

Volunteer call-out: For the Birds

Take part in an immersive night time adventure where sound and light take flight!

Brighton Festival is taking to the Sussex woodland to create an enchanting journey for our guests to explore a world of sound and vision across May.

We are inviting volunteers to be part of our friendly front of house team for this mesmerising event.

Every Wed - Sun throughout May we are looking for a team of helpers between 8pm-12.30am to welcome and guide our customers throughout this magical experience. If you can volunteer an evening or several over May we'd be delighted to hear from you at festival.rota@brightondome.org. Please let us know what dates you are able to be involved. 

To take part there is a training session and preview on Fri 5 May 7pm-11.30pm, which we would invite you to attend in order to take part for the rest of the Festival. 

More on For the Birds...

As night falls, gather family and friends to embark on an enchanting journey into the Sussex woodland. Against a canvas of darkness and the sound of wind in the trees, you will follow a magical trail of beautiful and ingenious installations of light, sound and moving sculpture inspired by the world of birds.

Whether it’s the iconic robin, the chip-thieving gull, or blackbirds baked in a pie, we have an enduring connection with these special creatures. For the Birds will get you thinking about the mystery and beauty of the avian world - and why it should be protected.

Artist and producer Jony Easterby has brought together some of the most dynamic sound and lighting artists in the UK to create this unforgettable Brighton Festival outdoor experience.




Andy Smith on writing and directing Summit

Andy Smith’s play Summit has its preview at Brighton Festival on 8 & 9 May. Here he gives an insight into the creative process.

Up to now, most of the theatre that I make has involved writing things for me to perform. I have always said that at some point I would like to write a work for other people, but I have never quite managed to find the opportunity to do it.

Then sometime in 2015 – influenced by a few things – an image appeared in my head of someone performing in sign, of someone just standing and performing a text in sign language. Someone doing something I don’t have the capacity to do.

In the same year someone wrote about how my work uses the space of the theatre as one of meeting. This chimed with conversations that I was having at the time about difference, difficulty, and diversity in the space of the theatre, as well as the wider world.

Soon enough these thoughts all started talking to each other, and they became the starting point for a new piece of work. Encouraged and supported by the team at Fuel, and after a week meeting and exploring how to work with in this way with a diverse group of people at HOME in Manchester (the most people I have ever worked with on an Andy Smith text), these ideas have become this play. With the help of Royal Conservatoire Scotland in Glasgow, some of the text is about to be translated from English into BSL and the piece will be performed integrating these different languages.

Summit is a new play that, in three different ways, tells the story of a meeting. A meeting that is held at a time of crisis. A meeting organised to deal with a potentially catastrophic event or set of events. It will preview on the 8th and 9th of May at The Brighton Festival and there will be three performers onstage – one signing, two speaking. The other delegates at this meeting are played or represented by the people who are sitting in the audience. For the first time ever for a piece of writing by me, this is where I will be.

Hope to see you there.

Summit will be at Brighton Festival on 8 and 9 May 2017. Andy Smith's The Preston Bill will also be at Brighton Festival on 10 May.

5 minutes with... Luke Wright

Poet, performer and broadcaster Luke Wright returns to Brighton Festival this May with a stunning new spoken word show, Luke Wright: The Toll. We took 5 minutes with Luke Wright to discover more about his passion for spoken word.

I knew I wanted to be a performer when... When I watched Ross Sutherland support Johnny Clarke at Colchester Arts Centre. He started doing a mic check (one ... Two ... One ... Two ...) which sped up and became a poem. It was brilliant. So fucking cool. I thought, "I want to do that."

My first public performance took place at… My sixth form college. I know, right, rock n roll. The audience were a bunch of sporty lads trying to eat their lunch. Not big poetry fans.

The first gig I went to was… As mentioned, Johnny Clarke, Martin Newell and Ross Sutherland. It changed my life.

The first album/book I ever bought was… Probably Martin Newell's The Illegible Bachelor. I love pun book/album titles. Half Man Half Biscuit are the masters of this.

My favourite poet / spoken word performer is… I'm a big, big fan of Catherine Smith. I could listen to her for days.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when… I'm just pleased to be here!

My favourite part of touring is… Eating. It's all about the food.

The best show I ever performed was… It's going to be this one in Brighton. Just you wait and see.

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

People would be surprised to learn that… It's taken me seventeen minutes to come up with this final answer. And I'm not exactly thrilled with the results.

Luke Wright: The Toll is at The Spire on Fri 19 May.

5 minutes with... Hollie McNish

Internationally acclaimed poet and spoken word artist Hollie Poetry joins us for this year’s Brighton Festival as part of An Evening with Picador Poetry. You may know her from her Brighton Festival 2015 performance with Kate Tempest and George the Poet, or from one of her viral YouTube videos (now totaling almost 4.1 million views). Take 5 minutes to learn what makes Hollie McNish tick, ahead of her next fantastic show at the Brighton Festival in May.

I knew I wanted to be a performer when…

Honestly, I wanted to be a sports coach, then an economist, then a writer. But I love this job now! I knew I wanted to carry on doing this when I met the other poets I’d be working with.

My first public performance took place at…

Poetry Unplugged, Poetry Café, Covent Garden after a good pint of cider.

The first gig I went to was…

The Hollies with my dad. I’m named after them and he was determined I’d love them. The first one of my own choice was to see MN8.

The first album I ever bought was…

Errr, Boom Boom Boom by the Outhere Brothers. I was a little obsessed with the non-radio edit version! Other than that I’d record my own on tape from the radio. You know when you used to listen so carefully to click stop before the radio presenter spoke again.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when…

My daughter did my sound check at Abbey Road.

My favourite part of touring is…

Meeting other poets and people from the audience after the shows.

The best show I ever performed was…

Oooh, maybe The Moon Club, Cardiff. Lots of mums heckling and a burger place round the corner that served battered gherkins. Or Oran Mor on tour last year, cos it was in Glasgow and loads of my family were there.

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

Doing something admin-related with spreadsheets! Or writing other things. I’d still be writing poems, just keeping them under the bed instead.

People would be surprised to learn that...

I don’t like poetry.
Just joking.
Really, I do love it.