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

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In conversation with: Director of Superhoe Jade Lewis

University of Sussex student Lola Awoderu, speaks to Director of Superhoe, Jade Lewis. Superhoe is the first collaboration between Talawa Theatre Company and the Royal Court Theatre and was first presented as part of Talawa Firsts in June 2018. Superhoe is Nicôle Lecky’s writing and performing debut and is directed by Jade Lewis . We spoke to Jade Lewis about her time at the University of Sussex and her involvement in Superhoe.


You studied History here at University of Sussex, how did your experience affect your journey to becoming a Director?

I was Vice President of ACAS, I wanted to bring ACAS arts to the university. Every Tuesday evening we’d all come together to make short plays; we did a showing in Falmer bar and that later transpired to Culture Fest. We used our platform to showcase all our talent ranging from theatre to dance.  Being a part of ACAS arts was a nice way to feel comfortable at university – I was bonding and making friends through it, which can be difficult at times at university. In terms of history, I loved stories and learning about the world so then in my third year I studied South African history, and my dissertation was based on how theatre was used as a protest movement. I was able to read plays and question how theatre was used as a medium as opposed to the government. Sussex had the space and the resources in order for me to explore those realms.

What made you want to get involved in Superhoe? Did you already know Nicôle Lecky beforehand?

Nicôle and I met working on the project; she wrote the play with support of Talawa theatre company. They do a festival every year called Talawa Firsts and featured Superhoe as part of this festival. We were introduced through a mutual friend, had a meeting and then jumped into a 3-day RND on this play, and off the back of that showing it then got picked up by the Royal Court. We worked really well together, at a really a good pace. The Royal Court and Talawa did a co-production which lead to Superhoe. It was very much a professional relationship but through that we've become very good friends and collaborators.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when directing?

A real challenge we faced was what the design was: it’s a one person show and it’s very dense and text heavy. We had to question how we can make this text breathe, and present to the audience. Sasha goes from location to location, we had to visually show what the text does not do, which led to us using the AV. We wanted the audience to feel empowered after this story, all we ever strive for as humans is to be loved and be accepted and she goes on this journey of constantly not being ‘good enough.’ Social media shows how we live our lives but ‘no one is really living it up like their profile,’ and again how can we then show that without it being on the low and very literal. Through constant negotiation and trial and error we, got there in the end.

What advice would you give to any other black and minority creatives who are trying to navigate their way through the industry?

I’d say self-belief, believe that you can, believe that you will, because the industry will sometimes tell you that you won’t or can’t. Surround yourself with positive people that are like minded, and when working with people like Nicôle we were on the same wavelength. I feel like we’re in a time and age where that is happening much more – now we want each other to win, because ‘if you win, I win.’ It’s a new growing mentally. Keep working at your craft and keep asking questions, don’t feel like you have to conform with what’s already there. Be willing to evolve and be opened minded to what comes your way.

What is next? Do you have any visions for what you want to work on in the future?

I’m working on a project with Central School of Speech of Drama students, making a play for under-fives. I’m a true believer of keeping theatre alive and how can we keep theatre alive if we only make shows for adults? As a creative you can do anything – I’m having loads of meetings and I’m very mindful about what I do next. Superhoe has opened up a lot of doors for me, especially in terms of networking and establishing long term relationships. I’m kind of in the lab of the moment, but I know it's important to rest… if you don't rest, you’re not going to be at your best.

Thank you for being part of the story!

This year’s Brighton Festival was all about celebrating stories – exploring their ability to intrigue us, challenge assumptions and bond people together.

Whether you came to one show, or took part in events throughout the Festival, we’re so glad you could join us for another incredible year of talent, expression and artistic invention.

We’re so thankful to everyone who helped make this year so memorable, especially all our audiences, artists, participants, volunteers, sponsors, members, patrons and staff. A special thank you also to our 2019 Guest Director Rokia Traoré, who brought immeasurable time and talent curating this year's Brighton Festival edition.

We look forward to seeing you again next year! Save the dates: 2 - 24 May 2020

Video by Summer Dean, Savanna Gladstone and Jen O'Brien

Volunteer Spotlight: Volunteer Greeter, Katy

During Volunteers’ Week we continue our Volunteer Spotlight series with an interview with Brighton  Festival volunteer Katy, who talks about the shows she’s enjoyed most, Billy Bragg’s very particular request and why she returned to volunteer for a second year.

What’s your role?
I’m a Festival Greeter which involves a bit of setting up, welcoming people when they arrive at a venue, helping to seat them and answering any questions during the show. I make sure everyone has a great time basically! I love working with people – the audiences, the paid staff, producers and performers sometimes. It’s very different from my day job in an academic library!

Two years ago I volunteered as a Literature Assistant and I wanted to volunteer again.

What did that involve?
Getting to the sessions early, meeting some of the authors at the station to get them to the hotel or the venue – particularly if they were late. One speaker arrived 15 minutes before the show so it was a bit of a mad dash from the train station to the venue! Jenny Murray was great. I didn’t get to watch her talk because I was looking after her dogs - she had three chihuahuas who are tiny and amazing! I also met Billy Bragg. He asked me for a pencil with an eraser because he wanted to rub out something he was presumably composing or writing at the time!

So what shows are you volunteering at this year?
I volunteered at Sam Sweeney's event at All Saints Church in Hove, which is a beautiful venue. I love it that you get to see lots of different places – churches, the Theatre Royal, Brighton Dome. I’m volunteering at events at the i360 and at Black Rock this weekend. There are such a variety of places you could find be!

Flight at the King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove was really different. I had to wear a radio which was quite exciting! You watch it solo sitting in your own little booth with headphones. It was about child refugees travelling from Afghanistan across Europe to London so it was quite harrowing in places. The audience goes in one by one and it starts minute, after minute telling the story to each person as they watch little 3D models going around in a barrel drum. It’s so clever and really immersive and intense. I got to see that because someone didn’t turn up. That’s always a nice perk of volunteering.

Do volunteers often get to watch the shows they work at?
It depends on the show and the role you’re doing. You might be in the auditorium during the show – or you might not be – but the staff will try to get you to see it if they can. You’re volunteering your time so they want you to have a good experience.

What’s been your highlight this year?
I worked at The Nature of Why, by the British Paraorchestra. It was on at Brighton Dome with a small audience of about 150 who were up on stage with the performers.

You were on stage?!
Yes. It was just electric. There were dancers who moved, with some of the musicians, among the audience. Everyone had such a brilliant experience. It’s lovely to hear the feedback at the end – if people experience a show that thrilled them, that took them away somewhere, that mesmerised them - they really want to share that with you.

Has it been easy to fit volunteering around your life?
Yes. I’ve got two kids and work full time and it’s been easy because you can pick your availability – they're really accommodating and understand if you can’t make it. The Festival staff have generally been so welcoming and friendly and made it such a positive experience. 

To find out more about volunteering year-round for Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival email volunteers@brightonfestival.org

Round-up: Audience Reactions

Wow – what a month we have had! We’ve enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2019, and we hope you had a blast too. Here's a quick look back at what audiences had to say...

Flight

Flight was deeply moving, breathtakingly beautiful and utterly necessary work of storytelling. Everyone should see it to understand the real-life experience of young people fleeing war and oppression and seeking shelter in Europe. Good art should leave you questioning the world – Flight made me want to take immediate action”


A Child of Our Time

“An outstanding performance, full of intense emotion, context and meaning”


Rokia Traoré: Dream Mandé: Djata

"Captivating. Magical. She had the whole theatre spellbound and listening with complete focus. Beautiful. Thank you, Rokia."


Still I Rise

"Another refreshingly free from boring stereotypical gender roles. Hooray! A diverse and talented group of female performance who were skilful, graceful and powerful. I loved this show."


True Copy

"Utterly absorbing, a calm and gentle story which gradually unwinds revealing more and more layers. The brilliant BERLIN create another very human, real world gem."


The Nature of Why

"It was mesmerising and aurally and visually beautiful. I felt so close to the performance and the performers. It felt intimate and personal.”


Silence

“A stunning and powerful portrayal of war, invasion and terror. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen on this subject”


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Fabulous performance! Brilliant cast, beautiful voices and some truly hilarious moments. Laughed till I cried”


Backbone

“Absolutely amazing! Beautiful, poignant, funny and totally breathtaking! A dramatic showcase of human physicality, which was a joy to watch! The performers really looked like they were living their best lives!”


My Left Right Foot: The Musical

“Genuinely blown away by how good this show was. Hilarious performances from everyone, and so well written with some really thought-provoking ideas on inclusion”


To relive your Brighton Festival experience, look back at our videos here

Volunteer Spotlight: Volunteer Coordinator, Dee

More than 100 volunteers work at Brighton Festival each year. A volunteer herself, Dee helped to co-ordinate it all. She talked to us about what it’s like to work behind the scenes and how she fit her role around her studies.


What does your role involve?
This year I am working with the Volunteer Coordination Manager as a Volunteer Coordinator Volunteer (a bit of a mouthful!). I am in the office one-two days a week, helping with… anything I can help with really! From filing paperwork and updating our volunteer database to answering queries and getting in touch with the Festival volunteers.

Why did you want to volunteer?
I love my city, and I love the arts. I have worked in the sector for a number of years now. This year I happened to have a little more spare time on my hands and thought it would be a missed opportunity not to apply. Besides, this year I have made a promise to try as many new things as possible, and volunteering for the Brighton Festival was on my list!

How have you found the experience of volunteering for Brighton Festival?
It’s fun! The team is just amazing - such lovely people, all of them. It is a pleasure to work with them and see behind-the-scenes of the Festival from their perspective.

As a student has it been easy to fit around your studies?
I am in the final stages of my second MA (Art History and Museum Curating at the University of Sussex). While things are getting a little intense now and the dissertation is looming, I found it rewarding to dedicate what is really just a small part of my week to working with the Festival team, learning new things and widening my experience.

What has been the most satisfying part of your role?
If at the end of my day in the office, I have made Catherine's (our Volunteer Coordination Manager) work even a tiny bit easier, I am happy.

What's been the highlight of your volunteering?
The best part is the Festival itself. This year it has been an absolute blast - so many great shows, we are really spoilt for choice. And of course the Volunteer Welcome Event, which we organised for the volunteers before the Festival had started, was a treat! It was such fun meeting everyone and the annual Brighton Dome quiz at the end of the night was a total success!

To find out more about volunteering year-round for Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival email volunteers@brightonfestival.org

University of Sussex students help create treasure hunt inspired by local history for Our Place at Brighton Festival

A treasure hunt will take place through the streets of Hangleton this weekend, after students and staff from the University of Sussex successfully collaborated with a local storyteller for Our Place a part of Brighton Festival.

Final year undergraduates from the department of History were offered the chance to apply their learning by researching and presenting material on Hangleton’s history, which Brighton based storyteller Jon Mason would then weave into a themed event.

Overseen by course leaders Professor Lucy Robinson and Dr Chris Warne, students threw themselves into the challenge, devising puzzles and story elements and using digital technology to present their ideas producing content which will be viewable to participants through their phones.

The work has resulted in a ‘Time Travel Treasure Hunt’; an interactive adventure for families at Our Place in Hangleton on Saturday 25 May which will share stories about heroes, villains and folktales from the area's past. 

Laura Barrow, an undergraduate student in History with a year abroad, said: “The Hangleton project was a great way to round off the year and continue to explore my interests in digital history and interactive media.

“I really enjoyed working with my group and learning about the area. Devils Dyke railway and Hangleton has some rich history which I wouldn't known about if we hadn't done this project.

“The tutors and our professional storyteller did a fabulous job guiding us through this process.”

The event takes participants on a search for fragments of the ‘Chronoscope’, a lost time machine credited to real-life local inventor Magnus Volk. Malevolent forces are trying to control the City's past, present and future by finding the time machine first, but a Time Agent has enlisted the treasure hunters to beat them to it!

At each step, the narrative is joined by spies, ghosts, thrill seekers and other figures from the local past, making it not just a tour of the physical space, but a journey through local history.

Participants will also be challenged to think about Brighton & Hove's contested identity over time, considering whether Brighton is a rural village or a wealthy resort, a Bohemian metropolis or a conservative suburb. Even if the hunters find all the pieces of the Chronoscope, they must decide how they want the City to be.

Storyteller Jon Mason said: "Events like this are why I became a storyteller in the first place, I want to engage everyone with the drama, magic and depth of history in the landscape around them.

“It's easy to write off somewhere you're familiar with as boring, and that affects how we feel about ourselves. But everywhere has its own story, and the people who came before us leave marks which can define our life."

The Time Travel Treasure Hunt is part of the Brighton Festival’s Our Place programme, a day of free events at Hangleton Community Centre on 25 May. A parallel day of events was also held at Whitehawk on Sat 18 May. The idea of Our Place is to bring family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games, activities and workshops into smaller communities, and involve local residents in planning and staging the events.

Megan Sweeney, student in Anthropology and History, said: “I enjoyed exploring what history can be and do in the real world outside of University, through both traditional storytelling and the digital medium.

“I feel more involved in the community outside the centre of Brighton now; an area I would probably never have been to if I hadn't been a part of this project.

“It feels good knowing that our research helps extend the Festival so that it feels more inclusive to smaller community areas like Hangleton.”

Lucy Robinson, Professor of Collaborative History, said: "We are committed to genuinely collaborative relationships with the wider community and feel it is important for students to reflect on their place in Brighton and Hove as a community beyond the university campus towards the end of their time studying here.

“Rather than coming up with projects in the isolation of the University and then 'exchanging' them with communities, we see ourselves as part of the community, engaged in the co-production of questions about history and responses to them.

“There is a particular resonance with Our Place as it was put in place during poet and musician Kate Tempest's curatorship of the festival; a very real example of how the arts and popular culture can drive social change. Our Place breaks down the artificial lines between 'high art' and popular culture, this seems a close match with Sussex's history's focus on bottom up, everyday and resistant histories that take popular culture seriously as a driver for historical change.”

Professor Lucy Robinson and Dr Chris Warne will now analyse the relationship between the academic research undertaken, Jon's narrative, and the participants' experiences after the event.

The Treasure Hunt runs at 11.00am and 1.30pm (duration 60-90mins) on Sat 25  May 2019 at Our Place, at Hangleton Community Centre.

Check out the full programme

Thank you University of Sussex for supporting this event 

Words: Stephanie Allen

What's On In Worthing

Make the most of the Festival's final week by widening your horizons and getting over to Worthing, where for the first time ever, a range of fun, family-friendly events are springing up across Brighton's neighbouring town. To help you pick and choose what to do and see, we’ve spoken with Stephen Sheldrake, senior campaign officer for Worthing Theatre, Museum & Art Gallery, for an insider scoop on a few hidden gems dotted about the town you might have missed. Along with the stunning line-up of Festival events taking place in Worthing throughout May, you’re sure to find something to keep you and your family and friends entertained!

Spymonkey’s Cooped (Part of Brighton Festival)

As part of the 2019 Brighton Festival, catch the hilarious and ‘deliciously demented’ theatrical stylings of Spymonkey, in the show that launched them into stardom - Cooped. Think Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther, this show is packed with laughs, slapstick, top-class acting, and a wild, raucous experience you won’t find anywhere else!


Cooped will be showing at Pavillion Theatre Worthing from Wed 22 to Sun 26 May. Visit the Festival’s Spymonkey event page to book your tickets today!

Worthing Pier

“…the town has also just won pier of the year…” Stephen Sheldrake, Worthing Theatre, Museum & Art Gallery.

Described as ‘the heart of Worthing’, this picturesque structure was built in the 1800’s, and has survived through war, fire, partial demolition, and storms with minimal damage. The people of Worthing have always sought to keep the monument standing, and for good reason. Today, the pier is a popular wedding venue and café/bar, as well as keeping an amusement arcade in the centre for young beachgoers.

See the Worthing Pier website for photos, historical information, and details about your visit.

Art-ful Pottery Café

If you are looking for an easy, inexpensive way to spend some creative time with your little ones, or with your friends or partner, there is no better place than the Art-ful Pottery Café. As well as running some family-friendly workshops, such as their Toddler Mornings on Wednesdays and Fridays (with an extra room for sensory play!), the women at Art-ful also run Artful-Evenings, specifically catered to adults who want to get something personal out of the experience. Bottles of wine are encouraged if you want to bring one along!

Art-ful Pottery Café is open Tuesday to Sunday, check their website for further information. £5-7 booking price per person, which includes tea and a slice of cake!

Still I Rise (Part of Brighton Festival)

In celebration of the life of Maya Angelou, phenomenal poet, author, and activist, who died peacefully in 2014, this emotive and gripping piece of dance theatre is not to be missed. TRIBE// are a new, powerful force to be reckoned with, and this performance is their means of proving it. Commemorating and honouring a truly remarkable woman, Still I Rise allows spectators to draw their own interpretations from the dance and implores them to reach personal conclusions within themselves.


Still I Rise is a performance put on by Brighton Festival, taking place in Connaught Theatre Worthing on Thu 23 May. Look on the festival’s Still I Rise event page to find out more.

Worthing Museum & Art Gallery

“…we also run a free Museum & Art Gallery that boasts the third largest costume collection in the UK.” Stephen Sheldrake, Worthing Theatre, Museum & Art Gallery.

For an inexpensive and unforgettable experience, we highly recommend a visit to the totally free Worthing Museum & Art Gallery. Boasting the third biggest costume collection in the UK, as well as a constant stream of imaginative and thought-provoking exhibitions each month, there is bound to be something for all everyone to enjoy.

The Worthing Museum & Art Gallery offers full disabled-access to all of its display rooms, as well as the shop. For more information, visit the website.


We are proud to incorporate Brighton's sister town of Worthing for this year’s Brighton Festival, and hope to bring the joy of the Festival right to the door of anyone who wants to get involved. 

Five Minutes with Founder & CEO of Selective Asia Nick Pulley

Selective Asia is an award-winning tour operator, offering thoughtfully crafted holidays in Asia. They’ve been travelling to Asia for decades and have shared their passion by taking clients there for the past 13 years. Based in the heart of the North Laine in Brighton, they admit that this remarkable city makes returning home from these journeys just a little bit easier and they’re thrilled to be sponsoring the Brighton Festival for the first time.


Firstly, describe the festival in three words:

Dynamic, innovative and vibrant.Constant fun…can I have fourth and a fifth?

What are you looking forward to, and what has been your stand-out performance so far in this year’s festival?

I’m looking forward to seeing Seeta Patel’s Not Today’s Yesterday, as well as the amazing Taiwanese Varhung: Heart to Heart, which we’re sponsoring. I really enjoyed Backbone. The performance was absolutely breathtaking from start to finish!

What impact do you think the festival has for the people here and for you?

I love the vibrancy that the festival brings to our city. We are well and truly spoilt during May with the sheer variety of incredible performances that we get to witness, not to mention the free shows and exhibitions which really bring the arts to the whole community.

In your first-year sponsoring Brighton Festival you’ve created a guide to Brighton’s best independent Asian restaurants. What inspired this?

Each of us has dishes which are particularly close to our hearts, from steaming bowls of pho that bring back memories of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, to fragrant curries that contain all the spice and heat of an evening on the backwaters of Kerala. Although we’re an international business, Brighton is central to our DNA, so we wanted to do something to promote and raise awareness of Asian restaurants in the city. We wanted to tap into our natural traveller’s curiosity and throw a spotlight on the unwritten stories of the chefs raising the bar of Asian-inspired dining in Brighton.


What can we expect to see in the guide?

We’ve chosen seven of our stand-out favourite Asian restaurants, whose food we know intimately and are inspired by the fascinating stories we’ve heard from the restauranteurs. From Tuntun’s, an authentic café celebrating Bangladeshi dishes to Lucky Khao who champion northern Thai food, the Selective Bites guide gives readers a taste of what they can expect, plus some extraordinary tales from the head chefs and owners behind our favourite restaurants. There’s also plenty of top tips for travelling throughout Asia! You can pick up a copy at the Brighton Dome, Festival ticket office or at each of the featured restaurants, or alternatively download an e-guide from our website. It was a lot of fun to create and we’ve been receiving great feedback from the Brighton public who have been busy discovering new flavours throughout the festival!

Brighton Festival is proud to support artists from around the world and we’re particularly excited to welcome Tijmur Dance Theatre from Taiwan this year. We’re delighted to partner with Selective Asia to help showcase the incredible range of Asian food the city has to offer our residents. Be sure to pick up a free copy of Selective Bites in Brighton Dome! 

Five Minutes with Nick Evans: Managing Partner of Griffith Smith Solicitors

We met with Nick Evans, managing partner of Griffith Smith Solicitors, one of Brighton Festival's longtime sponsors, to discuss what he finds special about the Festival. Nick and his team are keen to support local artists, as he explains below.

Firstly, describe the festival in three words:

Random. Creative. Freedom!

What are you looking forward to?

My top tip this year is Neneh Cherry, she's a must see! I saw her last year in the film Stockholm My Love - music and poetry in one. Brilliant. Also, take time to catch a lunchtime concert. There’s plenty of choice in this year’s festival and a great way to get out of the office for an hour.

Neneh Cherry

What impact do you think the Festival has for the people here and for you?

The streets come alive during the Festival. There is a great sense of freedom around and you can take the time to discover wonderful, random new things. I also love the Artists Open Houses, an unmissable part of the festive season.

What are your highlights from the past?

Seeing Courtney Pine at the Brighton Dome was a key highlight for me. He’s one of our finest jazz musicians. Some early deranged nonsense from Spymonkey was great fun too!

Spymonkey's 'Cooped'

For more information about Griffith Smith Solicitors, visit their website. Interested in becoming a sponsor? See our Support Us page.

Come over to Our Place

Volunteers Tanya and Ricky helped to create Our Place, an event that saw the vibrancy and talents of their local community come to life. As members of the East Brighton Steering Committee they put together an awe-inspiring line up of theatre, dance, sport, music and activities. We talked to them about the event and their experience of volunteering for Brighton Festival.

What is Our Place?

Tanya: It’s a community event that takes community events to another level! It’s all free so everyone can come and there are some amazing performances and workshops on throughout the day, this year headlining with Abba tribute band Re-Bjorn!

What does your role involve?

Tanya: Working together in partnership with Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre, Due East and community groups in East Brighton to make the day as great as it can be.


What do you love most about it?

Tanya: I love the build up to it, seeing everyone working together and how many people from the local community want to be involved – there are more and more every year - and we’ve got 25 volunteers this year!

How do you think it impacts the local community?

Ricky: Before Our Place I was never really into art or culture – I thought it wasn’t for me – but from being involved I’ve seen tried new things and really enjoyed it. I hope it will be the same for other people - they might come to see sport and be drawn into something else - maybe step out of their comfort zone and try something new.


How have you found the experience of volunteering for Brighton Festival?

Tanya: Just brilliant - we’ve been really well supported. Speaking from the heart, it’s so so important to look after volunteers. They’re here because they want to be here. Not because they have to be here or because they’re being paid to be here but because they really love what they're doing.  

Find out more about Our Place

Produced in association with Brighton People's Theatre, the Hangleton and Knoll ProjectDue East and the Hangleton & East Brighton Our Place Steering Committees 

Supported by


What's On: Must-see Events This Weekend at Brighton Festival

We’ve had an incredible few weeks at Brighton Festival. With a jam-packed closing weekend, here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening…


Cooped
Wed 22-Sun 26 May

As Spymonkey celebrate its 20th anniversary, don’t miss the opportunity to catch the show which made them an international comedy sensation. Cooped, a deliciously demented take on the pulp gothic romance – think Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther

Read our interview with Spymonkey to find out more


Silence

Wed 22-Sat 25 May

Poland’s Teatr Biuro Podrozy make their Brighton debut with this extraordinary large-scale spectacle, a moving insight into the lives of ordinary citizens trapped by war. Using light, sound and pyrotechnics to conjure the visceral reality of war.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Thu 23-Sat 25 May

Shakespeare’s magic-filled comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is performed in the open air by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Bring a chair or a rug to enjoy a glorious May’s evening watching one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. Experience this enchanting performance, overflowing with Elizabethan costumes, fairies, sprites, dukes, confused lovers and music and dance.

True Copy
Thu 23-Sun 16

Based on the true story of possibly the most successful art forger in the world, BERLIN uses its genre-curious style to expose the hypocrisy of the art world.


SESSION
Thu 23-Sun 26 may

Part gig, part social and part dance party, the show is led by an ensemble of young dances who move across hip hop, contemporary folk and Afrobeats – celebrating community, youth and belonging. Join us for a high-energy night of dance and live music!


Peter Sellars and Rokia Traoré
Fri 24 May

Join our Guest Director, Rokia Traoré and Peter Sellars as they explore our world through the lens of humanity, compassion and art. Warm and intimate, this is a conversation not to be missed.

New Daughters of Africa
Fri 24 May

In 1992, Margaret Busby edited what Carol Boyce Davis described as ‘one of the most significant assemblages of writers across the diaspora’, effectively collating oral and written work from women of African descent.. A quarter of a century later, Margaret Busby has edited New Daughters of Africa, with over 200 writers and a much greater focus on the contemporary. Experience the newest new daughters first hand as Margaret Busby introduces three exciting UK contributors - Candice Carty-Williams, Irenosen Okojie and Catherine Johnson.

Varhung: Heart to heart
Sat 25 May

Taiwanese Tjimur Dance Theatre presents a richly patterned performance that shows how the Paiwan people, not used to discussing private feelings, use artforms to bring them to the surface. Experience a deeply emotional and open-hearted performance.


Our Place – Hangleton Community Centre
Sat 25 May

For the third year running we’ve been working in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project, and the community steering committee to enable local residents to make their vision come to life. This year the communities have taken control of the event, bringing more free family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games, activities and workshops to Hangleton and East Brighton. View the full programme here.


A Jar of Pickles & a Pinch of Justice with Chinta Soundar
Sat 25 May

Chitra Soundar has collected and retold some ancient trickster tales from India in which young Prince Veera and his friend Suku get into a pickle or two. The king is away, and they have the power to run his kingdom! What will they do? Come and listen to Chitra bring these stories alive in Brighton.

Another Star to Steer By
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

Another Star to Steer By is a magical 45-minute play (for audiences of 6+) celebrating the special power of storytelling, using drama, humour, audience participation and singing.

Read our interview with writer Andrew McCaldon


BOYS
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

The PappyShow celebrates male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS gives us a window to share their experiences, their hopes, families and globe-spanning heritage.

Read our interview with The PappyShow to find out more about BOYS


Neneh Cherry + Celeste
Sat 25 May

Join iconic Swedish singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry for an evening as she shares her new album 'Broken Politics' along with Brighton native, Celeste.

Neneh Cherry at Brighton Festival

Acts of Care
Sat 25 May

Author of Distortion and Financial Times journalist Gautam Malkani joins author of Hold Michael Donkor at Brighton Festival this May. Discussing the 'Acts of Care' and their novels along with Naana Orleans-Amissah, a counsellor and literary enthusiast.

Safe
Sun 26 May

Derek Owusu, Mostly Lit podcast host and editor of SAFE: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space, is joined by Okechukwu Nzelu and Stephen Morrison-Burke as he leads a conversation that embraces family, mental health, the LGBT community and grime music.

A Child of our Time
Sun 26 May

This special concert is performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra alongside Brighton Festival Chorus and a cast of world-class soloists and promises a deeply emotional journey and particularly poignant end to our 2019 Festival programme.

Don’t miss out – it’s your last chance to check out Iron Men and Current Affairs

Everything You Need to Know About 'FREE': Our Place's New Musical Inclusivity Project

If you haven't yet heard of Our Place, Brighton Festival's community outreach programme that became a community-run mini festival of its own, you're missing out on a load of fantastic and totally free events taking place over two weekends in Hangleton and Whitehawk. Even more exciting - this year, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts have announced that a number of young musicians from their free drop-in sessions are performing as 'FREE', an eclectic, diverse range of musical styles from this generation's budding talents. 

Sat 18 May

Young musicians aged 13-19 from SoundCity Drop-in sessions are performing as part of The East Brighton Our Place community takeover event held at Manor Gym. Catch the group performing a live ‘SoundCity Drop-in showcase‘ onstage from 3:30 – 4:30pm in the Green Space. Artists will be performing a diverse mix of incredible music including original material and covers from rap and rock through to acoustic solo, electronic beats and beyond!

Sat 25 May 

Members from ‘U Studios 2’ drop-in sessions will be performing at the West Brighton Our Place community takeover event from 6:30 – 7:30pm. Artists will be showcasing the amazing music they have created including Hip-Hop, Grime and Trap beats, plus live rapping and a young women’s vocal group!


(Above: Laura Grunwald)

The SoundCity Drop-in and U Studios 2 are free music sessions for young people. Established in 2018, they are part of a four-year programme fully funded by Youth Music and as part of the national initiative Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England. The programme aims to offer 13-19 year olds living in the East and West Brighton areas greater inclusion & access to music making activities that are responsive to their unique interests and needs.

East Brighton’s SoundCity Drop-ins, held at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College’s Wilson Avenue site, are delivered by a creative team of Music leaders from Brighton & Hove’s Music Education Hub SoundCity, local charity AudioActive, and The Brighton Metropolitan College.

West Brighton’s U Studios 2 sessions held at Hangleton Community Centre & Knoll Park pavilion are delivered by music leaders from Brighton & Hove’s Music Education Hub SoundCity, local charity AudioActive & youth workers from The Hangleton & Knoll Project.

Our Place

To read more about Our Place's journey since its beginning in 2017, see our blog post 'From Your Place to Our Place', featuring a great video of past years' events. 

For information on how to attend Our Place, see the Hangleton Our Place event page, or the Whitehawk Our Place event page

What's On: Must-see Events This Weekend at Brighton Festival

We’ve got an exciting weekend ahead! From free community events, classical music to theatre and dance – we’ve got it all. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening…

Flight
Sat 4-Thu 23 May

Flight brings you up close and intimate to this heart-breaking story in a unique, deeply individual experience. Seated in your own personal booth, you will watch the action unfold on images and models slowly moving in front of you, with speech and music conveyed through your own individual headphones.


My Left Right Foot: The Musical
Tue 14-Sat 18 May

After sell out success at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe, My Left Right Foot makes a visit to Brighton Festival. Irreverent, uplifting and provocative, it is a must-see for lovers of humorous musicals.


Backbone

Wed 14-Fri 17 May

The internationally renowned circus company, Gravity and Other Myths, takes the concept and perception of strength and (literally) tosses it into the air. In this ‘dazzling and warm hearted’ performance (The Independent), individual and collective resilience is tested as the company tumble, backflip and walk across each other’s heads – Backbone explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance.


Séancers

Thu 16-Fri 17 May

Join performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts  as he explores black identities through a piece that brings together movement, song, spoken word and a live score.

Learn more about Jaamil's inspiration behind the show 


Young Glyndebourne Young Artists

Fri 17 May

As part of Glyndebourne’s commitment to supporting the development of young singers, the international opera company works with Jerwood Arts to provide innovative training and performance opportunities for selected members of the acclaimed Glyndebourne Chorus. This special concert from this year’s Jerwood Young Artists features excerpts from across the operatic repertoire.

Chamber Music Will Ashon with Kevin Le Gendre
Fri 17 May

A conversation on a new biography of the Wu-Tang Clan’s iconic hip hop album with Will Ashon and music journalist Kevin Le Gendre

Brighton Festival Youth Choir Under the Moon
Fri 17 May

Inspired by the Museum of the Moon, our choir have assembled an eclectic songbook of moon music ranging from classical to jazz.


Museum of the Moon
Fri 17-Mon 20 May

Hanging in Queens Park, Museum of the Moon will offer a unique experience free for all. Whether you plan to explore the surface with your family, or enjoy a lunar picnic, don’t miss your chance to be beneath the moon.

Learn more about the inspiration behind Museum of the Moon

credit Ed Simmons and Visit Greenwich

Flavour Migrations
Fri 17 May

Masterchef winner, Shelina Permalloo joins us to discuss how heritage, family and travel has shaped her cooking

Songs of Longing and Exile
Fri 17 May

Award-winning early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins with remarkable Syrian oud performer Rihab Azar for a unique collaboration inspired by the challenges faced by today’s refugees and migrants.

Find out more about Stile Antico's creative process and inspiration 


Our Place – Manor Gym
Sat 18 May

In partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project and the community steering committee to create a community takeover. This year the communities are bringing FREE family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games, activities and workshops to East Brighton. View the full programme here.


Giraffes Can’t Dance 20th Anniversary Dance Party
Sat 18 May

Join illustrator Guy Park-rees, as we celebrate 30 years of the classical picture book Giraffes Can’t Dance. There will be drawing, reading and, of course dancing!

Bad Nana with Sophy Henn
Sat 18 May

Come and met the creator of Bad Nana, author and illustrators Sophy Henn. There will be laughs, live drawing and lots of opportunity to join in.

Nick Sharratt: The Cat and the King
Sat 18 May

Meet the hilarious heroes of Nick Sharratt’s first-ever chapter book, The Cat and the King. Nick will be telling all, and drawing lots of funny picture too!

Ghost Caribou
Sat 18 May

Thingumajig Theatre’s new night-time street act, giant illuminated creatures. As they gather a crowd, they clear a space to perform their otherworldly ceremony. Using music, song and shadow puppets, they tell stories of lost homes, impossible migrations and seeds of hope before continuing the journey into their hauntingly beautiful dreamworld of the night.


Little Green Pig AMPLIFIED
Sat 18 May

Young people from Brighton & Hove take to the stage with unique tales to tell, the performers inhabit public space and amplify their words as never before. AMPLIFIED is part TED Talk, part YouTube confessional, but ultimately a celebration of the human story.

Dream Mande: Bamanan Djourou
Sat 18 May

Our Guest Director, Rokia Traoré joins us again to present emerging Malian musicians with a new take on traditional music. Prepare to hear five musicians and six female singers, led by Rokia, deliver adaptations of traditional Bambara songs, popular Fresh and international tunes as you’ve never heard them before.


Groove Under the Sea
Sun 19 May

Structured around movement and adventure and played by professional jazz musicians, Groove Baby is not your average kiddie jam! Created by Cameron Reynolds as a special hybrid performance for 3 to 7 year-olds and their carers, it incorporates appropriately themed storytelling that engages kids.

Joseph Coelho
Sun 19 May

Join children's author and poet Joseph Coelho as he shares from two of his picture books: Luna Loves Library Day about a young girl's magical experience reading books in her local library with her father; and IF ALL THE WORLD WERE…, a story about a girl’s love for her storytelling grandfather. Joseph will also help you create a whole new poem!


Groove Into Space
Sun 19 May

Designed to give parents an opportunity to get out and see a top concert while entertaining the little ones, Groove Baby avoids dumbing down and instead focuses on making each themed live gig as fun, engaging and exciting as possible for children. 


Cerrie Burnell – The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth
Sun 19 May

Join former CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell as she presents her magical novel The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth. Cerrie will share her top storytelling tips, and inspire children to go on their own creative writing adventures.

Superhoe
Sun 19-Tue 21 May

Following its sold-out run in London, Superhoe comes to Brighton Festival. A one-woman show by Nicôle Lecky in collaboration with Royal Court Theatre and the first black-led theatre company Talawa Theatre Company.


The Storytelling Army – Worthing
Sun 19 May

Join people from all walks of life in an intimate setting overlooking the beach to enjoy a simple meal together and listen to stories surrounding the theme of food and flavours that people have experienced; stories of where they come from; places they have been; or the places they dream to taste.

Find out more about The Storytelling Army and what they do 


Writing Big Themes for Small People
Sun 19 May

Writers who have taken on these themes – Sita Brahmachari, Joseph Coelho and Alan Durant – discuss with author Giles Paley Phillips why they did, the way children have responded and how stories and poems can help them and their grown-ups through difficult times.

Ruby Wax
Sun 19 May

Writer, comedian and mental health activist Ruby Wax takes a look at How To Be Human in an increasingly automated world. In this follow-up to her sell-out shows Sane New World and Frazzled, Wax is joined by a monk, Gelong Thubten and a neuroscientist Ash Ranpura who help us understand the mind and how our brains make us, well, us. 

If you fancy exploring art across the city- don’t forget that Distorted Constellations, Iron Men and Current Affairs are on all festival-long!



Brighton Festival's Relaxed Events

It's important to us that everyone who wants to get involved in Brighton Festival is able. This is why we sought out Lydia Wilkins' opinion on how to create an accessible range of events so that everyone is able to find something they will enjoy. We have helpfully compiled a list of the Festival's ‘Relaxed Events’, specifically curated and developed for audiences with Autistic Spectrum Conditions, learning disabilities, or just for anyone who prefers a calmer way of engaging:

My Left Right Foot: The Musical

A hilarious satirical performance about a local amateur dramatic theatre troupe under pressure to conform to the new ‘equalities agenda’. The group decide, misguidedly, to put on a show about ‘the disabled’. What follows is a laugh-out-loud disaster as the actors stumble through ideas of political correctness, missing the mark entirely. This is a fun and thoroughly entertaining show, taking place in Theatre Royal Brighton under relaxed performance conditions – meaning audiences are able to move around and make noise as they watch.

My Left Right Foot scene

For more information about My Left Right Foot: The Musical, visit the Brighton Festival event page! This performance is also captioned, high audio content, and translated into BSL.

Groove Under The Sea

Groove Baby is a colourful, very musical experience, featuring a live band and lots of audience interaction. You and your little ones can steer the submarine’s story and get fully immersed in a truly incomparable show. 


“Normalising people bringing tactile aides [to performances] - or even providing them - could be really useful. I loved Brighton Festival’s idea of offering Touch Tours (more information here), which allow for “tactile introductions to the set, costumes, props, instruments - and even some of the actors or musicians - before or after the show.” - Lydia Wilkins.

For further info about Groove Under the Sea, check out the Brighton Festival event page! This performance is available for Touch Tours. 

(For another chance at grooving in non-relaxed conditions, check out Groove Baby’s Groove into Space!)

Another Star to Steer By

This theatrical storytelling performance tells the tale of Maya, who climbs aboard a small boat to embark on a very big adventure! Join Maya as she ventures across oceans, encounters mythical creatures, and learns some important lessons. This is a highly visual performance with lots of room for audience members to gasp, shout out, and show their appreciation!


To learn more about Another Star to Steer By, visit the Brighton Festival event page! This performance is also translated into BSL.

To find out more about Brighton Festival’s efforts to make this year accessible to everyone, take a look at our Access page, where you can download PDF’s, listen to an audio guide of our brochure, and lots more.

Read Lydia’s full article: How to make Events Accessible and Autism-Friendly.

Lydia Wilkins: How to make Events Accessible and Autism-Friendly

Recently we spoke to Lydia Wilkins, a journalist and occasional blog writer who was diagnosed with autism just before her sixteenth birthday. Hearing from Lydia about the various changes events organisations could implement to make their performances more accessible to those with invisible disabilities, like Autism, mental health issues, and physical handicaps, was enlightening. Lydia feels strongly about the progression events organisations need to be making to accommodate those with disabilities. Here are her thoughts on the changes that should be implemented to allow equal access for everyone:

'Two months shy of my sixteenth birthday I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome - now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. To me it was simply just a label - literally nothing had changed - it was just another word to describe myself.

Even though that was just over four years ago, at times I still find attending events a bit of a struggle sometimes. I love attending concerts - Queen and Adam Lambert anyone? - as well as plays; I regularly review exhibitions and other artistic shows. I love going to “In conversation with..” events, often talking to my favourite writers during or after.

But noise can be an issue for me, as I lack a filter for it. For this reason, I looked at the adjustments venues could make for people with invisible disabilities, such as myself and others. 

Relax The Atmosphere

Sometimes venues can have a very regimented atmosphere; you have to be in one place, you can’t move, and sometimes social expectations are not necessarily obvious. (I was once tutted at, because I made a dash for the loos mid-performance, thinking I was going to be sick.) The more you try not to rattle your delicious confectionary, the louder it seems to be.

The regimented atmosphere could be more relaxed - or at least the expectations made more obvious. Brighton Festival offers relaxed performances - meaning that there’s an open-door policy, a ‘safe space’ available, changes made to lighting, and visual stories are available. 

If you’re attending a performance, be kind in your criticism; someone may be perceived as misbehaving, but they may not necessarily be behaving like that deliberately. This might actually be their means of coping with an overwhelming experience.

Another Star To Steer By (One of our Relaxed Performance shows)

(Above: Another Star to Steer By offers a Relaxed Performance)

Cover All Ages

Autism does not stop at eighteen. It does not stop at twenty-one, either. As I’ve grown older, I have seen more adjustments be made, such as at cinemas; the only thing is, typically they cover only up to a certain age.

As an adult, I quite like the cinema - but sometimes, there aren’t Autism-friendly screenings for a film I wish to see. But they are for a CGI animation for people under the age of eighteen.

If you have a variety of performances for various ages, make sure accessibility is available for all of them. While it’s amazing that accessible performances and events are becoming more commonplace, accessibility needs to be for everyone. 

Normalise Anything Tactile

Sometimes aides are used while at a performance; I quite liked having a purse in my bag that changed colour, thanks to the sequins on it (you swiped your hands up and down). Many case studies show that when autistic people have various aides with them while going out - such as fiddle pencils, fidget spinners or dice, particular toys, etc. they feel more comfortable.

Normalising people bringing these aides (or even providing them) could be really useful; some may feel they’re being stared at, such as if they’re stimming. Brighton Festival offers Touch Tours, which allow for ‘tactile introductions to the set, costumes, props, instruments - and even some of the actors or musicians - before or after the show.’

A Midsummer Night's Dream (One of our Touch Tours performances)

(Above: A Midsummer Night's Dream offers Touch Tours before the performance)

Make Print Dyslexia Friendly

I have a friend who has Dyslexia; at times they struggle, simply because the type may not necessarily be clear enough. If you produce materials such as tickets, menus, programmes, why not make them Dyslexia-friendly?

Have A Safe Space

Safe spaces could be useful for many people with a variety with invisible disabilities; for me, noise can be incredibly overwhelming.

Lets try something; wherever you are reading this, what can you hear? Within a reasonable distance, you may hear a keyboard tapping (if you’re at work), a murmur of voices, possibly a phone ringing. Now, open that wider; can you hear the chairs scraping, voices in the room, the birds outside singing? This is all the while being aware of the change in flickering lights, the doors opening and closing, the shuffling of people moving about.

While at theatres, or concerts, there is so much noise; I lack a filter for it. It’s difficult to deal with, and once it gets to a certain point, it can lead to a meltdown. I would love it, personally, if venues had a ‘safe space’ - somewhere which is quiet, away from the hubbub, just for me to calm down. 

Distorted Constellations (Features an 'antesensory chamber' designed for neurodivergent people)

(Above: Distorted Constellations features an 'antesensory chamber' designed for neurodivergent people to have a calm place of retreat)

Train Staff To Be More Aware

At times I have thought that staff could have better awareness of invisible disabilities; to give an example, at times when someone has found out I am Autistic, they automatically raise their voice. They become loud and patronising while talking to me – neither of which are helpful or necessary adjustments.

Why not allow someone with an invisible disability to be involved with the training? 

To find out more about access at Brighton Festival visit our Access Page.
Read more from Lydia on her blog Mademoisellewomen.com

Brighton Festival Live Streams: Incredible Events to Watch Wherever You Are

You can’t always make it to all the events you’d like to go to – but with Brighton Festival Live Stream we’ve got you covered.

In partnership with Greater Brighton Metropolitan College and their incredible staff and students, we stream some of our exciting events so you can watch them live from wherever you are, or later in your own time. Click on the ‘Get Notified’ button on the events you want to watch. Here’s a quick rundown…


Backbone
Wed 15 May 7.30pm
Backbone explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance. A stripped-back, raw showcase of human ability and connection. With a powerful live soundtrack and beautiful lighting design.


Flavour Migrations
Fri 17 May 8pm

Get some cooking inspiration from Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo. She’ll be discussing how her culture, heritage and loved ones have shaped her cooking.


Dream Mandé: Bamanan Djourou
Sat 18 May 8pm

Once again Rokia Traoré will be performing at Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall. Prepare to hear adaptations of traditional Bambara songs, popular French and international tunes as you’ve never heard them before.



Malian Dance Night

Mon 20 May 7.30pm

This is an evening of dance you will not want to miss. Enjoy a special presentation of three new dance pieces by Mali’s next generation of extraordinary choreographers.


Ariwo and Resonators
Wed 22 May 8pm

Take your ears on a musical adventure. You’ll be listening to rural west African heritage with the energy of the vibrant city of Bamako with a mix of other genres such as jazz, electronic and Cuban rhythms.


Chineke!
Thu 23 May 7.30pm

Chineke! bring their extraordinary energy and enthusiasm to this evening’s performance, taking us on a journey through the 1920s from New York to Weill’s Vienna.


Varhung: Heart to Heart

Fri 24 May 8pm

Experience Ancient Taiwanese culture traditions brought up to date by one of the Pacific Island’s premier indigenous dance-theatre companies Tijmur.


BOYS

Sun 26 May 7.30pm

Celebrating male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS is a joyful and tender dance that hopes to unravel preconceptions and uncover the endless possibilities that can make up a man.


Né So - Rokia Traoré

Malian musician and Brighton Festival Guest Director, Rokia Traoré shares her highly personal sixth album, Né So, an unmissable experience. 


Five Minutes With Abi Radford: Marketing Coordinator of Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings

We spoke to Abi Radford, Marketing Coordinator with sponsor Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings to find out her thoughts about the Festival and what it represents.

Firstly, how would you describe Brighton Festival in three words?

Exciting. Inspiring. Fun!

What are you looking forward to seeing this year?

I’m excited about Backbone, not only to see what these talented performers can do, but also because of the live soundtrack and lighting design. I’m also looking forward to Flight, which I imagine will be quite moving.

What impact do you think the Festival has for visitors and for you?

The buzz that the Festival brings to Brighton during May is electric! I feel it myself and so does everyone I speak to about it. We have a lot of visitors who stay in our properties throughout the Festival because they are attending events. They are amazed at the choice and variety and always say they will be back again next year.

Find out more about Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings visit their website. Interested in becoming a Brighton Festival sponsor? See our Support Us page

In Rehearsal: A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Lord Chamberlain's Men will soon appear at Brighton Festival, with their interpretation of Shakespeare's magic-filled comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Following weeks of rehearsals, this production is shaping up to be a highlight of this special celebratory year of both their 15th birthday and 425 years since The Lord Chamberlain's Men were first formed. 

We captured some of the magic in rehearsals, giving audiences a small insight into what to expect...

Performers stretching on the floor

Cast member reading a script

Cast members standing together reading scripts

Cast members smiling during rehearsal

Cast member rehearsing an emotional scene



A Midsummer Night's Dream
presented by The Lord Chamberlain's Men

Thu 23 - Sat 25 May | St. Nicholas' Rest Garden

Set to be a wonderful event for all the family, enjoy this open-air performance in the beautiful leafy surroundings of St Nicholas’ Rest Garden, located in the heart of Brighton’s city centre. Pitch up with a chair and bring a picnic if you like.

What’s on: Theatre at Brighton Festival

We have a huge variety of theatre coming to Brighton Festival. We welcome performers from near and far to celebrate the power of storytelling through performance. Here's what's coming up...

Flight
Sat 4-Thu 23 May

Flight brings you up close and intimate to this heart-breaking story in a unique, deeply individual experience. Seated in your own personal booth, you will watch the action unfold on images and models slowly moving in front of you, with speech and music conveyed through your own individual headphones.

Read our interview with Artistic Director of Flight to find out more


Cooped
Wed 22-Sun 26 May

As Spymonkey celebrate its 20th anniversary, don’t miss the opportunity to catch the show which made them an international comedy sensation - Cooped.

Read our interview with Spymonkey to find out more


A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Thu 23-Sat 25 May

Bring a chair or, a blanket and enjoy a glorious May evening watching one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays in this enchanting, open air performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


True Copy BERLIN
Thu 23-Sun 26 May

Based on the true story of possibly the most successful art forger in the world, BERLIN uses its genre-curious style to expose the hypocrisy of the art world.


Another Star to Steer By
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

Andrew McCaldon’s Another Star to Steer By will be premiering at Brighton Festival this May.

One day Maya packs her bag, ready to say goodbye to her home. As she leaves, she finds a little paper boat and begins a very big adventure! Join Maya on a magical journey as she sets sail on a voyage full of sea-soaked folktales, discovers fabulous creatures, meets legends of far-flung oceans, and begins searching for her own story out on the rolling waves.

Our exciting storytelling show for primary children (6+) and their adults can come to you! Our paper boat will sail into your School, Library, Community Centre or Church Hall and our actors will present a 45-minute show just for you and your community. Become a Brighton Festival promoter – just get in touch and tell us you would like the show at your place and we will help you make it happen! The show is available 20 – 24 May with performances in the morning and afternoon to suit your timetable. Please contact: paperboat@brightonfestival.org 


BOYS
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

The PappyShow celebrates male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS gives us a window to share their experiences, their hopes, families and globe-spanning heritage.

Read our interview with The PappyShow to find out more about BOYS 

Review: 'Vox Motus have succeeded in turning an awful reality into a poetic tragedy, both poignant and heart wrenching'

As part of our long-standing partnership with University of Sussex, we’re collaborating with students to review Brighton Festival shows and report on events happening across the city.

Our first guest review is by Charlotte Gray, a first year student, BA (Hons) International Development and Anthropology. Here’s what she thought of Flight by Vox Motus.

Recently, I had the privilege of seeing Flight, an intricate moving diorama created and performed by Glasgow based company, Vox Motus. Upon arriving at King Alfred Leisure Centre, I had no idea what to expect. However, having only read outstanding reviews, I knew I was going to be immersed in something different from anything I had seen before. At the beginning, different groups were taken into a room to wait before each person was taken to their individual seat inside a dark cubicle. I was given headphones with soft music playing, and instructions to get close.

Immediately, the experience became incredibly personal. The story is based on playwright Oliver Emanuel’s adaptation of Caroline Brothers' novel Hinterland. It began by introducing Aryan and Kabir, two Afghan brothers at the start of their ambitious journey from Kabul to London. I was immediately drawn into a miniature world of carefully created wooden figures arranged into elaborate scenes. The figures of Aryan and Kabir were depicted travelling by boat, train, on foot, and in the backs of lorries as they battle storms, imprisonment, and various other extreme situations that many migrants face.

Each scene was crafted with the utmost intent. Simple images with purposeful lighting established each setting beautifully. Gripping sound effects accurately established the mood of each scene, whether dreamlike or eerie. Additionally, childlike voices truly made this experience both genuine and imaginative. In addition, sitting in a rotating chair made it more of an interactive experience, as I was able to move with the models as they drifted past.

 Vox Motus have succeeded in turning an awful reality into a poetic tragedy, both poignant and heart wrenching.

In just an hour, Flight emotively illustrates themes of economic migration, modern-day slavery, sexual abuse, capitalism, and hope. The exhaustion and hardship the boys face during their gruelling two-year journey attempting to cross borders into Europe is incredibly realistic.

One aspect that particularly stood out to me was the creative decision to depict border control guards as seagulls; their loud dissonant squawking in place of speech – entirely unintelligible to the poor protagonists in an allegory for the French-Afghan language barrier – profusely exemplified the fright and anxieties they felt losing their liberty. The sympathy this draws is heart-wrenching. The story is mercilessly immersive, forcing the viewer to involve themselves in the plight of young refugees in a way that media coverage can never do.

The craft and skill used to create such a simple yet graphic portrayal of Aryan and Kabir’s story is done to an exorbitant quality. Vox Motus have created a microscopic world to portray issues far bigger and provide an extremely confrontational experience. It becomes almost hard to believe that you are watching miniature models instead of real people. At the end of the performance I left in tears, wishing it wasn’t over. My expectations were exceeded, and I was left speechless. I would highly recommend seeing Flight, it was truly unforgettable.

For your chance to see this unique show during its run at Brighton Festival, visit the Flight event page.

Book now to see Flight at Brighton Festival

Five Minutes with Laura McDermott: Creative Director for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Sussex

'Founded in 1961, the University of Sussex has a rich heritage in creating and supporting the arts. We are a major sponsor of Brighton Festival, and have a programming partnership. We have co-commissioned performances, and each year we work together to select a programme of events to be hosted at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA).'

Firstly, how would you describe Brighton Festival in three words?

Effervescent. Communal. Discovery.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I am genuinely excited about all three performances that we are hosting at ACCA:  Séancers from Jaamil Olawale Kosoko; Superhoe, a collaboration between Talawa Theatre Company and Royal Court Theatre; and Belgian company, Berlin is bringing the UK Premiere of True Copy about the real-life art forger, Geert Jan Jansen.

Nicôle Lecky in Superhoe

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko performs Séancers

Elsewhere, I can’t wait to see Session on the Brighton seafront. It’s a high- energy dance piece to live Afrobeats, performed by a group of young women. I’m also looking forward to My Left Right Foot: The Musical at the beautiful Theatre Royal, and I am so excited to see Neneh Cherry. She is on fire right now and her new album is amazing.

SESSION performed by Still House and Empire Sounds

What impact do you think the Festival has for visitors, Brighton residents and for you?

There is so much energy in the city in May. Everyone comes out to play and to explore, enjoying the longer days and the sunshine. People are more adventurous and willing to try new things. It’s an incredibly social time. Brighton Festival has always stood for internationalism and experimentation. It brings artists from all over the world to be here in dialogue with our city and residents.

Interested in becoming a Brighton Festival sponsor? See our Support Us page. To learn more about University of Sussex and their longstanding partnership with Brighton Festival, see their sponsor page.

What’s on: Dance events at Brighton Festival

We have a wide-range of award winning and rising dance performers coming to Brighton Festival. We welcome performers from around the world to celebrate the power of storytelling through performance. Find out what's coming up...


Still I Rise

Theatre Royal Brighton: Wed 22 May
Connaught Theatre, Worthing: Thu 23 May

TRIBE//’s all-female cast perform Still I Rise inspired by African-American writer, singer and activist Maya Angelou. Still I Rise is about resilience, equality, being unapologetic for who you are, and rising. Expect a powerful, absorbing and emotive show.


Not Today’s Yesterday
Thu 23 May

Award-winning artist Seeta Patel and choreographer Lina Limonsi join forces, creating a one-woman politically charged dance blending classical Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) and contemporary dance.

★★★★★ ‘This is outstanding, innovative, must-see dance’ – Adelaide Now ‘An unmissable treat’ – British Theatre Guide

Find out what to expect, in our interview with Seeta Patel


Varhung: Heart to Heart

Fri 24 & Sat 25 

Taiwanese Tjimur Dance Theatre presents a richly patterned, open-hearted performance that shows how the Paiwan people, not used to discussing private feelings, use artforms to bring them to the surface. Experience a deeply emotional and open-hearted performance.


SESSION
Thu 23 May-Sun 26 May

Part gig, part social and part dance party, the show is led by an ensemble of young dances who move across hip hop, contemporary folk and Afrobeats – celebrating community, youth and belonging. Join us for a high-energy night of dance and live music!




Five Minutes with: Candice Edmunds - Flight

This May, Scottish theatre company Vox Motus bring critically-acclaimed production Flight to Brighton Festival.

Flight brings you up close and intimate to this heart-breaking story in a unique, deeply individual experience. Seated in your own personal booth, you will watch the action unfold on images and models slowly moving in front of you, with speech and music conveyed through your own individual headphones.

We chat to Artistic Director, Candice Edmunds to find out more… 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Flight is based on the novel Hinterland by Caroline Brothers. It tells the story of two young brothers travelling alone, on foot, from Afghanistan to London. Their journey is an odyssey: a tale of ever-changing fortunes that is in turns life affirming and horrifically brutal. It is a tale of love, brotherhood, the remarkable resilience of those fleeing turmoil, and the power of imagination.


Flight
is a unique audience experience. Audience members sit in individual booths as a series of 200 handmade diorama revolve before their eyes. The story and soundtrack unfold through a pair of headphones.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Flight is rewarding on so many levels. The story is current, relevant and heart-wrenching. The ‘staging’ and design are completely unique. The experience is individual and immersive. We have been delighted time and again by those who came to engage with the ‘form’ and lost themselves completely in the story, and those who came to hear the story and were blown away by the design and the audience experience.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Initially we were inspired by Caroline’s novel ‘Hinterland’, and what (in 2011, when it was published) felt like the ‘under-the-radar’ story of unaccompanied refugee minors. Over the years that we developed Flight the narrative around refugees and asylum seekers in the UK became increasingly divisive and agenda-driven. We wanted to find a storytelling form that would bring this back to the truly personal: just you (the audience) and the brothers journeying together. Our world in miniature was born out of desire to create a one-to-one experience that played with form, challenged us as artists, and enriched the story and themes. We wanted to make something that was full of imagination that honoured the bravery and resilience of children who flee their homes in search of a safe haven.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Because of the mix of forms/disciplines, Flight appeals to both theatre audiences and those who would be more inclined to engage with visual art/digital art/cinema. The sound design and sound-track are also exceptional in their own right and open the experience up to music audiences. It is a brilliant show for teenagers, and we can provide some excellent resources for teachers to encourage class discussions around the subject matter.

What will surprise people about this show?

We have found that audiences have been completely floored by the emotional impact of the story. They come because they have heard of this wildly original carousel of diorama, and don’t expect a series of 3-D models to be so emotionally devastating.

Buy tickets to Flight or discover more theatre events happening this May 

Five Minutes: Stile Antico: Songs of Longing and Exile

Award-winning early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins with remarkable Syrian oud performer Rihab Azar for a unique collaboration inspired by the challenges faced by today’s refugees and migrants. We learn more about the creative process and inspiration behind Songs of Longing and Exile

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The programme focuses on the theme of exile and displacement. We have used 16th century music to create a new work of art by adding texts based on first-hand accounts by contemporary migrants. These will be interspersed with music from Syrian-born Oud player Rihab Azar. The programme will be accompanied by projections and specially designed lighting, to give a unique and immersive experience, culminating in a work written specially for Stile Antico and Rihab Azar by the legendary composer Giles Swayne.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This show will be a unique fusion of old and new music, a conversation between Eastern and Western cultures, exploring one of the most urgent issues of our times.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

We were researching a programme of a capella 16th century music on the theme of exile. John Dowland was famous for his expressive and ‘melancholy’ music, and spent much of his life in exile from his homeland. We opened that programme with the first of his seven Lacrimae pavans, the famous song ‘Flow my tears’. It got us wondering about the possibility of adding texts to the other six pieces in Dowland’s collection and that lead us to the poet Peter Oswald. He created some extraordinary lyrics using first-hand accounts of modern-day migrants. We were keen to intersperse the Dowland works with music from the Middle-East and were thrilled to be able to collaborate with virtuoso Oud player Rihab Azar.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Lovers of music of all types, people interested in issues around migration, anyone with a social conscience!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I think people will be surprised by the beauty and emotion of Dowland’s music, the way old music and new lyrics can work together whilst also challenging each other, and the virtuosity and expressiveness of Rihab Azar’s Oud playing!

Watch our interview with Gill Kay to learn more about our classical music programme 

Five Minutes with Gravity & Other Myths: Backbone

We snatched five minutes with internationally renowned circus company, Gravity and Other Myths (GOM) to find out more about the folks that tumble, flip and literally walk across each other's heads in Backbone - their newest, most dazzling show ever. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Backbone is GOM’s second international touring work. It premiered as part of the 2017 Adelaide Festival and since then, it has taken the world by storm! The work examines human connection and strength in all its forms; physical, emotional, collective and individual.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Not only is Backbone filled with dynamic, exciting, high level group acrobatics but it touches audiences, young and old in a deeper way. GOM’s work has always focused on group dynamic’s, trust and camaraderie and Backbone is no different. The connection the artists on stage hold is engaging and infectious.


Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Strength, of all kinds, is inherent in acrobatics so we found it an interesting topic to deconstruct and explore using physicality and acrobatics.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

GOM creates work for everyone to enjoy so no matter how old you are, if you have seen countless circus shows or none at all, this show will be for you!

What will surprise people about this show?

The satisfying and beautiful amalgamation of ground-breaking acrobatics, detailed design and production and real humans performing onstage, being themselves.

Five Minutes with Flexer & Sandiland: Curiouser

Curiouser is a wild journey deep down into subterranean caves, through leafy forests and high up into the starry night sky. Adults become little and children become great in this interactive imaginary world of ever changing proportions. For a peek behind the curtain of this exciting and innovative show, join us for a quick five minute chat with creators Yael Flexer and Nic Sandiland. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Yes, it's a show for children and their adults which takes them on a colourful escapade of curiosity and wonder. The intimate audience of up to 30 people are guided by two friendly dance-performers delving into magical caves, exploring leafy forests, and soaring through starry night skies. Along the way they meet playful characters, loosely inspired by the children's classic Alice in Wonderland.

Curiouser is an international collaboration of dance & digital media between local artists Flexer & Sandiland and the Norwegian company Dybwikdans - both renowned for their intimate immersive works for young audiences. It’s an interactive performance where you can choose to sit back and watch or get involved.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s a great space to be with your children, coming into an immersive projection environment sitting on velvet cushions, watching professional dancers up close as well as observing your own child at play. Fantastic music composition that is suitable for adults and children completes the magical experience.

It’s also a great space to be in as a child, lively and calm at different points with lots of surprising creatures and digital elements. Children are taken seriously in this event, they interact with the performers, they are asked many questions, and these sometimes define what path the show will take.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The show is loosely inspired by how Alice in Wonderland plays with size and scale - the possibility of imagining that you can be both big and small, animal or human. We are interested in the exchange between adults (parents and carers) and their children, as well as how although one might be younger and the other older, they are both there for each other and support one another in different ways. We are also interested in making immersive work where the body and senses are primary in experiencing and understanding the show (rather than necessarily following a narrative structure). We have done this before with adult shows and it seemed the perfect mode for making work for children. Finally, as parents who normally make shows for adult audiences, we wanted to make something that are kids could also enjoy and to create through their eyes.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

A 3 to 6-year-old that either enjoys getting involved and dancing, or a child who prefers to take it all in by watching and who might be drawn by the digital elements.

Also parents, grandparents and carers who want to have a moment to share and just ‘be’ with their children, escaping into an other-worldly place, either getting involved or simply sitting back on cushions and observing the show or their own child at play.

What will surprise people about this show?

Some unexpected animated creatures, tape measures and mysterious bowls! Also, the fact that the children’s choices can sometimes dictate the path of the show.

To secure your place on this eclectic adventure, check out our Curiouser event page!

What's On: Must-see Events This Weekend at Brighton Festival

We’ve got a jam-packed weekend coming up for you! From free theatre and circus events, classical music to family-friendly events – we’ve got it all. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening…

Without Walls
Sat 11 May
If you’re looking for a full day of free, family-friendly activities, look no further than Without Walls, a fantastic line up of inventive and entertaining performances suitable for all ages. With circus acts, theatre, music and lots of opportunities to join in the fun, there’s no excuse not to head down to Brighton beach this Saturday.

Curiouser
Fri 10-Mon 13 May
Inspired by classic fairy-tale Alice in Wonderland, this interactive performance takes parents and children alike on a transcendent journey down the rabbit hole. Using live performance, hand-drawn projection, music, dance and more, artists Flexer & Sandiland have created a portal to a magical world.

Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)
Wed 8-Sat 11 May
Based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, Kneehigh's wild reinvention of this classical musical satire is bursting with wit, wonder and weirdness. Kneehigh’s extraordinary cast of actor musicians shoot, hoot and shimmy their way through this twisted morality tale for our times. Acting their socks off are a group of hyper-talented actor-musicians, using a range of instruments along with their own voices and theatrical skill, you won’t be in danger of boredom, even if you’re well-versed in the story.

Apples and Snakes Apples and Snakes Storycraft with Jum Faruq
Sun 12 May

A mix of puppetry, craft and superb storytelling, this hands-on event is the perfect way to entertain youngsters and get their creative brains ticking. A fun, chilled way to indulge in some bonding time with your little ones.

Eye to Eye
Sat 11-Sun 12 May
Join us for the world premiere of the highly-anticipated new show from Sheila Hill, an autobiographical chorus-based work about motherhood and childhood.

Shapeshifters
Sun 12 May

Zawe Ashton, playwright, actress and author of Character Breakdown – a book that chronicles her life in front of the camera since age 6 – discusses this age-old art with Candice Carty-Williams, whose fictional character for her debut novel, Queenie, is a skilled shapeshifter.

Flight
Sat 4-Thu 23 May
Flight brings you up close and intimate to this heart-breaking story in a unique, deeply individual experience. Seated in your own personal booth, you will watch the action unfold on images and models slowly moving in front of you, with speech and music conveyed through your own individual headphones.

Read our interview with Artistic Director of Flight to find out more

Travelling Traditions
Sat 11 May

Most migrants will tell you that no matter how far you go, you carry a seed of your origins with you. Storytelling is one of the most enduring of these seeds and in Travelling Traditions we celebrate these subtle echoes of home that add nuance to the work of some of the key writers of our times. Focusing on East Africa and Latin America, we are privileged to have Nikesh Shukla, Laia Jufresa, Chloe Aridjis and Sulaiman Addonia – all writers whose work is textured by the traditions of their region of origin.

Holly Smale
Sun 12 May
Holly Smale, the award-winning author of the bestselling Geek Girl series, will be at Brighton Festival to talk about her new series The Valentines.

City Reads 2019
S.K. Perry's lyrical meditation on loss, Let Me Be Like Water, is this year's BIG READ for Brighton & Hove. Widely celebrated on its release, Fiona Mozley, author of the Man Booker shortlisted Elmet, praised the Brighton-set novel for its "beautiful reflection on love grief and friendship." Join author S.K. Perry for an intimate conversation, marking the finale of City Reads 2019.

Marmen Quartet 
Fri 10 May
Performing some of the work of Haydn and Debussy for your enjoyment, the Marmen Quartet are a masterful and glorious talent. Fresh from their success in Royal Overseas League Competition, the four musicians are here to transport you into a blissful dream of sound.

Marmen Quartet at Brighton Festival

Unseen Mentor
Fri 10 May
For many writers, an unseen mentor is a shadow behind the scenes, providing words of encouragement, criticism, and improvement. Jacob Sam-La Rose has been the unseen mentor for a great number of successful poets. Having worked with Barbican Young Poets and Flipped Eye publishing, he has overseen the creative journeys of many poets you would surely have heard of. Now, for Brighton Festival 2019, he has brought together three of his mentees: Miriam Nash, Gabriel Akamo, and Bella Cox.

Jon Ronson: Tales from The Butterfly Effect & The Last Days of August 
Fri 10 May, 8pm
Much loved for his podcasts The Butterfly Effect and The Last Days of August, Jon Ronson is coming to Brighton Festival 2019 with a new show based around the curious experiences he’s had in relation to the world of porn. Based on subject matter from his podcasts, Ronson has devised a new, totally unheard-before show featuring audio, video, and spoken word.

Brighton Youth Orchestra
Sun 12 May
Fiesta of Music from around the World featuring works by Sibelius and Berlioz, as well as music from Greek Dances, traditional Zimbabwean songs and prolific film composer John Williams, BYO will be joined by players from its Junior Orchestra (BHJYO) and Youth Philharmonia (BHYP).

If you fancy exploring art across the city- don’t forget that Distorted ConstellationsIron Men and Current Affairs are on all festival-long!

Want to hear more about what’s happening at Brighton Festival? Follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter to keep up-to-date. 

Children's Parade 2019

Brighton Festival 2019 opened last weekend with the annual Children's Parade.  Spectacular costumes represented the theme 'Folk Tales from Around the World', making the parade a vibrant burst of colour and creativity. 

This year, 58 schools and 3,473 children took part with the help of over 1,000 parents and carers.

Leading the way, Downs View School showcased Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People’s Ears followed by Moulsecoomb Primary School with The Hunterman and the Crocodile.

children's parade brighton festival moulsecoom downs view

St Luke's Primary School created a striking sculpture of Anansi the Spider, complimented by the childrens' eye catching costumes


anansi the spider brighton festival children's parade


Elm Grove Primary School created an impressive giant Pied Piper

children's parade brighton festival elm grove primary school pied piper

Another wonderful highlight was Stargirl by Harbour Primary School

children's parade brighton festival harbour primary stargirl

Relive all the fun by watching our Children's Parade highlights video:




Festival Standby in Advance now available

For the first time £10 Festival Standby tickets can now be booked in advance for a selection of Brighton Festival events


£10 Festival Standby tickets are now available to book in advance for the following shows:

Flight | Outre Mémoire | Songs of Longing and Exile | Chamber Music Will Ashon with Kevin Le Gendre | Flavour Migration | Superhoe | Dream Mande: Djata |Trap Town | Salomé | Ko Saba and Ariwo | Varhung: Heart to Heart | BOYS

Keep an eye out as more are made available throughout the Festival.

Festival Standby tickets are available to under 26’s, over 60s, JSA/ESA or Universal Credit, registered disabled/DLA or PIP, Equity/ BECTU/SDUK, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Members, Brighton Festival artists and those with Pay-It-Forward vouchers. Please bring some proof of eligibility with you to the venue and when collecting tickets.

Five Minutes with Jaamil Olawale Kosoko: Séancers

Performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko conjures themes of paranormal activity, loss and resurrection as he explores black identities through his work. In his new show Séancers, Kosoko draws on his own experiences, including the deaths of family members, as well as inspiration from other art forms in a piece that brings together movement, song, spoken word and a live score from Bessie award-winning composer Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste. We sat down with Jaamil to learn more...


Firstly, can you introduce us  to your show and tell us what  it is about? 
Séancers is a work that considers alternative ways in  which we hold space for loss. And essentially how we  fill the space of loss.

Why should someone come  and see your show?  
To learn how loss can possibly generate new pathways to understanding the self, others, and the  process of the world. Holding space for mourning and  grief while also creating space for celebration in the  presences of community feels important in this moment.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?  

My previous piece #negrophobia was described as a  kind of séance as I toured it throughout Europe over  the past couple years. It felt like a natural  progression to lean more into themes of paranormal  activity, loss, and resurrection as it relates to Black  identities. Black conceptual technologies such as  ‘fugivity’, ‘afro-pessimism’, and ‘intersectionality’  (Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw) have given me a deeper intellectual framework to ground the ideas and  metaphors that are situated inside my new work,  Séancers. Lastly, the work has literally become a way  for me to stay in close relationship to my dead family.  I’m the only living member of my immediate family.  Have a listen to an interview I recently did ​here​.

 What sort of person is going to love this show?

I am consistently surprised with the people who seem to really connect with the show. Queer/trans communities, older people, academics, students, black folks, poets, visual artists.

What will surprise people about this show?

Imagery and poetic metaphor, some fun costumes, kisses.

Find out more about Séancers and book your tickets today. 

Five Minutes with Season Butler: The New Dystopians

What does a new dystopia look like? Two hugely-anticipated debut novels – Cygnet by Season Butler and The Farm by Joanne Ramos – give us a glimpse of what unsettling futures might await us in an age of easy travel and endlessly accessible technology. Brighton Festival welcomes both authors for an in-depth discussion about the future in the one-time-only event The New Dystopians. We had a chat with Season Butler about what audiences can expect. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

I will be talking about my debut novel, Cygnet, a coming-of-age story grounded in some of the most urgent issues of contemporary life including climate change, addiction, precarious work and housing, and radical approaches for life-making for people with marginalised identities.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Many people feel that the present is edging on (or has already tipped into) a dystopian moment. I hope that my novel gives voice to the anxieties and redemptive potential of the contemporary moment.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Years ago I was listening to a Radio 4 programme about people whose homes are threatened by coastal erosion and the lack of political and infrastructural support around this heart-breaking issue. It struck me as a really apt metaphor for the alienation people feel from the promises of security people invest in, only to find the lives they worked to build, along with the literal ground beneath them, falling away. I was also inspired by theorist Lauren Berlant’s writings, particularly Cruel Optimism and the idea of the “situation tragedy” as well as Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Coming of Age.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Lovers of new literary fiction; anyone concerned about the real lived experience of climate change and those who want to make radical social changes to prevent its worst effects; people coming-of-age into adulthood or coming-of-old-age; social justice activists; lovers of Black women’s fiction and writing by people from marginalised communities.

What will surprise people about this show?

While many of my early readers perceive Cygnet to be based in a dystopian near-future, it is actually based in the very recent past.

Highlights: Brighton Festival Opening Weekend

We had a wonderful opening weekend at Brighton Festival. Check out what we got up to...

Discover what is happening this weekend at Brighton Festival 

Free things to do at Brighton Festival

Art can happen anywhere, and this May we have plenty of free events happening around Brighton & Hove. From dance and theatre, art exhibitions to workshops - we've got it all. Get out and explore!

Without Walls
Sat 11 May

Head outdoors for a free afternoon of family-friendly performances:

Initiative.dkf – Scalped

A dance theatre exploration of fashion and conformity, life and otherness through an exhibition piece on Black women’s hair; Scalped channels global icon Grace Jones in a performance that is an affirmation of liberation and defiance.

Talawa Theatre Company – The Tide

A dinghy is washed up on a shore, carrying the hopes, aspirations and dreams of its passengers as they clamber out onto land. Co-created by writer Ryan Calais Cameron and choreographer Jade Hackett, The Tide unpicks the stories and imagery of the most pertinent issue of our era: migration.

Justice in Motion – On Edge

An international cast, including leading parkour athletes, marry exciting choreography and athletics to ask what freedom really means. Join them before their stunning On Edge performance to explore the sensational freedom of moving around the parkour construction site!

Motionhouse – Wild

What is it to be wild? This daring new dancecircus production explores our disconnect with the natural environment. In our increasingly urban lives, is the wild still shaping our behaviour? Where do we belong? Do we choose to survive as a lone wolf or engage with the pack and the tribe? 


Our Place: Manor Gym & Hangleton Community Centre
Sat 18 May & Sat 25 May

Join us at Manor Gym and Hangleton Community Centre for a community takeover – bringing local residents’ FREE family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games and workshops.

Some of our favourites:

Upswing – Catch Mewill be one of many performances popping up in community spaces throughout the Festival. A playful, dynamic pop-up style performance and installation blending dance, acrobatics, object manipulation and installation.

Brighton Puppetry School Workshop - An introduction to the art of bringing puppet characters to life – no experience necessary. You’ll learn some key puppetry skills, play with a variety of puppets, make some short scenes and have some fun.

Herringbone Arts Treasures - Everyone has some special treasure that they keep close to their hearts. In this interactive trail and workshop children and their families are invited to discover some treasure, and have fun making small replicas of your own family treasures to put into your own tiny treasure box!

Explore the full programme 


Distorted Constellations
Sat 4-Sun 19 May

Distorted Constellations is an exhibition that uses sound, projections and holograms to immerse the audience in the imagined landscape of the artist’s brain.  The audience will experience a mythical version of how Ebizie sees the world, entering an alternate Afrofuturist (a black perspective on the politics and culture of science fiction and technology) reality, inspired by research into the neuroscience of perception and drawing on rituals of African origin.

Sat 18 May

Thingumajig Theatre’s new night-time street act, giant illuminated creatures. As they gather a crowd, they clear a space to perform their otherworldly ceremony. Using music, song and shadow puppets, they tell stories of lost homes, impossible migrations and seeds of hope before continuing the journey into their hauntingly beautiful dreamworld of the night.


Museum of the Moon
Fri 17 – Mon 20 May

Hanging in Queens Park, Museum of the Moon will offer a unique experience free for all. Whether you plan to explore the surface with your family, or enjoy a lunar picnic, don’t miss your chance to be beneath the moon.


Iron Men
Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

Fotatala King Massassy’s artistic mission is to shine a light on the extraordinary talent and strength of working-class citizens engaged in everyday activities. His photographs are an intriguing mixture of spontaneity and staged composition, each taken with the intention of prompting curiosity from the spectator. This exhibition, titled Iron Men, focuses on Bamako’s iron workers, showcasing the amazing feats they perform daily, without recognition, and giving them a new brand as true ‘magicians of metal’.


Current Affairs
Thu 18 Apr–Mon 27 May 

Taking over Fabrica’s Regency chapel, the Incredibly beautiful, yet politically charged, Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey’s large-scale Afrogallonism pieces are constructed using discarded 20-25 litre yellow jarry cans. The use of these cans touches on global issues of plastic waste, but also explores his personal and political narratives rooted in histories of colonialism, trader and migration.



Want to hear more about what’s happening at Brighton Festival? Sign up to our mailing list, or follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter to keep up-to-date. 

Five Minutes with Sheila Hill: Eye to Eye

Writer and theatre-maker Sheila Hill was intrigued to find herself craving music during her pregnancy in 1998. That experience, and the rollercoaster of the first seven years of her son’s life, became the foundation for Eye to Eye: an extraordinary musical collaboration about motherhood.


Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Eye to Eye is an autobiographical chorus-based work about motherhood and childhood – based on two real-time voices, mine and my son’s, spanning seven years from mid-pregnancy, to the start of school, and a little beyond. The text is an edit of my notes and writing from that time, set to music by Howard Skempton with jazz interludes by Byron Wallen.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To see an interesting new performance work. To see the combination of two polar opposite music worlds. To see one of our most dazzling soloists and performers: Melanie Pappenheim. To see a chorus of mothers and children – a lovely thing in itself. To reflect on and connect with a work about the most primal of relationships.


Eye to Eye's chorus of local women and children rehearse at Glyndebourne

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Being pregnant, and finding, weirdly, that I was craving music.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I hope everyone. High end music, arts and performance audiences. Followers of new work. Music-lovers. Local people. Friends and families of the singers.

What will surprise people about this show?

It’s about all of us. ‘You know, everybody in the world used to be a child, or is a child.’

Eye to Eye takes place Sat 11 May, 7.30pm and Sun 12 May, 2.30pm at Brighton Dome Concert Hall. Book tickets for this very special event here.

Discover more Contemporary Music events happening at Brighton Festival this May.

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!

In association with our media partner The Arts Desk we are offering the chance to win an amazing Brighton Festival weekend.

The prize package includes:

• A two night stay at Birch in the Lanes, courtesy of Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings, a spacious, centrally-located apartment right in the heart of the famous Lanes.

• A free three-tier afternoon tea at Terre a Terre, Brighton's iconic acclaimed restaurant where vegetarianism is more about indulgence than abstinence.

• Dinner for two at Bill’s Brighton where the delicious evening menu caters for every dietary requirement including vegan, vegetarian and avoiding gluten.

• A pair of tickets to the following Brighton Festival events:

Fri 24 May

6.30pm: Pack a picnic tea and head down to the St Nicholas Rest Gardens for an evening of Shakespeare in the open air with one of the Bard’s most popular plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

10.30pm: Go on a late night adventure to Black Rock near Brighton Marina for an extraordinary large-scale spectacle, with light, sound and pyrotechnics to conjure the visceral reality of war in Silence 

Sat 25 May

2pm: Treat yourself to a very special dance experience from one of Taiwan’s premier dance companies Tjimur Dance Theatre and their beautiful piece Varhung: Heart to Heart

8pm: Singer songwriter and superstar Neneh Cherry takes to the Brighton Dome stage to share her exciting latest album Broken Politics.

Sun 26 May

2.30pm: Round of your weekend by exploring what it means to be a man with this cast of young men of colour from England, celebrating male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community in The PappyShow’s BOYS.

Enter this competition by entering your details here for a chance to win this fantastic break for two over the closing weekend of Brighton Festival (Fri 24 – Sun 26 May). Closing date is midnight on Sun 12 May.

Please read the terms and conditions here

Five Minutes with Kneehigh: Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)

Kneehigh are back with their theatrical tour-de-force Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs). Based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, Kneehigh's wild reinvention of this classical musical satire is bursting with wit, wonder and weirdness. Kneehigh’s extraordinary cast of actor musicians shoot, hoot and shimmy their way through this twisted morality tale for our times. We have a quick chat with Kneehigh to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) is Kneehigh’s version of The Beggar’s Opera. It takes the characters from John Gay’s infamous musical satire and drags them kicking, screaming into the 21st century. In our take, Macheath the Highwayman is now a contract killer and the Peachums are nefarious corporate monsters who order the assassination of Mayor Goodman – the last good man in town. When Mac puts a bullet in him and his dog (he was a witness) it triggers a series of events that brings everything down!  

Why should someone come and see your show?

Good question! Why not sit at home and watch Netflix instead? Well, I would argue that Dead Dog in a Suitcase is worth seeing for a number of reasons. It’s Kneehigh. It’s directed by founder Mike Shepherd. It’s set in a wildly entertaining and wildly theatrical world (one not too different to our own) and it’s LIVE - you will see, hear and feel things no box set can provide! It has an incredible new score by composer Charles Hazlewood which stylistically tumbles through ska, dub step, death metal, you name it. The extraordinary band of actor-musician-singers shoot, whoop and shimmy their way through the story in a way that has to be seen to be believed. And it’s a piece about now. As Macheath hollers into the void towards the end of the show: “BRING IT DOWN! AND START IT ALL AGAIN!” I think we can all agree with that sentiment right now.  


Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Charles Hazlewood brought us the idea of doing The Beggar’s Opera. He’d done it three or four times before and was always dissatisfied. He thought Kneehigh would do it well. I think his instincts were bang on. I took the characters from the original and gave them a new context. Mike and I were watching a lot of Breaking Bad when we were making it and that, coupled with the state of the world back in 2013-14 (ahh, those happy, simpler days – remember them?), fed into building a new story that become about morality. How can you be good in a world that’s gone bad? And can the world be bad? Or is that just us anyway?  

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who’s living in this world right now who’s dealing with the ludicrousness of this insane times will love it.

But not babies. It’s too loud for them. 

What will surprise people about this show?

That it’s really funny. 

Buy tickets for Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)


What's on: Must-see children events at Brighton Festival

Calling all young folk! Make Brighton Festival part of your journey. Music, art, theatre, dance, spoken word – it’s all waiting for you, with voices from around the world or right next door. Here are some of our favourites…


Our Place – MHangleton
 Sat 25 May

In partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project and the community steering committee to create a community takeover. This year the communities are bringing FREE family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games, activities and workshops to East Brighton. View the full programme here.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Thu 23 – Sat 25 May

Shakespeare’s magic-filled comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is performed in the open air by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Bring a chair or a rug to enjoy a glorious May’s evening watching one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. Experience this enchanting performance, overflowing with Elizabethan costumes, fairies, sprites, dukes, confused lovers and music and dance.


SESSION
Thu 23-26 May

Join us for a high-energy night of dance and live music. Led by an ensemble of young dancers who move across hip hop, contemporary folk and Afrobeat’s, celebrating community, youth and belonging. 

Another Star to Steer By
Sat 25 - Sun 26 May

Another Star to Steer By is a magical 45-minute play (for audiences of 6+) celebrating the special power of storytelling, using drama, humour, audience participation and singing.

Read our interview with writer Andrew McCaldon


A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice
Sat 25 May


Chitra Soundar has collected and retold some ancient trickster tales from India in which young Prince Veera and his friend Suku get into a pickle or two. The king is away, and they have the power to run his kingdom! What will they do? Come and listen to Chitra bring these stories alive in Brighton. 

Tomorrow: a story from Syria
Sat 25 May

Come and hear Nadine tell the story of a brave young boy called Yazan from her book Tomorrow, and join in some fun art activities too!

Discover all the Young Brighton Festival events. Look out for the Young Brighton Festival symbol to help you find that events that are for you. 

Note: For further information on Age Guidance recommendations - please check specific event page for more information

Who are The Storytelling Army?

Ahead of this year's intimate storytelling events in Queen's Park and Worthing Pavilion Cafe, Stef O’Driscoll from nabokov tells us more about these special events that join people from all walks of life in enjoying a simple meal together and hearing each others stories

Who are you and what is Storytelling Army?
I am Stef O’Driscoll a theatre director and the Artistic Director of nabokov. nabokov is a theatre company that celebrates the infinite array of lives and stories of our nation. nabokov locate and collaborate with a diverse range of exceptional voices across artforms including music, spoken word and theatre reinventing the theatrical experience so anyone can enjoy live performance and tell stories.

We believe that everyone has a story and everyone deserves a platform for theirs to be heard. The Storytelling Army is a community initiative, a collective of people from all walks of life who create and perform their own stories in the hope that by doing so we will cultivate more empathy and understanding for each other. The participants we are working with have come through the Cascade Creative Recovery and AudioActive.

Cascade Creative Recovery is a not-for-profit community centre and café for Brighton & Hove. Run by, and for, people with experience of active recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, the charity provides a supportive peer-led space, informal access to information, and a range of creative courses, workshops and social activities and AudioActive is a ground-breaking music organisation that works with young people at the meeting point of technology and contemporary urban culture. It sees music as a tool for social change, education and personal development.

Check out these organisations they are doing AMAZING things.


Where did the idea for Storytelling Army come from?
The Storytelling Army was created by nabokov in 2017 to fulfil Guest Director Kate Tempest’s vision of a more inclusive Brighton Festival. Myself and Kate bashed out some initial ideas over a cuppa and then nabokov evolved them into the Storytelling Army that stormed the streets of Brighton with pop up performances that took place all over town including at the train station, bus stops, pavilion gardens and on the pier. 

This year we were inspired by the Guest Director Rokia Traoré’s commitment to stripping storytelling back to its bare essentials which sees people gather in an intimate setting—outdoors around a fire in a Brighton park, or indoors in Worthing overlooking the beach—enjoying a simple meal together and hearing each others’ stories.

What work has been going on with Cascade Creative Recovery and AudioActive?
Through a series of workshops we have been working with incredible guest storytellers whether they are singer songwriters, MC’s, rappers, poets or playwrights to support the groups to create and tell their own stories.

Guest Storytellers include Deefa MC, Brodie McBride, Cecilia Knapp, Paul Cree, Sophie Ellerby, Simon Longman, Yomi Sode and Adam Kammerling.

The workshops consist of creative writing, storytelling and performance exercises. Some of the participants have never done anything like this before. Some have written but never performed and some are Brighton and Worthing based artists. It is a real diverse bunch of humans showing up and getting honest and speaking their truth. You are in for a treat.


What can audiences expect to experience at the Storytelling Army performances?
You can expect true stories being performed. You can expect to experience stories through spoken word, rap and songs, and to enjoy a meal that is cooked in front of you whilst all of this is happening. You can expect a community for one night whose foundations are built on sharing. Sharing food and sharing stories. You can expect to either be in an outdoors setting around a fire in Queens Park, Brighton on the 18th May or overlooking the sea at the Worthing Pavilion Cafe Bar on the 19th May.

And in return we expect a supportive kind audience.

Tell us a little about the theme of food and its link with the Storytelling Army event? What makes this event unique?
Chef and storyteller Omar Jowar helped nabokov realise this year’s food-themed event. Our relationship to food tells us so much about our roots and heritage, our health awareness, our politics and our relationships with people.

'When my parents came to Britain they brought very little with them, three children and a better life ambition. My mother carried the stories passed to her in a pink exercise book, with loose, turmeric stained pages, so that they slightly resembled those treasure maps we made at school. Tea stained, like the pages of the empire we read about the history books. In them she brought cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, allspice, turmeric, dried limes, she carried cinnamon in sticks and ground so we as children would never be ground, so we might remember the places we had never been old enough to live. A borrowed heritage. That would help bridge us being somewhere in between Palestinian and British. To then go on and share the story of how green our falafel is. This was our gift to tell this new world where we had been' Omar Jowar

We have partnered with Brighton and Hove Food Partnership and the Kitchen Academy who are incredible organisations who help people learn to cook, grow their own fruit and veg and connect over shared meals, and they tackle critical issues such as food waste and food poverty. The Food Partnership also run the new Community Kitchen, a cookery school on Queens Road. Classes cover everything from patisserie to fermentation, Indian street food to dim sum, including sessions with Jethro from Kitchen Academy who is cooking the events' delicious food. All profits from the Kitchen support cookery activities for vulnerable people in the community.


What's included in the ticket?
An experience of stories from people from all walks of life, a simple tasty meal and beautiful music.

Who should I bring along?
Your friends, partner and family members. Anyone who loves stories. Anyone who loves food. Apart from younger humans below 14+ as the content of the stories can be of an adult nature or may go over their heads.

Do you have to participate or can I sat back and watch others?
You can participate as you wish but I hope when the audience are given the opportunity to connect with someone they don’t know they take it and share a part of them, just as the storytellers have so generously shared with them. What if the worse thing that could happen? On the 18th we are outdoors so please bring a blanket to sit on. 

Tickets are still available for The Storytelling Army at Worthing Pavilion Café Bar on Sun 19 May, 4pm, with the £4 ticket proceeds go to AudioActive and Cascade Creative Recovery. 
Book now via Worthing Theatres Box Office



Co-presented with Worthing Theatres
Supported by Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, and Higgidy

Five Minutes with Takashi Kikuchi: The Nature of Why

Merging dance and live music into an epic performance, The Nature of Why brims with emotion and physical beauty. Commissioned by Unlimited, the show features a cinematic live-score from Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, an ensemble of musicians from The British Paraorchestra and four extraordinary dancers.

Taking inspiration from the unconventional curiosity of Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman, the show explores his search for meaning in the world around us through nine distinct and emotive movements. 

Viola player Takashi Kikuchi came by to tell us even more… 


Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The Nature of Why is a collaboration of music and dance that has been created by Will Gregory, a leading British contemporary composer. Most of the performers in the show have some form of disability and are members of the British Paraorchestra.

Although the music is of a classical style, the atmosphere that it creates is different to a traditional classical concert as both the musicians and the dancers move around the stage and encourage the audience to do the same. The whole performance is carried out alongside a series of questions and answers, which always lead to a further question - “why” - representing our common sense of curiosity.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It is a completely different type of performance. The music, dance and emotion that come with it are shared between the musicians, dancers and audience leaving you energised and with your senses stimulated.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Will Gregory took his inspiration from Richard Feynman, the Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist. He also took inspiration from the musicians and dancers taking part over several workshops where they were asked to try out a number of musical patterns in collaboration with particular dance movements. In the workshops they were also asked to offer their own input and provide ways of supporting each other, some of which were related to their disabilities.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I believe that those who enjoy a beat, feeling the harmony of musicians and exploring something new will love this show, whether they want to join in and dance or just stand back and absorb the atmosphere.

What will surprise people about this show?

How the individual performances of both the musicians and dancers come together in one large ensemble.

Get making with Our Place Creative Makers

We recently visited an Our Place Creative Makers Workshop at Hangleton Library to find out how the local community is responding to this year's craftivism project. 


We spoke to Sara Gregory who has been attending the Creative Makers workshops with her children.

Can you tell me a bit about the piece that you’ve made and your craftivism message?
The first one I made was ‘Everyone’s an artist’ because I feel quite strongly about the democracy of art. Art belonging to everyone. Some people are ‘artists’ and therefore what they create is more important. There are people who can do brilliant stuff, but they do it privately… I think, also, a lot of people don’t realise what they’re capable of, maybe they didn’t have a good experience of art at school or they just didn’t get a good art or textiles education. And so many people don’t know what they’re capable of! I think it’s so important to try and get people to realise what they can do.

What’s so great about these workshops is that you bring people who wouldn’t try it normally and give them a chance to have a go. This isn’t something I tend to do. I do sew but I basically sew costumes for kids school plays and things. But sewing something like this is very different.


And it’s nice that you’re able to do it with your children as well. Have they enjoyed it?
I’ve been stunned by how much they’ve enjoyed it. Finlay had trouble getting into it to start with, but once he did he REALLY got into it. We got home and after an hour or so he and his sister both asked if they could do some more. And when we went off to bed we sat there reading Harry Potter and they’re both sat there stitching while I’m reading to them.


What does it mean to the community to have this kind of activity?
I think it’s so important. For the young people it’s important because there’s not enough importance given to arts activities or textile activities in schools these days. My older ones are lucky in that they actually do textiles, which quite a few secondary schools don’t seem to do. It’s an afterthought now, it’s not considered academic and there’s no time for it in the curriculum. I find that so upsetting. I think it’s important to give children the opportunity to try the arts.


Has it made a difference to your life that will continue beyond the project?
Yeah I think definitely. Certainly Finlay has found it a good way to relax, because he gets quite stressed at times and it’s a good outlet for that.

Do you think it will be hard to 'gift' your piece to the installation project after you’ve spent so long working on it?
Not really. I’m one of the people that runs the Hangleton Rocks Group so I’m very much used to working for ages on art and then dumping it somewhere for someone to find. I’m all for art that you give away. It’s a similar philosophy.


Rhianydd Summersett, a member of the Hangleton Our Place Steering Committee, said:

'It’s been a great project for the local community because it’s brought local families together. As you can see today in this room there’s lots of families turned up. It gives them something to do.

Everyone who’s taken part in the workshops have really enjoyed it. We’ve had such a varied age range, from older people going to the lunch club to now, the children. So it’s been great seeing different people’s reactions. Some of the older ladies had previously sewn and hadn’t done it in years, they really enjoyed getting back into sitting and sewing.'


Get making

You can find out more about Our Place Creative Makers here.
There's still time to get involved and make a piece of craftivism yourself to be included in the final installations at Our Place in East Brighton (Sat 18 May) and Hangleton (Sat 25 May).

Download your 'how to' makers guide

Pick up a FREE craftivism makers kit at...
Hangleton: Hangleton Community Centre / St Richard's Community Centre / Hangleton Library / Hangleton and Knoll Project Youth Workers

East Brighton: The Manor Gym / Whitehawk Inn / Whitehawk Library / Wellsbourne GP Surgery


The Creative Makers project is produced in association with Brighton People's Theatre, the Hangleton and Knoll ProjectDue East and the Hangleton & East Brighton Our Place Steering Groups

Supported by


Phillip Morgan shares fond memories of Brighton Festival

Phillip Morgan, a long-standing employee of Brighton Festival looks back at his fondest memories...

When I was asked to write and deliver a talk on the history of Brighton Festival I agreed promptly. Being a freelance writer I’m always looking for the next job but I didn’t realise the extent to which this would become part of my own personal history.

While I am getting on a bit, I’m not quite old enough to remember the first mention of a Festival in Brighton. That was in 1814 during the Summer of Peace when a huge open-air party was held on the Level to celebrate the end of the Napoleonic wars. Seven thousand people were given a free meal of roast beef and plum pudding washed down with beer and porter,. followed by dancing, exploding hot air balloons and free access to the Theatre Royal (I’m mounting a personal campaign to get this re-staged!).

My first Festival encounter was in 1984 working with Gavin Henderson. At the time Gavin occupied a small room in Marlborough House which was almost entirely filled by his desk, with two and a half people in an office up three flights of stairs. I helped as Concert Manager for three weeks which mainly involved moving chairs. So I never imagined that some 30 years later I would have been client representative on Brighton Dome’s refurbishment that opened in 2002, Technical Director of Brighton Dome and Chief Producer of Brighton Festival. We went from two tiny rooms to offices in Pavilion Buildings to three arts venues and well over 100 employees – quite a trip!


There are so many memories that it’s impossible to pick out any as more significant than others so here’s just a small selection. Standing arms spread to protect Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror artwork in Pavilion Gardens during an anarchist riot. Travelling to Lithuania to liaise with a director and carrying various grades of artificial snow and being, fortunately briefly, taken for a drug dealer. Having to hand over cash in Gatwick airport to an orchestra who wanted to be paid in Swiss Francs: a totally legal exchange I hasten to add. Having to import a clown as a Swiss national treasure as we hadn’t finalised his visa. My first experience of Russian negotiation skills: a long lunch of turbot with vodka served like water before signing contracts. Working with a Polish opera company whose technicians straightened bent nails to use them again. Travelling across Russia by train in the snow with a translator and a group of actors, discussing death and Stalin.

Ultimately the greatest memories are the thousands of people thrilled, delighted (and possibly disgusted) but always stimulated by the art I was proud to be involved in bringing to this city.

Do you have any stand-out memories of Brighton Festival? Did you attend any of the events at the first Brighton Festival in 1967? Or have you taken part in the opening Children's Parade? We'd love to hear from you, share your memories at brightonfestival.org/memories

Five Minutes with: Andrew McCaldon: Another Star to Steer By

Another Star to Steer By is a brand new live show celebrating the power of storytelling for children 6+ and their family.  Ahead of the premiere, we chat to writer Andrew McCaldon to find out more about the show... 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Another Star to Steer By is a magical 45-minute play (for audiences of 6+) celebrating the special power of storytelling, using drama, humour, audience participation and singing.

As 12-year-old Maya prepares to leave her home and travel to a new part of the country, she is looked after by her estranged and eccentric Auntie, known as ‘Oh-My’. Maya is angry and nervous about leaving her friends and the world she knows behind. Oh-My begins telling Maya stories from around the world about adventures at sea. At first Maya refuses to listen but she gradually gets drawn in to Oh-My’s wonderful folktales. She and Oh-My form a new friendship and Maya discovers that every journey is the start of a new adventure. What will happen in the next chapter of Maya’s story? That’s up to her to decide.  

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because it’s a piece of theatre that will transport you all around the world and deep under the sea on many different adventures. And because you’ll get to sing, let your imagination take flight, and become part in the adventures yourself.  

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I wanted to write a piece of work about folktales from around the world and discover how they can help us in our lives. The two characters in the play live by the sea in Brighton and so I thought tales about the sea would be interesting to explore. 

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Any child (over the ages of 6) and accompanying adults who love hearing stories and want to discover where the very first stories came from, who the Blue Men of the Minch are, and how to escape Jormungand, the Norse sea serpent. 

Our exciting storytelling show for primary children (6+) and their adults can come to you! Our paper boat will sail into your School, Library, Community Centre or Church Hall and our actors will present a 45-minute show just for you and your community. Become a Brighton Festival promoter – just get in touch and tell us you would like the show at your place and we will help you make it happen! The show is available 20 – 24 May with performances in the morning and afternoon to suit your timetable. Please contact: paperboat@brightonfestival.org 

Discover more Young Brighton Festival events 

The History of Brighton Festival from 1814–1967 by Phillip Morgan

Long-standing employee of Brighton Festival, Phillip Morgan presented a special talk on our history at our Taster Day earlier this month. Phillip shares ten interesting facts about the Festival...


1. The first ever Brighton Festival was held in 1814, the festival took place on the Prince Regent’s birthday at the Level and was very different to the Festival we know today. The event was a free, but ticketed, dinner that guests were required to bring their own cutlery to and be cleanly apparelled for.

2. The dinner that was served at the first Brighton Festival was with the true old English fare of roast beef and plum-pudding, garnished with a suitable number of hogsheads filled with ale and brown stout.

3. There were 7,930 attendees at the first ever festival, they were seated at sixty-five double rows of tables, adapted for the one hundred and twenty-two guests at each.

4. One notable attendee of the festival was Phoebe Hessel who was the oldest person there at ninety-nine years old! Phoebe is known for having had disguised herself as a man to serve in the British Army, she lived to the age of 108 and there is now a monument to her in St Nicholas churchyard!

5. The day ended with a well-attended show at the theatre, where God Save the King verse and chorus made up part of the performances.


6. In 1869 the Brighton Festival that we know today began to take shape. Austrian pianist, composer and promoter Mr Kuhe gave a series of fifteen grand orchestra concerts at the Grand Theatre, then in 1870 the shows were moved to the Dome and named as the Brighton Festival.

7. Unfortunately, by 1883 the festival was to be terminated as Kuhe was unable to make a profit off the shows, however he continued to produce individual concerts in Brighton.

8. Fifteen years later in 1908 Joseph Sainton was appointed as the musical director of a new municipal orchestra that consisted of forty permanent players. The Brighton Corporation decided to establish a festival once the new orchestra was created and it ran until 1914, being one of the very few British festivals to continue after the outbreak of war.

9. The last of Sainton’s festivals in 1914, included a commission by composer Hubert Parry, a symphonic poem entitled From Death into Life.


10. The Brighton Festival was reopened in 1967, the opening of the Festival featured Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius. which had also opened the 1909 Festival when the concert had been hugely popular, causing excited queues of patrons to gather right down to the promenade, hundreds of which had to be turned away. The Brighton Gazette said of the concert: “It seemed the realisation of a musical apocalypse the rendering in music of the vision of St John the Divine. It is hard in mere words to justify such a statement but there were many, for all that one knows a majority, in that great audience who for once felt themselves carried out of themselves by some influence which transported them far above the confines of this earth.”

Find out more about Phillip Morgan’s fondest memories of Brighton Festival or learn more about our history 

Must-See Events at Brighton Festival’s Opening Weekend

At last, Brighton Festival is just around the corner! With a jam-packed opening weekend – here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening...

Saturday 4 May

Né So

By now you should be aware of our incredible festival guest director Rokia Traoré, but if you are not, here’s a brief rundown: Rokia is a world-famous Malian musician, known for her incredible range and innovation, as well as her ability to transcend borders with her musical ability. This year, Brighton Festival is honoured to welcome Rokia into the creative cockpit to curate and weave her culture and style into every event. Rokia will be opening the Festival with Né So – it is sure to be a transcendent experience, and a chance to get up close with the star of the Festival – and a star in her own right. 


Children’s Parade

As always, the beloved Children’s Parade will be kicking off Brighton Festival with a dazzling display of energy and creativity.

This year, the theme of the parade is Folk Tales from Around the World, led by Same Sky. Taking over the streets of Brighton will be folk tales from Africa, Europe, the Artic, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Open to everyone, come and join in the fun!


Pitch Perfect

Join Brighton & Hove Music & Arts for an afternoon with the city’s best young musicals talent performing at some of the city’s best locations. Free for all, just follow the trail! 


Current Affairs
Thu 18 Apr-Mon 27 May

Taking over Fabrica’s Regency chapel, the Incredibly beautiful, yet politically charged, Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey’s large-scale Afrogallonism pieces are constructed using discarded 20-25 litre yellow jarry cans. The use of these cans touches on global issues of plastic waste, but also explores his personal and political narratives rooted in histories of colonialism, trader and migration. 


Writers at Risk Gallery
Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

A rare exhibition of just a handful of the 700-900 authors around the world that risk persecution, exile, imprisonment and even murder just by writing their truth.


Iron Men
Sat 4- Sun 26 May

Fotatala King Massassy’s artistic mission is to shine a light on the extraordinary talent and strength of working-class citizens engaged in everyday activities. His photographs are an intriguing mixture of spontaneity and staged composition, each taken with the intention of prompting curiosity from the spectator. This exhibition, titled Iron Men, focuses on Bamako’s iron workers, showcasing the amazing feats they perform daily, without recognition, and giving them a new brand as true ‘magicians of metal’. 


Distorted Constellations
Sat 4 - Sun 19 May

Distorted Constellations is an exhibition that uses sound, projections and holograms to immerse the audience in the imagined landscape of the artist’s brain. The work is inspired by Ebizie’s rare neurological disorder Visual Snow, which causes visual distortions such as flickering dots, auras and glowing lines. The audience will experience a mythical version of how Ebizie sees the world, entering an alternate Afrofuturist (a black perspective on the politics and culture of science fiction and technology) reality, inspired by research into the neuroscience of perception and drawing on rituals of African origin.


Sunday 5 May

Creative Writing Workshop with Miriam Halamy

Do you have a story inside, waiting to spill out? Here to coax the words from the tip of your pen is acclaimed young person’s author Miriam Halahmy. Using two of her popular novels as a guide, she will lead you through a one-hour workshop, encouraging budding writers to consider the world from an alternate perspective, ask themselves some tough questions, and hopefully be inspired to write new stories. 


30 Years of Mr Bongo

30 Years of Mr Bongo celebrates the wonderful history of Mr Bongo with a unique line-up: The Skints, Jungle Brown, Hollie Cook plus UK jazz favourites Moses Boyd Exodus in the main room; and in our foyer, two legendary UK turntablists, Mr Thing & DJ Format, plus Huw Bowles, spinning all night long. . You may want to clear your Monday morning, as your Sunday night with Mr Bongo is bound to keep you dancing late into the night.

Mr Bongo at Brighton Festival
Flight
Sat 4 - Thu 23 May

‘Extraordinary, paradoxical, an epic in miniature.’ – The Observer.

In the unusual form of a miniature diorama, audiences are invited to immerse themselves in a modern tale of two orphaned brothers on an epic journey in search of safety and belonging. With a set of headphones over your ears, and within the secluded comfort of your own personal booth, you are freed from distraction, able to focus totally on the heart-wrenching story thanks to the beguiling creative design from Jamie Harrison, the magic effects and illusions designer from the sold-out stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.    

Read our interview with Artistic Director Candice Edmunds 

Flight by Vox Motus at Brighton Festival
Ensemble Correspondances

For a high brow cultural experience, we implore you to consider the brilliant musical stylings of Sébastien Daucé and Ensemble Correspondances, a group of vocalists and instrumentalists who have put together an astounding score of music to emulate what one might have heard in the court of French King Louis XIII. Without leaving your plush seat in the spectacular venue of Glyndebourne Opera House, you can travel back to the 1600’s, buffeted on the waves of a glorious repertoire provided by a group of highly talented musicians. 

Read our interview with Sébastien Daucé to find out more 


Some Small Isle

Together with poet-musician Roger Robinson and publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove, Zena Edwards and Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff discuss how Black people document their histories and how they respond to injustice as artists – whether beautifully or brutally.


Dream Horse

A true story about a bartender-turned-racehorse-breeder, who abandoned her life in pursuit of a far-fetched dream. Janet Vokes, the star of Dream Horse, the autobiographical story of one woman’s amazing success in the face of adversity, will be in conversation with author Colin Grant to discuss her new book. 


Want to hear more about what’s happening at Brighton Festival? Sign up to our mailing list, or follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter to keep up-to-date. 

Five Minutes with: Soumik Datta - King of Ghosts

King of Ghosts is an atmospheric soundscape for two films from early India by sarod star Soumik Datta and City of London Sinfonia.

In the first half of this double bill, Around India with a Movie Camera presents some of the earliest surviving footage from India, then Oscar-winning director Satyajit Ray’s cult and off-beat film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne will be projected on a large screen. A reimagined live cinematic score (King of Ghosts) accompanies the screening, featuring the haunting sounds of Soumik's sarod, Cormac Byrne’s Irish folk rhythms and City of London Sinfonia.

We spoke to virtuoso sarod player Soumik Datta ahead of the show.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Vintage Indian cinema, a world class orchestra and a Sarod player to link them all: King of Ghosts is a powerhouse cine-concert bridging the worlds of film and music, India and Britain, past and present. Where else will you find such elements uniting to uplift, challenge and entertain?

In an unprecedented collaboration, Shakespeare’s Globe, BFI, City of London Sinfonia and Soumik Datta Arts unite to showcase an extraordinary multi-arts presentation in two halves. In the first half, Soumik Datta performs his specially commissioned score for sarod, piano and bodhran to the BFI film Around India with a Movie Camera, showcasing some of India’s earliest footage. In the second half, he is joined on stage by City of London Sinfonia to play his reimagined score for Satyajit Ray’s cult classic Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (which marks its 50th year in 2019).

Why should someone come and see your show?

Our cine-concert show immerses the viewer in visuals and sounds from rural and ancient India, factual and fictional characters that will fascinate children and adults alike. Connecting film and music in the most special way, this is a real treat for all music and film lovers.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

My mum is a film maker and singer and in many ways, my first inspiration. She opened my eyes to the links between sound and visuals and the powerful human emotions that lie between. I wanted to pay tribute to that and bring audiences a new kind of show, bridging India and Britain, cinema and live music and instruments from across the world. The elements of this show may seem farfetched, but they are the very ingredients of my identity as a Londoner, a desi boy and as an artist.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

If you like music and cinema, you’re going to love this show! It will transport you through rural India, introduce you to kings and queens, Gandhi, wizards, soldiers and two village heroes bringing you face to face with a mighty, strapping band that will break your perception of what is Western and Indian music.

What will surprise people about this show?

Showcasing some of the earliest ever footage of colonial India accompanied live by energetic live music, this double bill show will move you, make you laugh and question your understanding of what it means to be British today.

King of Ghosts takes place at Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Wed 8 May, 7.30pm.

Boho Gelato's Syrian Flavoured Ice Cream Supports Children's Big Read

In honour of this year’s Young City Reads book, The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf, Brighton-based artisan ice-cream parlour Boho Gelato has created a Syrian-inspired flavour, on sale until the end of the summer. The book follows the moving story of Ahmet, a young Syrian refugee and a group of determined nine-year-olds, who go above and beyond to make sure their new classmate has a sense of belonging.

‘Sweet Syrah’, named by Twitter user @thisoldmole as part of an online competition, is made on-site using locally produced milk and cream, and combines traditional flavours of mastic gum, rose and pistachio.

One customer, Nel Hymes, sampling the ice cream said: “It’s really lovely – a nice kick of fragrance, and floral!”

The award-winning outlet are known for their work within the community, and 20% of all proceeds from ‘Sweet Syrah’ sales will be used to support Young City Reads’ work in areas of high deprivation across Brighton & Hove, going towards books, workshops and event tickets to inspire a love of reading amongst less privileged children.

Katie Edwards, who works at Boho Gelato said: “We’re excited to be a part of this initiative, as well introducing a new flavour to our customers, which is a delicacy in Syria!”

Last year, the company raised nearly £1,000 with their ‘Blue Phantom’, created for the 2018 title ‘Kid Normal’ by Greg James and Chris Smith, and this year they’re hoping for the same success.

Young City Reads 2019 culminates in an event for schools on 22 May at Brighton Dome as part of Brighton Festival, featuring a live appearance by Onjali Q. Raúf who commented:

“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.”

Head down to Boho Gelato, 6 Pool Valley, Brighton, and try a scoop (or two!) of Sweet Syrah

Behind the scenes at this year’s Children’s Parade

We’re giving you a glimpse behind the scenes of Brighton Festival’s marvellous and entirely free Children’s Parade. Thousands of teachers, parents and students are working tirelessly to create the incredible sculptures and costumes that will take to the streets of Brighton to mark the start of the Festival on Saturday 4 May.

Moulescoomb Primary School gave us special permission to visit them as they prepare to be the lead school in the Parade with the West African folk tale, The Hunterman and the Crocodile, written and illustrated by author Baba Wagué Diakité. The characters take turns being captive and captor in a humorous story that teaches the importance of living in harmony with nature. 

Read our interview with Pippa Smith and Sarah Parsons to learn more about the Children's Parade 

Interview: Pippa Smith and Sarah Parsons

Pippa Smith is the Festival children’s events producer and in 1987 she co-founded Same Sky, a community arts organisation that still works alongside Brighton Festival to produce the Children’s Parade 30 years later. We sat down with Pippa and Sarah Parsons, Same Sky’s project manager, to learn more about the labour of love put in by so many Brighton & Hove residents to create this magical event.

This year, Same Sky is celebrating its 30th anniversary, how has the organisation changed over that time?

Sarah: The scale of the events has definitely grown over the last 30 years. Burning The Clocks and the Children’s Parade continue to become more and more popular.

How did Same Sky get involved with organising the Children’s Parade?

Pippa: When I first came to Brighton, I created Same Sky with my colleague Chris Bailey. At that time there was an embryonic version of the Children’s Parade, started by festival director Gavin Henderson. Only a few schools were involved, and the route was a short distance from Brighton train station to Pavilion Gardens. Same Sky took over running the Parade after that; we introduced a theme each year and began working with schools to create the sculptures and costumes. Ever since then the Parade has kept growing, with more schools wanting to participate. We now have around 5,000 students and teachers taking part, so it’s certainly a dazzling sight to behold.

What was the inspiration for Same Sky?

Pippa: I used to work for the Arts Council in London and one of my clients was the Notting Hill Carnival. It was such a new area that I asked if I could work with the organisers of the Carnival for a few days to learn more. During my time with them, I found out how the Carnival was structured and discovered that essentially much of the Carnival is a big parade. Later on I brought the same structure to Same Sky, who in turn brought it to the Children’s Parade.

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

The Parade seems to run seamlessly. How is it organised behind the scenes?

Pippa: There’s an initial meet-up for the participating schools, around 120 teachers from 63 schools come along and we reveal the Parade’s theme. The schools are then divided up by their area in the city, and we give them a more specific subject. This year’s theme is folk tales from around the world. With the help of artists from Same Sky, the teachers are then able to begin developing their ideas for sculptures and costumes. Afterwards, they return to their schools to discuss it with their colleagues and finalise the project. Once everyone has their ideas settled, we invite them to attend a ‘Mas Camp’, which stands for masquerade camp. This is a concept inspired by Notting Hill Carnival – a full day of teachers making and working on their creations.

Sarah: When the teachers go back to their schools, we send a lead artist (or section leader as we call them) out to oversee the schools in a specific area. Each school will have an allocated leader to monitor their progress and if they need some help they’ll assign an artist to give them an extra push.

Pippa: Some teachers fit the construction and decoration of their costumes into the curriculum and during lessons, other times students come in and work on the pieces with parents and teachers in their free time. It can be a slow process but gradually the pieces come together.

Is it a process that both adults and children can enjoy collaborating on equally?

Pippa: Absolutely! Each school has their own method of adult-child involvement, sometimes we get highly professional sculptures and then some structures are like children’s handprints that look like they’ve been made by the whole class. Overall, the children are proud of their school’s efforts, no matter how abstract. As an added incentive for the adults to give it their best shot is our ‘golden ticket system’. We’ll have a group of secret judges at the Parade who will hand out golden tickets to the ‘best makes’, meaning their creation will go on display in the Brighton Dome foyer throughout the Festival.

Sarah: The heart of the parade is each and every teacher and group leader’s involvement. They put in so much time, effort and passion to enable their children to enjoy participating in the event each year, it’s really impressive.

What’s your favourite part of the Parade?

Pippa: The moment it starts. The tension is so incredible. It’s that build up, those few minutes until we are given the all clear to move, it’s a real buzz. It delights everyone who takes part or comes to watch from the streets around the city. The Parade officially marks the start of three weeks of the Brighton Festival and even though the Parade is the starting point there’s so much more to see and do with lots of family friendly events.

Sarah: It’s an exciting build up and when it finally arrives it never disappoints. It’s such a joyful event to be part of and a fabulous start to the Festival.

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

Why should people come to see this year’s Parade?

Pippa: I think folk tales from around the world is a really lovely theme because some makes will be instantly recognisable, such as The Little Mermaid and Jack and The Beanstalk, whilst others will be new to the spectators. Same Sky will be giving out a leaflet with each school’s chosen folk tale so onlookers will be able to spot the names as the Parade goes by and can learn about which country the tale originated from.

Sarah: By pouring such a huge amount of time and love into their sculptures, the final makes can be truly remarkable and amazing pieces of street sculpture and theatre. It’s worth the trip to see it in person.

Pippa: One of the best things about the Parade having been around for the last 30 years is that every local child has probably taken part in it. Parents who now have children in the Parade will have been through the same wonderful experience and it has such a strong emotional attachment for people who grew up in and around Brighton. There’s nothing more charming than overhearing people saying, ‘yeah, I was in that when I was at school.’ ‘What were you?’ ‘I was a tomato.’

The Children’s Parade begins at 10.30am on Sat 4 May, starting from Kensington Street to Madeira Drive, free and open to everyone.

Thanks to our supporters: Southern WaterUniversity of Brighton and Yeomans Toyota.

Here's a glimpse of behind the scenes of the Children's Parade

Five Minutes with Marcus Farnsworth

In the hypnotic performance titled Lines from a Wanderer, internationally acclaimed baritone Marcus Farnsworth and pianist Libby Burgess perform a collection of songs that explore places, journeys and wanderings. Marcus spoke with us about what audiences can expect from the piece.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

It’s a recital that explores songs about travel, including a new song cycle that was written for me by John Casken.

Why would someone come and see your show?

It’s packed with beautiful music, new and old, and it would be a great introduction for anyone new to the world of song.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The programme is based around the cycle that John Casken wrote for me. All the songs chosen are on the theme of 'wandering' or travel.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who loves poetry, beautiful music or intimate concerts.

What will surprise people about this show?

How accessible John’s music is. For anyone who is wary of new music, this cycle is really lyrical. Also, the texts he has chosen are stunning – poems by Hardy, Keats and Browning, to mention a few. 

For more information about dates, tickets, and more, see our event page Lines from a Wanderer.

Five Minutes with Moses Boyd: Mr Bongo

30 Years of Mr Bongo is the highly anticipated multi-cultural musical event, three decades in the making. With a range of sounds including Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul, Reggae from some of the world's most well-loved DJ's, this is one event that any music-lover won't want to miss. To find out a bit more about what we can expect, we spoke to drummer, composer and producer Moses Boyd.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what its about? 

My name is Moses Boyd and I’m the leader of the Exodus. Exodus is my journey in sound, sounds I’ve been crafting and perfecting over the years.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because the music will transport you from your current reality into unknown dimensions.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

From my heroes Wayne Shorter, Duke Ellington, Wiley, The Outkast, as well as all the sounds and communities I’ve been around.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Hopefully those that were there during the rave scene years. Also lovers of deep groove and jazz.

What will surprise people about this show?

I have some new young talent in my band, so lots of new energy, a new musical set up and new music. 

Get your tickets for 30 Years of Mr Bongo now to see Moses Boyd and more

Producer Picks | Young Literature

Learn more about the Young Literature events taking place this year, from our Young Literature producer, Hilary Cook. 

Find out more or book tickets 
Read our interview with Ella Burns Director of Little Green Pig


Chineke! / Philharmonia Orchestra / Brighton Festival Chorus

Our Classical Music Producer, Gill Kay discusses two shows coming to Brighton this May featuring Chineke!Philharmonia Orchestra and Brighton Festival Chorus.

Our Place Creative Makers

Our Place Creative Makers is a project that invites the communities of East Brighton and Hangleton and Knoll to explore and celebrate what the idea of Our Place means to them.

This is an invitation to participate in the creation of a large-scale, craft-based installation during this year’s Our Place at the Manor Gym, East Brighton on Saturday 18 May and in Hangleton Community Centre on Saturday 25 May as part of Brighton Festival.


The project is inspired by existing talent and enthusiasm in both communities for making craft. It will become part of the global movement of craftivism, which uses making as a form of social or political, peaceful, creative activism. Its roots are in the creative campaigns of the suffragettes and other activists internationally, with the term ‘craftivism’ itself being coined by American ‘craftivista’ Betsy Greer. 


Get making

Download your 'how to' makers guide

Pick up a FREE craftivism makers kit at...

Hangleton: Hangleton Community Centre / St Richard's Community Centre / Hangleton Library / Hangleton and Knoll Project Youth Workers

East Brighton: The Manor Gym / Whitehawk Inn / Whitehawk Library / Wellsbourne GP Surgery


Come along to a FREE workshop in your area and get making...

Hangleton:
Mon 8 Apr, 10.30am–12.30pm | Hangleton Community Centre
Thu 18 Apr, 2.30–4.30pm | Hangleton Library
Join the Facebook event page

East Brighton:
Tue 2 April, 1–3pm | Ruby Tuesday Group at the Bristol Estate Community Room
Fri 5 Apr 2–4pm | The Worry Tree Cafe in the Whitehawk Inn
Tue 9 Apr 10.30am–12.30pm | Robert Lodge
Thu 18 Apr 10.30am–12.30pm | Whitehawk Library
Wed 24 Apr 10.30am–12.30pm | The Manor Gym
Join the Facebook event

Workshops are suitable for everyone. Children aged 5+ can participate as long as they are accompanied by an adult who is also taking part. All materials are provided


Find out more about Our Place

Produced in partnership with the Our Place Steering Committees of Hangleton and East Brighton, Brighton People's Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project, Hangleton Community Centre and The Manor Gym

Supported by:
 

Five Minutes with Graham Luckhurst: Mr Bongo

Three decades in the making, featuring Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul and Reggae sounds from some of the world's most well-loved DJ's, 30 Years of Mr Bongo is one event that any music-lover won't want to miss. To find out a bit more about what we can expect, we spoke to Graham Luckhurst, director of operations at Mr Bongo

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The show celebrates 30 years of Mr Bongo – the record label, record shop and a huge passion for eclectic, unexpected music from around the world.

Why should someone come and see your show?

They would be very hard pushed this line up anywhere else in the world, especially at that ticket price ;)

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Myself and David at Mr Bongo were talking to Lucy Monkman (Brighton Festival) and formed the idea, then worked with Danni (Brighton Festival) to develop it. It represents past, present and future aspects of Mr Bongo across hip hop reggae dub jazz DJ’ing and a love of records.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

It has both specialist and broad appeal. The line up as a whole feels like a mini festival, especially given that it is on May Bank Holiday Sunday. Each band will have its own appeal but there is significant crossover between The Skints and Hollie Cook for the reggae/dub/punk-heads, and between Moses Boyd and Jungle Brown for the new UK music and jazz heads. DJ Format and Mr Thing very rarely play on the same bill let alone all night together. So we would be hitting the new younger UK Jazz demographic with Moses Boyd, and both 18-25 and 35+/6Music demographics for The Skints, Jungle Brown, Hollie Cook, Mr Thing and DJ Format. Alongside this, Huw Bowles obviously represents the Mr Bongo hip hop shop legacy.

What will surprise people about this show?

This line up is a real bargain for the ticket price. It’s a mini festival line up for a standard price and it will be a brilliant celebration of music in general.

To snatch your ticket for this bargain event, visit our Mr Bongo page!

Five Minutes with The PappyShow: BOYS

We sit down with the lads from The Pappy Show to discuss their show BOYS - a unique celebration of male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England. Unscripted with each story uniquely told in every performance, BOYS is a joyful and tender dance that hopes to unravel preconceptions and uncover the endless possibilities that can make up a man!

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

In an era where toxic masculinity is the dominant narrative of the male experience, BOYS explores and celebrates diverse experiences of manhood centred on the stories of nine men of colour growing up in London; their ancestry, their present lives and their hopes for the future.

The way we move, the way we talk, the way we think… we want to show you the things about BOYS that you never get to see!

It’s a joyful, fascinating and socially revelatory look at what it means to be a man in 2019, subverting the myths and stereotypes of the masculine experience: particularly young men of colour. It combines this with beautiful, playful, movement-driven visual theatre, powerful and humorous direct storytelling, and joyous interactive play.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s a celebration – there’s lots of happiness and joy. It adds to the discussion on masculinity, particularly in young men of colour. We hope people will take away questions on what it means to be a man, and their relationships with the other men in their lives.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone! The show is aimed at all people!

Get your tickets for BOYS by visiting the event page!

Five Minutes with Dan Canham: SESSION

SESSION is an explosive outdoor gathering of dance, and live music, Dan Canham has brought together the domineering troupes Still House, Steppaz Performing Arts Academy and Afrobeats to create an exhilarating, adrenaline-fuelled event that you won't want to miss. In between practices, we grabbed Dan for a quick interview to tell us more. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

SESSION is a dance event featuring 23 young competitive street dancers from Tottenham’s Steppaz and a live afrobeats band, Empire Sounds. It’s a proper celebration of dance, live music, extraordinary people performing, and of us all being together to witness it.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because they want a good night out. Because they like live music and dance and feeling alive.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It came from a residency in Tottenham via the invitation of LIFT festival, and from meeting amazing people already doing great things in Tottenham.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone with a beating heart.

What will surprise people about this show?

The quality of the dancers (spoiler alert).

SESSION is an outdoor pay-what-you-can event, taking place from Thu 23 May to Sun 26 May.

With thanks to Brighton University and British Airways i360 for supporting this production

Five Minutes with the Ruisi Quartet

Winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society award for Young British String Players, the Ruisi Quartet has established a reputation as a charismatic and expressive ensemble, delivering performances that are "strikingly immediate, committed and direct" (Chichester Observer). The musicians behind the reputation have given us a quick insight into their upcoming performance at 2019 Brighton Festival.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

This concert features some of the greatest and yet most contrasting works for a string quartet; from some of the earliest works ever written for 4 strings such as Purcell’s incredible Fantasias, to the genius and power of Beethoven. This is music that’s close to the heart of the Ruisi Quartet, one of the UK’s leading young strong quartets.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This music deals with love, loss, incredible highs and a deep and engaging exploration of what it is that makes us human. You don’t need to know anything about the music to enjoy it; just turn up and get transported to another world.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

If you don’t normally listen to classical music, this is a performance that will get you excited about some of the greatest music ever written. The Ruisi Quartet are young, charismatic players that make the music as relevant as it was hundreds of years ago. If you already like classical music, then this concert is a chance to hear one of the UK’s leading string quartets playing a bold programme of brilliant music.

What will surprise people about this show?

Hopefully people will see that classical music isn’t like the stereotypes; it’s beautiful, thrilling and totally relevant to anyone that likes being moved by live music.

Book your tickets to see the Ruisi Quartet today!

Five Minutes with Luke Wright

Following a sell-out run in Edinburgh, Luke Wright hits the road with the show the critics are calling his best yet. This new show Luke Wright: Poet Laureate is a satirical reflection on current politics, Brexit, and what it means to be a poet in modern Britain. For an inside look into the inner workings of a brilliant creative mind, we caught up with Luke for a five minute chat. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

There’s going to be a new Poet Laureate appointed in 2019. They will be the country’s official poet. They’ll have to write wretched drivel about royal weddings and royal babies and the unveiling of statues. Who wouldn’t want to do that job? My new show is nominally my tilt at that gilded position, filled with the very finest of my brand new poems - some to make you laugh, some to make you cry, some to make you THINK (note capitals). But in reality, not only do I not want the job, I don’t think we should even have a Poet Laureate. The laureateship mimics the monarchy, the power structure it was created to prop up - we’ve come a long way since then, I think we can do better. In the show I attempt to write poems about Britain and society and end up going down some personal rabbit holes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hurl etc etc.

Why should someone come and see your show?

I don’t think there is anything quite like it out there. My poetry can make you laugh, but it’s not ‘comic’ poetry. I tackle my subjects (in this instance modern Britain) seriously but it doesn’t mean that I take myself too seriously. I want to present a poetry show that is a great, enjoyable night out without having sacrifice the quality of the poetry. This is my best yet.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I did a show with the same title 13 years ago and I wanted to revisit the idea of writing poetry for a nation, and not oneself, to see how my attitudes have changed. This time round I couldn’t help but look more closely at myself, this is a braver, more vulnerable show that I was able to make aged 24.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

People who like spoken word, and politically engaged people. Do you read the news? Do you care about what’s going on around you? Do you take time to examine yourself and your place in society? Do you like to laugh and cry and feel? I’m your man.

What will surprise people about this show?

My hair’s a lot longer than in the press shots. 

Join Luke Wright for an evening of modern, sardonic poetry and fun

Five Minutes with Sébastien Daucé: Ensemble Correspondances

Founded a decade ago in Lyon by the organist and harpsichordist Sébastien Daucé, this ensemble of specialist vocalists and instrumentalists is passionate about rediscovering musical forms and composers now almost forgotten.

Ensemble Correspondances are simply unrivalled in this repertoire and bring their spine-tingling talents to Brighton Festival for the first time, Sébastien had a chat with us to tell us more…

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

This concert recreates life in the salons of Louis XIII’s court with vocal music reflecting themes of night, love and poetry. The first gentleman of France, Louis XIII was a great dancer, musician and even composer; music certainly was one of his main interests – probably before politics!

The French court during his reign reflected his desire for a flourishing artistic life in the salons. He surrounded himself with the greatest artists of the time to compose and play music for his evenings. This programme reveals pieces about love, night and mysteries of passion: typical themes for the poetic airs de cour that we could have heard at the end of the winter at the Louvre court, or in the intimacy of the salons to create small and intimate ceremonies whose intensity and passion remained a blazing fire burning through the night…

Why would someone come and see your show?

This concert is a unique opportunity to dive into the musical life of the 17th century and the close circle of musicians around King Louis XIII. The audience will be able to discover what he liked to hear in the privacy of his Chamber; confidential music by Boësset, Moulinié, Couperin for polyphonic voices, delicate lute and languorous gambas.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The music featured in this programme has hardly been explored or played since its creation and it is absolutely full of musical treasures. When we talk about Louis XIII, we usually think of the Louvre and the court, but a lot of the music of this era is very mysterious to us, and that is what I wanted to explore here.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

This concert will be ravished by curious people who would like to hear music they have never been able to experience before, like some kind of ancient poetry magnified by a small-scale ensemble of musicians.

What will surprise people about this show?

I think that people will come to the show without knowing any of the pieces announced in the programme but this music is so powerful and intense that they will definitely leave the concert humming the airs that they have just discovered!

If you're as intrigued as we are to hear this once-in-a-lifetime performance, discover more about Ensemble Correspondances.

Five Minutes with Ultima Vez: TrapTown

TrapTown takes you to a parallel universe, free from defined time and space. Conflicts from the early days and curious strange catastrophes dominate the relationships between the people. The necessity and apparent possibility of emancipation rise to the surface. We discuss the inspiration behind the show with Ultima Vez.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Young, old, fan of dance, theatre or movies? TrapTown is a mixture of different arts melting together in a mythological history.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

From the old myths and the stories of today.

Wim Vandekeybus’ fascination for the universal nature of the age-old myths was already demonstrated in Blush (2002) and Oedipus/bêt noir (2011). For TrapTown, he returns to the limitless and obscure cosmos of the ancient souls, using dance, film, text and music to conceive a new mythology.


What will surprise people about this show?

Dance and film sequences create a seamless live experience. Pieter De Buysser writes the text. The soundtrack is composed by Trixie Whitley and Phoenician Drive and forms the background to an avalanche of images. The architect duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh signed for the design of the scenography. All together they take the audience to oracles, catharsis and euphoria.

Discover more about TrapTown and book tickets

Five Minutes with Ensemble Variances

Founded in 2009 by Martiniquan-French composer and pianist Thierry Pécou, Ensemble Variances seeks to link contemporary music to the humanitarian and environmental concerns of our time. Outre Mémoire (Outside Memory) is a 70-minute, 12 movement work scored for solo piano, flute, clarinet and cello that commemorates the impact of the transatlantic slave trade. We sat down for a five minute interview with the group to learn more. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Outre Mémoire takes audiences on an aural travelogue of the transatlantic slave trade of the eighteenth century. Pécou will take the audience on a voyage of rhythms, colours and themes combining Afro-American work songs, the Brazilian Candomble and jazz.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s Thierry Pécou’s signature piece and most personal work. During the performance, the musicians encircle the audience offering an immersive experience - which is uncommon for audiences these days!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Inspired by his own Martinique heritage, Thierry Pécou’s compositions reflect the words of Martinique poet and essayist Edouard Glissant, as well as novelist Patrick Chamoiseau. The essays of anthropologist Martin Lienhard were Pécou’s second source of ideas and inspirations. Lienhard studied the point of view of the slaves and the Africans at the time of the slave trade, by looking at historical elements such as the words of the chants in Afro-Brazilian rituals, or court rulings. Pécou invents his own rite, as powerful by its organic violence as by the melodic bitterness which infuses his work.

What will surprise people about this show?

Whilst dealing with the dark chapter of French history - slave trade - the composer avoids pathos or romanticism. Also, audiences will listen to a night in the rain forest with rustling sounds of insects, musically transposed by chimes; the chimes, as it turns out, represent the little bell attached to the captive’s ankle. 

For more information about this haunting performance, visit the Outre Mémoire page. 

Five Minutes with Guy Parker-Rees

Would you bet on a long-legged, wobbly-kneed giraffe to win a dance contest? We know we wouldn’t! We asked Guy Parker-Rees, the illustrative force behind the classic, hilarious picture book Giraffes Can't Dance, some questions about his exciting, interactive show - which celebrates 20 years since publication. There will be drawing, reading and, of course, DANCING!

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

It celebrates 20 years of the much loved, best-selling picture book, Giraffes Can’t Dance. The event is all about expressing exuberance – my work as an illustrator, capturing the joy of painting, dancing and animals. With the audience’s help I’ll create a new dancing animal character, show them how I paint picture-book illustrations and get the children to be bold artists by helping them to create their own animal characters. Finally, I’ll read the story with plenty of participation and dancing – Gerald the giraffe may well come out for a dance at the end too!

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because they love the book, are interested in painting and want to see how an illustrator works… oh, and because they want to have fun!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Giles Andreae wrote the story after seeing the enigmatic way that giraffes move in Africa, whilst my ideas for the illustrations came from my long love of Africa, where I was born!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Every parent and child that has loved the book over the last twenty years!

Want to come for a dance with Gerald? Get your tickets at the Giraffes Can't Dance - 20th Anniversary Dance Party event page!

Five Minutes with Cine City Co-director Tim Brown

This May, Brighton-based film festival Cine City bring Julien Faraut's experimental film essay John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection to Brighton Festival.

Cine City will also be presenting a 35mm presentation of Malian filmmaker Souleyman Cissé’s 1987 film Yeelen (Brightness) at the Duke of York’s; and The End of Fear, Barbara Visser’s documentary about one of the most famous crimes against art ever committed.

We have a quick chat with Tim Brown, Co-Director of Cine City to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection a film documenting the tennis legend’s performance at the 1984 French Open, when he was the world No.1. The film also serves as a treatise on film, spectatorship and the meaning of perfection.

Why would someone come and see your show?

It’s an unusual and highly distinctive film based around hours of beautiful footage shot on colour 16mm film. During the festival is likely to be the only time it will screen in Brighton, so this is a great opportunity to catch on the big screen.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Tennis fans and fans of John McEnroe will of course enjoy the film, but also devotees of the essay film and anyone with a penchant for film as film - as opposed to digital.

What will surprise people about this show?

How close the cameraperson was allowed to get to McEnroe and the lack of security around the tournament is shocking to see now – we were living in very different times!

Discover more Art and Film events happening at Brighton Festival this May 

Five Minutes with Saxophonist Jonathan Radford

This May, Saxophonist Jonathan Radford and pianist Ashley Fripp present a heady mixture of eras and musical styles.

Ahead of their show in May, we caught up with Jonathan to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Our programme showcases the saxophone and piano in an exciting mixture of eras and styles. We’ll be presenting familiar transcriptions for the combination alongside newer works such as a world premiere by Cheryl Frances Hoad, there’s really something to suit all tastes.

Why would someone come and see your show?

The show will be an opportunity to hear some well-known works such as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Albeniz’s Suite Española alongside new works and a world premiere!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

We wanted to build a programme that would show many different styles, that would be engaging from start to finish and really relate to audiences.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

There’s really something for everyone in this concert, the repertoire spans from Baroque through to Jazz and modern day with familiar pieces as well as new ones to discover.

What will surprise people about this show?

Audiences are always surprised by the variety of styles and sounds the saxophone can produce. Often only viewed as a jazz instrument the concert really showcases the diversity of the saxophone and its possibilities as a classical instrument.

Discover more Classical Music events happening this May 

Five Minutes with Ella Burns Director of Little Green Pig

Little Green Pig is a Brighton & Hove based writing and mentoring charity for young people. They believe in the right to write, and that this vital form of self-expression builds confidence, communication and literacy skills. 


Following a six-week writing and mentoring project, eight young people from Brighton & Hove take to the stage. Representing diverse backgrounds, and with unique tales to tell, the performers inhabit public space and amplify their words as never before. AMPLIFIED is part TED Talk, part YouTube confessional, but ultimately a celebration of the human story.

We catch up with Ella Burns, Director of Little Green Pig to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Amplified is a celebration of the rich stories that come from the lives of young people in our community. Eight teenagers will take to the stage and perform individual stories that they have developed and written over the course of a weekend led by our mentors.

Why would someone come and see your show?

Our show offers a fresh and unique take on life as a young person in Brighton, helping us to view the world from their perspective.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Little Green Pig likes to find new ways of sharing stories and to provide a platform for unheard perspectives. Amplified is a brand new approach for us and came from our commitment to giving young people a voice.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Young people aged 11 and up and their families or just anyone who enjoys a TED-X style event. If you want a new take on what it’s like growing up in Brighton in 2019, this is where you’ll find it.

What will surprise people about this show?

The variety of stories that these young people are presenting will be surprising and enlightening. Shining a spotlight on young people from our community isn’t something we get to do everyday- we think you’ll enjoy being part of that.

Discover more Young Brighton Festival events and Young Literature events or find out more about Little Green Pig 

Producer Picks | Dance, Theatre and Spoken Word

Learn more about the contemporary performance events taking place this year, from our Theatre & Dance Producer, Philippa Barr.

Find out more about our Dance and Theatre programme 

Five Minutes with Daniel Hahn

PEN Translates is a scheme by English PEN to promote translation for books from other languages into English. Since 2012, the scheme has supported 250 titles. Amongst the authors it has brought us are widely recognised award-winners such as Alain Mabanckou, Han Kang and José Eduardo Agualusa. This May, we mark this milestone at Brighton Festival in a panel celebrating the contribution of translation to the UK’s reading culture.


We have a quick chat with writer and translator Daniel Hahn to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The show will be commemorating a programme that has supported the publication of over 250 international books in the UK. The PEN Translates programme has enabled writing from all over the world to be made available to UK readers.

Why would someone come and see your show?

Translation is booming in the UK! As is an interest in what’s happening beyond our borders, so we’ll be talking about how stories can travel and how international fiction can enlighten us about the rest of the world, as well as introducing readers to some amazing new writers.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The English PEN programme that supports the promotion of translations in the UK has just hit its 250-book milestone, so this is a great opportunity to talk about why the world’s writing is exciting and important.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Readers who like to read widely, who like to discover new voices, people who have broad international horizons.

Discover more Literature events happening at Brighton Festival this May


Five Minutes with AKA Trio

The AKA Trio is an international musical summit meeting of three world-renowned virtuosos: Antonio Forcione, Seckou Keita and Adriano Adewale. Coming from three different continents - Europe, Africa and South America - Antonio, Seckou and Adriano grew up in three different landscapes, speaking three different languages, and were formed by three different cultures and musical traditions. All these differences have converged in AKA Trio, and the product is 'Joy', a new album which will release in May 2019.


Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

As in the title of the album, the show is about Joy. The Joy three musicians have when doing what they like most: sharing the satisfaction, the freedom and the happiness of being together with others, as well as making music and having fun. It is a sonic, updated photograph of what we were doing when we were little kids, playing football on the streets, playing kites or running around playing in the fields. This is the music we are playing and the feelings we are expressing.

Why should someone come and see your show?

AKA’s music is unique. Although there are three musicians from three different countries and continents, the core of the music is the way we play, how we built our own individual voices and how we can mix it all together. People should come because they will enjoy grooves that they can dance to, melodies and lyrics they can sing along to, and an atmosphere that will make them feel as comfortable as they would in their own living room.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

AKA has always existed, but has only recently been personified. Antonio had already been working with Adriano for many years. Seckou and Antonio met for a concert in London. After that successful concert, there was an opportunity to perform at the Edinburgh festival and Antonio spoke to Adriano and Seckou to see whether the trio could try and make it into a project. Edinburgh was a success and since then AKA has slowly and surely been nurtured through rehearsals, concerts, a bit of cooking great food, and some football! Just imagine three kids, who passionately enjoy playing one of the most beautiful and powerful games on earth together…called music.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

It is difficult to answer, our audience varies from lovers of rock music to fans of classical, jazz, and global music. People from different ages and backgrounds. We play music that we love and we do what we love, we express that joy and the joy of being together. This is something that members of the audience always tell us. They love the joy they see on stage and I guess that people like to feel a connection to it!!

Everybody will enjoy our show, because we are not pretending to be what we are not. We are being ourselves, exposing what we can do and at times risking and pushing ourselves to our limits, daring and laughing at it. We are sharing who we are and people, I guess, love to see honesty everywhere; on stage its’ no different.

What will surprise people about this show?

The approach each of us have to our own instruments is unique. There is innovation in the combination of instruments, as well as the variety of instruments and compositions which are arranged for this kind of line up. People will also be surprised by the simplicity and the depth of the show, and how it unfolds and evolves from one piece to another. 

Tickets for AKA Trio have now sold out!

Interview with Luke Jerram: Museum of the Moon

Hanging in the Queens Park during Brighton Festival will be Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon. A model of the moon, seven metres in diameter, it features mind-boggling detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, each centimetre of the internally-lit sphere representing 5km of the moon’s surface.

Whether you plan to explore the surface with your family, enjoy a lunar picnic or serenade a lover, don’t miss your chance to be beneath the moon. We asked artist Luke Jerram about his inspiration for the exhibit:

Where did you get the idea to make an artwork such as Museum of the Moon?

Bristol has the highest tidal range in Europe. There’s a 13 metre gap between high tide and low tide. Cycling to work each day over the river reminded me that it’s the gravitational pull of the Moon that’s making this happen. I had the idea to create the Museum of the Moon some 15 years ago, but it was only until very recently that the data for creating the Moon imagery was made available by NASA.

As a child I always wanted a telescope so I could study the Moon and the night’s sky. Now with my own Moon, I can fly there, study every detail and share this experience with the public. We can explore the far side of the Moon which is never visible from Earth.

The moon has always been an inspiration for artists. What was so inspiring for you about the moon?

From the beginning of human history, the moon has acted as a ‘cultural mirror’ to our beliefs, understanding, and ways of seeing. Over the centuries, the moon has been interpreted as a god and as a planet. It has been used as a timekeeper, calendar, and aid to night time navigation. Throughout history the moon has inspired artists, poets, scientists, writers, and musicians the world over. The ethereal blue light cast by a full moon, the delicate crescent following the setting sun, or the mysterious dark side of the moon has evoked passion and exploration. Different cultures around the world have their own historical, cultural, scientific, and religious relationships to the moon.

Museum of the Moon allows us to observe and contemplate cultural similarities and differences around the world and consider the latest moon science.

During its tour, the Moon has always been shown in public spaces. Why is it important to you to show your artworks in public spaces?

Depending on where the artwork is presented, its meaning and interpretation will shift. Through local research at each location of the artwork, new stories and meanings will be collected and compared from one presentation to the next. The interpretation of the Moon will be completely different if it is presented in a cathedral, warehouse, science museum or arts centre.

Whether the artwork is exhibited in China, the USA, India or Europe, the cultural context and audience affects the public’s interpretation. Every culture has its own relationship to the Moon which varies from one country to another.

Museum of the Moon is made of precise lunar imagery from NASA. Can you explain this choice?

I wanted to make the artwork seem as authentic and realistic as possible to give the public the opportunity to fly to the Moon. For most people, this will be the most intimate, personal encounter they will ever have with the Moon.

What do you expect to provoke among the public with Museum of the Moon?

It’s been wonderful to witness the public’s response to the artwork. Many people spend hours with the Moon exploring its every detail. Some visitors lie down and moon-bathe. In Marseille I arranged an arc of deckchairs beneath the Moon. Within minutes, many of the chairs had been groups into pairs and were occupied by couples holding hands! In Bristol, we had an unexpected group of visitors who arrived in slow motion to the exhibition, dressed as spacemen!

Each venue that hosted the Moon had its own architectural specificities. It also offered different performances beneath the Moon. Therefore, it is always a new story. Why is it important to you to have several performances going on beneath your Moon?

The Museum of the Moon is an installation artwork that combines the architecture of the space, the sculpture of the Moon and a surround sound composition. Each venue and host has the opportunity to curate their own moon-inspired events which reflect their local culture and creativity.

Like many of my artworks like Play Me, I’m Yours and Withdrawn, this work provides opportunities for collaboration and the creative input of others.

Music is also very important for your artwork. How relevant and important is Dan Jones’ composition to your work?

The Museum of the Moon installation is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition. As the artwork tours, new audio compositions will be created and performed by a range of established composers and musicians, so adding to the Museum of the Moon collection.

Find out more about the Mueseum of the Moon or discover FREE things to do at Brighton Festival 

Five Minutes with: Spymonkey

As Brighton’s Spymonkey celebrates its 20th anniversary, don’t miss the opportunity to catch the show which made them an international comedy sensation. 

Cooped, a deliciously demented take on the pulp gothic romance – think Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther – is replete with brilliant characters, rip-roaring farce and virtuoso physical comedy. Beautiful, fawn-like Laura du Lay arrives in the heart of darkest Northumberlandshirehampton to work for the reclusive Forbes Murdston, but there are unsettling rumours that surround her new boss and his ominous manservant Klaus. A spooky mansion, a plucky young heroine and a handsome English aristocrat. Add a German butler and a Spanish soap star and you're...COOPED with Spymonkey! Directed by Cal McCrystal, the comedy genius behind One Man Two Guvnors. We have a quick chat with Artistic Directors: Aitor Basauri, Petra Massey & Toby Park...


Why should someone come and see your show?

In the best tradition of British Comedy, from Monty Python to Vic & Bob, Cooped overflows with Spymonkey’s signature clown-esque style: brilliant characters, visual humour, slapstick comedy, naughtiness and nudity. It also features some of the funniest song-and-dance routines you will ever see. The show was written with and directed by Cal McCrystal, the comedy genius behind National Theatre’s One Man Two Guvnors and some of the best-loved sequences of the Paddington films.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Inspirations include Pink Panther, Alfred Hitchcock, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, pulp gothic romance in film and fiction, and director Cal McCrystal’s childhood obsession with the American TV Gothic Soap Opera - Dark Shadows

How will Cooped make someone feel?

Aitor: All shows of Spymonkey are really funny so at the end of any show people leave felling quite good. I like to think that there is a little bit of something for everybody.

Petra: It depends on the person. If they like this kind of thing then they may snort, wet themselves and at times be moved. If they don't then they will sit with a lemon face and say idiots under their breath a lot. And that would be right.

Toby: We hope it will be the funniest thing they have ever seen. At the end of Cooped they will be wrung out like a limp dish cloth with tears of joy streaming down their faces and sides that ache from laughing so much. Only later, in the death despair of night, when they wake from a fitful slumber, drenched in sweat and with their pulses racing, panic rising like nausea in their chests, will they realise how profoundly disturbed they are. And will remain. Life will never be the same again, once you’ve seen it, you cannot un-know the darkness that lives in every one of us: You will never again see Cooped by Spymonkey for the first time.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Fans of comedy, physical theatre, the circus, lovers of grown-up silliness, sophisticated fun-seekers, and anyone looking for an entertaining laugh out loud.

What will surprise people about this show?

Cooped notably contains the most hilariously ill-positioned fig-leaves since Adam and Eve danced a pas-de-deux!

Enjoy the Springtime with our Outdoor Events

Spring is on its way to welcome the 2019 Brighton Festival, and there is no better way to enjoy the sunshine than by checking out our range of dynamic outdoor events!

This year, we have a huge variety of activities, performances, and exhibits hitting the streets of Brighton. Perfect for families and individuals who fancy taking part in the festival whilst breathing in the fresh seaside air, here are a few of the outdoor events you can get involved in.


Silence

Winner of the 2018 Herald Archangel Award for its run at the Edinburgh Festival, we welcome the ‘fiercely physical’ and ‘gasp-worthy’ Silence, performed by the Teatr Biuro Podrozy. According to The Stage, spectators can expect a ‘large scale, high-concept spectacle’ and a harrowing tale of refugees fleeing from an unsettlingly familiar - though fictional - war. To portray the dystopian landscape of the story, ‘pyrotechnics, stilt-walking and abstract physicality’ are used, all set to a ‘soundtrack of yearning cello airs and jaggedly-industrial metal riffs’. The theatrics employed to immerse viewers in the tale are reported to be truly dazzling, ensuring you will be in for an unforgettable, and perhaps enlightening, performance.

‘This is a memorable show and it proves that the perfect theatre is the one which fascinates, refers to the emotions and leaves the audience with the impression that they experienced something important and unique.’ Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 2016. 

...a collage of evocative images that reach back into history but are at their most harrowing when echoing our own conflicted times...Callous violence, valiant beauty and plaintive humanity over-lap and collide as history repeats in a fiercely physical Silence that asks troubling questions. A viscerally memorable experience for those who stand and watch. The Herald, 2018.

Learn more about Silence and how to book your tickets.

Museum of the Moon

Whether you are an aspiring astronaut, lunar enthusiast, or just someone who appreciates the moon for its aesthetic beauty, this exhibit is guaranteed to leave you awed. Inspired by the unusually high tidal range in Bristol where he lives, artist Luke Jerram created a replica of the moon seven metres in diameter, with the intention of giving the public ‘the opportunity to fly to the moon’.

‘As a child I always wanted a telescope so I could study the Moon and the night’s sky. Now with my own Moon, I can fly there, study every detail and share this experience with the public. We can explore the far side of the Moon which is never visible from Earth.’ Luke Jerram, 2018.

Moon with a band

For three days at the Brighton Festival, this entirely free spectacle will be located above Queens Park for everyone to come and observe. How you interact with the moon is entirely up to you – some may choose to picnic on the grass beneath its glow, others might take advantage of its beauty as a backdrop for a serenade, or you may simply want to come along for the chance to see the moon as you have never had the chance to, and never will again.

Read our interview with artist Luke Jerram!

Discover more about Museum of the Moon, including dates and further information.

Our Place

The Brighton Festival guest director of 2017, Kate Tempest, pioneered the outreach programme Your Place – an innovative way of bringing the festival to Brighton’s more rural communities. Over two years the participants of the programme in Hangleton and Whitehawk have adopted the project; this year, it is rebranding to Our Place. The diverse array of musical performances, theatre shows, and workshops within Our Place 2019 are sure to be the most exciting yet!

Our Place will be taking place over two weekends in May, across two different sites. The full line up is yet to be finalised, but here are some of the pre-announced events:

My House by Apocalyptic Circus is a circus theatre experience for young children and their families. Look through the doors and windows of this magical, quirky structure and explore the habits and routines of this unusual home. 

Upswing’s Catch Me, a playful and dynamic pop-up style performance and installation, blending dance and acrobatics.

Learn more information about Our Place and how to get involved!

Without Walls

This year, Brighton Festival are keen to promote accessibility for everyone interested in participating. On Saturday, May 11, we present a full day of completely free events ranging from dance to theatre and beyond. For an inclusive and inexpensive culture immersion, we urge you to check out some of the acts, such as:

Scalped by Initiative.dkf - A dance-theatre exploration of fashion, conformity, life and otherness through an exhibition piece on Black women’s hair. Scalped channels global icon Grace Jones in a performance that is an affirmation of liberation and defiance.

On Edge by Justice in Motion - An international cast, including leading parkour athletes, marry exciting choreography and athletics to ask what freedom really means. Join them before their stunning On Edge performance to explore the sensational freedom of moving around the parkour construction site!

See the full list of Without Walls events!

These are just a selection of the many outdoor events happening throughout the Brighton Festival in May 2019. To explore more of the different shows, musical performances, interactive workshops and many other cultural events happening in the open air, take a look at our Outdoor Events page!

Onjali Q. Raúf Introduces Young City Reads

On World Book Day Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC invite schools to register for Young City Reads ‘big read’!


To mark World Book Day (7 March) we’re inviting schools to register for the ‘big read’ with Onjali Q. Raúf’s The Boy at the Back of the Class.

The book follows the story of Ahmet, a young Syrian refugee. This beautiful tale of empathy and compassion introduces us to a small group of determined nine-year-olds, who go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure their new classmate has a sense of belonging.

Primary schools across Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond can now register online here and take part in getting children reading and talking about this inspirational story. Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which include bite-size literacy resources and fun activities. On Wed 22 May Brighton Festival is delighted to welcome Onjali Q. Raúf at Brighton Dome Concert Hall with a special live event for schools, tickets can be booked online here.

Watch our interview with this year’s Young City Reads author Onjali Q. Raúf

Collected Works CIC launched Young City Reads with Brighton & Hove Libraries and Crisis Classroom on World Book Day with a fantastic workshop for children from City Academy Whitehawk and St John the Baptist’s Primary School. Crisis Classroom works directly with refugees, asylum seekers and the homeless in the UK, hosting engaging workshops that not only provide a safe environment, but help build communities and friendships through creativity.

Young City Reads Director, Sarah Hutchings commented:

‘Crisis Classroom believe in empowerment through education, for all refugees. They work tirelessly to inspire children and adults to become more involved in their local communities to bring about greater understanding of the refugee crisis and to promote global change. We are delighted to be working with them during this year’s Young City Reads 2019.’

Check out our Young Literature and Young Brighton Festival programme.

From Your Place to Our Place

Back in 2017, Brighton Festival Guest Director Kate Tempest was inspired to initiate Your Place, a project with the aim of taking the Festival out to the communities of Brighton & Hove who might not be able to participate in cultural and artistic events. For Brighton Festival 2019, Your Place will transition to Our Place - a nation-funded initiative that provides free or subsidised tickets for residents to attend Festival events.


Over the last two years, a collaboration has formed between the Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and a dedicated team of volunteers who formed steering groups across Hangleton and East Brighton. Helped along by community development charities Hangleton & Knoll Project and Due East, the passion and enthusiasm amongst the communities has motivated them to adopt the project and re-brand it as Our Place.

Rhianydd from Hangleton Our Place steering group spoke about how families can get involved:

'The best way I can describe the benefits is to talk about the experiences of two groups I’m involved with. The first is Pebbles, a group for parents and carers of children with severe disabilities. In 2017, we worked with the Festival to put on a show especially for the children – we’ve never had the chance to do that before and it was a massive success.

The other group, Hangleton Fun for Families - a support group for families on low income – were able to take a group of 50 to see the No Fit State circus thanks to the Pay It Forward ticket scheme. Everyone had the time of their lives and I was able to take my son who has severe autism and learning difficulties, he was completely relaxed throughout the show and for those who know him, that’s not often the case! It really energised the group and gave them a taste for doing so much more.'


Over in East Brighton, Chris described how the partnership has inspired Whitehawk residents to get involved:

'In the first year I remember Kate Tempest mentioned how much she was looking forward to coming out to perform in Whitehawk and Hangleton. That had an amazing effect on us, because we so rarely hear the names of our communities in such a positive way. Last year, through the Pay It Forward scheme, a group of us went to see Adam, the story of a young person transitioning in Egypt. It wasn’t the sort of show I would normally go to but it was the most moving thing I have ever seen.'

Nicole Monney, from the community development charity Hangleton & Knoll Project, gives a hint of what we can expect to see at Our Place this May:

'This year the steering groups have been working on even bigger programmes in each area. We’re working with more artists, with schools, community groups, GP practices, health centres, libraries, and so many others. The arts do so much for wellbeing and happiness and are giving a real sense of community in Hangleton and Whitehawk.'

Our Place is a free event and takes place over two weekends during the Festival: 

Saturday 18th May at Manor Gym, Whitehawk 

Saturday 25th May at Hangleton Community Centre

The full programme will be announced soon; in the meantime, look out for these exciting outdoor events as part of the line-up:

My House by Apocalyptic Circus is a circus theatre experience for young children and their families. Look through the doors and windows of this magical, quirky structure and explore the habits and routines of this unusual home. Supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Just So Festival.

Upswing’s Catch Me, a playful and dynamic pop-up style performance and installation, blending dance and acrobatics.

Supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Thanks to Our Place supporters – University of Sussex, The Chalk Cliff Trust and Higgidy. 


Five Minutes with: Seeta Patel

Not Today’s Yesterday is an international collaboration between UK award-winning Bharatanatyam artist Seeta Patel and Australian choreographer Lina Limosani. This work blends classical Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) and contemporary dance in a striking, intelligent and engaging evisceration of ‘pretty’ and ‘suitable’ historical stories. It is a one-woman show which subversively co-opts whitewashing against itself. 

We have a quick chat with Seeta Patel to find out more about the show... 

Is your event touring, a premiere, or a one-off for the Brighton Festival?

It had a run at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2017, then a UK tour, a show in Italy and India and will continue to tour in Autumn 2019.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s seductive in its storytelling and visually layered, with and evocative sound design. But I can only touch the tip of the iceberg with words. This is an unusual show sitting between dance and theatre that needs to be seen. In the words of a writer from the ‘twobrowngirls’ publication who saw the work in its early days:

“I’d seen the work in progress around a year ago and it was haunting, hypnotic and extremely clever in its execution. Through the medium of a fairy-tale story, it draws people in with eerie familiarity, but as with any fairy-tale there are always dark undertones. Parts are grotesque and exaggerated with caricatures of colonial supremacy, but other parts are gentle and vulnerable as Seeta gazes wide-eyed into the depths of what was.”


Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The inspiration stems from our concerns that revisionist and airbrushed histories have become a central issue of tension throughout the world, particularly in Western democracies. Britain and Australia, amongst others, have sordid histories and relationships with indigenous and migrant communities. Skewed histories fuel a distorted sense of nationalism. This work aims to open up conversation through a clever appropriation of whitewashed histories.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

From children to the elderly and anyone that likes hearing stories and wants to be taken on a journey. This work is relatable to those versed as well as new to dance. The show is a great way into the medium of dance through nuanced storytelling and visuals. It is attractive to those interested in relevant political questions (without being bashed over the head with politics). It is an emotional and visual way into a complex set of political questions, which can then be chewed over in our special post-show discussion with me and invited guests.

What will surprise people about this show?

There is some very impactful imagery in the work and lots and lots of small details to be tantalised by. And the end is an exquisite hyperbole – operatic even.

Buy tickets to Not Today's Yesterday or check out our dance programme.


Mali in Bloom: Brighton Festival’s branding for 2019

Each year, we’re always excited to reveal the artwork for the Festival and this year has seen a particularly exciting creative collaboration between design agency Johnson Banks and illustrator Simon Prades.

Johnson Banks commissioned freelance illustrator Simon Prades to create a hand drawn illustration which was digitally composed to bring Rokia’s image to life. The campaign imagery uses the Brighton Festival ‘F’ identity enveloped within the silhouette, filled with layers of indigenous African hibiscus flowers.

Michael Johnson, Creative Director of Johnson Banks told us how the idea came about:

“From the very first briefing meetings, we were keen to use Rokia’s powerful profile in the designs to clearly mark it as her festival. Simon’s illustration forms a striking silhouette that is a celebration of growth, movement and the ‘coming together’ that the Festival represents.”


Johnson explains that the branding is deliberately broad --- “We want people to have a sense of the breadth of the Festival, the life and spirit that Rokia brings to her work and her projects and the can-do positivity that she stands for.”

Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director, Malian musician Rokia Traoré explores the themes of identity, movement and humanity particularly in African culture and histories. Using her own image to represent the Festival, Rokia’s aim is to inspire and empower individuals and communities to meet, listen and pass on stories to the next generation.

The London-based creative agency designed our distinctive Festival identity in 2013. For the last six years since it’s been the focal point for our branding, with each guest director, from writer Michael Rosen in 2013 to artist David Shrigley in 2018, given an individual design.

Johnson added: “For local Brighton residents, the wider region and nationally, the branding helps signify that the Festival is approaching and what artists they can expect to see in May.”

Look out for the design appearing across Brighton & Hove, from the Festival brochure to billboard posters, t-shirts and bags.

Find out more about Johnson Banks' Brighton Festival branding here

Welcome to Brighton Festival 2019: An introduction from Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2019, Malian musician Rokia Traoré, shares her story and the inspiration behind this year’s Festival. Rokia introduces us to her home city of Bamako and to some of the Malian artists appearing in Brighton for the first time. 


Video by Echo Video

Brighton Festival Introduction

Catch a glimpse of just some of the artists and performers appearing at Brighton Festival 2019. This May, we welcome artists from around the world and right next door to tell their stories. Join us for three weeks of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature and spoken word across Brighton & Hove and Sussex. Meet. Listen. Pass It On. 


Video by Echo Video

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.