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

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Short film reveals Eye to Eye project coming to life

Back in September we put a call out for mothers and their children, women and young people to take part in a new Brighton Festival commission. Created by theatre-maker Sheila Hill, in partnership with Glyndebourne, a chorus of 80 local singers has now been recruited, with more auditions to come in January, to bring the total to 100 voices!

This short film by Hugo Glendinning was made at the launch weekend and gives an insight into Sheila’s inspiration for the piece which explores the two parallel stories of motherhood and childhood. Chorus Master Jo Tomlinson and composer Howard Skempton also discuss how they’ve approached the project musically.


Calling all artists to take part in Your Place at Brighton Festival 2019

Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free entertainment in Hangleton and Knoll and East Brighton, in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups – returns next May 2019. Artists and performers are invited to submit creative ideas for a community wide celebration of arts and culture in each area. 


Over the last two years, Your Place has surpassed all expectations, reaching over 2,000 members of the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A steering group of local residents in each location programme art made by, with and for people living in the area.  

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre explains more:

'We’re looking for small scale performances and workshops by professional artists who can surprise, entertain and bring people together. Crucially, we’re interested in work that engages audiences as active participants and co-creators in some way.'

Valerie Foucher, Hangleton Community Centre Manager and a member of the Steering Group added:

'We are open to ideas for creative activities that could take place inside or outside both venues. We want to create a buzz so that if someone is waiting to see a show in the main hall they might be able to listen to a musician in the community café or take part in some dance outside in the park.'

For Brighton Festival 2019, award-winning Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is the Guest Director and will be supporting and appearing with the communities in Your Place 2019. People from the local area will have the opportunity to showcase their creative projects and stage fun, pop up activities for children, families and young people throughout the Festival taking place from 4–26 May 2019. Brighton People’s Theatre will have an artist in residence co-creating with local people and Brighton Festival will programme artists from the Festival to perform in Hangleton and East Brighton.

Brighton Festival’s Guest Directors have played an integral role in the project, appearing at events and helping programme Festival artists. The inaugural Your Place was initiated by recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest in 2017 saying:

'It was such an exciting time for everyone, for the people that run the Festival to meet the community steering groups. Everyone was blown away by how much enthusiasm and excitement there was.'

Your Place 2018 followed with a range of events including a talk by visual artist and Guest Director David Shrigley; Phoenix artist in residence Kiki Stickl’s craft making activities; Dundu & Worldbeaters puppet procession and a ‘Belonging’ bandstand designed by award-winning artist Morag Myerscough in collaboration with local residents.

Beth Burgess, Executive Producer, Brighton Festival said:

'We are so excited to be working with the steering groups and Brighton People’s Theatre for the third year of Your Place. Everyone who participates, performs or visits has something unique to contribute to the arts. Let’s make Your Place 2019 the biggest and best one yet!'

Your Place 2019 will take place in locations in East Brighton on 18 May 2019 and Hangleton on 25 May 2019.

The deadline for applications is 9am, Friday 30 November 2018. We welcome applications from BAME and disabled artists. For further information on how to apply.


Brighton Festival Reveals Young City Reads Author and Title 2019

Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC are delighted to reveal that Onjali Q. Raúf’s The Boy at the Back of the Class has been chosen as the 2019 ‘big read’ for children across Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond.

The start of the ‘big read’ is on World Book Day, 7 March 2019. At Brighton Festival on 22 May 2019, the Young City Reads live event takes place at Brighton Dome featuring author, Onjali Q. 

The Boy at the Back of the Class (which has been long listed for the Blue Peter Book Awards and nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019) is the story of new boy Ahmet, a refugee from Syria. It is told from the point of view of one of his classmates who goes to great lengths to make friends and give Ahmet a sense of belonging. The unexpected adventure that follows strikes the perfect balance between humour and poignancy, topped off with a terrific twist. The result is an unforgettable story that will find a home in the heart of every child. Onjali Q. Raúf portrays the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child in a way that’s accessible, warm and funny. It’s a story about friendship and how naturally children celebrate, rather than fear, all our differences.

Onjali Q. Raúf is Founder and CEO of Making Herstory -  a human rights organisation working with other movements to end the abuse, trafficking and enslavement of women and girls in the UK and beyond.

Author of The Boy at the Back of the Class Onjali Q. Raúf says:

‘I am utterly thrilled to have ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ chosen for Young City Reads! It is such an honour. I hope all human ‘beans’ (of every age!) reading and engaging with it, reach its end feeling a little more understanding and hopeful about what we can all do to ease the plight of refugee children the world over. Sometimes the best, most joyous things start with a story, and my deepest wish for this book is that it helps inspire lots of interesting discussions and ideas about one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our times. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make this happen.'

Sarah Hutchings, Director of Collected Works CIC added:

'Onjali Q. Raúf’s book has all the qualities that we look for – empathy, kindness, adventure and humour. In 2018, nearly 2,000 children took part in the project with 1,438 coming to the final event at Brighton Festival. I know that our Young City Readers will love getting to know Ahmet and his friends.'

Primary school teachers and classes are invited to register online (for free) and agree to read The Boy At The Back of the Class together in class from March to May 2019. 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 literacy resources and fun activities to complete.

Brighton Festival reveals 2019 Children's Parade theme

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2019 Children’s Parade, which will take place on Sat 4 May, is Folk Tales from around the world.

Taking over the streets of Brighton will be folk tales from Africa, Europe, the Arctic, the Americas, Asia and Oceania, including the likes of Danish folk tale Fat Cat, How the Zebra Got His Stripes (Namibia), The Little MermaidThe Fox in the Moon (Peru) and Alaskan tale The Salmon Princess.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and sponsored by the University of Brighton for the second year, the annual Children’s Parade will take place on Saturday 4 May 2019 to officially launch the Festival. The largest of its kind in Europe, the free event takes place in central Brighton and has delighted participants and spectators for nearly 30 years. With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as paintings, letters of the alphabet, woodland creatures and street names. 

Schools from across the region will be allocated a folk tale from a selection, chosen to reflect the diversity of artists taking part in the Festival. The stories will be studied and explored by teachers and pupils before being presented in costume, music and carnival structures by around 5,000 school children and community groups.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children & Family programmer explains what folk tales are:

'Folk tales are typically stories that are passed down from generation to generation and are often linked to childhood memories, when parents or grandparents would tell them at bedtime. There are so many fascinating folk tales to explore, from the Anansi tales of West Africa to European tales by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. We can’t wait to see the wildly imaginative creations that participating schools and community groups will present.'

This year, the theme is inspired by Brighton Festival Guest Director, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré. With her work rooted in the Malian musical tradition, Traoré will present the UK premiere of Dream Mandé Djata, a musical monologue based on West African oral history storytelling. The Parade will be led by Rokia alongside schools representing folk tales originating from West Africa.

We had a quick chat with Brighton and Hove’s teachers to find out their thoughts on this year’s theme:

Mr Annaly, Deputy Head of St Lukes Primary School in Hanover said:

'I think this year's theme is lovely. Our Year 2 class are learning about Ghana so I've selected the West African tale ‘Anansi and the Talking Melon’ by Eric A. Kimmel. It will be really interesting to link what we’re teaching the children in class with the Parade.'

Faye Bridgwater, parent at St Lukes Primary School in Hanover:

'I'm an artist and a parent to two children at the school and I've loved getting involved with the Parade for the last 3 years. The parents all come together to help make and design the costumes, everyone loves it! When you see the children taking part it's a really emotional experience.'

Teacher at St. Mark’s Primary School chose Aesop’s Fables:

'We're really excited to discuss with the children how we're going to execute it this year! Aesop’s Fables are very relatable for children as the stories discuss morality. We teach them a lot about morals in class so it's a great way of linking what they learn day-to-day at school or at home, with the Children's Parade.'

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spend months working behind the scenes to create the Children’s Parade. Artists collaborate with teachers to make magnificent effigies, choreograph dance routines and compose parade chants, with free masterclasses to develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.

'Same Sky is excited to be working again with 70 local schools to create next year’s Brighton Festival Children's Parade. The theme of folk stories is a rich and colourful seam for us to mine and we think the schools will find something unique and wonderful to celebrate with their students. Same Sky is celebrating its 30th anniversary and we’re dedicated to creating new stories with communities. What better way to share the world’s stories here in Brighton and Hove.'

Sponsors of the Children's Parade for the second year running are University of Brighton, Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor tells us why:

'The Children’s Parade is a real high point of the year in the City and it is always a great way to start the Brighton Festival. I am absolutely delighted that the University of Brighton will once again be sponsoring this wonderful and joyous event that does so much to bring the whole community together and is enjoyed by everyone, young and old.'


INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Regarded as one of Africa’s most inventive musicians, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is known for the variety and range of her practice - from her theatre work with Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars to her musical collaborations with Damon Albarn and the Kronos Quartet. We talked to her about being named eleventh Guest Director for Brighton Festival

When you were first approached to be Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2019 what was it that prompted you to say yes?

I knew Brighton Festival and how well organised it is and the possibility of being part of the team and exchanging ideas about which artists will be performing and why is an interesting experience for me. It is an opportunity to take the time to look at and to think about other artists’ work. These are circumstances you cannot usually create when you are working as an artist - even when you make collaborations, but programming a festival is another experience - you do it from a different angle. I’m excited, curious and enthusiastic about the journey, and I want to see what it will bring.

What can arts festivals, like Brighton Festival, bring to communities?

In Brighton, as with any event like this, the place it happens in is very important and the people occupying this space are very important. What such a festival can bring to its audience is more knowledge about the rest of the world - it’s a way to travel without leaving Brighton and to learn something that you wouldn’t be able to by yourself.

Do you have any aims with Guest Directing this year’s Brighton Festival, and any central themes in mind?

I aim to learn about the way this Festival exists, thanks to the work and the personalities of all the people that make it happen - that’s very important. Being a Guest Director means you are part of a team for a while, so it’s important to know your collaborators and their work and how they see things. I used to programme some things, but there are lots of things to learn from the city and the audience and the Festival itself and it’s going to be very exciting and rich months spent together.

You have described your musical influences as ranging from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, to Wagner, Serge Gainsbourg, and the Rolling Stones. How did you develop such broad interests?

My father was a musician and a teacher before becoming a diplomat and his legacy across various art forms and disciplines has had a huge impact on me. My musical and artistic education began with him - I learnt very much with my father about all kinds of things, but not so many of each thing. He grew up in Africa, he lived there, and he had very good knowledge of music in general – he knew a little bit about a lot of things. So I would discover everything with him, from African music to European classical music. Later, meeting people myself and through my work, I could get more experience and discover more about specific kinds of music. Each project is a source of instruction, you learn more and more about possibilities in specific kinds of music - or in artistic skill - so I continue learning and that’s a pleasure.

As the daughter of a diplomat, you travelled a lot growing up and speak (and sing in) several different languages. How has that cross-cultural background affected you and your music? Where do you see home now?

Home is certainly Mali. It has always been my base. When I finished High School I stopped making music and went to University in Brussels (to study Anthropology, Journalism and Music), but then I realised something was missing and that my musical skill was something that I wanted to take advantage of. This was the first time I had disagreed with my father, who felt Africa needed more intellectuals than musicians. He had given up music to provide me with access to this different kind of life. I realised that the life and career that I wanted was only possible in Mali.

Having been exposed to Europe from a young age I have never seen it as ‘superior’, I have always just seen it as an equal place to Mali. I had enough context to understand the way in which Africa is depicted to the world. The value of life should not need to be tied to money. In Africa people may have less money but there is value in finding joy in the everyday. There is a different philosophy, a different way of seeing life in Africa. I want my children to grow up knowing Africa, it’s important that they can decide on who they want to be, understand what it is to be an African person. I am trying to empower young African people to have the confidence to know that they could make it in Africa without travelling to Europe. I felt what I needed to learn was in Mali not in Europe.

For me - making albums, touring etc. alone is not fulfilling – I want my journey to be a shared experience. I see myself as proof that you can ‘make it’ in Africa and feel that it’s my responsibility to share that with young people. Even when living in Europe I have never stopped travelling to Mali.


In 2009 you set up the Foundation Passerelle in support of emerging artists amidst the social crises in Mali. Can you tell us about the project and why it is important to you?

When I started my career, there was no structure for people who wanted to have a career in music in Mali so I wanted to create a way to support people to get involved in the arts. There is no real market there and no real connection with the international art and culture economy. As an artist, I want to try to understand and also try to find solutions, and I think one of the solutions is to have private projects doing what the government doesn’t see the necessity to do because they have so many emergencies to take care of in Africa. For them, when you talk about culture, it’s not something serious. They are trying to find solutions to providing enough food, to providing good health, to providing education so it’s difficult to get them understanding that culture is important - that without culture, there is an important part of education you miss. So I thought my contribution can be a foundation which will find some funding to finance specific projects in Mali and support some venues, some artists, and some promoters who are trying to do things inside art and culture.

Then later, when we started in 2009, I quickly understood that artistic and cultural projects don’t make sense if there are not public spaces for audiences to come and share something and understand and think together. So we started building: buying pieces of land, and building spaces. Now we have a small theatre where we’ve been programming music and different kinds of events during the last ten months, and we have a dance studio for dance lessons and where we also can present some dance projects. We have apartments we are building to be able to have artists in residence and we are trying to find also ideas to make money and to use this money in the construction and realisation of artistic and cultural projects. This is what the Foundation Passerelle is and what we continue trying to be.

Brighton Festival 2019 runs 4 - 26 May 2019
Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 13 February 2019.

5 facts about Rokia Traoré

She knows the theatre world well

As well as being a singer, songwriter and guitarist, Rokia has also been involved in many theatre performances, most notably in Desdemona, a collaboration with Nobel-prize winner Toni Morrison and US director Peter Sellars.

She’s performed alongside the likes of Paul McCartney

In 2012, Rokia joined the Africa Express tour in the UK and was joined on stage by Sir Paul McCartney. She also sang in duet with Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz).

She’s an activist and humanitarian

Rokia was appointed Ambassador of Goodwill for the West and Central Africa region by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2015. In Bamako, Mali (where she grew up - she was born in 1974 in the suburbs of the capital) Rokia has set up Fondation Passerelle, a foundation to promote music and the performing arts amidst the social crises in Mali

She’s been a judge at Cannes

Rokia was a member of the jury of the 68th Cannes International Film Festival in 2015.

She has a varied roster of collaborators

Her 2016 album Né So (Home) features the unmistakeable vocals of Devendra Banhart, and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) plays bass and mandolin. This album and 2013’s Beautiful Africa were produced by John Parish (Eels, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman.) 

Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director Revealed

Award-winning Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré named as the eleventh Brighton Festival Guest Director

Regarded as one of Africa’s most inventive musicians, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is known for the variety and range of her practice. With her work rooted in the Malian musical tradition yet defying the confines of a single culture, Rokia Traoré’s unique sound and liberating style have led her to be described as ‘one of the world's great synthesisers, combining the rhythms and traditions of diverse cultures from Africa and Europe into a complex sound that only she could create’. (Pitchfork)

Born in Mali to a diplomat father, Rokia had a nomadic upbringing that exposed her to a wide variety of international musical influences from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, to Wagner, Serge Gainsbourg, and the Rolling Stones. A protégé of the legendary guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Rokia’s breakthrough came in 1997 when she was hailed as the ‘African Revelation’ by Radio France Internationale.

Frequently collaborating with world-renowned artists such as Damon Albarn, Kronos Quartet and Devendra Banhart, Rokia’s diverse output has also included a number of theatre performances, most notably the acclaimed Desdemona by Toni Morrison, a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Othello directed by Peter Sellars. A dedicated humanitarian, in 2009 she set up the Foundation Passerelle in support of emerging artists amidst the social crises in Mali.

On her appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director Rokia Traoré says:

“I knew Brighton Festival and how well organised it is and being part of the team and exchanging ideas about which artists will be performing and why is an interesting experience for me. It is an opportunity to take the time to look at and to think about other artists’ work. These are circumstances you cannot usually create when you are working as an artist, but programming a festival is another experience - you do it from a different angle.”

“I’m excited, curious and enthusiastic about the journey. There are lots of things to learn from the city and the audience and the Festival itself and it’s going to be a very exciting and rich few months spent together.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says:

“We are delighted to announce Rokia Traoré as our Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2019. She is a remarkable artist who deserves to be recognised for the great breadth and range of her output – from her theatre work with Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars to her musical collaborations with Damon Albarn and the Kronos Quartet. She also has a great preparedness to think beyond her personal practice and engage with and comment upon the world around her – qualities which ideally suit her to the role of Guest Director. I look forward to the engaging, stimulating and eclectic Festival which I have no doubt she will inspire.”

Alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies, Brighton Festival 2019 will feature the UK premiere of Rokia Traoré’s theatrical and musical project Dream Mandé Djata - a musical monologue structured around the griot tradition of oral history storytelling, interwoven with classical songs of the Mandingo epic history. The Festival programme will also feature appearances from some of Rokia’s favourite Malian artists and musicians including a selection of those backed by the Foundation Passerelle.

Programme highlights revealed today include Brighton Festival Commission and world premiere of a new choral work about motherhood and childhood created by theatre-maker Sheila Hill, Eye to Eye, featuring an intergenerational chorus of women and children recruited by Glyndebourne and featuring Glyndebourne Youth Opera.


Also announced today is new commission, True Copy, based on the story of legendary Dutch painter and art forger Geert Jan Jansen by BERLIN, the international theatre company behind former Brighton Festival events Perhaps All the Dragons (2014), Land’s End (2012), and Zvizdal (2016).


This year’s Festival will also see the launch of an extended Children and Young People’s programming strand that will include new partnerships and participatory activities in the run-up to the Festival. These will join returning projects such as the 26 Letters Young People’s Literature events, Adopt an Author and Young City Reads (presented in partnership with Collected Works), the Children’s Parade (produced in partnership with Same Sky), Without Walls, Peacock Poetry Prize, Guest Director’s Guests, and Your Place - free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups.

Read an exclusive interview with our 2019 Guest Director

Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 13 February 2019. 

Singers sought for new choral work as part of Brighton Festival 2019

Brighton Festival and Glyndebourne are bringing together an intergenerational chorus of women and children for a new choral work in Brighton Festival 2019.

The piece will will focus on the nature of motherhood and childhood, and will be conducted by Sian Edwards. We are looking for singers to bring this piece to life and we will be auditioning in the following age brackets:

Glyndebourne Youth Opera 1 (aged 9-13)

Adult female voices (aged 21 or over)

Family groups are encouraged to apply as this work is an exploration of the relationship between mothers (of any age) and their children and grandchildren.

How to Take Part

Auditions will take place on Sunday 30 September at Glyndebourne. You will audition in small groups and are not expected to prepare any material in advance, although you will be asked to sing briefly on your own at some point during the audition.

Dates and Times

If you are successful you will be expected to attend all rehearsals and performances.

Sun 30 Sep: 10:00 – 16:00 Auditions – Glyndebourne

Sat 27 Oct: 10:00 – 16:00 Project Launch Weekend TBC

Sun 28 Oct: 10:00 – 16:00 Project Launch Weekend TBC

Rehearsals: March – May – download a full project schedule below

Performance: May (as part of Brighton Festival)

Head to www.glyndebourne.com/education/take-part/eye-to-eye/ to download a project schedule and sign up.

Image credit: James Bellorini

Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley to design giant snail sculpture for Martlets' public art trail

Hot on the heels of his turn as Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2018, Turner Prize nominated artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley will be designing a giant snail sculpture for Snailspace, a unique public art event in aid of Martlets Hospice.

Run by the team responsible for the immensely popular Snowdogs campaign which raised over £310,000 for the charity, the trail of 50 giant snail sculptures will take place across the streets of Brighton & Hove from 15 Sept to 18 November 2018. Shrigley’s contribution, sponsored by leading local printers One Digital, will be sited outside the Grade 1 listed Brighton Dome on Church street.

Best known for his dark and funny drawings that comment on the absurdity of modern society, David Shrigley was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013. Last year, he created Really Good - a seven-metre-high bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up - for Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.  

As the first locally-based Guest Director of Brighton Festival, David Shrigley was involved in more events than ever across the programme from his exhibition Life Model II at Fabrica, which invited everyone to take part in a life drawing class with a difference, to the world premiere of alt/pop rock musical Problem in Brighton at The Old Market.

On his involvement in the project David Shrigley says:

“I’m very happy to participate in this project and to be able to help the wonderful work of the Martlets hospice.”

The trail of 50 giant snail sculptures, each uniquely decorated by an artist, will be on show for nine weeks, encouraging locals to be tourists in their own city and generating a giant snail sized ‘feel-good’ factor. The giant gastropods will be joined by a host of smaller snails as part of the Junior Snailway. More than 50 nurseries, schools and youth groups will decorate their own snails, which will be displayed in accessible locations across the city. At the end of the trail there will be a celebratory Farewell Event; a chance to see the snail sculptures together. Finally, the giant gastropods will be auctioned to raise money for Martlets and its life-changing care.

Lynn Brazier from One Digital says: “Our connection with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival extends many years and we have happily supported the Festival and will continue to do so. To have the opportunity to sponsor the snail, designed by David Shrigley and to be positioned at the beautiful Brighton Dome, was most welcome and a very easy decision to make. Above all we are very pleased to be involved with helping raise money for Martlets Hospice and support the amazing work they do. Let’s hope we beat last years’ fundraiser – we do love a challenge!”

Imelda Glackin, CEO Martlets Hospice says: “We’re delighted that David Shrigley is designing a snail for our Snailspace public art event and it is highly fitting that it will be displayed at Brighton Dome, in the year that he was Guest Director of the Brighton Festival. We’d like to thank One Digital for sponsoring this snail and supporting our campaign which will ultimately help fund our life-changing care.”

Discover more about Snailspace and Martlets Hospice.

Brighton Festival 2018 commission nominated for acclaimed theatre award

Creation (Pictures for Dorian) - a Brighton Festival 2018 highlight performed by the British/German arts collective Gob Squad - has been nominated for an Offies award. 

After receiving its UK premiere at Brighton Festival 2018, the show ran at Southbank Centre as part of LIFT festival, resulting in a nomination for the TBC Award (for productions that defy traditional categories) in The Off West End Theatre Awards.

The meditative work Creation (Pictures for Dorian) - inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray - saw Gob Squad joined by six volunteer performers: three under the age of 22 and three over 60. The middle-aged members of Gob Squad interact onstage with the six performers, questioning the nature of beauty and asking why we so crave the eye of the beholder.

The show garnered a clutch of positive reviews during its Brighton Festival run, with Lynn Gardner writing in The Guardian that the piece is a ‘woozily beautiful meditation on intention, perception, what we see and what remains invisible’. Bella Todd meanwhile wrote in The Stage that the show is ‘sly yet sumptuous, playfully experimental yet heady and deeply human’.

The Offies are hosted by OffWestEnd.com, a website which ‘exists to celebrate the full spectrum of Off West End theatres and to draw increasing numbers of the general public into the heady darkness and dangerous passion of these little powerhouses'.

Gob Squad - Credit Carys Lavin
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: 'Gob Squad’s Creation was one of this year’s Brighton Festival highlights so it is extremely pleasing to have it recognised in this way'.

Creation (Pictures for Dorian) was co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, LIFT and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, and will be touring internationally from 29th August. Future performance date can be found via Gob Squad’s website.

Image credits: Carys Lavin

Adopt an Author scheme ends on a cake-filled high as Brighton Festival draws to a close

Adopt an Author, the exciting school’s initiative that links local classes with children’s authors, ended its 2018 scheme with an annual 'Meet Your Author' Festival party. With cake, pizza and pet beetles, it was a fun-filled finale to the 15th year of the Adopt an Author project.

This year, 110 children took part from four classes at four different schools - Stanford Juniors, Mile Oak Primary, Benfield Primary and Carden Primary – and four authors, including two  returning adoptees, Rob Lloyd Jones and Alex Milway. For eight weeks, classes adopted an author, writing them weekly emails and completing tasks set by them while they read one for their books, with the project culminating in the ‘Meet your author’ finales full of fun activities for both authors and adoptive classes.

Rose Muddle author Imogen White took Team Carden on a historical journey around Brighton and Hove before dress-up, performance and a quiz, whilst Benfield Primary were treated to a live drawing session of the loveable Pigsticks and Harold with their brilliant author Alex Milway. Stanford Juniors welcomed Beetle Boy author M. G. Leonard and her very special insect guests and Mile Oak were taken on a mysterious journey with Wild Boy author Rob Lloyd Jones.

Imogen White, Adopted Author for Carden Primary School says: "The Adopt an Author project has been my most rewarding author experience to date. Having the opportunity to really get to know a class of mixed abilities, and watch their writing skills progress throughout each task, has been simply amazing. It really is such a special project, one that reaches children in the community that might otherwise miss out. It has been a total privileged to take part”

Alex Milway, Adopted Author for Benfield Primary School says: “Adopt an Author is always so enjoyable to be a part of. Setting tasks for children and receiving feedback from the schools and teachers involved makes you feel that you are making a difference, no matter how small. And most importantly, for what could be quite a complicated scheme, everything always runs so smoothly. There really is nothing like it."

And it wasn’t just the Authors who enjoyed their time on the scheme! A Year 5 participant said: "I loved Adopt an Author because I loved doing the tasks each week" whilst another from Year 2 told their author “You have meant so much to me. You are the best author in the entire world." Many of the participants expressed their new-found excitement in reading; “I can't wait to read the next book, they're really hooking me in!", and a want to start reading and writing more often.

Adopt an Author is a Brighton Festival initiative that began in 2003, designed to develop relationships between classes of students and children’s authors with the aim to promote literacy, and encourage writing. Adopt an Author is produced and delivered by Collected Works CIC, an award-winning reader development organisation based in Brighton. The organisation specialises in delivering innovative projects, events and activities based around shared reading. Its largest projects are City Reads and Young City Reads which it delivers annually, alongside Adopt An Author. 

The project has been kindly supported by the Mrs A Lacy-Tate Trust and The Lynn Foundation.

David Shrigley on Brighton Festival 2018

We chatted to David Shrigley about his experience guest directing this year's Brighton Festival. Here's what he thought...


When we asked what had prompted you to say yes to being Guest Director, you said that you thought it would be fun. How have you found the experience of guest directing Brighton Festival?

The experience of guest directing the Brighton Festival has been fun! I was hoping it would be fun, and it has been fun. I think the most fun thing has been meeting people - people who are performing, people involved in programming, people who are collaborating with me, people visiting the Festival. It’s been a really social experience, and a really positive one.

I feel really embraced by the arts community In Brighton, but I also feel that I in turn have embraced the arts community back. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the Festival in such a big way, and to have met so many people. I feel very lucky.

What have been your highlights?

The Festival is always a voyage of discovery for me. My favourite discovery was Attractor which was an Australian based dance company with Indonesian musicians which was just really, really unusual and crazy, it was very much my kind of thing. That was definitely my highlight. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but that’s the one I’ll remember and definitely would go see again.

Bridget Christie was fantastic, I’m kind of amazed at her energy and that she can be so consistently funny and self-deprecating. She’s a tour du force, a force of nature, a force of comedy! My other highlights have been Brett Goodroad’s show, which obviously I had a lot to do with putting on, Deerhoof, who are always fantastic, Fauna was really great. Lexicon circus was really great. Malcolm Middleton and Iain Shaw - they’re always great. Too much to mention!

You have presented a lot of work at the Festival this year. Has it felt different presenting the work in the place that you live?

I think that presenting my work in my home town, my new home town, is a great privilege. I feel like when you’re an artist and you make work, sometimes the people you know and live alongside don’t usually get to see what you do, often because you usually do it somewhere else. So, it’s been really nice to show my work here and to make some work here, and to collaborate with people.

I’ve realised that Brighton is an incredibly vibrant place. The piece I made here – Problem in Brighton - was a performance piece, and there is no shortage of performers and musicians here, so that’s been fantastic. It’s not really something I’ve done before – directing and being directly involved with writing music. I think that making the project in Brighton really has been a great thing. It’s a town that’s really synonymous with a vibrant music scene, so it was a definitely the right place to do it. I’ve learned so much and made some really fantastic connections here, so I’m really happy.

What was it like to appear at Your place?

I was in Hangleton at Your Place last weekend, and it was really great. I think because I haven’t been in Brighton that long, I haven’t really explored the city limits as it were so, it was great to go out there and meet people and see what a great resource they have in the community facilities. I think it’s also important for the Festival to have a presence throughout the city, so its great to have an outpost of the Festival there so that people can engage with it.

Have you learned anything else about the city or the Festival that you didn’t know before through the experience?

I think I’ve learned a lot about the city that I didn’t know. I think it takes a long time to live in a city and really discuss what the city is about, because really, most people only know their own bit of the city, its not until you start going elsewhere, and working elsewhere and meeting people that you start to get a measure of the place. I guess I’m still discovering Brighton but I feel that this has been a fast track to discovering the city and I’ve learned a lot in these three weeks.

What makes Brighton Festival special in your opinion?

I think what makes Brighton Festival special is the fact that it’s in Brighton! That’s what makes it special for me, because I live in Brighton and its great that its here. I can just walk outside my house and see so much that’s going on. But, on a not so purely selfish level, to have a Festival that celebrates and presents the arts so well and so thoroughly is something very positive. I think Brighton is a positive city and the Festival is a really positive thing. I think it makes a real change in people’s lives, and it’s something to treasured. 

Most participatory Brighton Festival ever comes to a close

We look back at Brighton Festival 2018, highlighting some choice stories, facts & figures, alongside a few words from Guest Director David Shrigley

As the first locally-based Guest Director, David Shrigley was the most active and present yet – involved in more events than ever across the programme - from Life Model II, which invited everyone to take part in a life drawing class with a difference, to the world premiere of alt/pop rock musical Problem in Brighton, created with Brighton musician Lee Baker and fronted by local Spymonkey Stephan Kreiss and actor Pauline Knowles.

Taking its cue from David Shrigley’s offbeat artistic take, Brighton Festival 2018 had an absurd sensibility and spirit of participation at its heart. This year’s programme had more opportunities than ever for people to get involved: over 12,500 visitors took part in David Shrigley’s life drawing class installation, Life Model II, 200 residents joined Over 60’s dance company Three Score Dance to create Pina Bausch’s extraordinary promenade on the seafront, The Nelken Line, 150 budding performers took up the invitation to become integral parts of overnight choral sleepover The Arms of Sleep, 40 volunteers took part in immersive dance performance Attractor, and six local performers took part in Gob Squad’s intergenerational piece about aging and beauty, Creation, to memorable effect.

Gob Squad - Credit Carys Lavin
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “This year’s Brighton Festival had more opportunities than ever for everyone to get involved and participate - truly highlighting that Brighton Festival is not just three weeks of quality performance, art and debate but also an opportunity for the whole city to celebrate and embrace the arts and culture that enrich our daily lives.”

David Shrigley says: “The experience of guest directing Brighton Festival has been fun! I think the most fun thing has been meeting people - people who are performing, people involved in programming, people who are collaborating with me, people visiting the Festival. It’s been a really social experience, and a really positive one. I feel really embraced by the arts community In Brighton, but I also feel that I in turn have embraced the arts community back. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the Festival in such a big way, and to have met so many people. I feel very lucky.”

A Weekend Without Walls - Credit Victor Frankowski
Brighton Festival 2018 also featured an abundance of free events including Nick Steur’s extraordinary rock balancing performance, A Piece of 2, which played out to enthusiastic and sun-drenched crowds on the beach level by the i360 throughout the first week, and A Weekend Without Walls, the annual free celebration of family friendly outdoors performance packed with acrobatics, aerial circus, dance, installations, music and theatre, at Easthill Park and by the i360 over the final weekend. 

Kate Tempest debuted her new album in an exclusive performance at Your Place (which returned for its second year) bringing a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to Hangleton and East Brighton communities. As Artists in Residence, Kate McCoy explored Random Acts of Neighbourliness, where residents learned what neighbours thought about their area in an interactive exhibition, while Kiki Stickl presented life-sized “avatar” cut outs inspired by the local community. This year’s events were bigger and better than ever before, with approximately 2,400 people attending over the two weekends.

The Pay-It-Forward scheme also returned for its second year, showcasing the generosity of Brighton Festival audiences. Those booking tickets for Festival events were given the option of paying an extra £5 (or an amount of their choosing), which Brighton Festival then matched. This resulted in 1,175 ticket vouchers being offered to people who may otherwise have been unable to experience Festival events.

Brownton Abbey - Credit Victor Frankowski
As ever, Brighton Festival 2018 featured a host of strong commissions and co-commissions from a wide range of national and international artists including The Arms of Sleep; Hofesh Shechter’s Grand Finale; A String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a new work from leading maverick director Calixto Bieito, Cuckmere: A Portrait, a filmic homage to the changing moods of the Cuckmere river accompanied by a live score; KAYA from the Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc’s all-female company and Creation (Pictures for Dorian), a new piece inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray from acclaimed British/German arts collective Gob Squad. Brighton Festival 2018 also featured the first incarnation of Brownton Abbey, which saw Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall transform into a kaleidoscopic, afrofuturist party celebrating the work of queer artists of colour.

One of the most popular Festival events was an extended visit from internationally-renowned NoFit State circus who presented their dazzling new production Lexicon in a Big Top circus tent on Hove Lawns. Over the 11 night stay, over 9,700 people were dazzled by the spectacular show, which featured a large live band, a smorgasbord of impressive acrobatic set pieces – including an astonishing array of unicycles, quadricycles and everything in-between – and much more in a two hour feast for the senses.

Adam - Credit Victor Frankowski
Adam brought trans narrative centre-stage in the National Theatre of Scotland’s remarkable, true story of a young trans man and his journey to reconciliation, directed by award-winning theatre director Cora Bissett. The uplifting play was a word-of-mouth highlight of the Festival, along with a joyous and energising performance from West African all-female supergroup Les Amazones D’Afrique, and the delightful expedition of Rear View, which enabled audiences to see Brighton as they never had before in a unique poetry performance viewed from the back of a bus.

A special Brighton Festival moment was the 50th anniversary for Brighton Festival Chorus, who celebrated the occasion with two large-scale performances. The BFC joined forces with Britten Sinfonia and Orchestre de Picardie to mark the centenary of the end of World War One with a moving performance of Britten’s War Requiem. Just as in its 1968 debut, Brighton Festival Chorus was joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Belshazzar’s Feast for a special, historic commemorative concert on the final night of Brighton Festival 2018.

Image credits: The Nelken Line - Michael Fung
Gob Quad - Carys Lavin
A Weekend Without Walls - Victor Frankowski
Brownton Abbey - Victor Frankowski
Adam - Victor Frankowski

2018 in photos

Thank you so much for helping to make Brighton Festival 2018. Below are just a few of our favourite photos from the past three weeks.

Photos by Vic FrankowskiSummer Dean, and Carys Lavin.

 

Week 1

Problem in BrightonProblem in Brighton

Rear ViewRear View

The Boy, The Piano and The BeachThe Boy, The Piano and The Beach

Joep BevingJoep Beving

The Arms of SleepThe Arms of Sleep

ADAMADAM

Cuckmere: A PortraitCuckmere: A Portrait

Penguins

Woodland

Week 2

Attractor

 

The Big Book GroupThe Big Book Group

FaunaFauna

Fauna

Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet

NELKEN-LineNELKEN-Line

XFRMRtechno

Week 3

A Change is Gonna Come

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey

David Shrigley TalkDavid Shrigley Talk

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey 3

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey 4

Gob SquadGob Squad

Iain ShawIain Shaw

Malcolm MiddletonMalcolm Middleton

The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and AnxietyThe String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

The Wave Epoch

In Photos: Week 3

Wow - what a month we have had! We've enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2018 and we hope you had a blast too. This past week, we've had outdoor spectaculars, incredible music and much more. 

Photos by Vic FrankowskiSummer Dean, and Carys Lavin.

A Change is Gonna Come

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey

David Shrigley TalkDavid Shrigley Talk

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey 3

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey 4

Gob SquadGob Squad

Iain ShawIain Shaw

Malcolm MiddletonMalcolm Middleton

The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and AnxietyThe String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

The Wave Epoch

Listen again: Brighton Festival radio shows & podcasts

We have a cornucopia of great interviews, previews and reviews to stream from our media partners BBC Sussex and Radio Reverb, so we thought we'd round up a selection for you!

BBC Sussex have arranged a special weekly radio show called Brighton Festival 2018: Live, which is brimming with live interviews and music as well as prerecorded pieces from rehearsals and outdoor events. Allison Ferns hosts the show, and Melita Dennett and Guy Lloyd contribute too.

Listen again: Brighton Festival radio shows & podcasts
This week's episode includes interviews with Neil Bartlett ahead of Medea, Written in Rage and Cathy Tyson from The String Quartet's Guide to Sex and Anxiety ahead of this week's shows, as well as features on Gob SquadSnigel & Friends and Brighton Festival Chorus's 50th anniversary concert

Radio Reverb are hosting a daily radio show at 5-6pm, and also offer Bitesize podcast chunks:

Brighton Festival Live: The Cult of Water

The Cult of Water will be live streamed from 7.30pm on Sat 5 May.


Join ‘masterful storyteller’ (Radio Times) Dr. David Bramwell for a candle-lit journey in search of the supernatural secrets of our waterways....

Aided by a witch, Jarvis Cocker, and magician-author Alan Moore, David Bramwell battles his own thalassophobia (the fear of ‘what lurks beneath’) to unearth little-known stories and myths that surround our rivers.

The River Don is the focal point for this psycho-geographical journey that blends music, animation and film with captivating monologue. You’ll also learn about Brighton’s lost River Wellsbourne in a post-show Q&A.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan Colleg

Brighton Festival Live: Brownton Abbey

Brownton Abbey will be live streamed from 8pm on Fri 25 May


With Big Freedia, Rachael Young, Ria Hartley, Malik Nashad Sharpe, Lasana Shabazz & DJ Sets from Sista Selecta

From the folks that brought Mykki Blanco to Brighton Festival 2017 comes Brownton Abbey - a new Afro-futurist collective that will take you to church!

For this pastoral performance party, celestial beings from queer dimensions will transform Brighton Dome into a kaleidoscopic off-world temple. Congregate with your fam, drench yourself in contemporary ritual, and get transcendental on the dance floor!

Headlining will be New Orleans ‘Queen of Bounce’ Big Freedia, who you’ll know from Beyonce’s Formation, her collaborations with Diplo and RuPaul, and her own Netflix series. Plus performance interventions throughout the evening by a heavenly constellation of Queer Artists of Colour.

Peacock Poetry Prize winners announced

The winners of the Peacock Poetry Prize 2018 - an annual creative writing competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) and supported by Lulu.com - have been announced.

The eight finalists were chosen from 100 entries - a record number for the competition - which this year had the theme of ‘hard work’, a subject inspired by Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley’s book of the same title

Submissions were divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 11-13 years, 14-16 years 13-16 years and 17-19 years.

‘Working with Words’ by George Linehan won the 11-13 years category, ‘Alzheimer’ by Lottie Erratt-Rose won the 14-16 category, and ‘The Farrier’ by Amelie Maurice-Jones won the 17-19 age category.

The rest of the finalists were as follows: Yasmine Conway, Cole Hodler, Lillia Hudson-Amatt , Sylvie Goodwin and Christopher Clay.

Each finalist received a cup featuring designs by Guest Director David Shrigley.

The Peacock Poetry Prize aims to encourage young writers to explore the written word from a creative point of view. Each year encourages them to write on a different theme, with this year being ‘hard work’. Whether completing an assignment, building a relationship or breaking a habit, we all work hard on aspects of our daily lives. Each finalist submitted up to three poems with a maximum length of 20 lines per poem.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children and Family Producer, says: "The Peacock Poetry Prize offers a great opportunity for young people to have their writing seriously appraised and appreciated. Our panel of judges reads and discusses every poem and it is always a struggle to decide which of our many talented entrants will be invited to the finalists’ award party. We are thrilled that so many young people in Brighton and Hove are Writing poetry. The standard of entries remains high, once more, showing a real love of language, and composition that is truly astonishing and a maturity even from our youngest entrants"

William Baldwin, Principal of Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College, says: "BHASVIC is proud to have sponsored the Peacock Poetry Prize. Poetry is imaginations language, helping us understand and appreciate the world around us. A great poem can describe what we ourselves have no words for. As poetry is such a universal vehicle of human expression it is vital that we continue to nurture a love for it in the younger generation."

Entries were judged by our panel of experts, led by Kat Head, and prizes were awarded to the winners in each category at the ceremony at Brighton Dome Founders Room on Wednesday 23 May.

Local performers join Gob Squad for unique intergenerational show

British/German arts collective Gob Squad have performed all over the world for 25 years. Now, they come to Brighton Festival with a brand-new show, Creation (Pictures for Dorian) where they will be joined onstage by six local Brighton-based performers. 


Gob Squad is a British-German collective based in Nottingham and Berlin. Having worked collaboratively since 1994 in the fields of performance, video installation and theatre, they create mid-scale work that combines audience interaction with real-time video editing. The company often use popular culture to explore the complexities of everyday life and have a history of involving members of the audience in its performances. Yet, for the first time ever, Gob Squad have recruited local Brighton performers to take part in Creation (Pictures for Dorian).

Long-standing Gob Squad core member Sean Patten says: “We want to really lift the lid and explore beauty, aging, morality, mortality from different perspectives. [We’ve found] people older than us, and people younger than us, and people who – like us – spend a life on stage, or who want to spend a life on stage so that we can connect to them and find out what it’s like, and what it means to be visible in visible, looked at and regarded as an object of beauty.”

The chosen participants - three under the age of 22, three over 60 – all have some experience of performing, or in the case of the younger bracket, aspire to be on stage, with two of the young performers in their last year of studying drama at The University of Sussex.

One of the participants, Dorothy Max Prior, explains that: “I first read A Picture of Dorian Gray 50 years ago. Then, a budding teenage dancer; now, well into my sixties and still dancing, just a little more creakily… Gob Squad’s Creation isn’t a version of Oscar Wilde’s iconic book, it’s a kind of homage to it; an exploration of its themes, especially the central fantastical idea of keeping a portrait of yourself in the attic that ages whilst you remain eternally young-looking.

“Gob Squad are in the middle phase of their lives, as performers and as human beings, and they decided that they wanted to investigate both the idea of framing, of portraiture; and the obsession with looks, image, and ageing, using a cast of older performers (60+) and younger (aged around 20) student performers, who appear alongside the core cast as the models and muses. The show has a tight structure, but with room for improvisation within that structure. The guest performers are led by the hand throughout, often literally – moulded, guided, instructed. We are invited to respond not as lifeless mannequins but as ourselves… It’s great to be involved, and an interesting learning process. You can teach an old dog new tricks!”

Gob Squad member Sharon Smith explains that Creation is partly inspired by the members of Gob Squad hitting middle age and contemplating youthful vitality and good looks slowly ebbing away. “We wondered what it would be like if we were presented with people that reminded us of ourselves in the past, or who we would like to be in the future,” says Sharon, referring to their volunteers.

“We’re all about 50, not really looking forward or back. It’s a kind of waiting place – neither here nor there. That’s why we were interested in this multi-generational meeting.”

The project is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s character, Dorian Gray, who meddles in the domain of the gods with the aid of a magical painting. He suspends the process of ageing and remains young and beautiful forever, at a terrible cost to his soul. 

Gob Squad is on from Wed 23 until Sun 27 May at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

Brighton Festival film screening celebrates learning disabled workers

Brighton Festival & Carousel’s Oska Bright Film Festival are presenting a special film screening event entitled Lose Your Head at Duke’s At Komedia on Wed 23 May, celebrating learning disabled workers in a selection of short films from around the globe.

Carousel’s Oska Bright Film Festival is the leading international festival of films made by, or featuring, people with learning disabilities. It is produced, managed and presented by a learning disabled team. The biennial Oska Bright runs over three days, shows 100+ films from around the world and welcomes 3,000 people. The next Festival is in 2019.

In non-festival years Oska Bright screens its award-winning films at cinemas and film festivals around the world, showcasing the talent of learning disabled creatives.

On Wed 23 May, as part of Brighton Festival, Oska Bright’s lead programmer Matthew Hellett will introduce his selection of films from past Festivals, responding to the theme of ‘Hard Work’, inspired by Guest Director David Shrigley’s book of the same title.

Matthew Hellett says: “There is a lot of effort and consideration that goes in to making films. Filmmaking is hard work in general, but being a learning disabled filmmaker is even more difficult. We’re marginalised in society and we have to carve out spaces for ourselves to show our work.”

The screening will include short film The Mask by Sharif Persaud, a unique look at autism, identity and Al Murray which picked up the award for ‘Best Story’ at an earlier Oska Bright Film Festival. Meanwhile, in the slice of life drama Checkout (USA), Kelly is a supermarket packer who knows she deserves promotion whereas Man Without Direction (Sweden) sees businessman Dante lost in a Lynchian nightmare.

Oska Bright Film Festival puts people learning disabled people where they should be, behind the camera and on the screen. By doing this, it hopes that people’s perceptions of who learning disabled people are and what they’re capable of will be challenged. It is part of arts organisation Carousel, championing learning disabled creative people in the City for over thirty years.

Discover more about Oska Bright Film Festival and ticket availability.

In Photos: Week 2

Brighton Festival 2018 has had an amazing second week! Here's a few photos from events in week 2. 

Photos by Vic FrankowskiSummer Dean and Michael Fung

Attractor

The Big Book GroupThe Big Book Group

FaunaFauna

Fauna

Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet

NELKEN-LineNELKEN-Line

XFRMRtechno


Brighton Festival Live: Elephant and Castle

Elephant and Castle will be live streamed from Wed 23 May at 7.30pm


The first time my wife and I shared a bed I told her, ‘I want to get in a wardrobe and take you to Elephant and Castle.’ I was asleep. Do people tell the truth when they talk in their sleep? Could anyone be on the verge of admitting some dark desire, or telling the person beside them what they really think?

That’s the dangerous premise behind Elephant & Castle, the result of three years of Tom Adams’ recorded sleep-talk. With original songs performed live by Adams and Henley, this is a tender, funny and entirely unique gig theatre show about the joy and terror of talking in your sleep

Leading disabled dance artist brings multi-sensory new work for babies to Brighton Festival

Leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch’s colourful and immersive new production for babies under one and their respective adults, Snigel and Friends, comes to Brighton Festival next weekend. Co-created by Caroline Bowditch and designer Laura Hook, Snigel and Friends is a piece of dance theatre that aims to redress the under-representation of disability-inclusive work for young people.

Caroline Bowditch says: “Since 2008 I have been working annually with Skanes Dance Theatre in Malmo, Sweden. Each year when I’ve visited, their Programmer, Liselotte, has talked about how difficult it is to find good quality dance work for young audiences and how it’s virtually impossible to find work that includes any form of body diversity…I started to question ‘Why weren’t disabled artists making work for young audience?’ I took this question to Fiona Ferguson in Jan 2017 and the project grew out of this.”

Bowditch is one of the UK’s leading disabled dance artists. Audience’s may be familiar with her previous works Proband, Leaving Limbo Landing and Falling in love with Frida as well as collaborative works for Scottish Dance Theatre: NQR and The Long and the Short of It. There are very few companies making work for children with disabled performers. Caroline has long been working with Imaginate on the Weren’t You Expecting Me Project, taking a closer look at the impact, if any, that this may have on disabled and non-disabled children, particularly looking at the effect on aspirations, self-esteem and overall perceptions of disability.

Snigel the inquisitive snail - played by Caroline - dances, sings and makes music with their insect friends, brought to life by dancers, Welly O’Brien and performer and musician Zac Scott. Performed in the traverse and with the audience encouraged to sit on the floor, Snigel and Friends is an immersive and intimate performance allowing children to interact with the performers up close.

Designer and Production Manager Laura Hook says: “There are very few shows that made specifically for babies this young. We worked with our ‘baby board’ to make sure we created the best possible environment for little ones to engage in the colours and live music of the undergrowth while interacting with the characters and the props. I created a set that is built in proportion to Caroline, which also means all the action happens at perfect baby height. The leafy canopy creates a magical world that allows the audience to relax in the undergrowth...It’s an exercise in mindfulness and diversity that allows a positive theatre experience for parents and their wee ones.”

The show includes also live music by Zac Scott and will be performed at the Brighton Dome Founders Room from Friday 25 until Sunday 27 May. There are tickets still available! 

5 things you didn’t know about Brighton Festival Chorus

We caught up with Brighton Festival Classical Programmer and long standing member of the Brighton Festival Chorus, Gill Kay to find out more about the prestigious choir...

  1. Brighton Festival Chorus was formed to sing in Brighton Festival in 1968, the second Brighton Festival ever. At the time there was a Hungarian musician who was working at the old Gardner Centre at the University of Sussex. He was quite well known as a chorus master, a man named Laszlo Heltay.

    The festival approached Lazlo and asked whether he would form a chorus especially for the Brighton festival next year, as they wanted to put on a piece by William Walton as part of the programme. He agreed and auditioned a whole load of people and formed the BFC. He trained them to sing, and for their first ever concert in 1968 they sang William Walton’s Belshazzar's Feast. William Walton was still alive at this point, so he himself conducted. It was such a success, and the chorus were so brilliant under Lazlo’s directorship, that since then, Brighton festival chorus has performed at every single Brighton festival since.

    Rehearsing Bach B Minor Mass with Karl Richter which appeared in the Argus on 16 April 1970

    Arguably Lazlo himself is the reason why BFC became so popular in the first place. He still ran the chorus when I first joined in about 1985 and he absolutely terrified me, he was terrifying, but he was brilliant. He would do things like move people around mid-rehearsal. When he did, it would sound like a completely different section. He just had a brilliant ear. He understood how to fine tune the big choral sound that over 100 singers can create.

  2. Brighton Festival Choir is very traditional in terms of its sound, and are brilliant at traditional British repertoire. The other thing that I think the BFC is excellent at is singing incredibly quietly. It really is the most exciting thing when one moment you’re listening to a 140-person strong wall of sound sing as loudly as they can, and the other to 140 people singing incredibly quietly. It’s pure magic. There is a certain quality that 140 people singing quietly has. It’s something other than just the volume, it creates a presence in the room, in the sound… It’s quite hard to explain

  3. In 2006, we performed Tavener’s three-hour long The Veil of the Temple with no interval. We took all the seats out of the Brighton Dome Concert Hall and had staging in the middle. It’s the most complicated score! Tavener has got specific parts for different areas of the concert hall. So, we had singers stationed at a north point, a south, west and east, and then on the central bit there was an 8-foot Tibetan horn on it, alongside temple bowls and a duk duk.

    At the end of this piece – bearing in mind that this had already gone on for three hours nonstop – Tavener writes that another 500 singers to enter from all doors in the auditorium and come in and join for the last twenty minutes in a kind of Persian chant. We managed to get a whole load of choirs to join, about another 300 singers. At the end everyone just walked off singing this chant and disappeared into the bar. The audience were clapping and clapping. Tavener himself was there, and he walked on stage and the applause went on for about 15 or 20 minutes, it was phenomenal.

  4. We performed the War Requiem on Saturday 12 May as part of Brighton Festival. It is a requiem Mass, with some traditional Latin singing interspersed with Wilfred Owen war poetry. We wanted to make our version of the War Requiem quite unique by combining a French orchestra and a British orchestra and our chorus and the two soloists. We performed the War Requiem across Northern France in the last 25 years quite a few times, so in a way, this relationship that the chorus has got with northern France is really quite special.

     The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

  5. We'll be performing Belshazzar's Feast on Sun 27 May at 7.30pm. It's a particularly special one because not only is it is the 50th anniversary of the BFC, but it is also the 50th anniversary of that song. We have even booked the same Orchestra - The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - who played with us in 1958! We want to emphasise where BFC started, and celebrate where we are today. 

A Weekend Without Walls

The annual free celebration of family friendly outdoors performance is back, promising a fun programme of acrobatics, aerial circus, dance, installations, music and theatre that is sure to thrill, inspire and entertain audiences of all ages. So gather your friends and family, don't forget to pack a picnic, and head outdoors...

What's On?

Installation and family-friendly performance theatre

Bird in the Hand Theatre's The Bewonderment Machine 

A brand new theatre company combining the talents of puppet maker and director Alison Duddle and puppeteer extraordinaire Mark Whitaker. The Bewonderment Machine is an artist-built cycle powered carousel with riding space for up to 10 small children. A quirky dreamscape and magical miniature theatrical flight.


Helen Eastman Production's Bicycle Boy 

A bicycle powered musical for children aged 6–10 and their families. Sam and Mike loved their bikes as youngsters and pretended to be superheroes. Now grown-up, they’re clearing out their grandad’s old bike workshop and sharing childhood dreams with laughs, songs, and percussion played on spare bike parts. A celebration of pedal power!


Ramshacklicious' The band at the end of the world! (Sat 26 May only)

Raucous brass music, processing with a home-made, water spurting, flaming, roaming vehicle. A punk marching band existing within their very own miniature apocalyptic microclimate. These idiots are convinced that the end of the world is upon us – how do we take responsibility for the world we live in?


Travelling Light Circus' The Playground of Illusions 

Play with three giants' toys which each contain a visual or sound illusion! Inspired by steampunk and using vintage industrial machines to make quirky gadgets with levers to pull, buttons to push and pedals to press. An unforgettable and fascinating experience for all ages which will ignite your imagination.


Dance

Candoco Dance Company's Dedicated to… 

Critically acclaimed company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. This new duet choreographed by Caroline Bowditch, reveals the extraordinary bonds we make throughout our lives. A touching portrayal of female strength, support and friendship and how people come in and out of our lives and evolve and can shape us.


Flex Dance Company's WIRED

A solo performance by George Williams who in 2015 became the first dancer with a learning disability to tour with the National Youth Dance Company of England. From the comfort of his bedroom George forges connections to all that is special to him: Music, games, the world-wide web and more. At times a hive of activity, at others a sanctuary, Everyday objects can become a playground. It’s hard to focus when you’re this wired!


Rosie Kay Dance Company's Modern Warrior (Sun 27 May only)

Fast-paced urban takeover inspired by martial arts movies with exciting and dramatic sequences as two opposing groups meet in an epic stand-off. Pick a side, join either the Mods (Modernists) or the Trads (Traditionalists) and train to be a MODERN WARRIOR. Join in and become part of the action or simply watch as the legend unfolds. Rosie Kay Dance Company won Best Independent Dance Company in 2015 by the National Dance Awards and is nominated again for 2018 with winners announced on 19 February.


Circus 

Hikapee's Look Up 

A beautiful, highly visual and inspiring performance of circus, puppetry and theatre for families. When we are constantly glued to our mobile phones, what joy can we find when we dare to look up and appreciate nature.


12–5pm
Sat 26 May, Easthill Park (British Sign Language interpreted)
Sun 27 May, Beach Level by the i360


Brighton Festival is part of Without Walls, the UK’s largest commissioner of outdoor arts shows, taking inspiring new work to audiences all over the country and beyond. Find out more: withoutwalls.uk.com

A Weekend Without Walls is supported by Southern Water


Kate Tempest debuts new album at secret Your Place gig

2017’s Guest Director Kate Tempest made a surprise return to the city on Sat 19 May for a secret gig as part of our Your Place initiative, performing an exclusive rendition of her unreleased new album in full at Hangleton Community Centre

Billed only as a ‘special guest’ at 5pm, the sold-out show rounded off a glorious sunny day of free entertainment for residents of the Hangleton area, presented by Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre. Tempest told the crowd that she was “thrilled to be back” and asked for no filming of the work from her upcoming third solo album. Tempest’s exclusive performance of the brand new work came after a barnstorming performance from Culture Clash, a training area for young writers and performers in the Brighton area, who performed a three way-battle of spoken artforms in Poets vs. Rappers vs. Comedians.

Kate Tempest commented: “This year I’ve come back to play a little unannounced gig at Hangleton Community Centre, which is one of my favourite places ever to play a gig, to be honest. I had this idea as part of my Guest Directorship that what would be the most exciting way to use that opportunity would be to bring some of what was happening in the Festival out to the communities around. And one of the most important things about that idea was that it had life after our year. It was such an exciting time for everyone, for the people that run the Festival to meet the community steering groups, and everyone was so blown away by how much enthusiasm and excitement there was. And now I’ve come back and it’s popping off basically, there’s a massive bandstand, everyone’s dancing, it feels really good here. I feel really chuffed and really happy to be back.”

Saturday’s line-up at Hangleton included a popular dance-a-thon through the decades from the Charleston to the Macarena with The Ragroof Players’ Happy Feet, as well as an interactive game zone for all ages with The Actual Reality Arcade. Brighton & Hove Music and Arts (who united with Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival last year) presented performances by inclusive music group Orchestra 360 and the dustbin-utilising Percussion Ensemble at Morag Myerscough’s touring Belonging Bandstand, and the Brighton-based all-female group Qukulele and Brighthun Voices’ showcase of the rich musical heritage of Hungary were other highlights on the day.

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brings a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. Reflecting Tempest’s belief that “the arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes”, the inaugural project in 2017 was a resounding success. Over 2,000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, and participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Brighton Festival 2017 also heralded the Pay-It-Forward initiative (which continued this year), offering the chance to donate £5 on top of ticket prices which was match-funded to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response was phenomenal with over a thousand people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.

The East Brighton-based second Your Place weekend runs over Sat 26 & Sun 27 May and will see The Ragroof Players and Culture Clash return, along with free football sessions from Albion in the Community, a singing workshop with Banyan Tree Theatre Group, comedian Jo Neary’s new children’s show Peg in the Gallery, and much more. Go to brightonfestival.org/yourplace to find out more.

Brighton Festival Live: The World of Moominvalley

The World of Moominvalley will be live streamed from Sunday 20 May at 3:00 PM.


The World of Moominvalley with Philip Ardagh & Daniel Hahn

Join award-winning children's author, Philip Ardagh, and Daniel Hahn as they introduce The World of Moominvalley. This beautiful new book is filled with illustrated maps and family trees, facts about Moomin behaviour and habits, all you could wish to know about each beloved character, the world in which they live and their creator Tove Jansson. A family event for Moomins fans young and old.

Festival Hot Seat: Tangomotan

The passion and the power of Tango are given an audacious new dimension by Tangomotán, a dynamic quartet that is weaving new musical sounds into the Tango tradition. We caught up with the quartet to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Hola, we are Tangomotán. During a concert, we, the 4 musicians (2 women and 2 men), bring the audience into pure tango music sensations. Our show is about tango: how the traditional music sounds today, and how the new compositions describe modern life. We are trying to lead our music into the biggest vertigos.

Why should someone come and see your show?
Our music talks about the struggle in life, as it was in Argentina in the 19th century (birthplace of the tango). Along our multiple concerts, we experimented how this music expresses a universal feeling of human condition and its dilemmas, that reaches everybody's heart.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea was to pursue the tango's story by adding new interpretations and new compositions. It was also the idea to mix people from different musical background having a common language of music in one band. Some musicians come from the tango, others from the classical music education and our roads cross a few years ago. The inspiration of this special sound mixes traditional tango music and uses the contemporary environment of each of us that come from France, Armenia, Finland and Argentina. Our music has no borders, and talks about everything.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
We believe that it is important to touch people's heart and soul and give them energy, but we don't deliver any message. Our purpose is to give people energy by the vertigos. We want that our music gives them strength to dance with the life.
We play instrumental tango, far from traditional milongas, and we claim our affiliation to the modern instrumental music, which is something rare today, because we want to popularize and defend the sensation that comes out of pure music.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think we get too wrapped up in the mundane bricks and mortar of the world, we forget
the possibility of the unexpected, the slightly out of the ordinary. Not the through-the-back-of-the-wardrobe fantasy of a children’s story, but the excitement of finding a spiralstaircase that leads down into the dark… and the ability to go have a look at what’s down there.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
All the music lovers (we hope)!!!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
What's surprising nowadays is the universality of the tango and the energy of this music.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
It's a great opportunity to share our music in your festival. We are very eager to live our first favourite moments in Brighton Festival. Furthermore, Brighton is a cost and sea-side like Buenos Aires!

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We are excited to see a modern English production and to see Brighton for the very first time.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Brighton Festival Live: Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman will be live streamed from Sat 26 May at 8pm


Plus support from Du Blonde & Honey Harper
‘The kind of performer that makes you feel like a teenager all over again’ The Guardian

Tears. Heartbreak. Unbridled joy. Ezra Furman is the real deal.

Fans of Chicago’s rock’n’roll hero will testify as to the electric energy of his live shows that teeter on the edge of hysteria.

His onstage presence, hook-laden garage-punk (think Jonathan Richman meets Spector-era Ramones meets the E Street Band), and confessional lyrics about sexuality, depression, faith and politics, have all earned him a legion of followers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Back with his newly re-christened band The Visions, and hot on the heels of the release of latest album Transangelic Exodus, this is a performer that must be seen to be believed.

Du Blonde
Du Blonde, AKA Beth Jeans Houghton, is a multidisciplinary artist and musician, working with animation, illustration, sculpture, video editing, songwriting and music production.

Honey Harper
Honey Harper is both an old and a new project. The songs were written in the past three years but they’ve been around for much longer. They resist temporality and eschew spatial specificity. Whether they were written on a lake in northern Ontario, a haunted hotel room in Atlanta, or in a car at 5AM in east London makes little difference as they all reside within. Honey Harper is intrinsically honest, pure, universal country.

Budding young artists selected to meet Brighton Festival Guest Director David Shrigley

A group of aspiring young artists, illustrators and graphic designers are to meet Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley for an afternoon of coffee and conversation next weekend. The group of seven 16 to 19-year-olds have all been specially selected for the honour after successfully making the case for why the opportunity would be helpful to them.

Each year Brighton Festival invites a group of young people to join the Guest Director for an informal chat over a cup of coffee. Those who are interested in a career in the arts can ask questions, gain advice and learn invaluable lessons from a leading exponent of their field.

Many of these guests are starting their journey towards studying at University level, or A-Level, hoping to pursue a career in the arts. One applicant says: “Meeting Shrigley would be a great experience as I am currently studying at Brighton Met on an Art Foundation and will be going to University next year to study Graphic Design. Personally, I would be interested in finding out more about Shrigley’s experience at university seeing as he went to GSA (a university I have applied for) and more about how his practise has evolved since graduating”

Another’s application reads: “I was just seven-years-old when I discovered a postcard in a storage box belonging to my parents. I liked the image on the card immediately and promptly stuck it on my bedroom wall with Blu-Tack. I'm now a student at Goldsmiths University but when I go back to Brighton the card is still there, in pride of place above my bed. Yet it was only three years ago that I realised that this funny little plasticine face holding up a strange note to a lamppost was the work of David Shrigley.”

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

Widely admired by the art world and public alike, David Shrigley was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013 for his solo show David Shrigley: Brain Activity at the Hayward Gallery. In September 2016, Really Good, a 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, was unveiled as the latest incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth - described as the ‘tallest and most positive yet’.

Brighton Festival Family Programmer says: “We are thrilled to see the return of our annual event where young people between the ages about 17 and 19, come along and meet our Guest Director, have a coffee and have the chance to ask questions. There are so many people doing witty, clever drawings inspired by Shrigley at art school at the moment. They want to meet him because they’ll in the same world, and they look up to him a lot. I’m really looking forward to the meeting, it’s always great.”

Festival show harnesses the power of the Tesla coil in electrifying multi-sensory performance

In XFRMR, Robbie Thomson uses the power of the Tesla coil to create a unique sensory phenomenon in a gig-cum-visual art performance as lively as electricity itself. Accompanied by live soundscapes inspired by the sounds of space weather and percussive sections rooted in industrial music and techno, XFRMR will be on at The Spire until Sunday 20th.

XFRMR is a live audio-visual performance which explores the creative possibilities of the Tesla Coil as a musical instrument. The technology is based on Nikola Tesla's 1891 design which was originally developed for long range power transmission. Tesla tamed lightning with his Tesla coil, a device that renders electricity visible. Now, more than a century later, Glasgow-based artist Robbie Thomson utilises the coil in a wholly unique way. By synthesizing the ever-changing sonic geometries of the apparatus to produce distorted tones and percussive stabs, XFRMR offers a glimpse into the subatomic relationships that govern the universe.

Housed in an imposing steel Faraday cage and accompanied by audio-reactive projections, the Tesla coil itself is a physical assault on the senses. The grid of the cage displays ever-changing geometries, as light seems to fuse with sound to make synesthetic patterns, in a unique sensory phenomenon.

This is Glasgow based artist, Robbie Thomson’s first ever Brighton Festival. He says: “I think people will be surprised by how musical the Tesla Coil can be, you can make it really expressive and create quite delicate timbres as well as distorted tones and harsh percussive stabs. I was interested in high voltage devices and so was drawn to using the Tesla coil on a visual level and from a historical perspective before I was really aware of its musical potential. The direct correlation of the sonic and visual elements and the real physicality of the coil as an electro-acoustic instrument (the air ionising to create sound and light) made it ideal to use in an artistic context.”

“The ways in which technology is being used to synthesise natural phenomena relates to so many aspects of where the frontier of science is at today. The boundaries between synthetic and natural worlds are constantly being tested (whether that be in artificial intelligence or nanotechnology) so it's interesting to consider the nature of electricity and invisible wavelengths within this context, as it is something that we usually either ignore or take for granted”

XFRMR is a Cryptic commission for Sonica in association with Cove Park. As an Associate Artist for Sonica, Robbie has toured worldwide with his kinetic sculpture, music and lighting design. XFRMR has toured extensively including sell out performances at Melbourne Festival and was selected for the Made in Scotland showcase during the 2017 Edinburgh Festival. His Cryptic projects have also been presented in Australia, France, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands and widely around the UK. 

You can see XFRMR at the Spire until Sunday.

Over 60’s dance troupe recreates Pina Bausch's 1982 masterpiece – the NELKEN-Line - on Brighton's seafront

Three Score Dance, the Brighton-based contemporary dance company for over 60s, will re-create Pina Bausch’s masterpiece, The NELKEN-Line, with a team of around 200 volunteers along the Brighton beachfront this weekend (Saturday 19th May, 6.30pm) as part of Brighton Festival.


The legendary Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter sequence is from one of Pina Bausch’s best-known works, the 1982 piece Nelken, and features West End Blues by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five.

The Three Score Dance company will be joined in the participatory performance by around 200 people, many of whom attended workshops to learn the four iconic movements led by Three Score Artistic Director Jason Keenan-Smith

The aim is to create the most fabulous and colourful NELKEN-Line on Brighton seafront, becoming a part of an exciting world-wide project run by the Pina Bausch Foundation and ARTE which invites people to submit their own NELKEN-Line video to the Foundation’s website.


In France, Ireland, Chile, Cyprus, Spain and Germany, dance lovers of all ages – professionals and amateurs – have responded to the call and danced their own individual NELKEN-Line, with performance videos from around the world posted on the NELKEN-Line website. Three Score has already uploaded their own Company version, the film made by Company member Vincent with long term collaborator DOP Patrick Duval.

Three Score Dance Volunteer Management Group member Vicki Crowther says: “Being part of Three Score Dance means we are standing up for the older dancer and we’re looking forward to leading a glorious celebration of Pina Bausch with people from all walks of life as we dance The Nelken Line along the beach from the i360 to the peace statue on Saturday.”

NELKEN-Line - Three Score Dance, Brighton from Pina Bausch Foundation on Vimeo.

Three Score Dance, founding company members, Saskia Heriz and Christina Thompson, were inspired by The Company of Elders at Sadler’s Wells to offer contemporary dance opportunities for men and women aged 60+ in Brighton & Hove. Although many of its members have had no prior dance training, their wealth of life experience brings a unique quality to their work.

The company is led by Rehearsal Director, Jason Keenan-Smith, with professional choreographers commissioned to create bespoke pieces for performance. As an associate Brighton Dome company, Three Score have a history of commissioned pieces 50th Brighton Festival celebration Tall Tales - a special reconstruction from memory of a series of performed paintings believed to have been presented at some time during the Festival’s history.  

Discover more about this exciting dance event...

Brighton Festival Live: The Last Poets

The Last Poets will be live streamed from 7.30pm on Tue 15 May


Legendary Godfathers of hip hop and creators of influential albums - The Last Poets (1970) and This is Madness (1971) – The Last Poets fuse politically outspoken lyrics with inventive percussion in an electrifying celebration of 50 years of the power of words and music. The Last Poets are modern day griots, with withering attacks on everything from racists to government to the bourgeoisie, their spoken word albums preceded politically laced R&B projects such as Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and foreshadowed the work of hard-hitting rap groups such as Public Enemy.

Now in a rare appearance, Umar Bin Hassan, Abiodun Oyewole and Donn Babatunde - legendary Godfathers of hip hop - bring an electrifying celebration of 50 years of powerful words and music to Brighton Festival.

In Photos: Week 1

Brighton Festival 2018 has had a fantastic first week! Here's a few photos from events in the last week. We're so excited to see what the next two weeks bring!

Photos by Vic Frankowski

Problem in BrightonProblem in Brighton

Rear ViewRear View

The Boy, The Piano and The BeachThe Boy, The Piano and The Beach

Joep BevingJoep Beving

The Arms of SleepThe Arms of Sleep

ADAMADAM

Cuckmere: A PortraitCuckmere: A Portrait

Penguins

Woodland

Morag MyerscoughProblem in Brighton

Brighton Festival Live: KAYA

KAYA will be live streamed from 8pm on Mon 14 May

Join us for an inside viewing of KAYA, a moving new performance that explores human experiences of displacement, drawing on the strength and resilience of those searching for belonging in a new community.

Ceyda Tanc is a Brighton-based choreographer creating dynamic dance influenced by her Turkish heritage and highlighting the intersection of modern Britain’s diverse cultures. With a unique movement vocabulary fusing traditional Turkish folk dance with contemporary styles, Ceyda’s work challenges gender stereotypes by utilising the virtuoso movements of male Turkish dancers for her all-female company, conveying striking shapes and an emotive and sensual energy.


Morag Myerscough’s colourful touring bandstand comes to Brighton beachfront

Contemporary designer Morag Myerscough’s first ever mobile installation, Belonging - a bright, bold, touring bandstand - launches this weekend on the beach level next to the i360.

Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Belonging celebrates the spirit of seminal 1960s Los Angeles artist and nun Corita Kent whose work brought together a belief in the strength of creativity, togetherness, love and social justice

The specially-made bandstand will play host to a variety of music and activities programmed in conjunction with communities across Sussex. It will be adorned with a series of placards on the theme of ‘belonging’ drawn from conversations and workshops with communities across Sussex, based on assignments taken from Corita’s inspirational book Learning from the Heart (a blueprint for creative exploration and community empowerment, published posthumously in 1992).

Morag Myerscough says: “The Belonging bandstand is a project I have been wanting to do for many years. I have an obsession with bandstands. I love how they just stand in a place dormant for long lengths of time and then can be transformed by performance. They are beautiful empty and when a performance takes place people just gravitate towards it. I love that they are free for everybody to experience. I work a lot with communities on various projects. I find when people are involved in the creating and the making they connect so much more with the piece and ultimately the piece is their piece. I want it to belong to them and for everybody to own - it does not belong to me.

Belonging kicks off this weekend with a day of music curated by BIMM on Sat 12 May featuring a variety of local young musicians programmed by BIMM Brighton including The Yellow Bellies, Marius Bear, Stranger Girl, Megan Lara Mae, Hayley Harland and The Villas, from 12pm until 5pm. On Sunday, the Sussex Pistols Ceilidh band will be performing English and Scottish dance and ceilidh music throughout the afternoon (2-5pm).

The Belonging Bandstand will then tour to Your Place venues in Brighton and on to the South of England Show at Ardingly, Crawley Festival, Newhaven, Ditchling and Coastal Currents Arts Festival in Hastings, taking on a different local character with each new iteration as the placard formation of the crown is changed to show off the communities’ own designs, and as the bandstand is programmed with local performers.

The project accompanies the exhibition Get With The Action: Corita Kent, showing at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft from 5 May – 14 October 2018. Corita was an American artist, a famously charismatic educator and a Roman Catholic nun based in Los Angeles during the 1960s. As an advocate for social justice, she believed in the democratisation of art, producing screen-printed posters and banners incorporating advertising slogans, song lyrics, biblical references and commercial design into her Warhol-inspired work.

There will also be a complementary exhibition, Belonging, featuring a commission reflecting on the concept of belonging in the museum’s Wunderkammer by Myerscough and Luke Morgan. A second edition of the duo’s Sign Machine (2016) will also be installed in the introduction space.

Belonging Bandstand Tour Dates

12/13 May: Brighton Festival, Beach Level (next to i360)

19/20 May: Brighton Festival, Your Place, Hangleton

26/27 May: Brighton Festival, Your Place, East Brighton

7-9 June: South of England Show

2-7 July: Crawley Festival

25 – 27 August: Newhaven (in association with Artwave)

1 – 9 September : Coastal Currents Arts Festival, Hastings/St Leonards

22 September: Ditchling (as part of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft’s 5th birthday celebrations)

Brighton Festival artist Theresa Lola wins African Poetry Prize

Brighton Festival artist Theresa Lola has won a prestigious Brunel International African Poetry Prize, scooping a major prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The Prize is sponsored by Brunel University London and the African Poetry Book Fund.

This year the judges decided to award the prize to the three poets they considered the most outstanding. Out of over 1,000 entries, the winners announced are Hiwot Adilow (Ethiopia), Theresa Lola (Nigeria), and Momtaza Mehri (Somalia). The trio will share the plaudits as joint winners, in keeping with the Prize’s project of supporting multiple voices from the African continent.

24-year-old Theresa (Nigeria) fought off stiff competition from over a thousand entrants, adding the prestigious title to her clutch of previous awards, including winner of Hammer and Tongue National Poetry Slam in 2017 and the London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016.Theresa is an alumna of the Barbican Young Poets programme. She was awarded an Arts Council/British Council International Development Grant to run poetry workshops at the Lagos International Poetry Festival in Nigeria in 2017. Theresa is also part of SXWKS creative collective and Octavia Women of Colour collective which is resident at the Southbank Centre in London. She is currently working on her debut full length poetry collection.

“Winning the Brunel International African Poetry Prize feels surreal, it is an unwavering highlight,” said Theresa Lola, who was first inspired to start writing poetry after a trip to the Lagos Poetry Festival when she was 12.

“To win the Brunel International African Poetry Prize feels like I am doing my job and responsibility as a poet and human in putting Africa forward where it rightly belongs.”

Brunel University London commented as follows: “This is an incredibly exciting time in the development of African poetry. We expect that many of the poets engaged in our impactful poetry initiatives will become the leading African poets of the future. Many of them are still very young, in their twenties, and we expect great things from them, but also those from poets who are older but still relatively new to publishing poetry. African poetry is now staking its claim on the global literary landscape. We are witnessing a quiet revolution.”

Theresa will be appearing at Brighton Festival as part of World Premiere & Brighton Festival Commission, Poets & Illustrators alongside Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore and Toby Campion. For this one-off event, some of the finest, freshest poets around are paired with live illustrators for a sharp, straight-talking night of poetry, projection and experimental art exploring the theme ‘hard work’. 

Poets & Illustrators takes place on the Sat 26 May at 8pm, at St Georges Church. 

Brighton born circus performer returns to his roots for Big Top Spectacular as part of Brighton Festival

Brighton-born juggler Luke Hallgarten is performing as part of internationally renowned circus company NoFit State as part of the Festival with their dazzling new production LEXICON - a daring, seductive and contemporary take on the circus experience.

Juggler Luke Hallgarten graduated from the National Centre for Circus arts (NCCA) in 2015 with a first class honours degree and went on to study at Le Lido Centre des Arts du Cirque du Toulouse. Alongside the creation and tour of Lexicon, Luke is conducting a research project on creative language within circus, is touring with his own company London Beaches and touring his own solo piece just.what.

NoFit State Circus have been performing for over thirty years and today are the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company. Created for a big top tent, Lexicon is a performance with a nod to the history and heritage of British Circus, crafted for a seated audience in the round and combining cutting edge technology with traditional circus skills.

Audiences are invited to take their seat in their tent on Hove Lawns for jaw-droppingly physical storytelling and a live score to lift the soul. Drawing inspiration from history, heritage and traditions, this show digs into the underground of memory and celebrates the past, present and future of this much-loved artform.

Luc Morris, Lexicon Communications and Marketing Officer says: ‘This year is the 250th anniversary of circus, which was created by a man called Philip Astley. We have wanted to pay homage to the man but also to 250 years of tradition and begin shaping the next 250 years of circus in the UK. There are many strands of inspiration behind LEXICON but the main one is about the heritage, and a group of people who have found each other in the circus and begin misbehaving.’

‘We love going to Brighton. We love this early period in the season, being by the sea and hopefully this year again, the sun. It’s a great place to kick off the touring season and the Brighton audience is a great one to perform to. There is also an air of nostalgia in Brighton with the pier, the arcades, the lawns which is particularly fitting to LEXICON, so we’re very excited to be presenting our new show there’.

LEXICON is running on Thu 3 -  Mon 14 May at various times. Head to the LEXICON event page to find out more about ticket availability and times. 

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018

Picasso’s Dove of Peace and Munch’s The Scream among the creations at the Children’s Parade 2018

Celebrating art from the likes of Picasso, Salvador Dali and many more, 20,000 people packed the streets on Sat 5 May as the 52nd Brighton Festival launched with the Children’s Parade.

The theme for the 2018 Children’s Parade was ‘Paintings’, inspired by Guest Director David Shrigley. Participants took inspiration from a wide range of well-known art from across the ages, including paintings by Alan Davies and Jean Michael Basquiat; Mae West by Salvador Dali; Surprised by Henri Rousseau; Mural by Joan Miro; and American Gothic by Grant Wood. The parade was led by this year’s Guest Director David Shrigley.

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.

Previous themes have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet and Brighton street names to books, mermaids and even slices of cake for the annual Children’s Parade.

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.

If you missed it this year, you can see some of this year's creations in Brighton Dome's Cafe/Bar, entrance is via Church Street.

“We were hugely impressed once again with the ingenious ways in which schools have embraced the theme of the parade, choosing paintings by the likes of Salvador Dali, Matisse and many more. A fitting start to Brighton Festival!’ Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival


Brighton Festival Live: The Boy, The Piano and The Beach

The Boy, The Piano and The Beach will be live streamed from 3pm on Mon 7 May

Slot Machine Theatre - The Boy, The Piano and The Beach
World premiere & Brighton Festival commission

A little boy is playing on the beach when, all of a sudden, he is magically transported to another world. His adventures through this enchanting land are packed full of extraordinary encounters with curious and mystical creatures. The question is: can the boy find his way back home?

This enchanting tale is told through puppetry, dance and light projections, all accompanied by stunning live music played on a grand piano. A sensory feast, the show will captivate children of six and upwards, who are welcome to stay and play after the performance to explore the dreamy world of the boy on the beach.


Brighton Festival Live: Cuckmere: A Portrait & Environmentalism

Cuckmere: A Portrait & Environmentalism will be live streamed from 7.30pm on Sat 5 May

Join us for a live screening of this powerful collaboration of film and live music. 

Cuckmere: A Portrait
Ed Hughes -Composer
Cesca Eaton - Filmmaker

Score played live by The Orchestra of Sound and Light. For centuries the Cuckmere River has inspired artists, sheltered smugglers and preserved a host of rare wildlife as it charts a course through the evocative landscapes of southern England.

Filmmaker Cesca Eaton and composer/conductor Ed Hughes trace the changing moods of the Cuckmere, from its source in the High Weald to the sea at Cuckmere Haven.

Environmentalism 2.0
Caroline Lucas discusses the future of the environmental movement with author Tony Juniper, whose new book, Rainforest, draws on his many years' experience as a frontline campaigner.

From the British Airways i360 to Brighton Museum - young musicians to pitch up in locations all over city for Brighton Festival

Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and Brighton Festival presents its annual feast of music from the next generation on Saturday 5 May. This showcase for young musicians will include music for all tastes, featuring the Brighton & Hove Big Band; unplugged pop and folk-inspired acts; and string quartets and chamber wind ensembles. Performances will be taking place at a variety of different locations, from high above Brighton in a British Airways i360 pod to busy, central Bartholomew Square.

Brighton & Hove Music & Arts provides high quality and inclusive music and arts education and performance opportunities for all children and young people across the city including music lessons, ensembles, projects, workshops, orchestras, summer schools and dance classes. BHMA is the lead partner of the award winning SoundCity, the Music Education Hub for Brighton & Hove. Working alongside the Brighton Dome & Festival, Glyndebourne, Rhythmix, University of Sussex, Royal Pavilion and Museums, representatives from Public Health and the Music Industry Their vision is for all children and young people in the city, whatever their background, to be able to engage with, to enjoy, and to be inspired by high quality music and arts opportunities.

For some high-flying fun, take a ride on the i360 with a String Quartet. The Quartet is made up of members from the prestigious Brighton Youth Orchestra String Ensemble. BYOSE is an award-winning course based ensemble that has performed several times at the Royal Albert Hall for the Music for Youth Schools Prom. They regularly collaborate with choirs and dance artists and once a year, have an intensive rehearsal and performance programme on the Isle of Wight. The ensemble has performed in such prestigious venues as the Japanese Embassy, Inveraray Castle in Scotland in addition to giving an hour long live performance on Classic FM.

There will be two flights open to the public, with the first at 11.30am and second at midday on Saturday 5th May, so book now to avoid missing out. Relax, sit back and enjoy the perfect backdrop of the beautiful city of Brighton and the stunning Sussex coastline – an experience that is certain to lift your spirits. These talented young performers are ones not to miss!

For something completely different, Brighton & Hove Youth Big Band will be performing a set between 1.30pm & 2.40pm on the 'pitch' outside Moshimo in Bartholomew Square. Playing soul, funk and classic big band, they’re sure to 'Brighton' up your day.

Pitch Perfect

Brighton Children’s parade participants need not worry, as Brighton Museum and Dome Café Bar will also be showcasing performances throughout the afternoon! Brighton Museum’s south balcony will host Brighton & Hove Music & Arts' classical players between 2pm & 4pm, during the Museum’s 'Free for the Festival' Day. Explore the exhibitions whilst our players perform beautiful works ranging from Bach to Disney classics. Or, unwind between 2pm & 4pm with Brighton & Hove Music & Arts' contemporary acoustic stage in the Café Bar. Take the weight off your feet after a busy parade and enjoy the best of local singer-songwriters as they perform their own material mixed in with some covers.

Find more information on Pitch Perfect and the various performances. 

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Theatre, Circus and Dance

As we head inexorably towards the start of the 2018 Festival, Sally Cowling, Associate Producer of the Brighton Festival, shares a final few picks of performances that just shouldn’t be missed…



Blaas
I absolutely guarantee that you won’t have experienced anything like this before. I was blown away by this (pretty literally: ‘blaas’ means ‘blow’ in Dutch) when I saw it in Amsterdam eighteen months ago. Made by Dutch choreographer Boukje Schweigman, it’s choreography but not as you know it-not least because you don’t see the dancer who is performing for you! Instead you meet unearthly creatures that might or might not be sentient, that might or might not be friendly, that might or might not be reflecting your mood back at you… I can’t tell you much about the experience of this show without spoiling it for you but suffice to say that it is beautiful, immersive, playful and all-enveloping, a complete 360-degree sensory experience that leaves you reeling, but in the best, most exhilarating and, dare-I-say-it, spiritual sense. It’s one of those ‘only-in-the-Festival delights, so do go and experience it-it has a limited capacity so grab a ticket while you can!



The Humours of Bandon
For those of you who saw the fantastic, heart-rending piece of theatre, ‘Silent’ by Pat Kinevane a few festivals ago, you will have already experienced the brilliance of Fishamble, Ireland’s foremost new writing company. The Humours of Bandon also comes from the Fishamble stable and is also a brilliant one-person show, but the similarities very firmly stop there. This is written and performed by Margaret McAuliffe, a past Irish dance champion as well as a great writer and this is her story of thoroughly unhealthy competition amidst the wonders of Irish dance. It is a gorgeous, life-affirming, and wryly hilarious look at teenage obsession, whilst also being a tour-de-force of a performance with Margaret performing a multitude of characters whilst treating us to some exceptionally splendid dancing. This will simply make you feel better to watch; frankly it should probably be on prescription for mild springtime blues, because it’s a veritable tonic of a show. Neither experimental nor hard-hitting, just absolutely joyous.


Creation (Letters to Dorian)
For those of you who’ve previously come across the British/German collective, Gob Squad, you have probably already bought your ticket to see this most innovative, funny and experimental of companies. For everybody else, I encourage you to connect with this endlessly inventive company who this time around are working with local Brighton artists.

Reluctantly, occasionally defeatedly, but mostly defiantly middle-aged, the Gob Squad are exploring beauty and youth and art; what constitutes beauty, is it simply youth? What constitutes art, and does it have to be truthful? Do we, the audience change it just by watching? Incorporating their own and their guest performers’ lived experiences-including the brutally enviable experiences of ridiculously gorgeous young people positively flaunting their peachy, unblemished perfection- and moving between performance and live-edited filming, Gob Squad endlessly play with our perceptions and self-awareness in this frank, thought-provoking and funny examination of quite how much of our souls we would sell for eternal youth or at least for the appearance of it….

Our programme has lots of other amazing performances to explore including The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Creation (Pictures for Dorian) and KAYA.

Your Place artist Kate McCoy on neighbourhoods, Pritt Sticks & shared landmarks

Your Place is a partnership project run by the Brighton Festival, Brighton People's Theatre and two resident led, community development projects on either side of the city: Due East and the Hangleton and Knoll Project. With a steering group of local people from both communities over the last year to co-programme and co-design Your Place for the 2018 Brighton Festival, this year's programme is full of brilliant shows and workshops.

Your Place 2018 Artist in Residence Kate McCoy has been leading a series of workshops known as Random Acts of Neighbourliness, which encourages participants to share experiences of their own neighbourhoods to create a ‘visual map’ of the area and to come up with creative ideas to get to know their neighbours and bring the community together. Kate tells us more about her exciting new role, and the ideas and artwork produced from her workshops. 


I have a white square of fabric, thirty random objects and curiosity about how people feel about their neighbourhoods. I want to scratch the surface of the day to day and encourage people to think metaphorically and creatively about their experiences as being part of a community. The results of this activity will be an exhibition in each community created by the artist Luan Taylor as part of The Your Place weekends, which are a collaboration between the communities of Hangleton and Knoll and East Brighton, Brighton People’s Theatre and Brighton Festival.

I have been setting up in community centres, lunch clubs and youth drops in, asking people to sit down with me and create a visual map of their neighbourhood using objects to represent themselves, their neighbours and the landmarks and features that surround them. So, a Pritt stick has been a lamp post where young people hang out on the Knoll Estate, a bus stop in Whitehawk that can be seen from a living room window, and someone who works with the community, sticking people together.

Lots of people start by saying, “its too hard, I don’t know what to do!”, but once they get going, they express fascinating insights about how they see their world. The final part of the conversation has been about asking people to decide on a “random act of neighbourliness” something that could happen to bring the community closer together. The results have included; cleaning up dog poo and tidying up the bins, and a young man wanting a campfire outside his house. There has been the desire for coffee and cake mornings to bring people together, and to get rid of double yellow lines so that the children of elderly residents can visit more easily.

People have been so welcoming in both communities, open and even more creative than they thought they were and have made beautiful images and said thought provoking things that I hope you will come and see.

Being Your Place's artist in residence is my ideal job, I get to meet loads of different people in a range of settings and find out more about them creatively, connecting through laughter and conversation. I am also delighted that my company, small performance adventures, working in partnership with cascade creative recovery, are bringing our brand new performance The Washing Up, to both Your Place weekends. It’s been described as "bonkers and brilliant" and is a space where we explore this everyday activity through songs and scenes centred round our sink on wheels. (Marigolds not provided)’


Find out more about Your Place artist-in-residence workshops Hangleton

Find out more about Your Place artist-in-residence workshops in East Brighton 

Our local supporters' favourite Brighton Festival memories

We asked some of our local supporters for their favourite Brighton Festival memories. Here are their best bits.


Cactus Worldwide
The eclectic and interesting international film productions offered every year. They have always provided us with the chance to reflect on life and emotions from very different perspectives and cultures.
Maria Ansede - Cactus Worldwide

Cin Cin
Main favourite memory is the wind almost blowing the roof off the Roundabout Theatre on Regency Square back in 2015!
David Toscana - Cin Cin


Donatello
Many years ago, Donatello and Pinocchio sponsored The Rose Tattoo with Julie Walters and every evening before the performance she would come to eat with us and we were very proud to have her as a customer.
Sue Addis - Donatello

British Airways i360
The Children’s Parade for me is the moment that the city kicks into full festival spirit. It’s amazing to see so much creativity from our local school kids. I can’t wait to see what they make of this year’s theme!
Marie King - British Airways i360


Okinami
We always remember the Children’s Parade which passes right by our restaurant and bar with the best view from our balcony. It always marks the beginning of summer and brings the sunshine with it, along with a whole month of buzzing street life.
Mike Dodd – Okinami


You can find generous offers from all of these companies and more on our Local Discounts page


Festival regular and former Guest Director Hofesh Schecter brings bold new work to Brighton Festival 2018

We caught up with internationally celebrated choreographer Hofesh Shechter to discuss his latest work, Grand Finale, a bold new piece featuring 10 dancers and six musicians. 

As concisely as possible, can you describe Grand Finale?
Grand Finale is a work for ten dancers and six musicians, with a beautiful set made by Tom Scott, and beautiful lighting design made by Tom Visler. It’s very hard to describe, but the work is a very multi-layered piece that has a lot of music, a lot of movement, a lot of different layers and elements to it. In general terms, it deals with that feeling of something coming to an end, and with how maybe people deal with that feeling on a personal level.

Where did the idea and inspiration for the piece come from?
The idea and inspiration for Grand Finale, like always when I make work, comes from around me and inside me. I look at the things that interest me or bother me or excite me or are bubbling inside me; questions and feelings; and ideas and playfulness... I bring those ideas to the studio, explore them with the dancers. The inspiration is from a very immediate reality around and inside me

Grand Finale has been described as ‘a vision of a world in freefall’. What drew you to this theme at this particular moment? Are you commenting on our current contemporary landscape?

I think what drew me to deal with that particular feeling of a lack of control or something coming to an end, is that feeling that I think a lot of people have at the moment that things in the world are getting out of hand, and out of control. Whether that’s true or not, whether things are actually falling apart or whether it’s just part of a cycle of panic I don’t know. I wanted to try revealing that layer of confusion around that feeling

How and where will the piece be staged?
The piece will be staged in the Brighton Dome.

This will be the final performance of Grand Finale following a successful tour. Has the piece changed or developed during the touring process?
Throughout our tour of Grand Finale, which has been a very long one, we’ve tweaked the work all time, we keep on trying to make it better. Whenever I have spare studio time I try to make some adjustments, editing, corrections and so on. We are constantly working on the piece.

Grand Finale
is a very complex piece, we could work on it for ten years and still not completely finish it. However, the heart is there, and the focus is good, but the feeling that it could be more focused and become more powerful and more concise is still there too!

What do you hope audiences will take away from the piece?
We’re bringing the work to Brighton where we’ve performed many times. The Brighton audience is very familiar with my work, and I think it’s quite close their heart. I hope that people really connect to Grand Finale.

Some people could come out of the performance and say something like “ah, there’s no hope”, and some people could come out and say, “wow that’s really invigorating", and that there’s something about human spirit, the fighting human spirit that is “really inspiring”. So obviously I’ll be happy if people experience that very powerful feeling, but I’m fine if people feel despair as well. Despair is an important step towards hope, you know? An important step towards doing something, so I’m fine with either! One way or another, it’s nice when people have a response to your work.

You have a long history with Brighton Festival as Associate company and then as Guest Director in 2014. What does it mean to you to be back at Brighton Festival for this commission?
We’ve been associate company at the Brighton Dome, and I was Guest Festival Director a few years back, so Brighton is a very special place to us. Like I said before, I feel quite close with the audience there – a lot of people have reached out to me – who I don’t know personally, but that atmosphere, that feeling that we are coming home, that we are coming back after a long tour of work is very special. It’s always very special to be in Brighton and I’m sure it’s going to be a very energetic and buzzy performance – so I’m really looking forward to it. 

Spotlight on Contemporary Music at Brighton Festival: Part Two

From jazz to alt-rock to folk, we've got some epic gigs coming up this May. We shine a light on just a few of the many amazing contemporary music events at this year’s Festival.

Deerhoof + s t a r g a z e

Deerhoof, an american experimental rock group, was formed in San Francisco in 1994. In a career that has spanned nearly 25 years and showing no signs of letting up, these revered rockers seem to change course on every album they release, displaying breathtaking originality, and creating a genre all of their own.

In an exclusive performance from Brighton Festival, they will be collaborating with orchestral collective S t a r g a z e. In the first half, Deerhoof’s founding member and drummer Greg Saunier presents special compositions for individual musicians based on tracks from the seminal 1993 album In on the Kill Taler by post-hardcore band Fugazi. The second half sees Deerhoof perform songs from their extensive back catalogue, before members of S t a r g a z e rejoin the band onstage for a stunning finale. Take a look at ticket availability for Deerhoof. 

Xylouris White


Xylouris White is firmly rooted in the past and future. Playing Cretan music of original and traditional composition, the band consists of Georgios Xylouris on Cretan laouto and vocals and Jim White on drum kit. Xylouris is known and loved by Cretans and Greeks at home and abroad and has been playing professionally from age 12. Jim White is an Australian drummer known and loved throughout the world as the drummer of Dirty Three, Venom P Stinger and now Xylouris White. For the last four years these two men have been performing as Xylouris White, the culmination of 25 years of friendship forged through music and place. Now they’re back with their third album Mother, more elegant and thoughtful than its predecessors yet still retaining a palpable spirit of adventure. Take a look at ticket availability for Xylouris White.

This Is the Kit

This Is The Kit is the musical project of Kate Stables, one of the most thrilling voices in contemporary folk, and whoever joins her!  In a special one-off event for Brighton Festival - Kate joins forces with multi-talented orchestral collective S t a r g a z e - one of today’s most adventurous ensembles. Retaining the intimacy of its well-loved predecessor 2015’s Bashed Out, This is the Kit and S t a r g a z e will perform a specially re-imagined version of Kate’s latest 2017 album Moonshine Freeze, the paris-based songwriter’s loosest, wildest music to date.Take a look at ticket availability for This is the Kit.

Played Twice: Miles Davis Kind of Blue and Electric Miles: Miles Davis through the ‘70s

If you haven’t been to east London’s joyous concept night Played Twice, now's your chance. The concept is simple: take a landmark album, listen to it all the way through, then hear a top-notch band reinterpret that same recording live on stage. And if this is your first time, they don’t come more masterly than Miles Davis’s pioneering jazz fusion . The band will be led by David Okumu of The Invisible and features Byron Wallen on trumpet. Take a look at ticket availability for Played Twice's performances.

Problem in Brighton 


First there was a Problem in Toulouse, then there was a Problem in New York, and now that problem is coming to Brighton. Well, Hove actually. Problem in Brighton is an alt-rock/pop pantomime written and directed by Guest Director David Shrigley exclusively for Brighton Festival. Shrigley's artwork is brought to life by the Problem Band (led by Brighton musician Lee Baker) using instruments created from his illustrations. Take a look at ticket availability for Problem in Brighton.

Discover more information on the many other amazing performances including Amanda Palmer, Nakhane and Lankum.

 You can also explore more great gigs in the first part of our Brighton Festival Music blogs.

Brighton Festival invites audiences to celebrate UK Pay-It-Forward Day

In celebration of UK Pay-It-Forward day on Sat 28 April 2018, Brighton Festival is inviting audiences to join the global philanthropic movement and enable more people to enjoy ticketed events at Brighton Festival. This is the second year that the scheme has run following a phenomenal response last year, with over a thousand people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to Brighton Festival.

Those booking tickets for Festival events are given the option of paying an extra £5 (or an amount of their choosing) as they complete their purchase, which Brighton Festival will match fund in order to give a free Pay-It-Forward Festival Ticket Voucher to someone who may otherwise be unable to experience Festival events.

All Brighton Festival ticketed events have Pay-It-Forward Vouchers available to book online or in person. The vouchers will be distributed at Your Place (our community-led, free performance programme in Hangleton and East Brighton running over two Festival weekends), local schools and through our partner community organisations.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “From our regular free participatory events such as the annual Children’s Parade, City Reads and Young City Reads, Weekend Without Walls and Your Place – two weekends of free cultural events programmed by and for the communities of East Sussex and Hangleton, to our partnership with Brighton City College to live-stream many of our shows to audiences around the world for free, Brighton Festival has always been dedicated to making the arts accessible for all. This year’s Brighton Festival is our most diverse and wide-ranging Festival yet, with more opportunities than ever for everyone to get involved and participate. Last year we introduced Pay-It-Forward and were overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiasm of our audiences. A donation of £5 on top of the price of your tickets is matched by Brighton Festival to create a free ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity. We want Brighton Festival to be for everyone, and by contributing in this way you can help us make it even more accessible.”

Nadine Strasman, Chair of the Sussex Syrian Community Group, who were recipients of the scheme last year says: “The Pay-It-Forward Scheme has enabled the Syrian members of the community and their children to attend a number of events in Brighton Festival last year. This experience has helped the community members to learn about the British culture and has made them feel welcome and included. Many thanks for the generosity of people who donated the tickets and for organising the scheme. Without those tickets people would not have been able to attend any events in Brighton Festival. We look forward to attending more events in the forthcoming festival.”

The inspiration for Pay-It-Forward comes from the global international Pay-It-Forward Day, which is now in its 11th year, and hopes to inspire millions to experience the power and positive energy of giving by buying something in advance for someone else. Pay-It-Forward is about all people, from all walks of life giving to someone else and making a positive difference. At last count, there were more than 5 million people in 80 countries around the world participating on the Pay-It-Forward Day.

More than half of the ticketed events in Brighton Festival 2018 have prices generally available for £10 or less. There are also 15 free events and workshops including Weekend Without Walls (Sat 26 May, Easthill Park, Portslade and Sun 27 May, Beach Level by the i360) and visual art installations at Fabrica Gallery, on the Beach Level by the i360 and Phoenix Gallery running throughout the Festival.

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival 26 Letters

26 Letters is our annual celebration of children's books, which this year has just as many pictures as words! Hilary Cooke, Creative Learning Producer of the Brighton Festival, shares some of her top picks.


Pongwiffy v Magenta Sharp
Live drawing is one of my favourite things and author Kaye Umansky is accompanied by not one, but two of her illustrators at this event! Ashley King has created the witty images for Kaye’s new Witch for a Week series and Katy Riddell has illustrated the new editions of the much loved Pongwiffy books. The first of this series was published in 1987 and they are now reaching a new generation of young readers. (Katy, incidentally, is a second generation illustrator as she is the daughter of former Children’s Laureate and Brighton resident, Chris Riddell). With Kaye’s warm humour, spellbinding story telling and Ashley and Katy’s competitive drawing skills, this promises to be a wonderful witchy event. (Plus, audience dressing up is encouraged which is always a good thing).


Peter Bunzl
Peter Bunzl’s books, Cogheart and Moonlocket are set in an imaginary Victorian world where the smoky sky is filled with the transport du jour, the airship. Featuring intrepid Lily, her friend Robert and Malkin the mechanical fox, the books are thrilling adventures with extraordinary originality. I’m looking forward to hearing about Peter’s background as a film maker and animator, and finding out how this has influenced his work. I believe that Malkin, the clockwork fox was influenced by Star Wars’ R2D2 and CP30 so I’m curious to discover how futuristic space movies inspired his unique Victorian steampunk world.

The Funny World of Alex Milway & Gary Northfield
There will be more live drawing in Alex Milway and Gary Northfield’s event (can you tell I’m a fan?) but with a more comic book style. These two author illustrators are also great friends which leads to a fantastic on stage rapport. Both Alex and Gary have taken part in our Adopt an Author scheme, (in fact Alex is an Adopted Author again this year), and any class who had the good fortune to adopt either of them will know how inspiring they are as well as being really, really good fun.


Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson needs little introduction! It is a pleasure to welcome her back to Brighton Festival to hear about her brand new book, Rose Rivers as well as her many other titles. She always attracts a wide age range with her new readers and her devoted twentysomething fans. Jacqueline‘s events are a masterclass in simplicity; when she sits on stage before a concert hall audience it feels as if she’s chatting to you one to one over a cup of tea. She has such a natural, relaxed way of speaking about her books and is both honest and unpatronizing when describing her often hard-hitting subject matter.


Tales from Moominvalley
I love the work of Tove Jansson (for adults and children), and it will be such a pleasure to hear author and Moomin afficianado Philip Ardagh talk about his beautiful book Tales from Mominvalley. He will be in conversation with writer, translator and, (most importantly), fellow Moomin fan, Danel Hahn. The book is a real labour of love and has immense detail about all things Moomin. There is nothing else quite like the Moomin stories in children’s literature – peopled (Moomined?) with eccentric, strange and delightful characters. Because of their enduring appeal. I’m expecting to see quite as many adults as children at this event, keen for a deep dive into Moominvalley.

Belonging with Morag Myerscough

Join award winning contemporary designer Morag Myerscough as she celebrates the spirit of seminal 1960s Los Angeles artist Corita Ken Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Belonging will be Myerscough’s first ever mobile installation: a bright, bold, touring bandstand programmed in conjunction with communities across Sussex, inviting them to reflect on the concept of ‘belonging’ by making banners to adorn its crown and programming a diverse range of local performers to use it as a stage.

Launching on the beach level next to the i360 as part of Brighton Festival, the Belonging Bandstand will tour to Your Place venues in Brighton and on to the South of England Show at Ardingly, Crawley Festival, Newhaven, Ditchling and Coastal Currents Arts Festival in Hastings, taking on a different local character with each new iteration as the placard formation of the crown is changed to show off the communities’ own designs, and as the bandstand is programmed with local performers.

The project accompanies the exhibition Get With The Action: Corita Kent, showing at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft from 5 May – 14 October 2018.

Competition: Win 2 tickets to Adam and a meal for two at Terre à Terre

Adam is National Theatre of Scotland’s remarkable and life-affirming production about one trans man’s powerful true story - and the winner of a clutch of awards at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017, including Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel and Scottish Arts Club Awards. You can learn more about the show by clicking here.

For the first time, Adam is coming to England (as part of Brighton Festival) and we've teamed up with Terre à Terre, one of Brighton's favourite vegetarian restaurants, to offer you a delicious opportunity.

All you need to do is answer the questions on this form, and we will enter you into our competition to win a pair of tickets to Adam's premiere England performance (9 May) and a 3 course meal for two (including a carafe of wine) at Terre à Terre.

Competition will close at 10am on Wed 2 May, and the winner will be contacted later that day. 

Spotlight on Contemporary Music at Brighton Festival: Part One

From Jungle to John Surman, we've got some epic gigs to go to this May. We shine a light on just a few of the many amazing contemporary music events at this year’s Festival. 

Jungle


Jungle were one of 2014's most explosive newcomers, with their joyous funk pop seducing crowds across the globe. After releasing their massive break-out single Busy Earning, London-based soul/funk outfit Jungle flew right onto the radar in 2014 with this instant classic. Their joyous menagerie of past and future styles immediately put these hardworking musicians on ‘band to watch’ lists worldwide and sent their debut self-titled album into charts worldwide (eventually going Gold in the UK). Formed in 2013 by childhood friends J and T, they have expanded to a powerhouse seven-piece band to perform the music live, creating a spectacular on-stage effect.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Mon 7 May, 7.00pm. Book now on the event page. 

John Surman


Chris Jones, reviewing for the BBC, has called John Surman “one of the foremost innovators when it comes to defining the saxophone's place in modern music” and The Times said of him: “In his ability to blend some of the methods and textures of modern jazz with a wholly English sensibility, Surman is a true original.”

John Douglas Surman is an English jazz saxophone, bass clarinet, and synthesizer player, and composer of free jazz and modal jazz, often using themes from folk music. He has composed and performed music for dance performances and film soundtracks, and worked with a huge variety of musicians.
St George's Church, Thu 10 May, 8.00pm. Book now on the event page. 

Nakhane


Despite being a relative newcomer to the global music stage, Nakhane is an LGBTQ trailblazer with a powerful voice. One of South Africa’s most exciting talents as an award-winning singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, he is a truly unique voice in modern pop. Listen to his beautiful rendition of You Will Not Die from his album of the same name above.
St George's Church, Sat 19 May, 2.30pm. Book now on the event page

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita


Between two world class virtuosos, comes a  meeting of harp and kora. Leading classical harpist Catrin Finch and inspired kora player Seckou Keita combine forces to explore the traditions of Wales and Senegal. Both nations share a centuries old bardic-griot tradition of intricate oral history expressed through music, song and verse. The harp and the kora, instruments from the same family, occupy a vital place in these rich cultures. Catrin and Seckou dig deep into Manding and Celtic roots whilst adding a fresh sound of their own. They will be performing music from their long-awaited second album Soar, inspired by the migration of the osprey.
St George's Church, Sat 26 May, 2.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

Les Amazones d’Afrique

West Africa's first all-female super group has formed in the fight against violence towards women. This incredible collective of female stars are singing out against gender inequality over a soundtrack of funk, blues and dub. Inspired by the formidable warriors of Dahomey, Les Amazones d’Afrique elegantly combine the Mandingo tradition with the power of today’s African megacities. The women of Les Amazones d'Afrique have decided to use music as their weapon in an attempt to address the mentalities that continue to perpetuate disempowerment.

This collective features some of the greatest Malian musicians of the moment: Mamani Keita, Rokia Koné, Mariam Doumbia, Awa Singho and Mariam Koné. Between them they have years of charitable work supporting other women, alongside personal struggles of illness and disability that have been overcome.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Thu 24 May, 7.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

For more information on the many other amazing performances including Amanda PalmerXylouris White and Lankum, see the full Contemporary Music Programme. You can discover more about the great gigs coming up this May in the second part of our Brighton Festival Music blog.

Your Place 2018 explores Random Acts of Neighbourliness with Hangleton & East Brighton residents

People are united by postcodes, but a new initiative as part of Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free arts and cultural activities in Hangleton and East Brighton delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre - has been asking local residents to consider what it is that ties neighbourhoods together and what can be done to bring the community closer together.

Taking inspiration from the recently popularised Random Acts of Kindness movement, Your Place 2018 Artist in Residence Kate McCoy has been leading a series of workshops known as Random Acts of Neighbourliness, which encourages participants to share experiences of their own neighbourhoods to create a ‘visual map’ of the area and to come up with creative ideas to get to know their neighbours and bring the community together. Their contributions – which have ranged from coffee and cake mornings to getting rid of double yellow lines so that the children of elderly residents can visit more easily – will be incorporated into an interactive, visual exhibition by installation artist Luan Taylor at the two Your Place weekends throughout Brighton Festival.

Kate McCoy says: “Being Your Place's artist in residence is my ideal job, I get to meet loads of different people in a range of settings and find out more about them creatively, connecting through laughter and conversation. I have been setting up in community centres, lunch clubs and youth drop-ins, asking people to sit down with me and create a visual map of their neighbourhood using objects to represent themselves, their neighbours and the landmarks and features that surround them. So, a Pritt stick has been a lamp post where young people hang out on the Knoll Estate, a bus stop in Whitehawk that can be seen from a living room window, and someone who works with the community, sticking people together. 

"I have also been asking people to decide on a “random act of neighbourliness” something that could happen to bring the community closer together. People have been so welcoming in both communities, open and even more creative than they thought they were and have made beautiful images and said thought provoking things that I hope you will come and see.”

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre, says: “Kate McCoy was chosen by residents from East Brighton and Hangleton to become the artist in residence for Your Place from an impressive range of artists who applied. They were particularly taken with her down to earth and relatable approach to working creatively with people who may not think of themselves as creative. Her idea of Random Acts of Neighbourliness caught their imagination and people in both communities have been really impressed by the work she has done over the past few months.

"Your Place is a partnership project run by Brighton Festival, Brighton People's Theatre and two resident-led, community development projects on either side of the city: Due East and the Hangleton and Knoll Project. We have been working with a steering group of local people from both communities over the last year to co-programme and co-design Your Place for the Brighton Festival 2018. We are really excited about all the brilliant shows and workshops that are part of this year's programme."


Image: Kate Tempest at Your Place 2017

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place will bring a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. The inaugural project in 2017 was a resounding success, with over 2,000 people taking part in Your Place across the two weekends, and participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Artists taking part in the Your Place 2018 weekends will include: David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Main image credit: Tom Wenezou

Festival Hot Seat: MEDEA, Written in Rage

We talked to Festival regular Neil Bartlett to find out more about his sensational one-man re-invention of the classic Greek legend, Medea. 

Written by Jean-René Lemoine, Directed by Festival regular Neil Bartlett and featuring extraordinary performer and vocalist François Testory, this powerful new vision of ancient myth features live music by Phil Von to create a searing statement about marginalisation and exile.  

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about? 
MEDEA, Written in Rage is a re-telling of the story of the most notorious heroine in world literature. She is the ultimate outsider – a barbarian, a sorceress – a woman who abandons everything for the man of her dreams – and then murders her own children. There have been many versions of her story, but this time, she is telling it herself.

How and where will the work be staged? 
MEDEA, Written in Rage is a solo performance created by award-winning director Neil Bartlett. It is performed on a bare stage – but with incredible costume (Medea's gown is created by the legendary Mr Pearl), swirling lights and a live, improvised operatic/electronic soundscape created by Berlin-based DJ and composer Phil Von Magnet. The solo performer is the extraordinary Francois Testory – dancer and singer with Lindsay Kemp, DV8 and Gecko. The show is on at the Theatre Royal, and for one night only: the last Saturday night of the Festival.

Why should someone come and see your show?
Because it's a mesmerising piece of gender-bending solo performance; because it has so much of my trademark theatricality; because it's a roller-coaster re-telling of a powerful, primeval story .

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The script is an English translation of a brand new text by French playwright Jean-Renee Lemoine. As soon as I read it, I thought that Francois and Medea would be the perfect combination of performer and role. Francois has an incredible power as a performer – and he has both the look and the voice that this role needs.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Medea is the ultimate outsider. In this telling of her story, there is a powerful contemporary sense of her as a foreigner, an alien, someone forever being judged because she comes from elsewhere, from outside of Europe. That story has very powerful resonance right now. I was also very attracted to working on this particular story with a performer who works way beyond gender. I think that gives a very particular twist to the idea of the outsider, of she-who-must-be-punished.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
If you like your theatre theatrical, beautiful, transgressive and hard–hitting – if you like  DV8 or Gecko or Schecter – or if you've enjoyed some of my own previous work at the Theatre Royal in past Festivals, such as my sell-out staging of Benjamin Britten's Canticles with Ian Bostridge, or my own one-man show of queer monologues – then I think you'll like this.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Maybe just how much power one person can have on stage – just how much one body and one voice can conjure .

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
I love presenting my work at the Theatre Royal – there's always such a great connection between the audience and the stage. I love its weird, shabby glamour – that really hits my spot as a director. And the best thing about the Festival is always the audience – diverse, adventurous, up for anything. Especially by the last Saturday night ! I think this is my ninth Festival, and it's the audience that keeps on bringing me back.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Well, I have to say seeing Francois make his entrance as Medea. It's quite something.

Find out more about Medea ticket availability.

Our Sponsors' Top Picks for Brighton Festival 2018

We asked a few of our sponsors what they were most excited about for Brighton Festival 2018. Here are their top picks.

Abi Radford from Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
Not as many as I would like! There is always so much choice so it is hard to pick what I want to see. I always try to choose an event that is different to anything I have ever seen before!

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?Well, naturally I’m going to say The Arms of Sleep that Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings are supporting! But, in honesty I think this will be a lovely event and we’re so delighted how well it fits with our brand. Although this may sound cliché, I really have tried to pick 2 more – but there is just too much choice. There really is something for everyone and I honestly don’t think I could narrow it down to 3!

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
Everyone that works at Best of Brighton is a true Brightonian and we love to get involved in as many local events as possible. The Brighton Festival is a fantastic showcase for our city and it is something that we are very proud and excited to be a part of!

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Gary Miller from GM Building 
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
This year I have booked to attend 13 events, but I expect I may well catch a few more like the Your Place event in East Brighton, which was great last year.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Yes I do go to events throughout the year, mostly music events, I am a big fan of the Spectrum gigs organised by Brighton Dome, where for £6.00 you get to see up to 4 up and coming local bands performing (I do also like getting my money’s worth)

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?
Difficult question, this one as there is, as usual, quite a wide variety of events on. So I am hoping, that as yet, I don’t know what my favourite will be. I am however looking forward to the events at the Brighthelm centre (Wot no fish, Elephant and Castle, and The Humours of Brandon et al) Kneehigh’s production of Tristan & Yseult was excellent last year so I am looking forward to The Flying Lovers Of Vitebsk. The list goes on, best advice is take a chance, and even if what you see is maybe not what you expected, chances are you will remember it long after that meal out or night down the Pub.

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Victoria King from Griffith Smith LLP
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
Being a corporate sponsor means we get to attend the festival launch event. This is a great opportunity to hear from the Guest Director, learn about some of the events in the calendar and speak to others at the launch. The brochure is then read several times and key events highlighted!! As a firm we send the brochure to all staff members with a link to the website and encourage people to attend something different from the programme!

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Brighton Festival is always the highlight of the year for me but I do regularly attend music gigs at Brighton Dome – the intimacy and range of artists is a massive positive.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?The children’s Parade feels like the start of Summer – a great way to kick off the festival period! It is such a popular event and brings together the whole community. The Arms of Sleep stood out when reading the programme and from the launch event – such an unusual event with a brilliant concept and definitely intriguing. The String Quartet's Guide to Sex and Anxiety is another event that stood out from the launch event – I always try to go to something that is slightly outside of my comfort zone, but the write up to this really resonated with me and I am excited to attend!

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
As a firm supporting such a historic and important part of the city feels right. Our history dates back to 1881 and with our recent rebrand, our strap line resonates with our partnership of Brighton Dome & Festival; Modern Practice. Traditional Values.

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Matt Briel from Lulu.com 
Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
For Lulu, being involved with the Peacock Poetry Prize, as part of the Brighton Festival, is a great opportunity to encourage a younger generation of writers. We believe there’s always a place for poetry in the broader community, outside of the tight-knit artist circles and indie bookstores. Poetry is often the first form of creative written expression for kids, offering a safe space to express their feelings. And this year’s Poetry theme of 'Hard Work' is perfect for motivating true expression in the current emotional, environmental, and political climate.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?

  • Adopt an author
  • The Journey to Publication
  • Young City Reads

As a company that is passionate about story telling we believe that any event that supports sharing and promotion of written and verbal storytelling, and the encouragement of those storytellers whatever their age, is to be applauded and supported.

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CEO Ian McAulay from Southern Water 
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
I attend as many as I can, I try and choose things that will broaden my perspective

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Yes, we are fortunate to have so much cultural activity in Brighton. I really enjoy living in such a vibrant and creative city and Brighton dome is an iconic building with a rich history which is always a pleasure to visit.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?Southern Water is supporting A Weekend without Walls in Easthill Park and Brighton seafront this year so this event is definitely one of my top picks. We are excited to be supporting the artists who will be transforming these spaces and meeting our community and inviting them to join the conversation with us about our future plans to ensure the resilience of water and waste water services in the South East. Its going to be an event packed with captivating performers, story tellers, dance and new experiences to explore. Look forward to seeing you all there!

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
Brighton Festival is a moment every year when Brighton & Hove becomes a hive of art, music, culture and celebration in a way which seems to magnify the essence of the year round city. I’m delighted that Southern Water is supporting it this year and we’re proud to be part of such an amazing event.

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Tara Clifford from Travelbag
What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?We are very excited to be sponsoring Attractor, which of course has to be our first pick!

As a travel company we have always held Australia close to our hearts with our Travel Experts tailor-making holidays to Australia for over 30 years. Attractor is the UK premiere of an enthralling contemporary performance by Australian dance luminaries that is based on the cultural traditions of remote Java.

We are also looking forward to Rear View (we love the idea of a “moving adventure”) and the Arms of Sleep.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
We are supporting Brighton Dome & Festival as it is an integral part of the Brighton community and culture. At Travelbag we encourage everyone to discover different cultures and embrace new perspectives - this is true of both travelling to explore a new destination and visiting cultural events such as Brighton Dome & Festival.

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Hugh Jones from University of Brighton 
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
Anywhere from five to twenty depending on the programme.

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

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?

  • Amanda Palmer – A legendary part of the global alternative cabaret scene.
  • Ceyda Tanq – Fabulous home grown talent crossing the boundaries between contemporary and traditional folk dance.
  • Penguins – One of the best stories in the world

Also highly recommend seeing Michael Rosen and Viv Albertine.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
It is a cultural hub of the years arts activities in Brighton

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Laura McDermott from Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Sussex
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
May is a busy month! I usually see something every single day. I'm not a typical audience member, though, as seeing lots of art is part of my job. I love the energy in the city during festival time, and all the chance encounters with friends, colleagues and artists from all over the world. As soon as the festival programme launches I start planning - carrying the brochure everywhere and marking pages. Then it's a question of making a schedule - fitting it all together in space and time…

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Yes - I am a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round. It been interesting seeing the concert hall being used in different ways but I'm excited for when the Corn Exchange and Studio re-open following their refurbishment.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?

  • The Last Poets, What an incredible, rare chance to see these legendary spoken word artists - whose work (emerging from Harlem in 1968, as part of the Civil Rights Movement) laid the foundations for the emergence of hip-hop.
  • Brownton Abbey (with Big Freedia)I've seen Big Freedia perform before and it was one of the best gigs of my entire life - a frenzy of dancing and twerking. Under the skilful curatorial The Marlborough and Brighton Festival, this event will bring politics to the dancefloor, in a joyful, Afro-futurist rave.
  • Gob Squad - Creation (Picture for Dorian) Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts has co-commissioned this work with Brighton Festival, LIFT and international partners. Inspired by Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray it's going to involve six local performers and Gob Squad, considering ageing, beauty and what drives our desire to be looked at. Gob Squad are one of my favourite companies - they are sharp, political, playful and irreverent - don't miss this UK Premiere!

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
The University of Sussex has supported the arts for over 50 years. Brighton Festival is one of the biggest arts events in the national culture calendar, so sponsorship is a perfect fit.

For more information on our full programme, see our whats on page, or our page on sponsorship. 

Festival Hot Seat: Snigel and Friends

Join Snigel (leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch) the inquisitive snail in their cozy home underneath the leaf canopy; a colourful and sensory world, designed by Laura Hook, where Snigel's insect friends come to visit. We talked to co-creators Caroline Bowditch and Laura Hook about this inviting new work for children.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Snigel and Friends is an interactive sensory world for babies and their adults to explore. Snigel is an inquisitive snail who plays, dances, sings and makes music with their insect friends.

How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be performed at the Brighton Dome Founders Room. Babies and their adults join the cast in the undergrowth, sitting on mats and cushions under a magical leafy canopy.

Why should someone come and see your show?
There are very few shows that made specifically for babies this young. We worked with our ‘baby board’ to make sure we created the best possible environment for little ones to engage in the colours and live music of the undergrowth while interacting with the characters and the props.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The presence of visibly disabled performers in performance work targeted at young audiences is incredibly rare. Caroline has been working with Imaginate on the Weren’t You Expecting Me Project, taking a closer look at the impact, if any, that this may have on disabled and non-disabled children, particularly looking at the effect on aspirations, self-esteem and overall perceptions of disability. Snigel and Friends was created to address the lack of this kind of work for young people.

Click here to learn more about ‘Weren’t You Expecting Me'

Laura has created a set that is built in proportion to Caroline, which also means all the action happens at perfect baby height. The leafy canopy creates a magical world that allows the audience to relax in the undergrowth.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
It’s not necessarily the story that’s important, but more the overall experience. It’s an exercise in mindfulness and diversity that allows a positive theatre experience for parents and their wee ones.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Babies who like bright colours, soothing sounds and making friends with slippery snails, singing cicadas, buzzing bees and beautiful butterflies.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
That not only are babies welcome in the show, but they are free to wriggle around, make noise, be fed and interact with each other and the performers. At the end of the performance everyone is invited to come on stage to meet the characters and play with the props.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
This is the first time any of us from the company will be performing as part of Brighton Festival. The programme looks amazing and it’s so exciting to be part of it.

We are also excited to be performing with Brighton resident, dancer Welly O’Brien at the performances on 25th May and then can't wait to watch her perform in the outdoor piece ‘Dedicated to…’ - part of Weekend Without Walls - that Laura, Zac and myself made for Candoco Dance Company earlier this year.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The programme looks amazing and it’s so exciting to be part of it. We’re very much hoping we can be part of the party that is Brownton Abbey. Would also love to be in Andy Hamilton’s audience.

Head to the event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Spoken Word performances to enjoy this May

Assistant Producer, Rob Jones, highlights his top picks of poetry and performance at this year's Brighton Festival. 

Poets & Illustrators, with With Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore, Toby Campion & Theresa Lola. Illustrations by Jess Wilson & Cressida Djambov
These poets make beautiful powerful work which speaks to the heart in a really human way. All four are completely different and totally wonderful, and all four have agreed to join us in an experiment to respond to the theme “hard work” - responding to a past book of Guest Director David Shrigley - to create something new for the night. This promises to be a fantastic evening of original poetry, with stunning visuals. It’s a really strong line up, and we are super excited to see them all in action together on the night: there will be poetic fireworks.


COAT - Yomi Sode.
Yomi is an incredible spoken word artist who I have been aware of for a while. His first full theatre piece COAT is a show of warmth and heart. It's a coming of age story which questions what it means to be part of the diaspora, and how that influences your identity and adolescence, and explores the often complex relationships that evolve when a child becomes a parent. If that isn’t enough, Yomi cooks a stew on stage throughout the piece, filling the auditorium with a beautiful scent of tomato stew whilst telling you his story and performing as multiple characters. So much is happening in this work and you are completely pulled in and embraced by the world. Yomi crafts with his cooking and with his stories. Come!


Travis Alabanza - Before I Step Outside (You Love Me).
I read Travis’s book and was completely arrested by its honesty and urgency. This work is speaking to people about the hopes, fears and difficulties of moving through society as an outsider. Collaborating with animator Daniel Braithwaite-Shirley, Travis is creating a special one off visual poem which tells the story of what it’s like to be a trans person of colour in society now. For me this work says so much about where we are at as a society, but also tells us where we need to be. Travis is brilliant and this work will change you.


Brownton Abbey
This has been a labour of love for the past year. Working with Tarik Elmoutawakil from the Marlborough to create a performance party unlike any other – with exceptional commissioned performances from some of the best performers in the UK. It's an afrofuturist-inspired club night headlined by the one and only Big Freedia. This will be unlike anything you have experienced before at Brighton Dome – come for a great party, amazing set design and fun performance interventions, making the perfect combination for a night out at the end of the Festival. You won't want to miss it.


Woodland
When I first experienced this piece, I was completely blown away by it's simplicity. Meditating on your own mortality, alone, in the woods sounds pretty full-on, but there is something very sobering and poetic about the way its delivered. This is a perfect piece for Brighton Festival, taking you outside and reminding you of your relationship with nature. Woodland is one of the standout audio experiences I have come across, and I am really excited to have it in Brighton. It’s a really different and a totally worthwhile experience. I wish I could do it every six months!

Explore our full range of amazing spoken word or outdoor performances.

Festival Hot Seat: Last Dance: The Wave Epoch

Last Dance: The Wave Epoch is a unique collaboration between grime DJ and producer Elijah, musician GAIKA and visual artists Haroon Mirza and Jack Jelfs. 

Alli Beddoes, Lighthouse's Artistic Director and CEO tells us more about this unique new project.

How and where will the work be staged?
We are presenting two performances at the Brighthelm Community Centre on the same day (24 May), one in the afternoon, one in the evening. The performance includes video footage, photographs, sound recordings, filmed performances, and conversations with physicists, all gathered at the collider. It will also feature a devise, which Haroon and his studio have made out of components left over from experiments. We are also really excited about two local DJ collectives Shook and Off Peak coming to do a set each.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We talk a lot about what is happening to culture and how it forms and shapes and adjusts to the things and decisions that surround us. The Wave Epoch gathers different approaches from art, music and science to take us on a journey 2000 years into the future – our audience can make their own interpretations of where that might end up. We hope it will inspire new connections and partnerships. It is also a great moment to celebrate and dance.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The Wave Epoch is part of Lighthouse’s Associate Artistic Director Elijah’s Last Dance programme, a series of events that look at the changing nature of club culture. In the UK, lots of clubs are closing; half the clubs in London alone have shut in the last five years. This is having an impact on youth culture, which feeds into, and influences, our wider cultural landscape.

The Wave Epoch is inspired by the idea of what might happen to club culture in the future. But it’s also about the past, about how the ritual of gathering together and dancing is as old as humanity itself, and will continue in some form for as long as we continue to exist.


Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Cultural spaces are shrinking and changing, and we urgently need to value and protect them. There are no other places where music, art and ideas, both old and new, can be experienced in such a direct, immersive and communal way.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Anyone with a curious mind that feels connected to art or music or science (or all three).

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
People who want to dance, hear new music and enjoy will do, but the extraordinary thing about this performance will encourage a deeper thinking about the importance of connecting with others.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
The festival is a huge part of Brighton’s identity. It means a lot and presents inspiration, breadth and diversity, adventure and the official mark of the summer.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
It’s a brilliant programme and looking forward to lots of things. Aside from Lighthouse’s Last Dance: Re-Imagined Futures programme, my top three picks are: Lemn Sissay at ACCAThe Last Poets at Theatre Royal (remarkable even 50 years later!) and Problem In Brighton at The Old Market.

Visit lighthouse.org.uk, or discover more about The Last Dance:The Wave Epoch.

Festival Hot Seat: I Wish I Was A Mountain

Called 'the future' by Kate Tempest, Toby Thompson is a writer and spoken word performer. He will be bringing I Wish I Was A Mountain to the Brighton Festival this year, a unique one-man show for young audiences based on Herman Hesse's fairy tale, Faldum

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
I Wish I Was A Mountain is a fairytale; an adaptation of my favourite short story by Hermann Hesse. It tells the tale of a mysterious wanderer who casually tips up at the annual fair of Faldum and starts dishing out wishes left right and centre. One young man wishes for a magic violin, and another to be turned into a mountain.

How and where will the work be staged?
I have a couple of record players on stage with me, as well as an upright piano. It’s an analogue thing. Also mirrors, lots of mirrors. It’s on at the Brighthelm Centre.

Why should someone come and see your show?
The show is really an invitation for people - grown ups and littlens alike - to ponder a few of the fundamentals of human existence: desire, music, nature, impermanence. With that in mind, if I were someone, I’d come and see the show if I wanted to get a bit philosophical. But also just to experience the unfolding of a beautiful and rather unusual story.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Hermann Hesse is one of my favourite writers, and his story Faldum, upon which this show is based, resonated with me in a very deep way. I liked how it seemed to ask many more questions than it answered.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The story offers an alternative to the black and white hollywood framework. It takes you on a journey, and throws up a number of moral questions, but it doesn’t ram its message home. I find the story endlessly enchanting, and I’m told the production is suitably captivating, but the tale itself isn’t just a bit of fun, it’s a mirror for self reflecting in.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Well it’s ostensibly for a children (7+) and families, but I’d say adults are catered for too. If you’re into poetry, then certainly this will be right up your street, but I wouldn’t rule out poetry cynics. Anyone who likes a good story really.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
The music might. I worked in a children’s theatre for years and you do get a bit sick of glockenspiel scores after a while. I Wish I Was A Mountain is set against a backdrop of tunes by Bill Evans, Horace Silver, Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou, Nina Simone, loads of classics, all on vinyl.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I’ve only been to the festival once, but Brighton has a special place in my heart. Some close friends of mine went to the Uni and so for 3 years I’d go and stay for days at a time, writing in cafes and trawling the record shops. Last year at the Festival I did a gig in The Spire, supporting Kojey Radical with Lyrix Organix, it was definitely one to remember.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I’ve been wanting to see This Is The Kit live for the longest time. The Last Poets too, true living legends.

Head to the event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Family events to enjoy this May

Looking for events to take the kids to this Brighton Festival? Pippa Smith, Children's and Family Programmer shares a couple of her top performance picks for families. 


Penguins
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, two penguins in New York Zoo adopted an egg and hatched a chick...but Roy and Silo are both boys. After their keeper spotted them trying to hatch a stone, he gave them a discarded egg to adopt. Roy and Silo loved their chick very much and taught it to dive and swim. 

I saw this exquisite piece of dance-theatre in Birmingham. Despite travelling there and back from Brighton in one day, I came home grinning with delight! I am so proud to be bringing it to Brighton Festival. This really is a show for anyone who loves dance, and dance which tells a story. It has enough colour and laughter to entertain any child.


Snigel and Friends
If you look closely at the picture of Snigel and Friends (0 - 12) in your brochure, you'll notice the parents gently restraining their babies in the background. Babies are drawn to Caroline Bowditch (Snigel) and her company of insect friends like teens to a rock stage! The stage is deliberately low so that the artists are within touching distance of the non-walking audience. The audience are free to spend the performance crawling alongside the actors, sharing the colour and costumes, the discoveries and the delights. Borrow a baby and be there!


Apples
I discovered Apples (1.5 -3 years) at a Theatre Festival in Belgium. Casier and Dies are a couple from Netherlands and their work has never been seen in England before. Enter a cosy yurt to discover an unusual apple tree. The show is as much about the functioning of extraordinary and unexpected kitchen equipment, as it is about the dance theatre performance of these two charming cooks. You will see apples cut from their tree, smell them cooking and see the delicious puree squirt into miniature bottles, carried by a moving truck.

For more information on our range of amazing performances for kids, see our full Family programme.

You can also view or download our Family Events flyer here

Enter our drawing competition for The Boy, The Piano and The Beach

Budding artists are encouraged to unleash their creativity at this year’s Brighton Festival for the show The Boy, The Piano & The Beach.

Children aged 6-12 can enter the art competition to make or draw the most extraordinary creature they can imagine, getting inspiration from the show’s story where a Boy on a beach hears an unearthly sound leading him to another dimension where he meets strange new creatures.

Told through live classical piano, puppetry, projection and dance, the show’s creators hope children will be inspired by all elements of the performance.

The competition will be judged by the Sussex-based artist Pearl Bates, who is illustrating the show’s storybook programme, and the winner will receive an art set and an original print by Pearl.

Pearl Bates at Brighton Festival

Pearl says:
'I can't wait to see the entries for our Extraordinary Creature competition. I'm sure they will all be amazing. In particular though, I will be looking out for a young artist who has really put their imagination to the test, and has managed to create something that I might never have seen before!

Inspiration can come from creatures or plants that already exist – perhaps you could try combining them and see what happens? Or maybe you have seen a creature in your dreams that you would like to describe with a painting, drawing or sculpture.

What kind of personality will your creature have? Will it be friendly, silly or scary? Does it make a roaring sound? Or maybe it likes to sing songs? Think carefully about what colours you will choose, and whether you would like to work with paint, pencils, crayons, felt-tipped pens – or even pieces of string, wire, fabric or flowers. This is a chance to really let your creativity go wild.

Good luck to everyone, and have fun!'

To enter: Take a photo of your child’s creation and email it to slotmachinetheatre@gmail.com, or pop the original in the post to Slot Machine Theatre Ltd, 45 South Way, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1LY.

The deadline is Thursday 31 May, and remember to include your child’s name and age.
(Unfortunately we cannot return original entries sent to us)

Share your creation on Twitter using hashtag #boypianobeach and we'll put it into our Facebook gallery.

The Boy, The Piano & The Beach is at the Brighthelm Centre on 5–7 May, find out more about the show and book tickets.

Festival Hot Seat: Adam

Adam is National Theatre of Scotland’s remarkable production about one trans man’s powerful true story - and the winner of a clutch of awards. We caught up with Director Cora Bissett to find out more about the incredible true story behind the show. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Adam is the real-life story of a young man named Adam, who was born biologically female in Egypt but who, from a young age, knew himself to be male. In a society that is deeply conservative, he knew that it wouldn’t be safe to live as himself there, so he escaped.  

The play charts his journey from Egypt to Glasgow, the struggles he goes through to be accepted as the man he knows himself to be. Adam himself stars in the show, alongside the excellent Rehanna MacDonald, each portraying the two sides to Adam’s psyche.. It also features a 120 strong digital choir made up of trans and non binary people from all over the world, singing a beautiful score by the world-renowned composer Jocelyn Pook.

How and where will the work be staged?
The show is playing at the Brighton Theatre Royal from the 9th to the 12th of May.

Why should someone come and see your show?
I think people are genuinely becoming more curious about trans experiences; they may not necessarily understand the difference between transvestite and transgender, non-binary, 3rd sex, androgyny and the myriad of ways in which people are formed, and are really eager to learn about these things. I hope Adam's story really helps in the evolution of understanding

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I first met Adam after seeing him perform a very short monologue about his life back in 2013, as part of a Scottish Refugee Council event called Here We Stay at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre. I was incredibly moved by his story, his honesty and his strength, so I approached him straight afterwards and asked if he would like to meet me to tell me more, as I had a strong sense that I would like to turn his story into a full production. We began working with the brilliant writer Frances Poet to spend time understanding Adam's story, and then adapting it in a fittingly exciting way. Five years later here we are!

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Despite great progress being made on gay rights, it seems as though we are still eons away from really understanding and granting the same level of understanding to trans and non-binary individuals. I think a lot of people feel they can't ask the questions, they don't want to appear ignorant, but actually opening up dialogue is urgently necessary. Gender clinics around the world have seen a marked rise in young people presenting as trans individuals.

I think the groundswell of documentary coverage is helping to open that up, but this is just the beginning. Theatre can speak directly, you can actually see that human being on stage; not an oddity, not some exoticised character in a reality TV sensation. A normal human being, who was just born with a different brain and soul from the gender they were assigned at birth. Even that idea is a little mind blowing if no one has presented it to you before.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Anyone with a love of exciting theatre! When the show opened at the Edinburgh Fringe last year we were all overwhelmed by the responses we had from our audiences. All kinds of different people, young and old, from all over the world, came along and found something beautiful in Adam’s story, because it’s one that is both personal and universal. 

I had aunts and uncles in their 80's whom I wasn't sure would connect with it, but they were blown away. They said they had really learnt something new. Adam received emails from people who had come from Spain, Germany, all over and would gush 'this is MY story too!' I was delighted to see a huge turn out of young people, who told me they really identified with the feelings of isolation Adam experienced, and also a large amount of trans and non binary individuals came to the show. I hope that trans and non-binary people watching if feel that it is their story too, since it is not a documentary style expose of Adam's life. We were all very clear it is Adam’s journey, but it is also reflective of thousands of trans people's struggles in the world. I hope they can watch it and feel strengthened and represented.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Hopefully all sorts of things, the fact that Adam on whom the story is based, does actually play himself alongside another actress. Despite this being said in marketing material last Fringe, I was amazed how many people came out and only then discovered 'Oh wow, that was THE ACTUAL GUY!!' also one to highlight is our designer Emily James’s beautiful set, which may look straightforward on the surface but is full of ingenious little secrets!

The choral music, which is sung by 120 trans and non binary people from around the world, is created by the wonderful composer Jocelyn Pook, who has created film scores for the likes of Stanley Kubrik's Eyes Wide Shut. All the people you see singing recorded their own parts in various countries of the world, through their laptops, and so have never actually met any of the other choir members in the flesh. A truly virtual choir.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I love Brighton. I performed here about 7 years ago in David Grieg's romcom Midsummer. We had a ball, I remember loving the whole vibe, the openness, the relaxed nature of the place. I remember meeting a particularly butch looking Rottweiler in a bar who came up and placed a paw on my lap... only to reveal his fabulous pink neon painted nails. It was very Brighton!

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The line up is fantastic, but I am particularly interested in catching Palmyra, Joan, The Enormous Room and The Journeys.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Classical Music

There's something to suit everyone's tastes in this year's eclectic Classical music programme. Gill Kay, classical programmer and long standing member of the Brighton Festival Choir picks out four of her favourites. 


Chopin’s Piano
Chopin’s Piano
is the premiere of a project devised by Paul Kildea. Chopin spent some time in Majorca recovering from illness. During this time, he composed his Preludes. The piano that he composed on also started quite a journey of its own. This instrument's story is simply extraordinary and is brilliantly brought to life by expert Paul Kildea alongside exceptional pianist Cedric Thibergien. The Royal Pavilion is such a special venue and being able to listen to chamber music in the Music Room is always a treat. We hope you will be able to join us as we create our own ’salon’ to take you on this unique journey.…..


Belshazzar’s Feast
Belshazzar’s Feast
really is a musical feast and if you like drama this is the concert for you! The music is loud, exciting, jazzy, dramatic and one of the most amazing pieces to see performed live. The piece requires so many players and singers I'm really not sure how we're going to fit everyone onto the Dome stage! In addition to the huge orchestra and chorus, there are two extra brass bands which will be positioned in the circle. Hopefully they'll give the audience a real ‘surround’ sound experience. When everyone is singing and playing together the sheer volume actually shakes the building. It’s such a great ‘story’ piece and perfect for Brighton Festival Chorus to celebrate their 50th birthday year.


Lunchtime Series
This series is always one of my personal favourites in the festival. It’s the moment that we get a chance to showcase young performers that we have found throughout the year. These artists come from music competitions and conservatoires. Some are still at college, and others are in the first year or so of their professional lives, but that’s what makes each year so exciting and different! This year we have a really unique mix featuring, in particular, lots of female performers and composers. This year is our most eclectic series to date, including an early music group from France, two string quartets - one from the Chineke orchestra and another from the BBC New Generation Artists Scheme - as well as two award winning solo pianists! I cannot think of a better was to spend a lunch hour!.


Tangomotan
Continuing on with our concerts in All Saints, and further developing our relationship with French artists, this year’s ‘left field ‘ concert comes from players based in Lyon. This group, made up of violin, piano, accordion and bass, create a traditional sound reminiscent of a small smokey Parisian basements with Gauloises, Pernod and groups of friends gathered round tables. Pretty much exactly how it was when I first heard them! This is one not to be missed……

For more information on the many other amazing performances including Vox LuminisBrighton Youth Orchestra and a performance of Britten's War Requiem, see the full Classical Music programme.

Festival Hot Seat: COAT

Picture this. Nigeria, a grandmother passes. In London, a son cooks a pot of stew for his mother hoping to uncover hidden stories and unanswered questions. Yomi Sode talks to us about immigration, identity, displacement and his moving performance, COAT

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
COAT explores the relationship between Junior and his mother following recent news of his Grandmother’s (on his Dad’s side) death. Junior invites his mother to his new flat for dinner, knowing what’s on his mum’s mind to discuss. There is a cultural obligation to travel to Nigeria for her burial, however, Junior is not as keen to comply.

How and where will the work be staged?
The play takes place in Junior’s kitchen in his new flat as he prepares the meal, however, we often travel in the past to get a sense of Junior’s experience growing up in England.

Why should someone come and see your show?
COAT explores identity, displacement and belonging. It also opens up a dialogue as to how much we know those close to us. Things are kept for protection or to calm anxieties. Often, we dine with family and friends, but we are strangers. COAT tackles what happens when the elephant is the room is spotted.

Even if the narrative does not apply, the message of the show will, and rather than generic “How are you?” questions, it’s more “talk to me / tell me about your day”.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I remember having a conversation with my younger cousins. They shared their anxieties of visiting Nigeria. They all had a fixed thought that Nigeria would not accept them. In the same breath, I thought about the stigma of Black men in Britain and this term ‘acceptance’, as well as my experience of sharing their exact thoughts about Nigeria when I was their age too. 

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I wanted to share this struggle of displacement and search for acceptance because it’s okay to feel lost. At one point, that was me, and I was silent, and it was shit. Now older, and a Father – I can tell a story that connects, that can make one person feel that they are not alone. That’s why it took me the time it did to write, that’s why this show is everything to me.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Teens, parents, grandparents… ET could even pop down and spend an hour then fly home after.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
If I told you, no one would attend! *rolls eyes*

Bums on seats! Plus it’s my first time ever doing a show in Brighton! COME ON! I can’t wait. I think I’ll be hugging everyone afterwards like “thank you thank you thank you thank you…”

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I’m not sure how to even answer this. I will say that I am thankful to be invited to bring this story to Brighton Festival this Year. And I’ll treasure this festival because I was invited with just a belief that I will do what needs to be done and that trust will stay with me for a very long time. May 10th / 11th will be epic, fam. Thank you.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The shows that I can see for sure, but the people most importantly. I want to talk and break bread with folks in the community and get my knowledge up about Brighton. I’m excited about that. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Grime, art and science collide to re-imagine culture for Brighton Festival

Last Dance: The Wave Epoch is a unique collaboration between grime DJ and producer Elijah, musician GAIKA and visual artists Haroon Mirza and Jack Jelfs that imagines what culture will be like in 2000 years time.

Devised and created at the world’s largest scientific experiment – the Large Hadron Collider at CERN – the immersive club experience imagines a scenario where the collider has been rediscovered by a future civilisation and turned into a ceremonial site, similar to Stonehenge.

Elijah, whose label, Butterz, has made him a leading name in grime, has been Artistic Director at Lighthouse developing the Last Dance programme for the past year. Last Dance is a series of events that look at the changing nature of club culture, of which The Wave Epoch is the great crescendo.

Elijah says: Last Dance: The Wave Epoch [is] a club experience with a deeper layer, full of sound, music, and colour. The ecosystem of club culture is breaking down. Clubs are shutting down; music ownership is going over to streaming services. Because of that, the spaces where young musicians and artists collaborate are changing.

“I’ve been playing in clubs all over the world for ten years, and I’ve seen culture changing right in front of me. Technology plays a big part of that change – camera phones have now become a big part of a club experience – images and video are part of the dance floor. So, social platforms like Instagram, Instagram stories and Snapchat become an immediate contact to a different audience. Whatever new technology comes in, people won’t stop gathering together for a shared experience. Last Dance: The Wave Epoch is a physical manifestation of all these ideas.”

Collaborating on Last Dance: The Wave Epoch are internationally acclaimed visual artists Haroon Mirza and Jack Jelfs who are renowned for creating immersive environments by connecting light, sound, music, video, text and performance and building on a mutual fascination with media, time and transmission. GAIKA is an artist and musician whose expansive, experimental sound blends the sonic textures of the streets, influenced by Brixton, Jamaica and Grenada.

Also performing at Last Dance: The Wave Epoch are two Brighton based DJ collectives: all-female DJ collective Shook, who specialise in Jersey club, footwork, hip-hop and trap, and Off-Peak, an underground club night run by a collective of artists and producers specialising in grime, dubstep and UK garage.

For more information visit lighthouse.org.uk, or the event page on the Brighton Festival website.

Festival Hot Seat: LEXICON

LEXICON is the latest creation by NoFit State and award-winning director, Firenza Guidi - a daring, seductive and utterly contemporary take on circus for a seated audience in the round. We had a chat with the crew to find out more about this exciting new performance.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
LEXICON is NoFit State’s latest show, unveiled in Newcastle-under-Lyme last month and opening to the world in Brighton as part of the Brighton Festival. It is a performance created for our big top, a nod to the history and heritage of British Circus, crafted for a seated audience in the round and combining top of the art technology with traditional circus skills.

How and where will the work be staged?
Under the NoFit State Big Top, over on Hove Lawns, Kingsway.

Why should someone come and see your show?
For the spectacular circus skills, the brilliant live music but also to discover a world that sits slightly on the side of reality, a world where the magic begins, a world inhabited by misfits where anything can happen.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
This year is the 250th anniversary of circus, which was created by a British man called Philip Astley. Although this is a common fact in the circus world across the globe, not many people in the UK know about Astley, his life and legacy to the arts world. We have wanted to pay homage to the man but also to 250 years of tradition, and begin shaping the next 250 years of circus in the UK. There are many strands of inspiration behind LEXICON but the main one is about the heritage, and a group of people who have found each other in the circus and begin misbehaving.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The circus sector in the UK has evolved slightly slower than in other countries such as France, Canada and Australia that are now at the forefront of contemporary circus. We have felt it important to re-claim the role Britain has played in the evolution of the art form and make a piece of work that is inspired and informed by our history.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
The NoFit State audience has always been a very broad crowd. In the past, our shows have been standing promenade performances, with live music and a bar running the full duration of the show so as well as arts audiences, we have always attracted individuals that wouldn’t perhaps got to see performance work otherwise. With LEXICON and our seating in the round, we hope we have created something that will continue to excite our own audience but perhaps be more accessible to families, younger kids and their grand-parents… Circus is for everyone and we want everyone to feel they are welcome and able to run away with us for two hours.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
We love going to Brighton. We love this early period in the season, being by the sea and hopefully this year again, the sun. It’s a great place to kick off the touring season and the Brighton audience is a great one to perform to. There is also an air of nostalgia in Brighton with the pier, the arcades, the lawns which is particularly fitting to LEXICON, so we’re very excited to be presenting our new show there. It is also a time for us to meet with artists friends, see other shows, and hopefully have one or two parties...

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We are looking forward to Amanda Palmer’s gig, there is a long time connection with her from our partying years in Edinburgh (a long time ago…) and it will be a pleasure to catch up with her again. We’re also very much looking forward to Hofesh Shechter’s new piece Grand Finale, we’d love to do a project together with him one day!

Head to the event page to find out more about ticket availability.

First glimpse of Brighton Festival 2018: David Shrigley’s Life Model II opens this weekend

The first glimpse of Brighton Festival 2018 is to be unveiled at Fabrica this weekend, with David Shrigley’s interactive installation, Life Model II, launching on Saturday 14 April.

Transforming Fabrica into a classroom, Life Model II plays on the age-old tradition of life drawing classes by replacing the live model with a caricatured robotic sculpture of a (blinking) nine-foot-tall woman. Visitors are invited to sit, observe and draw the model using materials provided, with the resulting artworks displayed as part of the exhibition.

David Shrigley says: ‘Life Model II is an artwork that begets other artwork. There’s the three-dimensional work of the life model - a sculpture of somebody trying to stand still (which is a good thing to make a sculpture of when you think about it). And there’s the two-dimensional work which is made by the visitors to the exhibition. It’s a piece about drawing, it’s a piece about everybody being included, about participating and making an exhibition yourself.’

Life Model II is a follow-up to the original Life Model, David Shrigley’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name. The first iteration of Life Model featured a giant sculpture of a naked man blinking and urinating into a bucket, which visitors were invited to draw and then exhibit. Reviewing the work in the Observer, Laura Cumming said: “It admits all-comers, and makes a Turner prize exhibitor of each and every one; and in their joint works the boy comes alive.” 

David Shrigley explains: ‘I showed the original incarnation of the work in the Turner prize show, because I thought that people see the arts, and visual art in particular, as being elitist and inaccessible. I suppose that’s what the piece is about, that art is for everybody, and that making art is also for everybody as well. It’s a therapeutic thing, it’s something that can make you happy. For some reason, in terms of our education, the majority of us are dissuaded from making art. When we go into adulthood we stop making it when we’re about 10-years-old because we think we’re not good at a drawing, but I guess I’m a person who has built a career around not demonstrating many craft skills. Life Model for me is some kind of redress, and there’s something positive and joyful in that redress.’

Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley is best known for his illustrations that satirically comment on everyday life. His animations, which accompany the installation, are a natural extension of these, bringing to life their quick-witted narratives. David Shrigley is the first visual artist to take on the role of Guest Director since the inaugural Guest Director, Anish Kapoor in 2009.

Shrigley’s offbeat take is reflected the Festivals’ eclectic programme spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate, including Brighton Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by David Shrigley himself and featuring Spymonkey’s Stephan Kreiss and Scottish actor Pauline Knowles. (Problem in Brighton, Thu 10- Fri 11 May, Sat 12 May, 2pm & 7:30pm, The Old Market). David Shrigley is also presenting an illustrated talk about his work, containing numerous rambling anecdotes. It will not be in the slightest bit boring: he has signed a written agreement to this effect, signed in his own blood. (David Shrigley: Illustrated talk, Wed 23 May, 8pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall)

In 2011, David Shrigley wrote the libretto to a sort-of opera called Pass the Spoon, which played to sell-out theatres in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. Two unknown video artists documented its creation from page to stage, lovingly crafting 160 hours of footage into David Shrigley: A Shit Odyssey, which will receive its UK Premiere on Mon 21 May at Duke of York’s Picturehouse.

Spymonkey joins cast for David Shrigley’s new alt/pop pantomime Problem in Brighton

Spymonkey’s Stephan Kreiss will join Scottish actor Pauline Knowles in the world premiere of Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt-rock/pop pantomime written and directed by Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley which will be performed at The Old Market (10-12 May 2018).

A member of the anarchic Brighton-based troupe since 2000, described as ‘four seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns' (Time Magazine), Kreiss has performed in all of Spymonkey’s productions to date including Stiff, Cooped (Brighton Festival 2006), Zumanity, Bless, Moby Dick, Oedipussy (Brighton Festival 2008) and hit Brighton Festival 2016 commission The Complete Deaths.

On being cast in the show, Stephan Kreiss says: ‘When David Shrigley and Brighton Festival asked me to come and play a one-stringed electric guitar in Mr Shrigley’s show ‘Problem in Brighton’ I thought, ah excellent, hopefully it will be a G-string. After laughing a lot at my pretty funny joke I then informed Herr Shrigley that despite my abilities as an air-guitarist, I am not the most musical of all the Spymonkeys and he would be much better to employ Toby Park, who can do all that poncey music stuff. But Herr Shrigley insisted on using me. I am here in Brighton today to meet him, he is probably already regretting his decision. But it will be too late. My G-string awaits the caress of my artful fingers.

This will be the second time that Pauline Knowles has worked with Shrigley, having previously appeared in his 2011 opera Pass the Spoon, featuring TV chefs June Spoon and Philip Fork, a manic-depressive egg and a host of other surreal characters.

A follow-on from previous incarnations of the work - Problem in Toulouse and Problem in New York - Problem in Brighton promises to be a brash mix of live music, theatre, storytelling and visual art. Kreiss and Knowles will be accompanied by the Problem Band, led by Brighton musician Lee Baker, using instruments created from Shrigley’s illustrations - all of which have one string and the frets in the wrong place.

Of the content of the show, David Shrigley says: “The music will be very interesting. The performers will perform very well (it is part of their contract). The venue will be clean and tidy. Beer will be available to purchase. Latecomers will be admitted (unless the show has already finished).

See the Problem in Brighton event page for more information.

Festival Hot Seat: Penguins

Choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra tells us more about Penguins, a delightful show about the changing nature of family, based on a true story that touched hearts worldwide. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Penguins is a show about families, the importance of love, and of being true to oneself. We tell the true story of two penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo - Roy and Silo - who were very good friends. They did everything together! They ate together, danced together and swam together, and then they became a couple. When they saw all the other penguins sitting around their nests looking after their eggs, Roy and Silo discovered they had no egg themselves. They found a rock and decided to sit on it, but of course, after much waiting, nothing happened. The zookeeper, who had been watching them, decided to give them a discarded egg and then... it hatched into a lovely baby penguin, Tango! 

How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be staged at the Sallis Benney Theatre. We also have an incredible, magical set designed by Sabine Dargent that will transport audiences from the theatre into a very cool and futuristic penguin enclosure.


Why should someone come and see your show?
Penguins is a fun and endearing show - but above all, it is a very important show because of the story it tells. It is full of comedy, magic and three very unique penguins.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The director, Paul MacEneaney's, initial inspiration was the 2004 article in the New York Times about Roy and Silo. In the early stages of creating Penguins, I had to do a lot of research. I watched many documentaries, read a lot about penguin behaviour, and I even spent some time with real penguins at Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre! I discovered some incredible facts about penguins. For example, once a penguin meets his or her partner, they compose a song together which is unique to them, and is what they to use to call each other. I think that is very beautiful.


Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think it’s a very important story to tell because what it says is that all families are different, and that’s ok. Some families have a mum and a dad, some have two dads, some have two mums, some are made up of friends and relatives, but what really matters is that kids are loved and looked after. It also encourages you to be true to yourself, and to dance to your own tune. I think it’s very important to share this with children, and even more important to remind parents and adult friends about it.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
I can’t give away too much about this but…Paul MacEneaney is a great magician as well as a theatre director, so you can expect real magic throughout! There is some great dancing as well from three very likeable penguins and their cute zookeeper, and the score ranges from New York jazz to waltzes. For a small scale production, there’s a lot packed in this egg!

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
This is actually my first time at Brighton Festival, so I am very excited to be here! As a choreographer, I’ve always seen the festival as one of the international hot spots for dance and theatre. Many of the choreographers I admire the most have presented work in the festival, so I’m very honoured. I am in love with the city of Brighton too, as I’ve created work here before with Fringe, so I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic time.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
It’s such a great and varied programme that this is a very tricky question! I am very intrigued by Gob Squad’s Creation (Pictures for Dorian); Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk looks deliciously dramatic; I’ve always loved Amanda Palmer and I think that my highlight will be Adam, by National Theatre of Scotland. The festival has so much to offer for everyone, that I’m really considering relocating for the month! 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Theatre, Circus and Dance

Sally Cowling, Associate Producer of the Brighton Festival, shares a couple of her top performance picks.

The pieces I’ve picked out of our enormous programme of performances are all works that I think are phenomenal, virtuosic and unlike almost anything else out there in the world, either because of their subject matter or because of their form. I’m not sure you would find any other festival that could encompass such a variety of beautiful, challenging and extraordinary work and I really hope that the Brighton audience enjoys each of these pieces as much as I did.

Fauna at Brighton Festival

“Attenborough in Leotards” A.K.A Fauna
My dark secret as a programmer is that I’m not always entirely besotted with circus; I might admire the incredible skills on display but not feel much of an emotional connection. But when skill and narrative come together I think circus can be extraordinary.

I saw Fauna (the name of both company and show) in Edinburgh last year and fell in love with it. It sits somewhere between circus-these are performers who’ve worked with some of the best companies in the world (Sept Doigts, Gravity and Other Myths, No Fit State etc)-and contemporary dance, with a brilliant live guitar soundtrack. The performers explore and play with the similarities between humans and animals, conjuring up apes and lizards, peacocks and spiders in courtship rituals, playful competition and fights.

Attenborough-accurate, we watch animal behaviours that are also very recognisably human and, as a result, very funny. It’s also sexy in an entirely family-friendly way, fast-paced and, let’s not forget, extremely skilled, including some particularly lovely trapeze work. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it.


Adam
To my mind, the best of theatre feels absolutely of the moment- talking about, and inviting empathy with, a set of experiences that feel entirely contemporary and urgent. Adam is one such piece of theatre, a story about a transgender man that is by turns moving, disturbing and positively inspirational. It is also performed by the person whose story is being told, Adam Kashmiry, appearing for the first-time on a professional stage. We are witnesses to the brave choices he has made and (spoiler alert!) we are part of the happy ending.

It's an eye-opening journey through the trials of his Egyptian childhood to the frankly horrific experiences with petty bureaucracy and casual bigotry on his arrival in Glasgow. As an exercise in raising awareness amongst the cis-gendered of the commonplace indignities that the trans-gendered have to endure, it's very effective, made all the more powerful by the striking lack of self-pity in evidence. It’s very cleverly staged with a second, female, actor playing Adam's alter ego (as well as mother, friend, wife etc), illuminating the competing push-and-pull of his gender identity and forcibly bringing home his isolating sense of dislocation.

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, this is shot full of humour and humanity throughout and one comes away feeling inspired and uplifted. There is a gorgeous end moment - which I won’t spoil for you - where I for one was resorting to my hankie whilst also giving a standing ovation. Tissues at the ready…


XFRMR
The Tesla coil is an extraordinary thing to behold-huge and more than slightly scary, with crackling arcs of electricity exploding from it, exuding the smell of ozone and making the hairs on the back of your neck quite literally stand up. It’s a mechanical embodiment of the forces of nature, a creator of raw electricity, a reminder of danger, a transmitter of lightening, and it’s entirely hypnotic. When I watched this performance, the whole audience was transfixed.

This is both installation and live concert with composer Robbie Thomson creating a score by manipulating the voltage coming from the Tesla coil and adding it to his own soundscape, which is part techno, part industrial, part the sound of space weather! This is so odd and special and primal and exhilarating, I think it’s unmissable.


Attractor
This is an absolutely brilliant contemporary dance experience, created by two Australian choreographers at the peak of their powers. Watching it, I loved the spiky angularity of some of the choreography and the ritualistic, folkloric quality of other sections. I suspect that if you are a fan of Wayne McGregor or of Hofesh Shechter, you will be similarly entranced, while recognising Attractor’s uniqueness. The company of (fantastic) dancers are involved in the choreographic equivalent of call-and-response with the Indonesian duo, Senyawa, whose clubby, trance-y, mesmeric music powers the piece.

It’s like watching the most exciting, ecstatic religious ritual and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of work where more energy and intensity is coming off the stage! It’s joyful abandonment and raw physicality in dance form and the last 15 minutes bring the professional company and volunteer audience members together in a completely wonderful blurring of the lines between dancers and non-dancers. I am practically allergic to the notion of audience participation but even I felt envious of the sheer glee and beauty in evidence up there on the stage. So, if you have the chance, join up to join in!

For more information on the many other amazing performances including The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Creation (Pictures for Dorian) KAYAsee our full programme.

Attractor: Participants sought to take part in immersive dance show

Brighton Festival is seeking people to participate in a unique ecstatic music/dance ritual.

Indonesia’s tour-de-force music duo Senyawa have joined forces with Melbourne's choreographic luminaries Lucy Guerin and Gideon Obarzanek, and two of Australia’s leading dance companies, Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc to take you on a trance-noise odyssey!

We are seeking people (14+) to participate on stage during the final 15 minutes of the 60 minute performance. There are no prior skills required: we want people from all demographics and walks of life with a willingness and excitement to explore! You will only be required to commit to one session on any of the days, however if you are interested in attending more than one session we would love to have you! Get in quick to secure your desired date and time as there are only 20 spaces for each session.

The rehearsal sessions will take place on.

Tuesday 15th May

18.00 – 19.00

Wednesday 16th May

18.00 – 19.00 

Attractor will be performed in the Brighton Dome concert hall on Tuesday the 15th and Wednesday the 16th of May at 8pm. If you can volunteer an evening or several over May we'd be delighted to hear from you. Please email artisticplanning@brightondome.org and add 'Attractor' in the subject line and let us know which date you are avaliable for.

Senyawa’s performance reinterprets the Javanese tradition of entering trance through dance and music as a powerful secular present-day form. Their sound borrows from the metal bands they listened to as teenagers – Black Sabbath, Metallica, Iron Maiden – and Indonesian ritual and folk idioms. Their music and performance is influenced by forces in nature to take the audience into a transformative state outside of organised belief systems.

As the performance unfolds, Senyawa’s unique fusion of hand-made electrified stringed instruments with opera style and heavy metal voice slowly builds to a euphoric pitch. The exceptional dancers are propelled into wild physical abandonment and ecstatic release. The demarcation between dancer and non-dancer, audience and performer and the professional and the amateur dissolves as the performance transitions into a large-scale dance event.

For more information, see the Attractor event page or read our festival Hot Seat interview. 

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Film events to enjoy this May

Film programmer and co-director of CineCity film festival, Tim Brown, picks his favourite film screenings this May. 


As the double bill was once a staple of cinema-going, it felt appropriate for our season of British cinema classics from the turbulent year of 1968, for these titles to be paired with another film. By screening them alongside a film from another era, we could also scratch the surface of how films influence or inspire and are in turn influenced by other titles.


BLOOD OF A POET and PERFORMANCE
I’m really looking forward to this double bill; they might have played together somewhere many moons ago but I’ve never seen them back to back like this. Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet was a big influence on Donald Cammell who co-directed Performance with Nic Roeg. Shot in 1968 just as the decade of peace and love was turning into something far darker, it was shelved and then re-edited before it was eventually released in 1970. So it really does mark the end of that particular era. With the theme of identity to the fore, it’s also a radical one-off, simultaneously of its time and yet completely out of step with the rest of British Cinema. It’s also so rare to get the opportunity to see either film on the big screen - and at my favourite cinema, the Duke of York’s – and both on 35mm too!
Duke of York’s Sun 6 May 1pm




IF…. and ZERO DE CONDUITE
Probably the best known British film from ‘68, Lindsay Anderson’s If …. is another Sunday afternoon big screen treat. It was Malcolm McDowell’s first major role and he is quite brilliant as the schoolboy getting his revenge on the British establishment. I also really like the film’s switching between colour and black and white which apparently was more a budgetary necessity than anything else. It’s an anarchist double bill as its paired with Jean Vigo’s poetic Zero de Conduite which heavily influenced Anderson’s film. Vigo is best known for L’Atalante, the only feature length work he completed before he died in 1934 aged just 29.
Duke of York’s Sun 13 May 1pm



WITCHFINDER GENERAL and A FIELD IN ENGLAND
An English Civil War double bill, Brighton’s own Ben Wheatley’s eerily beautiful A Field in England paired with Michael Reeves’ disturbing Witchfinder General. Like Jean Vigo, director Michael Reeves died tragically young, aged 24, just a few months after this film was released. He would undoubtedly have gone on to be one of the key directors in British Cinema.
Sun 20 May 1pm Duke’s at Komedia

For more information on the many other amazing performances including Lose your Head, A Shit Odyssey and Cuckmere: A Portrait, see our full Visual Arts and Film programme.

Festival Hot Seat: Blaas

We caught up with the Artistic Director of Blaas, Boukje Schweigman, to find out more about her collaboration with installation artist Cocky Eek. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
It is not a story that you need to understand, it is an immersive happening. You have to surrender to the experience. In a way, it is a kind of abstract, non-figurative puppetry in which material and space come to life. In the Dutch language Blaas has a double meaning. It means blow/breath but also means bubble. This performance is as much about breathing and life as it is about a temporary space that can be created in which we can come together.

How and where will the work be staged?
We are performing at Moulsecoomb Leisure Centre in one of the sports halls! It doesn’t sound like the most obvious place for a theatre performance but that’s part of the fun of it. Experiencing the unexpected where you least expect it to happen.

Why should someone come and see your show?
You’ll come to Blaas in order to have a unique, unusual experience. You’ll enter a kind of space you will never have been in before. It is a kind of theatre that many will have never experienced before.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I knew about the work of visual artist Cocky Eek and really really loved it. The work is very sensual. Many of her inflatable installations are reminiscent of bodily organs. When we met, we go on so well that we decide to collaborate. We decided to make a theatrical performance out of her inflatables. Blaas crosses the borders between visual arts and theatre and puppetry.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
It’s a piece for anyone who wants an extraordinary experience. For someone with an open mind and for someone who wants to explore new forms of theatre.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Everything!

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
This is the first time we are visiting the festival so we’re looking forward to creating new favourite moments.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The breadth and diversity of the programme is great, particularly the performances in unusual sites and venues of course.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: KAYA

Ceyda Tanc, artistic director and founder of Brighton-based dance theatre company Ceyda Tanc Dance, tells us about her brand new work, KAYA. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
KAYA is a contemporary dance work with influence of traditional Turkish folk dance, the dance style of my heritage. The piece explores human experiences of displacement, drawing on the strength and resilience of those searching for a sense of belonging within a new community.

How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be performed at the Theatre Royal on Monday 14th May at 8pm. As a Brighton based company we are really excited to be bringing our work to such a prestigious venue.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We try to create work that is accessible for all, not just the regular theatre goers and contemporary dance audiences. We hope that people can relate to the human issues explored in the work, link to their own experiences or gain an increased awareness of the different cultural influences within their own communities.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The work is based on the village of Kaya in Turkey where I spent a lot of time as a child. The village was home to a Greek community and in 1925 they were forcefully evacuated from their homes resulting in a Turkish/Greek exchange and leaving the village as a ‘ghost town’.

Through my father's anthropological research, and my time spent living in Kaya as a child, I became increasingly interested in exploring this further within my work.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Nearly a hundred years on from the forced displacement of people from Kaya, Turkey is at the epicentre of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, holding over 3.2 million Syrian refugees. I was compelled to make a work that will provoke audiences to reflect on the global scale of displacement prevalent today.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Hopefully anyone and everyone, whether they are a contemporary dance fan or it is their first experience. I aim to make dance work which is accessible for people of all ages and backgrounds, to provide an inclusive way for audiences to interact with dance and find common ground with others in their community.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
We have developed a unique movement vocabulary, which fuses traditional Turkish folk dance and contemporary dance styles. I aim to challenge gender stereotypes by utilising the virtuoso movements of male Turkish dancers on female bodies.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Having grown up in Brighton, May has always been a really exciting time with so much opportunity to see great art work in and around the city. It’s a brilliant chance to experience a variety of work from different artists and to try something new.

Our performance in last year’s festival as part of Your Place was a real highlight for us. We had a cast of 30 people made up of older dancers and youth dancers and people from the community were involved in the running of the event. There was an amazing atmosphere on the day.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I heard about The Arms of Sleep by The Voice Project at the festival launch and it sounds fascinating! There are often immersive events in the festival, which create really memorable experiences. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Folk group Lankum score a double win at the 2018 Folk Awards

The self-called "Dublin folk miscreants", Lankum, were big winners at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on Wednesday, winning two awards on the night.

Combining distinctive four-part vocal harmonies with arrangements of uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, fiddle and guitar, and with a repertoire spanning music-hall ditties and street-songs, classic to their own original material, this Dublin four-piece are at the forefront of bringing traditional song to a new generation. Mark Radcliffe calls them ‘a turning point in folk… [the] authentic voice of the streets’. 

‘There is folk that wants to whisper in your ear, and then there is the music of Lankum: urgent, desperate and detonating.’ So wrote The Guardian’s in its five-star review of Lankum’s latest album, Between the Earth and Sky. No wonder then, that Lankum were named Best Group, beating Elephant Sessions, Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band and Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys to picking up the covetable award.

 
The quartet also won Best Original Track for their song The Granite Gaze, receiving the award from folk music great Ralph McTell.

Lankum will be playing on Friday the 18th of May at St George's Church. For more information, see the event page. 

Last chance for children & young adults to submit poems for Brighton Festival 2018’s Peacock Poetry Prize

The Peacock Poetry Prize is an annual competition to encourage young writers to explore the written word from a creative point of view. The aim is to get young people writing right across Sussex and encourage them to engage with the theme of ‘hard work’, a subject inspired by Guest Director David Shrigley’s book of the same title.

The competition is open to residents of Brighton & Hove, East and West Sussex aged 11 - 19. Submissions are divided into four age groups: 11-13 years, 14-16 years 13-16 years and 17-19 years.

Whether completing an assignment, building a relationship or breaking a habit, we all work hard on aspects of our daily lives. Each budding writer may submit up to three poems with a maximum length of 20 lines per poem.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children and Family Producer, says:

"The Peacock Poetry Prize offers a great opportunity for young people to have their writing seriously appraised and appreciated. Our panel of judges reads and discusses every poem and it is always a struggle to decide which of our many talented entrants will be invited to the finalists’ award party where the winners are announced."

William Baldwin, Principal of Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College, says:

"BHASVIC is proud to be sponsoring the Peacock Poetry Prize. Poetry is imaginations language, helping us understand and appreciate the world around us. A great poem can describe what we ourselves have no words for. As poetry is such a universal vehicle of human expression it is vital that we continue to nurture a love for it in the younger generation."

The competition is open to residents of Brighton & Hove, East and West Sussex. Each budding writer may submit up to three poems with a maximum length of 14 lines per poem. Entries must be emailed, together with full name, age and date of birth to peacock@brightonfestival.org or posted to Peacock Poetry Prize, Brighton Festival, 12a Pavilion Buildings, Castle Square, Brighton BN1 1EE.

The deadline for entries is Mon 16 Apr 2018. Finalists and their friends and relatives will be invited to a reception in Brighton Dome when the winners of each age category will be announced.

Festival Hot Seat: Attractor

Indonesia’s music duo Senyawa joins forces with two of Australia’s leading dance companies, Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc to take you on a trance-noise odyssey in Attractor. Choreographers Lucy and Gideon give us the low-down on this exciting new performance.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Attractor is a work where dance and music propel each other into heightened experiences for performers and spectators. Its a collaboration with Indonesian music duo Senyawa. Eight dancers are swept up by the energy of the music that in turn responds to their physical abandonment.

Senyawa reinterprets the Javanese tradition of trance through dance and music as a powerful, secular, present-day form. Their unusual sound borrows from the metal bands they listened to as teenagers – Black Sabbath, Metallica, Iron Maiden – and Indonesian ritual and folk idioms.

20 completely unrehearsed audience members volunteer to join the artists on stage. This participatory act of doing dissolves the demarcations between dancer and non-dancer, audience and performer, professional and amateur

How and where will the work be staged?
Attractor will be presented at the Brighton Festival in the Brighton Dome Concert Hall.

It begins with the two musicians and the dancers setting up in a circle centre stage. The music propels the dancers into movement and the musicians respond to the physical intensity of the dancers creating a visceral experience for the audience. About two thirds of the way through, twenty members of the audience get up from their seats and make their way to the stage where they join the dancers and become an integral part of the performance.

These participants are volunteers that sign up to be part of the show beforehand. They arrive before it starts and are fitted with in-ear devices. When the time comes, they are verbally directed through their ear- pieces to go onstage and guided through a series of instructions to perform a dance that merges with the professional dancers. There are no prior rehearsals.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We think audiences will be truly inspired by Attractor. This is a work that blurs the line between performer and spectator, creating an empathetic and intense experience for the viewer. The energy and skill of the dancers is not just an opportunity to sit back and watch, but to engage with the way that dance and music can enliven and transform us.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Gideon Obarzanek (Director/Choreographer) first met Indonesian music duo Senyawa in Yogyakarta in 2014, and travelled with them to a remote village in far eastern Java to observe a traditional trance ceremony. After two nights of prayers and offerings to the dead, dancers entered a state of trance through a series of astounding performances. Some time after that, Gideon was reflecting on his many years of creating virtuosic stage productions with highly trained dancers, in contrast with his early experiences of dance. These took place on kibbutz in Israel where he grew up as a child doing folk dancing, where participation was privileged over performance.

As contemporary artists performing to secular audiences, Rully, Wukir (Senyawa) and Gideon discussed their interest in traditional music and dance. They pondered why they and other non-religious people are drawn to this type of ceremonial performance and concluded that dance and music can create transcendent states for participants, through which they become a part of something bigger than themselves. Making Attractor comes from a shared interest to construct rituals for non-believers.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
This show is surprising on several levels. Senyawa’s music is completely captivating and like nothing you’ve heard before. It’s an impossible blend of heavy metal, noise, throat singing, operatic vocals and traditional music that somehow results in a unique coherent sound. The dancers are virtuosic in their immersion in the choreography and music and their commitment to the intensity of the show.

But perhaps the most surprising element is when 20 audience members get up out of their seats, walk on stage, and join the dancers . This breaks down the barrier between audience and performer and unites 30 people onstage in a shared experience as they collectively succumb to the inherent power of the experience. The remaining audience have a strong empathetic connection as they watch people like themselves in this exhilarating predicament. People are often amazed by the fact that the audience participants who join the dancers onstage have no prior rehearsal and are doing the show for the very first time.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Brighton Festival is an event we have heard about for years but have never experienced. To us, it inspires thoughts of an innovative artistic program linked to the places, culture and people of the city. We have high expectations!

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We are really looking forward to seeing what’s happening in contemporary UK performance and the international work that’s in the program. Coming from Australia, it’s a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in the festival atmosphere of Brighton and understand its identity and future visions. We are also thrilled that Brighton audiences will have the chance to see Attractor.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

Actors Marc Antolin and Daisy Maywood give us an insight into The Flying Lovers of Vitebska new show from Kneehigh Theatre that traces the extraordinary lives of Marc and Bella Chagall. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Daisy
: The show is called The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. Fundamentally, it's a love story between Marc Chagall and his first wife Bella, their extraordinary lives and achievements and the turbulent period of history that they lived through.

Marc: The background to the love story are some of the most incredible moments of European history. I think this play is also about what it is to be an artist

Why should someone come and see your show?
Daisy:
It's a playful world of art, music and love that audiences can escape to for ninety minutes.

Marc: It’s also quite unique in the way that it marries music, drama and dance seamlessly.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Daisy: 
Emma (our director) and her then partner Daniel (our writer) saw one of Chagall's paintings and Daniel noticed that Emma looked like Bella. They then looked into their lives and love story and Daniel wrote the play for Emma.
 

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Marc: 
It’s always important to keep telling stories, this one is about two artists falling in love and the sacrifices one of them has to make in the relationship. The themes discussed also are so relevant today and I think there’s so much in this story that people can reflect and learn from.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Marc:
We’ve had so many people of different ages and cultures watch this show when we’ve performed it before and I’m always constantly surprised from what people take from it.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Marc:
I think people will come away from this show wanting to learn so much more about Marc Chagall and his work and will be surprised about how incredibly creative Bella was, but how she took a step back in order to let Marc pursue his work.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Daisy: I’m so thrilled to bring this show to Brighton festival because I love this place and knowing that I like Brighton and I like festivals, so I'm very excited to be a part of Brighton Festival.

Marc: I’m so thrilled to bring this show to Brighton festival because I love this place and knowing that Kneehigh have such a big following here, I’m excited for them to see this show.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Marc: Taking Flying Lovers of Vitebsk to Edinburgh last year was incredible, it was my first festival and I had the most amazing time. I can’t wait to see lots of different theatre, music, comedy and be inspired by people telling stories in their own unique way.

Daisy: I'm really hoping to catch Kaya from Ceyda Tanc's all-female dance company which puts a modern spin on traditional Turkish folk dance.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Shrigley on Shrigley

Guest director David Shrigley talks us through his events at the Brighton Festival 2018. 

Best known for his darkly humorous works that comment on the inconsequential, bizarre, and disquieting elements of daily life, the artist’s offbeat take is reflected in his own events at this years festival. There's Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by Shrigley himself, and Life Model II, a follow-up to the artist’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name which invites visitors to take part in a life drawing class with a sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman as the ‘model’. Shrigley will also be doing an also an illustrated talk billed as ‘containing numerous rambling anecdotes… not in the slightest bit boring’, and a screening of a documentary about his work titled A Shit Odyssey. 

Head to our Whats On page to see the full programme
Video edited by Summer Dean

Festival Hot Seat: The Humours of Bandon

Margaret McAuliffe, writer and performer of The Humours of Bandon, talks to us about Riverdance, childhood hobbies and the competitive world of Irish Dance. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
The Humours of Bandon is a one-person coming of age comedy drama centered around the world of competitive Irish Dance.

How and where will the work be staged?
It’s on in the Brighthelm Centre at 7:30pm from 16th – 20th May. 

Why should someone come and see your show?
People should enjoy this show if they ever had a childhood passion that came to an end as adulthood beckoned, and they fancy a trip down memory lane. It will also *infotain* its audience on the competitive world of Irish Dance!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The inspiration came from my personal experience of competitive Irish Dancing. The idea formulated once I applied for the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2016 and realized the scene was prime for a dramatic telling of a coming-of-age story.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The moment you give up something you’ve dedicated many hours to, you feel a sort of void. I’ve heard from audiences the length and breadth of the country that this play resonates with them owing to their previous exploits in swimming, football, ballet, athletics and even junior paramedics! I think it’s important to remember the skills you might have pursued in your teenage years and the impact they had on your personal development, it’s nice to reflect on your journey.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
This play is for anyone that had a childhood/teenage passion. It’s also loved by the parents or teachers of said teenagers who recognize the role they played in that teenager’s life. It’s funny to look back on those moments that were fraught with tension and great drama with the benefit of hindsight, makes for a lot of laughs.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
People are going to be surprised by how interested they become in the competitive world of Irish Dancing (no, seriously) an arena that can showcase Olympic-level athleticism mixed with art, pageantry, stock characters, common tropes and niche knowledge.

Riverdance brought Irish Dancing to the world stage in 1994 but audiences have yet to see where this talent is honed, Irish Dancers develop their skill through competitions or ‘feiseanna’ and this play brings you behind the scenes at the most important event in the feis calendar.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
This will be my first year at the Brighton festival so am very excited to see what’s on offer. I played the Dublin Fringe Festival ‘16 and last year the four weeks of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Brighton is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and the fact that I get to perform there for the festival is very fortunate indeed.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Game Of Thrones and Band of Gold actors announced for 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.

Arguably the most sought-after European opera and theatre director of his generation, Calixto Bieito will direct a quartet of actors: Cathy Tyson, Mairead McKinley, Miltos Yerolemou and Nick Harris, alongside the award-winning The Heath Quartet. Together the eight artists will blend to recreate the melody of melancholy.

Miltos Yerolemou’s credits span film, television and stage. Film credits include Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm/Disney), The Danish Girl (Working Title Films). Recent stage credits include The Fool in King Lear (Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Talawa Theatre and Royal Exchange Manchester); A Midsummer Night’s Dream international tour (Bristol Old Vic & Handspring Theatre), Great Expectations (Bristol Old Vic), he is also known for his role as Syrio Forel in Game Of Thrones (HBO).

BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated actress Cathy Tyson is best known for her role in the multi-award winning film Mona Lisa and classic ITV drama series Band of Gold. On stage, Cathy has played many leading ladies from Cleopatra to Lady Bracknell with other credits including Golden Girls (RSC), Talking Heads (Bolton Octagon) and The Taming Of The Shrew (Regents Park Open Air Theatre).

Mairead McKinley’s theatre credits include Filthy Business (Hampstead Theatre) and The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other, Translations and Cyrano De Bergerac (National Theatre). Nick Harris was recently in North by Northwest - a new production of the Hitchcock classic by Australian director Simon Phillips which opened at Theatre Royal Bath before transferring to the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto.

Known for his radical reinterpretations of classic operas and plays, Calixto Bieito turns to two maverick philosophers for inspiration for his latest work: The Burnout Society (2015) by the Korean-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han and The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), an essay by Robert Burton, one of the first to write about psychological disorders as a symptom of modern times. Music performed by The Heath Quartet will include Beethoven String Quartet No.15 in A Minor, Op. 95 and Ligeti String Quartet No. 2.

Calixto Bieito said: “The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety is like a symphonic poem for a quartet of musicians, and a quartet of voices. It will consider the human condition today, and where anxiety and depression stem from. The show will be about how the current times are affecting the quality of our lives as well as our fears, and I hope it will be both entertaining and enlightening.”

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability

Please note: This article originally listed one of the featured pieces of music as Beethoven’s Opus 132, but this has been changed to Beethoven’s Opus 95.

Everyday Epic: Anthology of Short Stories Launched

After taking over the streets for Brighton Festival 2017, the Storytelling Army are back with their newly published anthology.

Everyday Epic is a collection of stories celebrating the Storytelling Army, a project that took place as part of Brighton Festival 2017. In a collaboration between theatre company Nabokov and 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest, the Storytelling Army was assembled: a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life and all corners of the city, including those homeless and vulnerably housed. 

Each explored Brighton Festival Guest Director Kate Tempest's theme of Everyday Epic, hosting pop-up performances across Brighton, from the local supermarket, the pub or on the top deck of a bus. Nabokov believe that theatre should be in our communities, in spaces from car parks, on the streets, in rooms above pubs, on public transport, in nightclubs and festivals and not just restricted to the traditional theatre space.

Their mission is to ensure that the event of theatre is for all and reflects the current experiences and diverse voices of our generation. Many of the works published in this anthology were first shared via these pop-up performanes. 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 remaining four stories are from members of the Sussex-wide public who won the Everyday Epic story writing competition run by Lulu.com which was run in conjunction with Brighton Festival. 

Everyday Epic Anthology of Short Stories Celebrating Storytelling Army now on Sale

After taking over the streets for Brighton Festival 2017, the Storytelling Army return with a newly published anthology of short stories.

Everyday Epic is a collection of stories celebrating the Storytelling Army, a project that took place as part of Brighton Festival 2017. The Storytelling Army, a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life and all corners of the city, including those homeless and vulnerably housed, was formed in a collaboration between theatre company nabokov and 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest. Each storyteller explored Kate Tempest's theme of 'Everyday Epic', hosting pop-up performances across Brighton, from inside local supermarkets, on street corners and in pubs, to on the top deck of a bus.

Nabokov believe that theatre should be in our communities and not just restricted to the traditional theatre space. Their mission is to ensure that the event of theatre is for all and reflects the current experiences and diverse voices of our generation. Many of the works published in this anthology were first shared via these pop-up performances. The remaining four stories are from members of the Sussex-wide public who won the Everyday Epic story writing competition run by Lulu.com which was run in conjunction with Brighton Festival. This competition asked writers living in Sussex to respond to the theme selected by Kate Tempest for Brighton Festival 2017, Everyday Epic, in no more than 4,000 words.

To purchase the Everyday Epic Anthology, see Lulu.com for more information. 

Festival Hotseat: XFRMR

We caught up with Robbie Thomson, artist and thearte maker to talk about XFRMR, an installation that explores the possibilities of the Tesla Coil as an instrument.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
XFRMR is a live audio-visual performance which explores the creative possibilities of the Tesla Coil as a musical instrument in its own right. The technology is based on Nikola Tesla's 1891 design which was originally developed for long range power transmission. In the show, I synthesise waveforms that manipulate the high voltage discharges from the coil to create live musical tones which is set against an underlying electronic score.

The composition itself moves between soundscapes inspired by the sounds of space weather and percussive sections rooted in industrial music and techno.

How and where will the work be staged?
In XFRMR the Tesla Coil takes centre stage, it's housed in a large steel Faraday cage that shields the 250,000 Volt arcs of plasma and the electromagnetic fields that the coil produces. The show is driven along by dynamic lighting effects and audio-reactive projections which are mapped onto the setup. The performances at Brighton Festival are taking place in The Spire.

Why should someone come and see your show?
It's a chance to experience raw electricity first hand, the Tesla Coil is a visceral phenomenon to be up-close to, and you might even smell the ozone being created from the sparks.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I was interested in high voltage devices and so was drawn to using the Tesla coil on a visual level and from a historical perspective before I was really aware of it's musical potential. The direct correlation of the sonic and visual elements and the real physicality of the coil as an electro-acoustic instrument (the air ionising to create sound and light) made it ideal to use in an artistic context.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The ways in which technology is being used to synthesise natural phenomena relates to so many aspects of where the frontier of science is at today. The boundaries between synthetic and natural worlds are constantly being tested (whether that be in artificial intelligence or nanotechnology) so it's interesting to consider the nature of electricity and invisible wavelengths within this context, as it is something that we usually either ignore or take for granted.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Audiences for XFRMR have been really varied in the past; I've played in clubs where the emphasis has been on dancing and in seated theatres where people have tuned in more to the nuances of the sound. I think there's something there for anyone with an interest in electronic music and technology but also for people who are more visually orientated and want to experience a dramatic display of electricity.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
I think people will be surprised by how musical the Tesla Coil can be, you can make it really expressive and create quite delicate timbres as well as distorted tones and harsh percussive stabs.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The Wave Epoch sounds like a really interesting project; it'd also be wicked to see Deerhoof again.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: A House Repeated

A House Repeated is an interactive performance-game that combines the simplicity of bare-bones storytelling with the limitless possibilities of contemporary open-world computer games. We caught up with creator and performer Seth Kriebel to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
A House Repeated is part-show, part-game. The performers describe a place and the
audience tell us what they want to do next — go North, open the door, that sort of thing —
and then we describe the consequence of their choices… and the show unfolds from
there. In this show we’ll be exploring the Brighton Dome, as it undergoes its restoration…the audience gets to poke into the dark corners of its past, present and possible future —without leaving their seats!

How and where will the work be staged?
We’ll be in Brighton Dome during the first week of the Festival. As the show is all about the building, it’s great to be right there, in between the history and the construction as we explore and play with the fabric of the building and time.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We open the door to a world waiting to be explored. It’s not improv — it’s all there ready to be found — but it’s up to you to navigate. It’s very gentle and fun… it’s not a scary, put people-on-the-spot experience. We work together with the audience to uncover a Brighton Dome as it was, is and might become.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
It’s basically a live version of the old interactive-fiction computer games I played as a kid
in the early 80s, back before computer graphics, when it was just a glowing green line of text against a black background… so everything happens in your imagination. It’s somewhere between old fashioned storytelling and the most recent open-world computer games that give you the freedom to go anywhere and do anything you like.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think we get too wrapped up in the mundane bricks and mortar of the world, we forget
the possibility of the unexpected, the slightly out of the ordinary. Not the through-the-back-of-the-wardrobe fantasy of a children’s story, but the excitement of finding a spiralstaircase that leads down into the dark… and the ability to go have a look at what’s down there.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Anyone who likes storytelling, games, immersive theatre, the history of Brighton and the Dome… and the possibilities of finding out just what might be hiding behind that door…

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
How exciting it is to explore - and maybe even build - a world that exists only in the minds of you and your fellow audience members.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I love the buzz of the city in May! It’s great to see the mix of international companies and local artists — Brighton has such a vibrant creative community. And as a local parent myself, I think I’ve walked in the children’s parade every year since 2009…

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I’m really looking forward to Elephant & Castle… And I loved Kneehigh’s Tristan and Yseult last year, so I can’t wait for The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. Also, everyone in our house is a big fan of John Finnemore, so we’ll be front row centre for his show!

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Adopt an Author: Benfield Primary get creative with Alex Milway and Harold and Pigsticks

Adopt an Author is an exciting schools initiative which links classes with children’s authors to promote literacy, encourage writing and develop creativity. 

After 8 weeks of fun email discussions with their adopted author, classes attend a 'Meet your Author' party during the Festival. This year local primary schools Carden, Goldstone, Mile Oak and St Luke's are adopting Imogen White, Rob Lloyd Jones, Alex Milway and M G Leonard

Four participating classes from different local schools are paired up with an author and sent copies of one of their author’s books. In February they begin reading the book in class and emailing their author once a week for 8 weeks. During this time the author may set small related activities for the class and the class can ask questions of the author and share samples of their own work. The project culminates in May with a ‘Meet Your Author’ party where the author will plan a session full of fun activities for their adoptive class! 

Today we're celebrating and sharing some of the wonderful work from Benfield Primary School in Portslade. The Gecko and Iguana class (Year 2) have adopted author Alex Milway. For the past two weeks, Alex has been teaching his class how to draw two characters from his latest book, Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey

You can read more from Alex Milway and his class on the Adopt An Author blog. 


Author Rob Lloyd-Jones kicked off the first week of his 'adoption' with a writing task. Rob has been adopted by Mile Oak School's year 6 class. He asked them to describe their favourite stories and why. Here's a look at what they came back with...
You can see more from Rob Lloyd-Jone's and his class on the Adopt An Author blog. 


The Adopt an Author blog provides a space to display some of the wonderful correspondences from this year’s project. To read more about the initiative and see more from  authors Imogen White and M G Leonard and their classes, visit the Adopt an Author blog.

Festival Hot Seat: The Enormous Room

In an epic new production from Stopgap Dance Company - part of the Festival's caravan biennial showcase - we follow a father and daughter gradually coming to terms with the loss of their wife and mother. In this Festival Hot Seat, Stopgap's Artistic Director Lucy Bennett talks to us about her inspiration behind the piece.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
The Enormous Room is a dance theatre show that explores a father-and-daughter relationship. They have recently lost their wife/mother and the audience gaze into how they are each going through the grieving process differently.

How and where will the work be staged?
A conventional black box theatre at The Old Market

Why should someone come and see your show?
Because it’s a beautiful and evocative piece of dance theatre. By exploring something personal like grief, everyone invested something genuine in the creative process, and this shared ownership of the work is what makes it so moving. The Enormous Room has been described as an absorbing encounter with grief and loss that comforts and provokes long after the piece has ended.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea first emerged when I was listening to Hofesh Shechter talking with William Forsythe as part of The Brighton Festival in 2014. As a young choreographer Forsythe had some invaluable advice from his ballet teacher. When struggling to make a piece of work his teacher said: ‘Close your eyes, imagine the piece that you want to watch and make that one’.

At that moment I did just that. I saw a small room full of clutter and dark furniture set within a big space. I saw characters appearing and disappearing through drawers and cupboards, the dancers were restricted and their limbs and faces told the story.

From there the idea meandered for two years while I explored forms and narratives. I was interested in using text for this show and one of our dancers David Toole and I had already spoken about exploring this. I became interested in him playing a character who was unable to let go of the past.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Grief touches us all, and by seeing how people react to it in different ways, it might console or support when you are faced with it eventually. In the creation process, we had diverse contributors from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as age and disability, and the breadth of perspectives have enriched and deepened how our characters each experience and deal with it. Grief makes your mood fluctuate wildly, and it was good to get perspectives of different people to explore it in the creation process.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: SHUT DOWN

Charlotte Vincent, choreographer and director of Brighton-based company Vincent Dance Theatre, tells us about her newest piece SHUT DOWN, a brother work to last Festival's VIRGIN TERRITORY.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
It’s not exactly a show! It’s a full-length production, in film installation form, that explores the pressures, contradictions and confusions of being a man today, filtered through my eyes as a female choreographer / director.

How and where will the work be staged?
SHUT DOWN film installation, shot and edited by VDT’s brilliant cinematographer Bosie Vincent, plays across six screens at ONCA Gallery, throughout the festival. This complex, humorous and visually layered production is accompanied by short works made by young men working with VDT and Audio Active as part of Mankind’s Room To Rant programme (LINK) and at The Connected Hub (LINK).  Reflecting on modern masculinity using charcoal drawing, stills photography and spoken word, Young People’s work will also be shared on Vincent Dance Theatre’s Youtube Youth Channel from May onwards.


Why should someone come and see your production?
It’s funny, sensitive and moving and relevant for us all – particularly as we see the ‘crisis of masculinity’ continuing to gather momentum all around us with the #metoo and #timesup campaigns.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
SHUT DOWN is the brother piece to VDT’s VIRGIN TERRITORY, which appeared at ONCA in the 2017 Brighton Festival and is currently on tour throughout the UK. These two partner pieces - full-length stage productions that become widely shared full-length film installations - consider the society that we have created for young people, in particular examining the impact of growing up within a gender divisive world where social media presents very real crises of confidence, online dangers and a degree of self-loathing.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The themes we consider in both works are around the influence of pornography on our kids and how they treat each other, the pressures to be masculine and feminine when we know there is a spectrum of experience, the challenge to mental health that a body obsessed society incites and issues around absent parents, home and belonging that everyone can relate to.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Although the piece is about perceptions of masculinity and pressures on boys and men to behave a particular way, it’s relevant for anyone interested in dance, theatre and film or gender politics. The choreography is influenced by partnering, street dance and ensemble work, and there is some passionate spoken word performed by 15-year-old Eben ‘Flo from local music organisation AudioActive – a charity that supports young urban artists - in the past including Rag ‘n’ Bone Man (who is now their Patron) and Rizzle Kicks.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
I’ve presented work in the last three Brighton Festivals, since moving my company to Brighton from Sheffield. As an Associate Company of Brighton Dome this is how it should be – the festival is a great platform for any artist’s work and I love the way work that crosses political boundaries and challenges expected forms can be seen by such a diverse audience. Last year we had 1000 people pass through ONCA over two weeks seeing dance theatre as part of VIRGIN TERRITORY multiscreen film installation. These are audience figures that are hard to gather live on tour in one venue, so the digital model is working for us to get my choreographic work seen by non-dance attenders, film enthusiasts, general public and visual artists. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Artist’s blog: Rachel Blackman, theatre artist, performer and somatic educator on Collidescope

As applications are open for Collidescope 2018, we asked a former participant to reflect on her experiences of Brighton Festival’s Artist development programme


Collidescope offers a chance for a group of mid-career artists from various disciplines, to experience a large chunk of the Festival program, it is also a chance to rub shoulders with like minds, engage in a series of facilitated workshops exploring the work we’ve seen, sharing some of the work we make as well as meeting some of the Festival’s visiting artists. It is a brilliant opportunity and I’m still unpacking the myriad ways in which it has impacted my practice. More on that later.

That year, 2016, my year, we were blessed on several counts. We were ‘shepherded’ through our experience by Dramaturge Lou Cope and Arts Producer Richard Kingdom. Their presence and vast expertise offered the experience coherence, opened pathways of enquiry, brought inspiration and generally encouraged a great vibe. I think my year was fortunate also, because there was rich diversity: of age, disciplines, cultural backgrounds and themes in the room, which made for juicy engagement and feisty conversations.

I also felt fortunate because the guest director was Laurie Anderson who I much admire. I hoped I’d get a chance to meet her as I was looking forward to normalising an experience I’d had a few years before that I felt vaguely embarrassed about.

Anderson was an important early influence for me. I first came across her at 15 and was struck by her ele-gant originality. Self-directed and self-resourced. Eloquent. Ungendered. Anti-establishment. Prolific. Per-formative. She was beautiful too, but people loved her not for her beauty but her intelligence and her origi-nality. I may have been a bit in love with her…

Skip to 2012 and I have a piece of my work in the Brighton Festival that year, so they invite me in for an interview with Brighton Festival Radio. I get into the lift and who is standing beside me, but Laurie Anderson.

I don’t get star struck very often. I’ve grown up around famous people most of my life and fame isn’t, in itself, impressive to me. But every now and again, I get a massive body of work / art crush on someone and I can’t remember what ‘normal’ behaviour looks like. Arthur Miller would have been on that list, Pina Bausch, Joseph Cambell, Meryl Streep and perhaps incongruously, Vaclav Havel. I think I’d be OK with the Dalai Lama. I was fine with Keanu.

Aaaanyway, so here I am in a lift with Laurie Anderson. Just me and Laurie and I’m thinking, you know I’m sure I could just say,

Hey Laurie, thanks for your work, it has been a powerful influence on me.
Or, hey Laurie, I’m a fan. I hear you build your own kit? … AWESOME . Tell me about New York in the 80’s. And you were the first woman I ever heard who used male voice filters in performance and you were still, just, you, somehow - you know?

Or even,

Hey, know what? i know all of the words to ‘Let x = x’ and I - I feel - feel like - I am - In a burning building. And … and… I love the way you use language so sparely and what you leave out and how you leave enough space for us to fill in an idea of a persona. I love its theatricality. Do you see it as theatrical?’ and and anyway… Tai Chi hey? *sigh*

That kind of thing.

Instead I stare at my shoes and fall profoundly silent. I can’t seem to lift my gaze from the floor and the awkwardness of the moment pans eons.

Then the lift doors open, and we exit together. It turns out we are both going to be interviewed by Brighton Festival Radio at the same time. How unbearably awkward and I avoid her eye contact, but in my peripheral vision I notice that she acknowledges me briefly and I realise it would have been fine to say hi after all - what an idiot - and the whole bottom falls out of the floor. And I manage to keep walking. And I try to do it in a way that I’m hoping is reminiscent of how I might normally do it. But I am malfunctioning robot doll thing.

I get through it.

Then I’m doing Collidescope in 2016 and Anderson is the guest director.

I enter in to it in between things in my life. I haven’t made a full-length piece of work for two years and it is bugging me. I have experienced some big changes in my personal life and I’m not sure what I am at the moment, so I turn up with imposter syndrome. I have this feeling that when I begin making again, I want it to be different - but I don’t really know what that means yet. I have an idea pressing against me - it is about a white Australian family crossing a desert in a little car and the spirits of the land leaking in and tearing the family apart (but in a good way) and it being a metaphor for the un-sustainability and precariousness of the way we are living in relation to the planet… but I don’t know where to start.

All well and good.

I think the problem is that the piece needs to be a film and I’m not a film maker. But then I see Lola Aria’s Minefield, and Yuval Avital’s Fuga Perpetua, both of which blow me away in unexpected ways. Both working with non-actors. Both dealing with real world subject matter. Not my usual fare. Not the kinds of things i would have instinctively chosen from the program to watch. in fact, things I saw in the program and thought, well I’m not going to enjoy those.

So, I am smacked in the face by my preconceptions.

And slowly, slowly over months and months, I realise the problems I am facing are more meta and way more personal. They are to do with acknowledging that my themes are changing on some deep, level and that I can no longer continue as I have been. That what draws me now is real life stories. The dawning reali-sation that it is time to start turning up in my own work - even if only as a voice. (I had only ever played fic-tional characters and happily disappeared behind them - how can I tell a story about Australian whiteness without also acknowledging that i am that? That I am part of that story). And for the first time, I want to en-gage with social realities. This is all NEW.

So now the bigger and thoroughly more exciting question is ‘HOW?’

So, it’s still 2016. And I’m with some of my Collidescope buddies in a gutted church listening to Lou Reed’s pack of guitars and amps feeding back and mutating into the darkness. The Drones. And amongst us, is the quite recently bereaved Laurie Anderson standing just over there and lots of other people standing and sitting everywhere else, scattered through the darkness. And I have this thought that we are all just collective consciousness connected to ears connected to the shared human experience of loss of love, loss of life evoked by this living legacy vibrating through each of us. And I feel the generosity of the act of placing her lover’s life’s work here in a great big pile and in such a way that it can vibrate through all of us and I feel lucky and moved and like i could stay in here forever. That through the intimate we can encounter the uni-versal. And I am aware that good art does this, vibrates through us in a way that plugs us in to some aspect of human experience.

And afterwards, in the lukewarm sunshine, I am chatting to some people and Laurie walks past. There is a moment of shared eye contact and warmth and there is this sense that she’s grateful we’ve come. And we’re grateful we’ve come. And my embarrassment has evaporated. Only gratitude for shared human experience.

And that is the end of all that.

I don’t tell her she’s changed my life, or that Tony Visconti showed me how to do Tai Chi with swords, but that’s ok. I might write to her one day about that, but in the meantime, I feel relaxed and like I am myself. We are not all separate from each other.

Collidescope helps with that kind of thing. It helps art-makers feel less isolated and more ordinary. And the extraordinary act of great art-making feels more connected to everything else that’s important.

And in response to my earlier question, how has Collidescope influenced my practice? Well what I would say is, its effect isn’t something I could have anticipated and is something I am still investigating and distil-ling. It has been hugely impactful and I am deeply grateful.

Applications are now open.

Rachel Blackman is a theatre artist, performer and somatic educator.

You can find out more about her work here:

stillpointtheatre.co.uk
vibrantbody.co.uk

She also co-runs Herd, a true story telling movement

Five Brighton Festival Spoken Word artists to check out before May

Take some time out to enjoy some of the magnificent wordsmithery and acts you can expect at Brighton Festival this May...

The Last Poets
Energised by the civil rights movement, The Last Poets were formed in 1968. As latter day griots, they fused politically outspoken lyrics with inventive percussion. Their albums have influenced generations of hip-hop & soul artists.

Yomi Sode
Yomi Sode balances the line between Nigerian and British cultures, which can be humorous, loving, self-reflective and, at times, uncomfortable. Tackling immigration, identity and displacement, his new performance COAT is a humorous and moving response to the mistakes made by elders that leave the next generation uncertain of what is expected of them.


Travis Alabanza
Travis Alabanza is a performance artist, theatre maker, poet and writer. In the last two years they have been noted by numerous publications as one of the most prominent emerging queer artistic voices, and also listed in OUT as an influential queer figure.


Hollie McNish
Hollie McNish’s poems have challenged stigmas around sex, breastfeeding and young motherhood, earning her a worldwide following. McNish will perform as part of Poets & Illustrators, a one-off event, that pairs some of the finest, freshest poets around with live illustrators. 



Toby Thompson
Toby Thompson is a writer and performer of thoughts and feelings. His poetry displays his delight in life’s uncertainties and absurdities and his uniquely rhythmic and musical style is lyrical, beguiling, playful and poignant. In Brighton Festival, Toby Thompson boldly re-imagines Herman Hesse’s classic fairy-tale I Wish I Was A Mountain

For more amazing Spoken Word, check out our full programme with Bang! Said the GunBridget Minamore, Toby Campion & Theresa Lola and more!

Festival Hot Seat: Bang Said the Gun

Bang Said the Gun calls themselves poetry for people who don't like poetry. Co-founder, Dan Cockrill, is here to tell us why. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
BANG! Said The Gun is a poetry event for people who don’t necessarily like poetry. We take the best Spoken Word poets around and smash them together with entertainment to create a raw and raucous rollercoaster ride of emotions. It’s loud, political, trivial, serious and very funny. It will make you laugh out loud and cry tears of wonderment.


How and where will the work be staged?
We will be at St Georges Church on St Georges Road on SATURDAY 19TH MAY. Show kicks off at 7.30pm. One stage, one mic, Soul music, hand made shakers, balloons and animations. (And that is just the first 5 minutes of the show.)

Why should someone come and see your show?
To have their belief in humanity and the human experience restored. Or just to a have a good time.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
BANG! Said The Gun was started by Martin Galton and Daniel Cockrill 20 years ago as an antidote to dreary poetry and even drearier poetry nights. They wanted it to be a night that everyone could enjoy whether you liked poetry or not. The other members of the group, Rob Auton and Laurie Bolger, have added their ideas and charm to the mix to create a real Rock n Roll poetry show.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think people want to be alive and enjoy being alive. Everyday life can sometimes make that a difficult thing to achieve. So we created a space where people can shake away some of the dust, have a great time in the process and maybe learn something new along the way.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
People who DON’T like poetry will love this show. People who DO like poetry will also love this show. That is pretty much everyone.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
If you have never encountered a BANG! Said The Gun show you will be surprised by the raw energy and noise produced. If you have never experienced live poetry you will be surprised by just how moving words can be. A little bit of truth can be an amazing thing when you are bombarded and confronted by dishonesty and fake news on a daily basis. They will also be surprised by how much fun they will have. It’s a joyous show to be part of.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
Bang performed at the Festival last year to a packed crowd. We had such a great time we thought we’d do it all again this year. I studied at Brighton University in the mid nineties, so it was great coming back to see faces I hadn’t seen for years.

Meeting all the festival staff was great too. We had a right good giggle with all the tech team and festival liaisons. We were looked after tremendously by all the locals and festival team.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I’m going to give a shout out to some of BANG’s friends, many of them have appeared on the BANG stage over the years. Jemima Foxtrot and Cecilia Knapp are appearing in a play called Rear View, which I believe takes place on a bus. 

Our good friends Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore, Toby Campion & Theresa Lola have teamed up with some Illustrators for some live poetry and drawing which sounds like great fun. Yomi Sode has his one man show Coat at the festival. And if you have never seen Lemn Sissay perform then I would definitely go see him. I love all of those guys, so any of those shows will be a treat. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Rear View

David Wheeler, artistic director of Halifax-based IOU theatre tells us about Rear View and working on the show with performance poets Jemima Foxtrot and Cecilia Knapp.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
The central idea is that the audience is lead around the town by a young woman visiting special places in her future life. We begin in an art class when she is in her sixties and we hear her thoughts as they are gradually taken over by her younger self. She then takes us out of the art class and onto IOU’s specially made open-top bus and we are taken on her journey. Everything in a sense is in the future, there is ambiguity about whether we are looking back or looking forward. An important part of the concept is that it is imagined and written from the perspective of a young women at the beginning of her adult life.

How and where will the work be staged?
Rear View starts on The Barge at Brighton Marina where the art class scene takes place and then the audience boards the Rear View bus for a journey around Brighton. Cecilia and Jemima have each written their own version of the show and the performances alternate between them, so as one group of audience board the bus, the next group begins the art class. The locations visited on the journey remain the same each time, but Cecilia’s and Jemima’s words were written independently by them and their performances are very different and personal to them.

Why should someone come and see your show?
The show presents an unusual and affecting premise for audiences to experience. The drawing class gently starts the process of looking and observing so that when the audience begins the bus journey around the town they are in a slightly altered state and more intimately connected to the woman’s character.  

Travelling through the real world listening to the words and soundscape through headphones, cocooned in a heightened sound world, creates a very immersive feeling. The small details of everyday life of people in the real world going about their daily business magically become integrated into the poetry of the words. The combination is quite moving and contemplative and at the same time it is an exhilarating experience travelling around on the very conspicuous backward-facing bus.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The words and poetry come from Cecilia’s and Jemima’s own experiences and imagination set in the context that we have created for them. IOU has always tried to make the experience for an audience surprising and unusual, putting on work in places where people don’t normally see theatre and often moving them around on mass between scenes. The bus is an obvious solution to all those years of complex logistics and risk assessments. But most of all, it is a vehicle that everyone wants to ride on!

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Because it is a story I think many of us are constantly having with ourselves already. We have an inner dialogue going on that tries to place us in time and place, thinking about what has just happened and what might happen next, planning and abandoning plans, being diverted and thinking, “is it that time already?” 

The show takes us along streets and roads that may have been here for hundreds of years, past buildings that have had generation after generation take possession. The show heightens our sense of how fleetingly we occupy these spaces and places, but the experience is life affirming and people often say how much it meant to them and how well it described their own life in the town.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
What surprises me each time I see the show is how beautifully the real world mixes with the imagined world that Cecilia’s and Jemima’s words create.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Brighton has always been a favourite festival for us and the first of many shows we performed here was TOWERS in 1977. Does anyone still have any photos?! Perhaps my favourite moment was in a night time show seeing Steve Gumbley walking out to sea wearing very large inflatable trousers, bobbing out to sea standing bolt upright like a fishing cork and disappearing into the darkness.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Gob Squad, Creation (Pictures for Dorian). I love their calm audacity; long may they reign!  

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: The Boy, The Piano and The Beach

The Boy, The Piano and The Beach is a lovingly created show by Lewes based Slot Machine Theatre. It is a story about adventure and transformation, full of warmth, music and surprises. We talked to artistic directors Nick Tigg and Nicola Blackwell to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Our show is called The Boy, The Piano and The Beach, and it’s an epic adventure told through puppetry, projection, dance, with the whole story set to live piano music. Turn it inside out and it’s a piano recital with an amazing visual story. It opens with a young boy waking on a beach - and the tide coming in fast. Before he can escape, the world of the beach begins to shift, objects start to take on a life of their own, and an unearthly sound lures him into a big adventure - into another dimension.

How and where will the work be staged?
The show is on at the Brighthelm Centre on North Road, from the 5th-7th May. Brighthelm itself is a really family-friendly venue, in central Brighton near to the station, with a great cafe and plenty of space for buggies, wheelchairs etc. 

Why should someone come and see your show?
Whole families can come and see The Boy, The Piano and The Beach together: it's not just for kids, there's something for all ages, which is how we make all of our family shows. If you like live music and a richly imaginative visual world, then this is for you.

As a show with no spoken word, it’s highly accessible for families, including those with SEN children and adults. There is a relaxed performance on the 6th of May, and bespoke touch tours available on request from box office for those with impaired sight, or those on the autistic spectrum.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
We took a lot of inspiration from Selkie myths - selkies are seal-like beings that emerge from the sea. When they take off their special coats, they can become human. There's a lot of selkie myths from around the north coast of Scotland, they're sort of like mermaids, but a bit more scary and interesting! We are also inspired by the work of our award-winning projection artist, Will Monks. Will makes amazing textural projections for theatre, dance and bands, and we’re hugely excited to be working with him.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
It’s important because it’s a story about adventure and transformation and finding your way back home. It’s also important because of it’s elements: Dance, beguiling visuals, puppetry and the incredibly varied world of piano repertoire. We are really passionate as a company about making world-class work accessible to the most diverse audiences we are able to reach. And we love work that is relevant across generations and abilities.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Cutting-edge, international work and world class performances, all brought to our city.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We love David Shrigley so we’re looking forward to his exhibition, and the music made from his writing. Brownton Abbey looks brilliant too. Also, Hofesch Shechter, that’s exciting, No Fit State are great, Kneehigh and their Chagal show we really want to see, Blaas looks interesting, Malcolm Middleton’s versions of David Shrigley works are funny and interestingThe Wave Epoch looks good - too much, too much.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Fauna

Fauna is a captivating exploration of primal behaviour in the animal kingdom. We caught up with the exciting new Circus company behind it to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Our show is called Fauna. It’s a captivating exploration of primal behaviour, created by six leading professional artists. The audience is welcomed into our world to witness the ritual of courtship, the aggression of competition, and the Machiavellian cunning and simple pleasures of play, brought to life by the entrancing skills of our performers. Fauna is also set to an original live soundtrack by award-winning acoustic and percussive guitarist Geordie Little.

How and where will the work be staged?
Theatre Royal Brighton

Why should someone come and see your show?
Fauna is a multidisciplinary new circus show that has entwined elements of dance, live music, high level acrobatics and physical theatre in a new and innovative way. It is also an exciting demonstration of physical strength, and pushes circus in a new artistic direction.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea behind Fauna came from a very organic process. All of our artists wanted to explore movement and character in terms of our animalistic tendencies. It felt like a very rich source of inspiration for creating innovative ways of performing circus, while still giving purpose for tricks and flips.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
We feel it’s important to story tell to connect with our audiences, and take them on a journey
through our world, and into the brains of our artists and their crazy ways.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Any lover of movement, acrobatics and music will love our show. Its targeted to all ages.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
The way in which high level acrobatics is entwined into a strong narrative. Also, the development of the characters and the connections between performers.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? (If you’ve been with us before, do you have a favourite Festival moment?)
Brighton Festival is a beautiful opportunity for us to perform our art to an array of open minded people, and to welcome and share with the local community.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Checking out some different performance genres and supporting the local artists!

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Books & Debates events

Alice O’Keefe, freelance journalist and Brighton Festival Books & Debate programmer, picks a few, of the many, literary events she’s most looking forward to. 


Afua Hirsch and Colin Grant - Brit(ish)

In the wake of the Windrush scandal this event is incredibly timely. In Afua Hirsch's new book Brit(ish) she explores being black and British. She addresses the everyday racism that still plagues our society, and argues that we are a nation in denial about our past and our present:

"You’re British. Your parents are British. You were raised in Britain. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking you where you are from?"

Afua talks to the writer Colin Grant about identity and belonging, and makes an urgent call for change. 




Brett Anderson: Coal Black Mornings
Yes, this is Brett Anderson as in Suede, and it turns out that he is a proper writer: his autobiography, Coal Black Mornings, is so much more than a rock memoir. This is a genuine literary treat, a moving and evocative account of the childhood that shaped the music we know so well. Anderson grew up on a council estate in Haywards Heath, with an artistic mother and an eccentric father (a Liszt-obsessed taxi driver). Here's a review. He will be appearing at Brighton's Theatre Royal on 20th May, talking to the Guardian journalist Alexis Petridis.

Sally Rooney and Fiona Mozley: The Journey to Publication
I've been recommending Sally Rooney's sparkling debut novel Conversations With Friends for a while now. Here is your chance to hear Sally talk about her work, in conversation with Fiona Mozley, another hugely talented young novelist whose dark and dazzling debut, Elmet, was shortlisted for the Booker. I'm chairing this event, and I'll be asking them both about their experiences of making the transition from aspiring author to published writer. This is an event for writers and readers alike. Here is more info.


Tom Hodgkinson: Business for Bohemians
Tom Hodgkinson's book, Business for Bohemians, is a witty and inspiring guide to making the most of your working life. Drawing on his experience as editor of The Idler, the book is full of practical advice about how to turn your creative ambitions into a successful and sustainable business. Hodgkinson helped to convince me that it might be possible to live a fulfilling and imaginative life, and also bring home the bacon. He even made me see the point of - no, actually enjoy - learning to use spreadsheets. So, if you've ever dreamed of getting out of the rat race and working for yourself (and frankly, who hasn't?), this is the event for you. 


Nicola Barker and Nick Harkaway: Future Perfect
What will life in a total digital society look like? Novelists have often been the first to imagine the human consequences of technological progress (see: JG Ballard, Philip K Dick). Nicola Barker recently won the Goldsmiths Prize for her novel H(A)ppy, which imagines a society in which every innermost thought is subject to total surveillance. In his epic, multi-layered novel Gnomon, Nick Harkaway (son of John Le Carre) also explores the impact of big data and surveillance on human lives. There are some eery similarities between these two books. I'll be talking to the authors about how they imagine the future and asking them for a steer on my next lottery numbers. 

For more information on the many other amazing speakers including Viv AlbertineRobert Peston, Michael Rosensee our full Books and Debate programme.

Festival Hot Seat: Elephant and Castle

Husband and wife team, Tom Adams and Lillian Henley’s show Elephant and Castle is all about Tom's sleep talking and sleep walking. We caught up with Tom to find out more…

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Hello, our show is called Elephant and CastleIt is a Gig-Theatre show all about sleep walking and sleep talking told by a married couple, me (Tom) and Lillian. It uses live music, theatre, and 300 audio recordings of me sleep talking taken from three years to tell a personal and wider story about relationships, identity and how to cope when your partner is a parasomniac. 

Some of the audio recordings are funny. Some of them are dark and disturbing. All of them tell us something. Something that is desperate to be heard. And may be catastrophic for this relationship. It is called Elephant and Castle because the first thing I said to Lillian in my sleep was “I want to get in a wardrobe and take you to ‘Elephant and Castle”.

How and where will the work be staged?
Our show is staged like a live music gig, with piano, electric guitar and microphones
dotted around the stage. We want people to feel the intimacy of our bedroom so we
have a large inflatable bed with a dark red divan in the centre of the stage which we
manipulate, lie on top of, project animation onto. Lillian and I wear paisley pyjamas
and the feel of the show is intimate, funny and a little bit dirty. It has been described
as David Lynch meets Skegness B&B.

Why should someone come and see your show?
It is a personal story told by a real life married couple about subjects that affects us all: How do we sleep? Who are we when we go to sleep? Do we really know the person we share a bed with?

The show has a strong narrative but also a dreamlike flow to the style. The music is inspired by Americana with storytelling and humour and Lillian’s voice has been called
‘extraordinarily beautiful’ by The Stage and the humour of the songs as ‘Bill Baileyesque’.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
When Lillian and I first got together, she told me that I slept talked and slept walked a lot. I did not know this really. I knew I had a slight problem, but I didn’t know it was every night.

This made me download the cool app for the iPhone called Sleeptalk that switches on at night when any sounds are made. I realised that I was saying interesting things most nights such as “Ooooh you don’t want to see this guy, Jesus” and “Can I have a potato? Um, just one thanks”. I had been wanting to collaborate with Lillian for a long time and this felt like the perfect project to work together on. A true story about us.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think it is an important story because it is true. We have not doctored or exaggerated any of the stories about the sleep talking or sleep walking I do. It is a clear, intimate portrayal of a couple which invites the audience to view their own relationships in another light. The show’s message is ultimately about love and compassion for each other.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Someone who wants something different from a live performance.
Someone who enjoys watching alternative comedy
Someone who is interested in the science of sleep
Someone who would usually watch live music. They will come for the live music and really enjoy the storytelling.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
There is a moment of beautiful silliness 3/4 of the way through the show that will get people’s attention.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Woe are so proud to be programmed alongside such brilliant artists.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Tim KeyThe Castle Builder, The Cult of Water and Rear View

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Five of the Best…Feminist Festival events

To coincide with International Women’s Day - a global celebration of the economic, cultural, social and political achievements of women that takes place on 8 March each year - we shine a light on just a few of the many amazing female fronted events at this year’s Festival.

Les Amazones d’Afrique 
Les Amazones d'Afrique is a supergroup of 10 incredible West African female performers, both international stars and local musicians. Members include Mariam Doumbia, part of Amadou & Mariam, Nneka, Mariam Koné, Mouneissa Tandina, Rokia Koné, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Massan Coulibaly, and Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo. Using music as a weapon, the group fight against gender inequality. For example, money earned from their single ‘I play the Kora’ provided extra funding for the Panzi Foundation, a service that supports and treats survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As sung in ‘I play the Kora’, Les Amazones d'Afrique encourage their listeners to "rise up and fight injustice because we're all equal”.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Thu 24 May, 7.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

Bridget Christie
Bridget Christie is an English stand-up, actor and writer, often acclaimed for her feminist material. This May she is here with her latest show What Now?. Christie burst onto the Comedy scene with A Bic for her (named after the pen manufacturer who released a biro with a “slimmer barrel designed to fit more comfortably in women’s hands” and available in a range of “pretty pastel colours”) in 2013. Not only is Christie a proud human rights campaigner, but she also worked closely with Leyla Hussein - a psychotherapist and female genital mutilation survivor and campaigner. The pair made a short film for the 2017 Stand Up for FGM benefit in London. Since its production the film has been used to educate police officers, GPs and children.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Fri 18 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page

Viv Albertine
Viv Albertine is not only former lead guitarist of iconic riot grrrl female trio The Slits, but she’s also a celebrated writer. The Slits defied expectation, becoming a strong figurehead for young and empowered women at the time. Albertine's memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a brutally honest portrayal of growing up in the Thatcher years. It was a Sunday Times, Mojo, Rough Trade, and NME Book of the Year in 2014, as well as being shortlisted for the National Book Awards. 
Brighton and Hove High School, Tue 22 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.

Shami Chakrabarti
Shami Chakrabarti is a British Labour Party politician and member of the House of Lords. She is a barrister, and was the director of Liberty, an advocacy group which promotes civil liberties and human rights. Chakrabarti describes inequality as ‘the greatest human rights abuse on the planet’, and in her new book, On Women, she lays out the huge challenges women still face with honesty and clarity. Gender injustice, Shami Chakrabarti shows, is an ancient and continuing wrong that is millennial in duration and global in reach.
Brighton and Hove High School, Sat 26 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.


Ursula Martinez: Free Admission
Ursula Martinez is a London-based Anglo-Spanish British writer, performer, and cult cabaret diva noted for her use of nudity and non-actors. Martinez fuses theatrical concepts, personal experience and popular forms to create innovative, challenging, experimental theatre that is highly entertaining and reflective of our contemporary, post-modern world. She will be bringing Free Admission to Brighton Festival, a one-women play about absurdity of modern living.
The Old Market, Mon 14 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.

Interview: Jonathon Baker from The Arms of Sleep

In one of its most ambitious and magical productions to date, The Voice Project has created an epic 10-hour choral work to be performed overnight in the grounds of historic Firle Place. We talk to Jonathan Baker, co-director of The Voice Project with Sian Croose.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the amazing Arms of Sleep?
It's a 10-hour durational piece. The audience gets to experience an entire night in the company of singers, including a large choir, some soloists and instrumentalists. There will be lots of vignettes - individual film events and visual things - which happen through the night.

Where did the idea and inspiration for the show come from?
Well, we’ve had this idea over a long period of time really. I think The Arms of Sleep stemmed from the way in which sleep just seems very fascinating and mysterious. What we wanted to try and develop was an overnight piece that would allow the audience to go to bed, but at the same time, for them to experience extraordinary things.

We wanted to develop a piece about dreams which most people seem to be interested in to a certain extent. Most people are interested in the mystery of sleep, why we sleep– how we sleep– all those things. We hooked up with a real expert, who’s from Brighton actually – professor Annul Seth – at the University of Sussex. He’s the head of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness. We’ve been having quite a lot of conversations with him about various sleep cycles and how to in-train Alpha states and Betas states and things like that.

We’ve been concentrating on those elements. And there was one more element that became very important to us as we were developing the show. This was the idea of the ‘second sleep’: the segmented sleep pattern, which is what people used to do much more than they do now, and still do in lots of agrarian regions in the worlds.

They would wake up in the middle of the night and go around each other’s houses for food or beer or a chat – any kind of activity in the middle of the night. We thought that was quite fascinating. The history of that has largely been lost because it wasn’t a particularly urban act, it was quite a rural activity.

What was it that interested you about creating an overnight experience?
I think there’s something very beautiful about watching people sleep, I think that’s quite amazing. I think there is something very beautiful about watching people watching people sleep as well. So, the idea that the choir are amongst the audience in some ways or get to see the audience sleeping is really quite special, and very restful.

I think this goes back centuries and centuries when we used to sleep in large groups of people for safety. I think there’s something we’ve forgotten, I really think we have, we’ve become a lot more atomised and fragmented within our society.

Why did you decide to form a new community choir? What are the benefits of this approach?
Sian and I have been working together for a long, long time and I think we have a very particular approach. We want to work with un-auditioned choirs, we want to work with people who think they can sing, and people who think they possibly can’t. People with experience and people with no experience at all. That has always been very important to us.

What does it mean to you to be commissioned to be part of Brighton Festival?
It’s really exciting. Brighton Festival is amazing. It’s a cutting-edge festival in the world of Arts and culture worldwide. Its renowned. It’s extremely exciting to be a part of that, so we’re really pleased. Actually, it’s lovely to do a co-commission together with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. It’s so brilliant to see Artistic Organizations working together across the country, sharing things out and becoming more expansive, which I think is really important. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.
To find out more, watch our Spotlight film on the Arms of Sleep. 

Festival Hot Seat: Wot? No Fish!!

In our first Hot Seat Interview of 2018, Danny Braverman talks us through his one-man performance in Wot? No fish!!, an intimate look at lost art of his Great Uncle Ab.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Wot? No Fish!! is a remarkable story about discovering the art of my Great-Uncle, Ab Solomons. Ab drew a picture once a week for his wife Celie over 55-years of their marriage. The story is about lots of things, including love, art, history and catering.

How and where will the work be staged?
At the Brighthelm Centre, 8th and 9th May at 19:30pm

Why should someone come and see your show?
Audiences and critics across the world have loved the show; people laugh and cry and tell me it’s memorable and meaningful to them.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Initially, I wanted to share the hidden art work of a remarkable ‘outsider artist’.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The story resonates differently for different people; it may be “historical”, but it’s also fiercely contemporary. To some, the heart of the story is about the struggles of the children of immigrants; for others, the story of the institutionalisation of Ab and Celie’s disabled son Larry is the most affecting part; for others, perhaps most people, the show is about the power of love.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
This is a show that crosses divides. Bring with you someone you love; friend or family. It crosses generations. It’s a Jewish story and my fellow Jews will recognise a lot of the references. But it is also universal, most recently received very warmly in China!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
There are a lot of astonishing revelations. The ending is a surprise and a treat too.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
It’s great to see a festival so diverse and political - that balances exciting emerging artists with established names.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The range is amazing. I’m a massive Miles Davis fan, so the reinterpretation of Kind of Blue is exciting. I’m also hugely looking forward to StopGap Dance and Amanda Palmer.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Tenor and Bass singers sought for Brighton Festival’s unique choral project

Brighton Festival & The Voice Project seek extra male voices (16+) to perform as part of a unique new choral project, The Arms of Sleep.

Set to be one of the highlights of the Brighton Festival programme, The Arms of Sleep is an unforgettable overnight 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. 

Choir members will need to be available for up to three performances from Fri 11 May to Tue 15 May (approximately 7pm - 11pm, and returning at 6 - 8am the following morning). Brighton’s own Kirsty Martin – Choral Conductor for Brighton Festival 2018’s Depart and Musical Director for several Brighton choirs will be co-running some of the rehearsals.

Rehearsals have been underway for the last two months and are going really well. However, The Arms of Sleep Choir is still in need of male voices. If you're a Tenor or Bass and would like to be a part of our unique project, join us at one of our rehearsals below at The Basement;

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

Sat 3 March - 10.30am - 4.00pm
Tue 6 March - 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Wed 21 March- 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Sat 24 March – 10.30am - 4.00pm
Tue 10 April- 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Sat 14 April 10.30am - 4.00pm
Sun 15 April- 10.30am - 4.00pm
Wed 25 April - 7.30 - 9.45pm
Tues 1 May - 7.30pm - 9.45pm

Rehearsals on site from 8th May - exact dates and times TBC

Should you decide that you would like to partake in this very exciting project, a member's fee of £20 will be required. (Please speak to the Voice Project administrators for bursary solutions).

For more information please contact info@voiceproject.co.uk

LOOK AT THIS! David Shrigley Brighton Festival Tips

Under David Shrigley's directorship, we are going to have an amazing Brighton Festival 2018 - he’s pretty good at picking and making great shows and events. Obviously, we’ve loved a lot of his work, but here are some of his picks…

Brett Goodroad
Brett and I met in 2013 when we were both on an artist-in-residency programme in Headlands Centre for the Arts which is near San Francisco. We became good friends, and he’s just a really interesting visual artist: an amazing painter, print-maker and he also make great drawings. Brett has never exhibited his work in UK: I thought it would be a great opportunity to have his work shown here.

Brett is also a truck driver because lower-income artists don’t seem to be well supported in the United States. Most people there who are visual artists have another job as well. Oddly Brett is a truck driver which is not an easy thing to do. He drives organic vegetables from northern California to southern Texas once a week. It’s an interesting job for a visual artist to do and he’s an unusual truck driver.

Shrigley Talk & Big Book Group
I’m doing a talk about my work, which is something I do periodically. I show images of my work, and I waffle on about it and try not to make it boring! Big Book Group is an event which Craig Melvin is hosting. Craig has hosted it quite several times, and this year Matt Haig – who’s Brighton based - and Jess Kid are speaking. I think that it will be a really interesting event because they’re both really fantastic writers… and then there’s me who isn’t really.

Deerhoof 
Deerhoof are a rock band from San Francisco who I made a record cover for about ten years ago. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. They’re a fantastic band, and a band whose music is not just great on record, but also really makes sense live. So, as the Guest Director, I, they were near the top of my list for bands I wanted to bring. Whenever anyone sees them play a live show, they’re always blown away by them. They’re also going to be doing a collaboration with Stargaze which is going to be well worth seeing.

Life Drawing II
Life Model II is the second incarnation of the life model piece that I made for the Turner prize show. The first one was a male, whilst this one is a female figure. Everybody who visits the exhibition is invited to make a drawing of the life model, and all the drawings will form part of the exhibition. 

Those drawings will form the two-dimensional aspect to the exhibition. It’s a piece about drawing, it’s a piece about everybody being included, about participating and making an exhibition yourself. I suppose that the arts – visual art particularly – is often seen as elitist and inaccessible. I suppose that’s what the piece is about; that art is for everybody, and that making art is for everybody too. It’s an artwork that begets other artworks and invites you to think about who’s the artist and who’s the subject.


Iain Shaw
Iain Shaw is also a friend of mine, from Glasgow. He’s a singer-songwriter in the tradition of Elliott Smith or Jackson C Frank. I wrote a lot of silly lyrics and he made them into some really wonderful songs, quite wistful, pop, folky type songs that he’s done largely with acoustic guitar. It’s a great collaboration.

A Shit Odyssey
A Shit Odyssey is a fly on the wall documentary about the making of Pass the Spoon, an opera I made in Glasgow in 2011. A Shit Odyssey was made by Cara Connolly and Martin Clark who are friends of mine. They are documentary film makers from the fine art world in Glasgow. It’s a project that’s taken around seven years to finally be shown! I think that will be a voyage of discovery to see a slightly younger version of myself, making a fool of myself. It is really a very interesting documentary because it’s a really, really strange project. So that will be fantastic.


Ezra Furman
Ezra Furman is, I think, one of the best writers of pop songs around today. He’s somebody I haven’t seen play, but I’ve got all his records. I’ve always managed to be out of town when he’s visited before, so this is just a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.

Bridget Christie
Bridget Christie is a brilliant comedian from London. Again, she’s a person whose proper show I’ve always managed to miss. I’ve seen her in a small vignette of her acts that she did at an event, but I wanted to see the full show. Fortunately, she said yes to performing at the Festival – so I’m really looking forward to that!


Malcom Middleton
Malcom Middleton is well known as a solo artist; however, he is also part of the influential indie rock band Arab Strap. Malcom and I made a spoken word record together a couple years ago and I’ve also made some artwork for album covers for him. I’m a big fan of his music. I think he’s one of the best singer-songwriters in the country at the moment, or at least of his generation.

The Problem in Brighton
The main project that I’m bringing to the festival is called Problem in Brighton and it’s a new musical theatre piece. It’s a bizarre rock and roll opera in collaboration with Lee Baker, a visual artist and a talented musician. I’m not really a writer as such, but I thought it was an opportunity to make something in Brighton, sort of my first project that’s made here – the first big project – outside my studio. It’s an opportunity to get to work with people, with a venue and it’s part funded by the festival which is really great! Lee’s writing the music and then some other people I’ve met will be playing the music on instruments I’ve created. 

Become a Brighton Festival Volunteer!

Join us at our volunteer drop-in evening on Thu 8 Mar, 5pm - 7pm 

Be part of the action and volunteer with Brighton Festival 2018.

If you are passionate about the arts, Brighton Festival 2018 would love to hear from you!

Members of staff from various Brighton Festival departments will hold a special drop-in session for anyone interested in volunteering at the Festival on Thursday 8th March from 5pm - 7pm at the Brighton Dome Café-bar.

Brighton Festival’s successful volunteer scheme has been running for several years. From greeting the public and directing customers to outdoor promotions and educational work, the scheme aims to be as varied and accessible as the Festival itself, offering a well-rounded insight into how a festival works.

As a volunteer, individuals will have the opportunity to assist in delivering a whole range of exciting events throughout the May Festival and beyond; both across Brighton Dome venues and at other festival sites around the city, working with multiple Brighton Festival departments including Marketing, Artistic Planning, Press, Production and Visitor Services.

There will be opportunities for volunteers to work weekdays and weekends, daytimes and evenings from April. Don’t worry if the hours you have free are scattered, we’d still love to hear from you! For more information about these volunteering opportunities click here

Brighton Festival launches programme with David Shrigley as Guest Director

The full programme for Brighton Festival 2018, the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England, was unveiled today with the Turner Prize-nominated visual artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley (b.1968) as Guest Director.

Best known for his darkly humorous works that comment on the inconsequential, bizarre, and disquieting elements of daily life, the artist’s offbeat take is reflected in an eclectic programme spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate, from Brighton Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by David Shrigley himself to a live durational reading of Camus’ seminal The Myth of Sisyphus, and performances from genderqueer rock‘n’roll hero Ezra Furman and cult-favourite Amanda Palmer.

Alongside Life Model II, a follow-up to the artist’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name which invites visitors to take part in a life drawing class with a sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman as the ‘model’, an illustrated talk billed as ‘containing numerous rambling anecdotes… not in the slightest bit boring’, and a screening of a documentary about his work titled A Shit Odyssey, David Shrigley’s trademark wit is also evident in his brochure cover design, featuring a hammer and a bent nail and bearing the tagline ‘Strive for Excellence’. Other events close to the artist’s heart include an exclusive collaboration between orchestral collective Stargaze and one of his favourite bands, Deerhoof; an exhibition by San-Francisco-based artist and trucker Brett Goodroad; and a double bill from his friend Malcolm Middleton, one half of Arab Strap, and Scottish musician Iain Shaw, whose quirky folk song-smithery has turned Shrigley’s poems into incisive songs on albums like Awesome and Listening to Slayer.

As ever Brighton Festival 2018 features a host of commissions and co-commissions from a wide range of national and internal artists including: 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; 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; The Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience from The Voice Project in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like night of music stories, sound and images; Cuckmere: A Portrait, a filmic homage to the changing moods of the Cuckmere river accompanied by a live score; and Creation (Pictures for Dorian), a new piece inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray from acclaimed British/German arts collective Gob Squad.

Elsewhere, circus and dance make a significant appearance in the programme via an extended visit from internationally-renowned NoFit State circus who present their dazzling new production Lexicon; a collaboration from Australia’s dance luminaries Dancenorth, Lucy Guerin Inc and Gideon Obarzanek and Indonesian music duo Senyawa, Attractor; Brighton Festival commission KAYA from the Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc’s all-female company which fuses traditional Turkish folk dance with contemporary style; an award-winning debut by one of the most exciting new companies on the contemporary circus scene, Fauna; and a collaboration between Netherlands-based theatre-maker Boukje Schweigman, visual artist Cocky Eek and performer Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti in Blaas (Blow), a weird but wonderful ballet of abstract configurations.

From A Change is Gonna Come, a collaboration between three of the most gifted soul, jazz and rap artists, Carleen Anderson, Nikki Yeoh and Speech Debelle, exploring the power of the protest song to Les Amazones d'Afrique, West Africa’s first all-female super group, formed in the fight against violence towards women, and Brownton Abbey - a new Afrofuturist collective headlined by New Orleans ‘Queen of Bounce’ Big Freedia, best known for her appearance on Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ track and collaborations with Diplo and RuPaul. The contemporary music and spoken word programme is particularly wide-ranging, including a  Brighton Festival Commission with Travis Alabanza: Before I Step Outside (You Love Me), an evening of Black trans poetics with one of the UK’s leading trans voices; and performances from This is the Kit and Jungle also feature.

Alongside the return of caravan, a three-day biennial curated industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which is open to the public for the first time this year, theatre highlights include National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam, the remarkable, true story of a young trans man and his journey to reconciliation, directed by award-winning theatre director Cora Bissett; and Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Emma Rice’s acclaimed ode to Marc and Bella Chagall.

Other highlights include appearances from Lemn Sissay, Michael Rosen, Rose Tremain, Iain Sinclair, Bridget Christie, Brett Anderson, Viv Albertine, Tim Key and Shami Chakrabarti; an exhibition from controversial artist duo Gilbert & George, and a touring mobile installation from multi-award winning contemporary designer Morag Myerscough; two special classical concerts to mark the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival Choir, Britten’s War Requiem and Belshazzar’s Feast, and performances from Vox Luminis and Cédric Tiberghien.

As ever Brighton Festival will kick off with the Children’s Parade - the largest event of its kind in Europe - produced by Same Sky. Other family events include Snigel and Friends from leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch’s company; the world premiere of I Wish I Was a Mountain, a re-imagined version of Herman Hesse’s classic fairytale - from writer, performer and former Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion Toby Thompson; and the UK premiere of Apples, a wordless and charming feast for the senses.

Brighton Festival 2018 also continues 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. Your Place joins regular free, participatory events such as City Reads and Young City Reads; and Weekend Without Walls, two days of free arts in the parks.

David Shrigley says: “As a resident of Brighton and Hove the Festival is always a delight. Those who have visited the Festival before will know that having such an incredible array of events occur in our city every year is a great privilege. I’m very excited about this year’s lineup. Not only for the things that I have selected but also for the things I have only read about; one of the best things about the Festival for me is that it can be a voyage of discovery.”

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 speak to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he is also a great advocate for the arts helping our 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.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Brighton Festival is one of the year’s cultural highlights, not just in Brighton itself – but nationally. It presents a programme of work that is accessible, imaginative, exciting and inspiring, engaging audiences from across the city and beyond; a programme that we are pleased to support. David Shrigley has a wonderfully dark and offbeat take on life and I really look forward to seeing his influence on this year’s Festival. Art and culture make a huge contribution to Brighton’s success and its reputation for excellence. With its international reach and fantastic programme, which spans a wide range of art-forms, Brighton Festival is a significant part of what makes Brighton such a great place to live, work and visit.”

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

In a co-commission with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Holland Festival, the Brighton Festival presents The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety.

In this exciting production, the tempestuous relationship between sex, anxiety and music is explored and examined by one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito.

Music and drama collide as the award-winning string powerhouse The Heath Quartet perform alongside an equally stunning quartet of actors to deliver an unmissable montage of melody and madness. These eight artists will take you on a journey through time to explore how our innermost thoughts battle with our artistic impulses.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Cuckmere: A Portrait

Discover more about Cuckmere: A Portrait, a Brighton Festival Co-commission.

For centuries the Cuckmere River has inspired artists, sheltered smugglers and preserved a host of rare habitats and wildlife as it charts a course through some of the most evocative landscapes in southern England.

In a work of beauty and eloquence, the filmmaker Cesca Eaton and the composer/conductor Ed Hughes trace the changing moods of the Cuckmere river, from its source in the Sussex Downs to its dramatic twists and turns as it meanders to the sea at Cuckmere Haven. The score, specially composed by Ed Hughes, is played live by The Orchestra of Sound and Light in this world premiere.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: The Arms of Sleep

Discover more about The Arms of Sleep, a Brighton Festival Co-commission with Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

In one of its most ambitious and magical productions to date, The Voice Project takes us on an epic 10-hour immersive overnight experience of choral music, film and animation set in the beautiful grounds of historic stately home Firle Place.

Through dusk and darkness to dawn, drift and dream with The Voice Project Brighton Choir as you travel into the space of sleep.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video produced by echovideo.co.uk
Stills by JMA Photography

Spotlight: Gob Squad: Creation (Pictures for Dorian)

Creation is the realm of gods and artists, who create beauty through sheer will and their own bare hands. But who decides what is beautiful?

British/German arts collective Gob Squad have performed all over the world for 25 years. Now middle-aged, they have no desire to exit the stage just yet. UK Premiere and Brighton Festival co-commission, Creation (Pictures for Dorian), is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray, who remains eternally youthful at a terrible cost to his soul. 

There’s probably a little bit of Dorian in all of us. Joined onstage by older and younger local performers, Gob Squad peeps behind the vanity mirror to question beauty, morality and power - and ask why we so crave the eye of the beholder.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Hofesh Shechter Company: Grand Finale

Discover more about Hofesh Shechter Company’s Grand Finale, a Brighton Festival Co-commission.

‘One of the British dance scene’s hottest properties’ (New York Times), Brighton Festival Associate Artist and former Guest Director Hofesh Shechter is back with his exhilarating new work.

Grand Finale is at once comic, bleak and beautiful, reflecting the uncertainty and confusion of the troubled times we are living in. Characteristically visceral, Shechter creates a vision of a world in free fall, full of anarchic energy and violent comedy.

With an exceptional international ensemble of ten dancers and six live musicians, Grand Finale is part gig, part dance, part theatre, and wholly original.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns to the Brighton Festival with another exciting programme of free theatre, art, dance, music, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to create a vibrant weekend of arts and activities for their local communities.

Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place for a second year following its wonderful success in 2017. Expect new and exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.

Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns for a second year with another exciting programme of free theatre, dance, music, art, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to conjure up a weekend of adventure for the people of their local areas.

Now, Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place following its wonderful success in 2017.This year will feature lots more exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.

Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Title revealed for City Reads 2018

Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country chosen for city-wide 'big read' as part of Brighton Festival

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country has been chosen as this year’s City Read 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.

Sacred Country tells the story of Mary Ward who one day stands shivering in an England field in February 1952 and realises she is meant to be a boy. She is six years old. From its opening pages Sacred Country vows to take the reader on a compelling literary journey through Mary's fight to become Martin. Spanning three decades, from the oppressive English countryside of the 1950s, to London in the Swinging Sixties, to 1970’s America, Sacred Country follows Mary in her plight to find a place of safety and fulfilment in a savage and confusing world.

Fox Fisher, trans artist and activist said: ‘As a trans person myself, I never saw trans characters in books (or in ‘real life’, for that matter) growing up. Although Sacred Country is written by an author that isn’t trans, I was utterly gripped with the storyline and characters. The audiobook is read by a trans man which adds to the authenticity and is an example of the level of care and consideration when creating this book. As a film-maker, I could really visualise how well this would translate to a feature length fiction. And when the time comes, I hope the person to make the film is me!’

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, City Reads commented: 'Sacred Country tells the compelling story of Mary, born in the wrong body and their arduous journey to become Martin. Despite being written in 1992, Sacred Country is a novel that deserves to be re-discovered as it is still a hugely relevant work. Mary’s story is told with skill, compassion and empathy. Rose Tremain is one of the UK’s most respected writers and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Brighton & Hove in May to discuss this groundbreaking novel with readers across the City.’

Rose Tremain was one of only five women writers to be included in Granta’s original list of 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 1983, and was made a CBE in 2007. Her award-winning novels and short stories have been published worldwide in 27 countries. Sacred Country won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Prix Femina Etranger. It has oft been compared to Virginia Woolf's iconic novel Orlando through its reconsideration of the essence of gender. 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘We are delighted that City Reads is part of Brighton Festival again this year - building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. To have a writer of the calibre of Rose Tremain as our selected author is particularly exciting and we look forward to people reading and enjoying the book together over the coming months.’

Victoria Murray-Browne, Senior Editor, Vintage said: ‘We’re thrilled that Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country has been picked for this year’s City Reads. Set in rural Suffolk in the 1950s, it tells the story of Mary who, aged six, has a sudden revelation: I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I'm a boy. It’s a story about the search for identity and finding fulfilment in an unforgiving world that resonates as strongly today as when it was first published 25 years ago’

From its launch on World Book Night (23 April) to the final event at Brighton Festival on 13 May, there are a wide range of activities on offer as part of City Reads, aimed at encouraging residents across the City (and beyond) to get reading and start talking. Highlights include: the return of the Booky Photo Booth at Jubilee Library (23 April - 5 May), the ever popular City Reads Book Quiz on Weds 25 April in Lewes and Brighton on Weds 2 May, crime writer William Shaw’s Impromptu Book Group podcast on Thurs 26 April, themed film screenings at Jubilee Library and Depot (Lewes) and of course Rose Tremain, live at Brighton Festival for the City Reads finale on Sunday 13 May 2018.

For more information visit the City Reads website. To find out more about this year’s Young City Reads ‘big read’ (Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal), visit our News page.

Meet David Shrigley, our 2018 Guest Director

We're delighted to welcome visual artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley as the Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2018.

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 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, is the current incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.

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.”

British Council Arts created a great 'About the Artist' video, which sees David discussing his working practices and briefly discussing his career as you can watch below. 

Brighton Festival 2018: 5 – 27 May
Full programme announced: Thu 15 Feb
Members’ priority booking opens: Fri 16 Feb
Public booking opens: Fri 23 Feb