Brighton Festival 2020Public booking opens: Wed 19 Feb, 9am

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Brighton Festival looks forward to 2021 with Lemn Sissay returning as Guest Director

Following Brighton Festival’s digital programme during lockdown, poet and author Lemn Sissay MBE has confirmed he will return as guest director in 2021. Brighton Festival at Home featured a selection of artists and events that were due to take place across the city in May. The alternative version attracted online audiences from across the world - from local school children and families taking part in their own mini children’s parade to Lemn Sissay’s live reading with viewers joining from Africa to America. 




Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“We are delighted that Lemn has agreed to stay on as guest director and we are determined to plan ahead for next year with live events, as well as using the lessons learned from this digital experience. The public’s support, through donating back ticket purchases, making a voluntary donation or accepting a credit voucher, shows the level of affection for Brighton Festival. There has been a huge gap in the city’s cultural life this year and we want to deliver a Festival that is stronger than ever but is also responsive to how arts events will need to adapt to make audiences feel safe. Lemn’s artistic vision and the way he can speak to all of us about the things that really matter feels vitality important now. We can all look forward to Brighton Festival 2021 infused with his creative input and imagination.”

Due to the coronavirus crisis, Brighton Festival 2020 was cancelled for the first time in its 53-year history and as a registered charity, lost almost 65% of its income that would have come from ticket sales.

On his re-appointment as guest director, Lemn Sissay commented:

“This year has taught us that everything cannot be mended but the act of trying is everything. The arts bring people together, whether they are in a physical space or on a digital platform. Artists are resilient, creative and forward-thinking in making sense of the world and we can take this exciting opportunity to shape Brighton Festival for a brave new world. I’m honoured to see where it will take us and to be with you to experience it together.”

Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA nominated award winning writer, best-selling author, prolific speaker and performer who has inspired audiences across the world. He was the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics and his Landmark Poems can be found on the walls of hospitals, libraries, pubs, universities and train stations, bringing his writing to communities in public spaces every day.

Each year, Brighton Festival attracts over 150,000 visitors to its events across three weeks in May. It contributes significantly to the event and tourism economy in Brighton & Hove, alongside events such as Brighton Fringe, The Great Escape, Charleston Festival and Artists Open Houses. Established in 1967, it is the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England, a celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and community events in venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and East Sussex. The Festival attracts the most exciting performers from across the globe, as well as promoting local artists and bringing fresh, challenging new work to the region.

Brighton Festival 2021 is due to take place from 1-23 May 2021, to help secure its future, donations can be made by Text BTNFEST to 70970 for £5 or 70191 for £10 or visit brightonfestival.org/donate

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Supports #FreelanceTaskForce

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is committed to supporting freelance theatre and performance creatives during these uncertain times. Along with more than 50 other arts organisations we signed this open letter and are offering a paid freelance contract for three months this summer.

Further details about the opportunity can be found here. Deadline: midday Wednesday 3rd June

An Open Letter to Theatre and Performance Makers  

This is a letter to self-employed and freelance theatre and performance makers in the UK. To the actors, playwrights, directors, choreographers, stage managers, designers, stage crews and set-builders to name just a few.

We really miss being with you during this period of lockdown. Making theatre and performance is a collaborative endeavour, so we are particularly affected by having to be apart from one another right now. We’re not able to come together, in the same space, to share the experience of a live performance. We’re not able to practise and enjoy our artform in its most basic form.

It’s now looking increasingly likely that won’t be possible for months to come, and we recognise that many freelancers face real uncertainty about if and how they will be able to continue to work in theatre. 70% of people who work in theatre and performance in the UK are freelance or self-employed, and it’s for this workforce, in all its diversity and complexity, that the impact of the current situation is most acute.

During these past weeks we have had conversations with many of you to understand your needs and the ways you have been affected. We are writing to express our support for you, and to lay out some practical steps we are taking to improve the situation based on these conversations.

As well as exploring ways of producing work with freelancers during lockdown, and using this time to develop new projects with freelancers for the future, we are also are working together to coordinate our response to the government, to articulate clearly what we can offer and what we need.

Most urgently, we are calling for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended in line with furloughing, for all self-employed workers, and in the specific case of theatre and performance workers, until theatres are able to safely reopen. We also want to see criteria removed from the scheme which are stopping legitimate and much-needed claims.

Some of you are already involved in these conversations. We welcome your voices and need to hear from more of you in the conversations to come. Your unique networks, skillsets, perspectives, and ideas are vital to the entire sector, and we need to work with you in our response to this crisis.

Each of the organisations who’ve signed this letter are committed to reaching out to their family of self- employed and freelance theatre makers; listening to how this is affecting your work and lives, and to your needs and ideas for the future.

More than that, we want to facilitate the establishment of a national task force of self-employed theatre and performance makers. The purpose of the task force is to strengthen the influence of the self-employed theatre and performance community. It would create ongoing points of connection between freelancers and organisations, and amplify the voice of the self-employed in the conversations to come. To help establish the task force, each of the organisations signing this letter will support a freelancer to join the group, ensuring they are paid for their time.

We want to offer a message of hope and solidarity. Our well-practised ability to work together, to form connections, and build relationships will help us through this. One day, hopefully soon, we will all be able to meet together, as people have done for centuries, in a shared space, for a shared experience. In the meantime, we remain committed to working for you and with you towards a sustainable future for theatre and performance.

Interview with caravan showcase artist Andy Field

Andy Field is an artist, writer and curator and is one of the participating artists selected to take part in caravan, the biennial showcase of English performance as part of Brighton Festival. We spoke to him about how he’s adapted from creating a physical piece of theatre for an online audience.


Can you tell us about the show you were working on for caravan at the Festival? 

We would have been presenting a show called ‘News News News’. We were working with a group of primary school children who become a local TV news crew. The idea is that they make short films about news subjects that matter to them. We then use the films to form part of a live theatre show and the audience get to see behind the scenes and there is a live news broadcast that the children have made from a tiny child size studio on stage.

What was your reaction when you realised the Festival was being cancelled and your show wouldn’t be happening? 

We were pretty devastated. We love making this show and I was really excited to get to know the children. It’s always really exciting to be part of Brighton Festival as it’s so well known and full of interesting artists. In terms of the caravan showcase, a lot of what me and my partner, Beckie Darlington do relies heavily on working internationally to sustain ourselves. Caravan is an unparalleled chance of getting to meet people from around the world who might be interested in working with us. It isn’t simply about the money and the missed opportunity we’ve lost but also the future opportunities we were hoping might unfold as a consequence.


How important is a platform like caravan for emerging artists like yourself? 

The kind of work we make and for a lot of the other artists in caravan, it’s all about the live encounter, what it means to actually be there. Presenting that work to a carefully curated group of international professionals, who might be interested in supporting you, that opportunity is really important.

It’s really interesting to see the amount of resourceful and ingenious digital work that is taking place, but we work in live performance for a reason, it’s because we cherish that act of gathering and the political and artistic potential in that. Without it you can feel a bit bereft.

Do you think the digital version of caravan will be useful for connecting with producers internationally? 

Absolutely. The one thing that’s made us feel better about the loss of showing at Brighton Festival is how quickly, resourcefully and enthusiastically the curators of caravan have responded. The fact that they’ve tried to make the best of this situation and try to ensure that there’s still is an opportunity for those artists is really wonderful. I’m very grateful for them for putting the effort in to making this happen.

After the pandemic, I hope it will have a lasting impact in opening people’s eyes to new opportunities. Caravan have said to us there are people who would never have come to the live showcase because they were busy with other events or because they couldn’t afford the travel, who want to be a part of the digital version. It’s allowing us to connect with people who we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to if it wasn’t in a digital format.


As an artist how have you been coping with lockdown? Has it given you time to create new work or have you had to look at new ways to earn an income?

My partner and I have taken some of the ideas behind the show and turned it into a new project that children could do at home during lockdown.

We created the ‘News News News Reporters Club’, which is a free five-day activity pack that enables them to create their own DIY radio news show from their own home using just a pen, paper and a mobile phone. We provide an activity pack, some recordings to listen to and some news jingles to play with and children can make their own news show! Hopefully it gives them an opportunity to do something creative and reflect on what’s happening in the world in a playful way.

Check out the News News News Reporters Club Activity Pack here 

The response has been amazing. People have downloaded the pack from as far away as Australia, Brazil and China and then emailed it over to us. Just this morning we had a News show from a 6-year-old in Tasmania.

How have you been involved with caravan’s digital offer?

I’ve been asked to curate a series of podcasts to accompany the showcase that we’re calling Caravan Radio. One of the things you miss with the digital showcase is the opportunity to get to know each other as people. The aim of the podcasts is to provide a forum in which you can hear something a little more informal from the artists about their work and what they’ve been doing during this strange time. I’ve been curating and recording a series of conversations between caravan artists and interviews with different delegates all over the world.

The amazing thing about this pandemic is the fact that everyone in the world has been experiencing the same thing in different ways. Finding out how different people have been affected by this global crisis has been really interesting.

What are you hoping the new normal will look like?

From an artistic point of view, perhaps we wouldn’t take the value of social gathering for granted quite so much. The simple acts of human encounter that live performance is so good at, perhaps we would cherish that more having been starved of them for so long.

And is that what you’re looking forward to the most?

No, probably the kind of human encounter I’m looking forward to the most is just being able to sit in a pub garden in the sunshine and have a drink with my friends. Having a really good meal in a busy restaurant, simple things like that.

Find out more about Andy here 

Read an interview with caravan Director Gavin Stride here

Interview by Liberty-Rose Gatcombe, University of Brighton, Multi-media Broadcast Journalism student placement: @liberty3rose

Love Letters at Home will premiere at Brighton Festival at Home

Love Letters at Home will premiere at Brighton Festival at Home on Wed 20 May 2020. 

Fuel have announced a digital international tour of Uninvited Guests’ acclaimed show Love Letters Straight From Your Heart. The new digital version of the show Love Letters at Home will be performed live via Zoom to an audience of up to 90 (45 pairs) each night and will ‘visit’ 14 venues throughout the UK and beyond. 

Love Letters at Home is a joyful, open-hearted show that will help people feel connected at a time when many are isolated and missing their loved ones. First performed by Uninvited Guests in 2007, the original show was a critical hit and played to audiences at over 30 venues including Southbank Centre, RSC Stratford, Fierce Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe.

Directed by Paul Clarke and devised by performers Jess Hoffmann and Richard Dufty, Love Letters at Home is somewhere between a wedding reception and a radio dedication show. Before the performance, audience members are invited to send in music requests, dedications and declarations of love to those they care about past and present. These words are incorporated into each performance; dedications are spoken, toasts are made, speeches are given, songs are sung and dances danced. Every performance of Love Letters at Home is unique and collaboratively authored with its audience, who temporarily become a close community for the duration of the event.

Kate McGrath, Director of Fuel said:



‘A few weeks ago, we had an idea: could we bring Love Letters online? We found that this beautiful, moving show, which has always had the power to bring people together, translates brilliantly into a digital platform. Because the audience is at the heart of the production, the shared participatory experience comes close to recreating the feeling of a night out at a physical venue. It’s exciting that people all over the world will now be able enjoy this and I hope that it will go some way towards bringing people closer together.’

Love Letters at Home has been commissioned by First Art, a Creative People and Places project, as part of its Go the Distance remote festival for audiences in Ashfield, Mansfield, Bolsover and North East Derbyshire.

Love Letters at Home will premiere at Brighton Festival at Home on Wed 20 May 2020. Participant numbers to this event are limited. Fill in this form for a chance to be invited.

Interview with Director of caravan Gavin Stride

The caravan showcase has been run by Farnham Maltings within Brighton Festival since 2008 and introduces a curated group of England’s brightest performance artists and companies to festival organisers and programmers from around the world; with the ambition of developing new partnerships, collaborations and ways of working. 

Caravan was due to take place in this year’s Festival on 11 and 12 May but since the cancellation, caravan’s Director, Gavin Stride and the team at Farnham Maltings have worked to bring the event online. We spoke to Gavin about how they adapted quickly to the changing times.

You must have been devastated that caravan had to be cancelled as part of the Festival. How have you adapted to continue with caravan for delegates? 

Our initial response was ‘damn’ because it’s taken a lot of planning and a lot of work. And the artists see caravan as their chance to present to the world. But when I discussed it with the team they said ‘we can still make this happen’.

I should emphasise that whilst this is about adapting into a digital showcase, I think it’s been clear we don’t just want to dump stuff online and go ‘there you go there’s the digital version of that’. It’s still by invitation and it’s still about building relationships. The team has put loads of energy into trying to find the best way to keep that spirit of caravan which is about generosity and getting people to talk to each other. I’m really encouraged by the way they’ve responded to that challenge. I hope it feels human and I hope it feels like people are meeting people, not just sitting in front of a screen and consuming. 

How will the caravan digital showcase work?

It’s a mixture of platforms; some of it is being done on Zoom and Slack and it will give delegates a chance to arrange one to one meetings with an artist or a company they’re interested in talking to. We’ve created a website with all of the digital content that each of the artists has produced for delegates to look at in their own time and from that, hopefully a relationship will evolve.

We’re also hosting conversations that might emerge, it would be impossible to host an event now without discussing the current times we find ourselves in. We’ve got keynote speakers and artists will be presenting their future ideas and short pitches so that they can show the work they’re interested in making.

How many delegates have registered this year and where are they located? 

We’re fully booked with just under 100 delegates and we deliberately kept it that way. We wanted to create an event where people feel like it matters that they are there and are part of the dialogue. The idea is to make a community over the two days where people can get to know each other.

Delegates are joining from every part of the world: South America, USA, South East Asia. This year we’ve had more European contacts register than we’ve had in the past, there seems to be more of an appetite for forging relationships with English-based artists.

You spoke at the Festival launch back in February and mentioned that you’d received a huge response from artists to take part this year. Why do you think that is? 

Why are we getting more? I think people are becoming more savvy and actually we need it to create a range of different partnerships and to sustain ourselves and that’s even more true now. We are always curious to make sure that we get a mixture of artists that we think are the new talent, I think that’s what programmers and producers are interested in and look to us for the next generation of up and coming makers. The artists who might not have been selected for the British Council’s Edinburgh Festival showcase and we’re comfortable with that. But we’re also getting artists that are already known.

Paradoxically during this time of shut down, we’ve become very aware with how the world is inter-connected with each other. I hope we feel much more connected to a wider world. I think people are seeing and understanding the benefit of understanding their place in the world. Not just in a local sense.

Do you think that some positive will come out of this?

I think good can come out of this and it relies on us as a community, it’s not going to happen organically. 

We have got to be determined to take this moment. Nobody else knows what’s going on so it’s in our hands to be able to shape and articulate what we want the new order to look like.

I think what’s interesting is even if we go back to a live experience and I hope we do, there are human interactions that are particular and special and are really useful to building trust and being able to read each other. In the future we will always augment that with a digital dimension to bring people in who can’t physically be there.

If I have a position of influence, it is to make sure any power that we do accrue is passed on to artists and audiences and communities. If I can open doors then great, let's encourage other people through those doors.

Why is it important to give young artists a platform like caravan to get their work recognised? 

I think young artists come un-trapped by the history of expectations of what art should or shouldn’t be. There is a whole cohort of young artists coming through who are playing with form, content, style and it’s delightful to see.

But I’m not sure I can argue for a young artist over anyone. What I hope is that we move away from these hierarchies and see that we’re all capable of expressing who we are in all sorts of ways. I hope we can become curious in people who know how to make extraordinary art and connect with their audiences. It’s not about experience it’s about the originality and the quality of the idea.

How do you think the arts will cope with the aftermath of the pandemic?

I think this situation is ours for the making. I’m sure that artists at their best will find original and inspiring ways of responding. Making art and making sense of the world is a key quality of being human and people will find ways of doing that. It may not look like the old order and that’s OK.

If it means we end up sitting around a fire with a storyteller because that’s possible and exciting, then so be it. It’s not for me to say how artists will find that solution but I promise you they will.

Interview by Liberty-Rose Gatcombe, University of Brighton, Multi-media Broadcast Journalism student placement: @liberty3rose

Find out more about caravan here 

Read an interview with caravan artist Andy Field here

Socially Engaged Art Salon Exhibition Goes Digital

This May, Socially Engaged Art Salon’s (SEAS) latest exhibition, somewhere was due to take place throughout Brighton Festival. In response to the coronavirus crisis, the exhibition is now available online. Discover the exhibition here.

In 2019, SEAS commissioned artist Maria Amidu to create a new collaborative work framed by the themes of migration and displacement. The work began with a potluck meal at SEAS, entitled, a seat at the table for seven visual artists whose artistic practices have been influenced by experiences of ‘being from elsewhere’.

 

To catalyse the conversation during the meal Maria made place cards using envelopes she stencilled with the words: homeland, recipes, art, journeys, culture, identity and displacement, instead of the artists’ names. Each envelope contained a handwritten provocation. Midway through the lunch, Maria asked each artist to open their envelope and speak for five minutes about what their word evoked for them. The conversations that took place as a result were recorded. 



Listening to these conversations a few weeks later Maria wrote seven short texts using the process of free writing using one word from each of the artists' monologue as a starting point and writing within a self-imposed, 15-minute deadline. The prompt words from the recording and the provocations words from the meal were: cause (homeland); craving (recipes); urge (art); erasure (journeys); drops (culture); water (identity); and booklet (displacement). 

Central to the exhibition is somewhere, Maria’s resulting commission piece. Visitors to the site can watch one-minute, experimental films she created using a mobile phone, overlaid with the artists reading the texts.  Pages from the artist book and the original texts are also featured on the site.


somewhere is testament to the stories told during a seat at the table, by artists with migrant and refugee background and speaks to the troublesome, contingent and precarious nature of being from elsewhere.

On Sat 15 May, SEAS will be facilitating a Zoom meeting to discuss socially engaged art in the time of social distancing. They welcome those working in the creative industry to discuss how artists can engage with their communities while maintaining social distancing.  Register for the event here. 

Find out more about Maria Amidu: www.mariaand.co 


Brighton Festival Thanks Everyone At Home

1500 ticket buyers have donated back their ticket purchases to Brighton Festival after it was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. As a thank you for the public’s on-going support and generosity, Brighton Festival is offering a selection of free online events, featuring artists who would have performed in Brighton this May, along with contributions from artistic partners.

Brighton Festival at Home began with the Children’s Parade at Home on Sat 2 May and continues with live performances; family-friendly activities; artist masterclasses and a few surprise messages from famous faces, scheduled across digital platforms throughout May when the Festival would have been in full swing across the city.


This year’s Brighton Festival Guest Director, Lemn Sissay MBE will host an exclusive live reading and debate based on his best-selling memoir, My Name is Why. Reflecting on a childhood in foster care, self-expression and Britishness, Lemn will be in conversation with writer Hannah Azieb Pool, with questions invited from the public.

Brighton-based Rachel Blackman was due to perform the world premiere of her Festival commissioned show and will create a new adaptation live from her home. Tiny Failures will see Rachel interview a guest artist to recount their personal life disasters, in an uplifting and humorous look at how we can all take comfort from each other’s mistakes.


On Saturday 9 May at 10pm, Brighton Festival will partner with Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales, a live audio broadcast taking listeners on a journey into the Sussex woods to hear nightingale birdsong mixed with a real-time duet with guest musician Alice Zawadksi and a special poetry reading by Lemn Sissay.

I Fagiolini performs Monteverdi: The Other Vespers at Brighton Festival 2017

Comedians Sofie Hagen and Mark Watson give us a glimpse into how they’re coping with life in lockdown with short video sketches. Performance artist Rachel Mars reveals the secrets behind a celebrity love letter in an intimate late-night video chat with friends. British vocal ensemble, I Fagiolini will be offering a sing-along musical lesson with their performers led by acclaimed director Robert Hollingworth. Australian circus act Gravity & Other Myths share their acrobatic skills in a series of physical tutorials. Drag Queen Story Hour UK’s Aida H Dee will bring her own unique style with a fun and educational reading for families to enjoy together. And in an exclusive partnership with Fuel Theatre, the festival will be running a competition to win an invitation to take part in Love Letters Straight From Your Heart, a live participatory event in which the audience and actors offer dedications and declarations of love, past and present.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the way our audiences responded to the news of the festival’s cancellation. By donating in such numbers our community has shown how much the festival means to them and enabled us to look forward to the future with confidence that it will return. Although we can’t replicate the festival experience, we wanted to thank everyone for their support, connect online and keep the spirit of Brighton Festival alive. We are grateful to our guest director Lemn Sissay and the other artists who have offered to share their work digitally. The arts have the power to lift our spirits, inspire our imaginations and support our mental health during difficult times, and we hope online audiences enjoy a small part of the Festival at home this May.”

Brighton Festival is a registered charity and almost two thirds of the festival costs would have been covered by ticket sales. Brighton Festival at Home events are free to watch online and viewers have the option of contributing a suggested donation in order to help support the Festival’s future and its work with artists and community partner organisations.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic Brighton Festival 2020 was cancelled for the first time in its 53-year history. Scheduled to take place from 2 to 24 May 2020, the largest annual, multi-arts festival in England would have featured over 120 cultural events across the region, including 17 premieres, commissions, co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists.

The biennial caravan showcase brings the best of new English performance online

The caravan biennial showcase of English performance as part of Brighton Festival, has brought its 2020 programme to digital platforms in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Shaped in the same spirit of informality and accessibility, the digitised showcase will test ways of developing an international dialogue that seeks to minimise the environmental cost of global travel associated with the event.

The showcase has been running within the Brighton Festival since 2008, and introduces a curated group of England’s brightest performance companies, to festival organisers and programmers from around the world; with the ambition of developing new partnerships, collaborations and ways of working. 

On Mon 11 and Tue 12 May, a series of live events will be hosted on Zoom for registered delegates including provocations from guest speakers, pitches of new work and one-to-one meetings with artists. Artist and writer Andy Field will provide a narration to the showcase by hosting caravan radio, a series of podcasts featuring interviews with the artists, audio excerpts and sound pieces with the intention of helping the delegates to deepen their understanding of the artists and their work in a creative way. Alongside this, the caravan team will facilitate connections and conversations between artists and delegates through a dedicated Slack account.

Farnham Maltings produced artists Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas said: 

“Right now it feels more important than ever for us to be able to connect with presenters and fellow artists and be part of our wider community. We are so excited to be part of caravan’s digital showcase experiment and are really looking forward to having the chance to share and discuss with colleagues and friends what our future might hold and how we might begin to plan for it.If the current crisis has taught us one thing, it is that everything is connected”


Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings and caravan commented: “Almost all the solutions to how we live better and more sustainable lives, will come from understanding our place in the world, being generous and collaborating. caravan is our attempt to create the conditions for this to happen, to create a grass roots set of international relationships.”


To centralise all the new activity, a dedicated website is being created in which delegates can find out about the selected artists, watch film footage, book for the Zoom events and one-to-one artist meetings. This information will be shared in advance of the two-day event.

Registration remains open for delegates to attend the digital showcase. Contact Hannah Slimmon, International Producer at hannah.slimmon@farnhammaltings.com to take part.

Watch Again: Ezra Furman

Watch Ezra Furman perform at Brighton Festival 2017 with 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.

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.

Watch Again: Chineke!

At Brighton Festival 2019,  Chineke! brought their extraordinary energy and enthusiasm to the evening’s performance, taking us on a journey through the 1920s from New York to Weill’s Vienna.

Chineke!: Founded in 2015 by Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, the Chineke! Foundation provides career opportunities for young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) musicians in the UK and Europe.

Chineke!'s flagship ensemble is the Chineke! Orchestra which comprises professional musicians from across the continent and further afield, brought together several times a year to perform at leading festivals in England and abroad. As well as performing standard orchestral repertoire, Chineke! champions the works of BME composers both living and from the past.

Children’s Parade at Home Sat 2 May, 10.30am for 5 minutes

Help us keep the spirit of the Children’s Parade alive this year and have your own mini parades at home! 

All of us at Brighton Festival, and our artists at Same Sky were so sad to cancel this year’s Parade, that when received an email from Tobias at Balfour Primary asking if the parade could happen in a different way, we could not resist but do exactly that.

So, if you are from one of the 60 Brighton & Hove schools or thousands of children, teachers, parents, artists and volunteers who had already put in so much work into preparing for this year, then all of this love, creativity and imagination won’t be lost. 

And if you are not, don’t worry because everyone is welcome! Young and old, local or global, let’s ALL come together and get creative in this celebration of our children, their creativity and incredible imaginations.


Whether you want to conga around your kitchen, wave a flag from your window, blow a whistle from your balcony, shimmy in your sitting room or dress-up on your doorstep – there is no set theme and anything goes!

At 10.30am on the day, we will signal the start the mini parade by sharing a samba drumming call on social media.

Share your creativity on our socials 

Tag #ChildrensParadeAtHome and @brightonfestival (and your school if you like!)
 If you are not on social media you can send pictures to marketing@brightonfestival.org And don’t forget to join the event on Facebook.

Need some inspiration?

Same Sky artists have created free and easy tutorials to make something fun from recycled materials found around the house such as a broom puppet, trumpets, masks and hats.
Click here for the artist tutorials

Other ideas include:

  • Dress up, make costumes, puppets, a mask, a headband, face paints
  • Sing, shout, bang pots, make noise with whatever you have to hand
  • Dance, prance, and pose!  

We hope you have lots of fun and thank you for taking part!

Please help us spread the word
You can use this image (right click to download it) on your feeds to show you are taking part
Brighton Festival Children's Parade Take Part Too



















Brighton Festival & Same Sky’s Children’s Parade is kindly sponsored by Southern Water. 


Interview: Brighton Festival Photography with Summer Dean

Summer Dean is a freelance photographer/film maker and artist based in Brighton.
We caught up with her to find out what she’s doing to keep creative during lockdown and take a look back at some of her favourite Festival images from the last few years.

What is your role at Brighton Festival?

I’ve worked for the Festival since about 2013, just before I graduated from university and their marketing team commission me as a freelance photographer and film maker. Last year I brought together a small team of people to work with me to create content throughout the Festival. We were due to work on this year’s Festival but since it had to be cancelled I’m now working with the team on some other projects.

What inspires you about working with Brighton Festival?

For me, it starts with the fact that every performance and the Festival as a whole is the result of so many creative people coming together and making things happen. I get to see so many performances and meet artists from all over the world which is really inspiring to me.

I interview everyone from the artists to producers working behind the scenes. Having those candid chats with people before the show and getting insight into why they’re doing it, why it’s important to them. I also interview audiences after shows to film their reactions, seeing them so excited and knowing they’ve got something out of it, creatively or emotionally.

That whole process is such a beautiful thing because I get to meet different people and it’s so rewarding for the artists and Festival team to see what the public think of their performances.


What are the challenges you come up against as a creative freelancer?

It’s a whole process - finding work, building relationships with people and then producing the work. When you’re a creative freelancer, and it goes for these current challenging times, it’s about being able to build those relationships, have the motivation to do a good job and be creative with the results so that your client will also be happy, that’s a challenge.

What advice would you give young people looking to become a freelance creative?

During university and even before, anyone who needed anything photographing, I would offer to do it! I can trace back every job I’ve done to a time where I offered something to someone that no one else was offering. Whether it was just taking a job for experience or doing it for little or no money.

Then there’s making sure that you’re not getting exploited. That’s a really big issue at the moment. Don’t have a blanket rule of “I don’t work for free” because benefits aren’t always money. Benefits might be just making that relationship. It’s about simultaneously doing the job, doing it well but also building the relationship with the person you’re working for.

How are you dealing with being a creative freelancer since the Covid-19 pandemic?

I’m really grateful and lucky that I’m surrounded by a lot of creative people. One thing that’s quite interesting is a lot of the freelancers who are usually back to back busy from 6am to midnight, suddenly have all a lot of extra time. There’s an opportunity now to connect with them and come up with new ideas together.

I’ve just launched a TV channel called Rather Proper TV. I wanted to create a platform so people can still make content and share it if they want to. I’ve got a comedy show that I’m building up based on performers filming things around their house and reimagining their practice. How do you do a theatre show from your house? What does that look like? How is that for the audience?

If you would like to get involved with Rather Proper TV please email: contact@ratherpropertv.com

What tips do you have for anyone struggling to stay creative at the moment?

Something I’ve been trying to do is not put too much pressure on myself. It’s taken me a good two weeks to say do you know what, it’s OK to not be creative, I don’t have to be on all the time.

You don’t have to be creative all the time. You don’t have to have the next ground-breaking idea. You don’t have to have all the tech knowledge. Now is a time to learn new things, make connections and be yourself

Follow Summer Dean on Instagram
Check out Summer Dean's website 

Interview by Liberty-Rose Gatcombe, University of Brighton, Multi-media Broadcast Journalism student placement: @liberty3rose

Watch Again: DakhaBrakha

Watch again DakhaBrakha plus DJ set. Enjoy this Brighton Festival Exclusive, originally live streamed on Sun 10 May 2015.

Plumbing the depths of contemporary roots and rhythms, Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha creates a world of unexpected new music. Rooted in Ukrainian culture but fusing Indian, Arabic, African, Russian and Australian instrumentation, the quartet has created a truly trans-national sound. Expect moments reminiscent of Radiohead, Chicks on Speed and even Hip-hop.

With a name that literally translates as ‘give/take’, DakhaBrakha was created in 2004 at Kiev’s Center of Contemporary Art by avant-garde theatre director Vladyslav Troitskyi. Theatre has left its mark on the band, with a strong visual aesthetic remaining an integral part of its thrilling live act. 

Since its formation, DakhaBrakha has performed at festivals in over 30 countries, bringing Ukrainian melodies to the hearts and consciousness of Ukraine’s younger generation and music-lovers worldwide.

Watch Again: Kate Tempest plus REMI

Kate Tempest plus REMI was originally live streamed on Fri 26 May, 2017. Watch the full show now, from the comfort of your own home.
Contains strong language

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

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

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

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Thank you for your support

It is with great sadness that we have had to close the doors of Brighton Dome and cancel Brighton Festival in light of the current climate. As you can imagine, this wasn’t an easy decision to make but something we felt was right for not only our audience but staff and artists involved.

Since sharing this difficult news, we have been inundated with kind messages and words from members of the public. We wanted to take this time to say thank you!

Thank you for your thoughts.

Thank you for reaching out with kind words.

Thank you for continuing to support the arts.

Thank you from our CEO Andrew Comben:


The Arts and Culture sectors are going through a period of difficulty, as are other public venues. Most arts organisations, like ours, are charities, we are reliant on the talented artists who want to perform at our venue and the dedicated audiences who come along. With social-distancing and isolation becoming part of our day-to-day, how we keep the arts alive is changing. We are no longer able to pack the house out as we did before to share culture and creativity as a community! Now, we are relying on the support and kindness of the public to keep us going. In these dark moments, we want to create opportunities to keep the arts alive, we are working to find new digital ways to reach our audiences. And while we are hard at work with that, we are so grateful for all those who are quietly, or loudly, cheering us along. So far we have received a total donation of £2.5k from ticket purchases which shows the generosity of a community in need.

Below we have shared a few of our favourite words of encouragement that we’ve received in person, over email or on our social media platforms. This is our way of saying THANK YOU, to give a little back to you, and to keep those spirits high in these uncertain times.

We believe the arts inspire and change lives. And access to art for everyone is a universal human right. Now more than ever, art can lift our spirits, brighten our days and support our mental health. If you would like to see the ways to support Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, take a look here.

We also want to say a special Thank You for those who have contributed directly over the past few days. Your generosity does not go unnoticed, we are blown away by your kindness.

A Special Thank You

Robert, Rachel and Trustees at The Chalk Cliff Trust
Mel at Amex
Susan at Rayne Foundation
Margaret Field at Nursing Association Trust

Thank You for your words of support 


“Thank you for the email about sadly cancelling Brighton Festival. We currently live in very strange and worrying times. The term ‘uncharted waters ‘comes to mind.

I purchased tickets for 10 events - 2 tickets for each event. I would like very much to donate the money from these tickets to the Brighton Dome charity and therefore do not require a refund. I’ve listed below the events I booked to make it easier for you to correlate this with your system. Hope it helps.” – Valleri, via email

“Thoughts and thanks to everyone involved in what promised to be another incredible May jam-packed with arts and culture from around our city, country and globe. I hope everyone will support in whatever way they can, be it kind words, deeds or donations #brighton #arts #culture” – Dom, via Twitter

“So sorry to hear this but clearly the right decision in the circumstances - sending [love] to all involved, including the lovely people @brightfest who make it all happen. Fingers crossed that 2021 can be a vintage year!” Dan, via Twitter

“I am so gutted that @brightdome @brightfest 2020 has been cancelled. What a huge loss for everyone in the #Brighton area and the artists who come from all over the world.” Charlotta, via Twitter

“This is very sad news. What a devastating impact this virus is having. I am so sorry for you, for Andrew and all the team. I’m also sorry for us - the Festival is an important part of our lives and a focal moment of the year. Of course we will donate our ticket payments as donations. Please let me know if there’s any other way we can support you. Take care.” - Diane via email

“We had naturally feared this would happen and we are so sad for you and everyone who puts so much time and effort into making it such a wonderful and unique event. Please send our best to Andrew and the team and hope you all stay well. Beat wishes.” Julia & Jon, via email

“I knew this was inevitable but it is still a shock. So much effort goes into the planning of the Festival, it must be heart-breaking. I do feel for all the artists, musicians and performer whose livelihoods are disappearing event by event, venue by venue. Be assured of the support of those of us who love the Festival and admire all your work for it. Best wishes.” – Betty, via email

“It is a sad time for us all and I am sorry to hear that the Brighton Festival has been cancelled. As a supporter I would like to be of help and am donating the cost of all of my tickets to the Festival. Good luck. Best wishes.” – Helena, via email

“Brighton Festival is so important to the city, of which we are proud to be a part. We’re sending our support and love to the team and all the artists involved. We will be here for you when the Festival is back up and running - I know we will need you more than ever.” Steven Marshall-Taylor, Head of Senior School, Brighton College

This is a truly inspiring selection of the wonderful, local and national support that we feel here at Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. We believe that the arts can help the individual, inspire new ways of thinking and build an encouraging community. If you are interested in supporting us do take a look at our donation page.

Again, Thank You.

Watch Again - Brighton Festival Live: Backbone

Watch Backbone this Easter Bank Holiday, live streamed originally on Thu 16 May 2019, 7.30pm

Sit back and enjoy some circus at home from Gravity & Other Myths
PLEASE NOTE: This recording has laser effects

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.

Winner of the Australian Dance Award (2018) for Outstanding Achievement in Physical Theatre, this is a stripped-back, raw showcase of human ability and connection. With a powerful live soundtrack and beautiful lighting design, expect ‘a genre-defying, thought-provoking, visual extravaganza…so intensely beautiful it makes you proud to be human.’(InDaily)

Gallery: Brighton Festival Brochure Covers 1967 - 1976

Look back through Brighton Festival's design history 

Check out the first ten years of Brighton Festival Programme Covers. 

Enjoy some graphic design through the decades, you can see more brochure covers here.



1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976


Brighton Festival 2020 is Cancelled for First Time in 53-Year History

It is with great sadness we announce that Brighton Festival 2020 is cancelled.

Based on the latest government advice around social distancing measures and the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the UK is projected to coincide with the timing of the Festival in May, all planned events have been suspended.

Brighton Festival was due to take place from 2 to 24 May 2020 and is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England. This is the first time since the Festival has been cancelled in its 53-year history. Over 120 cultural events were scheduled across the region, including 17 premieres, commissions, co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists. The annual Children’s Parade has also been affected and will not go ahead. Festival staff are working with artists and partners to discuss whether some events can happen at a later date or in a different way. Due to the scale of the festival and the inclusion of many international artists and touring companies, rescheduling the festival as a whole would not be feasible.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“The Festival team is devastated that this incredible programme, led by Guest Director Lemn Sissay won’t happen this year and that audiences won’t experience the diversity of artists coming from across the world to our city. Lemn’s vision was to build an ‘Imagine Nation’ at Brighton Festival. It seems to us that we need imagination, creativity and the strength of our community now more than ever. We are exploring what might be the most creative contribution the Festival and its artists can make at this time and we will share more on this when we can.

“We are aware that the whole of society is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but also realise the profound affect it will have on the cultural sector and on the economy of our city, to which the Festival is such an important contributor. It is vital we work together to support our staff, artists and partners and that Brighton & Hove’s rich cultural life can survive and emerge from this challenge, so we all continue our contribution to the life and wealth of the whole region.”

Brighton Festival 2020 Guest Director, the acclaimed poet and author Lemn Sissay commented:

“The cancellation of Brighton Festival is a huge blow for us all but it’s also inevitable given the severity of what we all face. I believe artists have a role to play and a gift to offer and the creativity that is in us all reminds us of the preciousness and beauty of life. Let’s cherish that now and emerge from this with renewed humanity and strength.”

Customers who have booked tickets for events will be contacted by the Festival ticket office as soon as possible with refund information.

Brighton Festival is a registered charity and almost two thirds of the festival costs would have been covered by ticket sales. Ticket holders are being offered the option to donate some or all of their ticket purchase in order to help support the Festival’s future and its work with artists and community partner organisations.

Since it was first established in 1967, Brighton Festival has given artists and performers at the cutting edge of artistic practice and on the edge of society, the creative space to have their voices heard and to showcase new work.

Cllr Alan Robins, Chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, Brighton & Hove City Council added:

“The cancellation of this year’s Festival is disappointing but inevitable given the current circumstances and is absolutely the right decision. We look forward to the Festival returning next year.”

Brighton Dome closed on Tue 17 Mar and is cancelling or postponing its events programme until further notice.

Brighton Dome Temporary Closure from Tue 17 Mar 2020

Following the UK Government’s new advice today to the public to avoid contact in social spaces including theatres, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Brighton Dome will be temporarily closed for events with effect from Tue 17 Mar 2020. Anyone with tickets to forthcoming events will be contacted and we will be working with artists and performers to reschedule as many dates as possible. We realise this is a huge blow to the arts in our city, but feel the health and safety of our audiences should take priority. Please bear with us as we put these plans into place and thank you for your understanding at this time.

Brighton Festival Brochure Covers: 1977 - 1986

Take a journey through Brighton Festival's design history 

Browse through our second decade of Brighton Festival programme covers. You can check out the first ten years here,

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

1983

1984

1985

1986

Free Things to Do at Brighton Festival

Discover free events happening in Brighton and beyond throughout May at Brighton Festival.


Children’s Parade
Sat 2 May

Join fellow children, parents and teachers as we fill the city with a sea of colour and creativity! This year's theme is Nature’s Marvels, celebrating the wonders of flora and fauna from around the world.

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2019
Washed Up Car-go
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

Artist Chris Dobrowolski’s playfully thought-provoking Washed Up Car-go features iconic Brighton landscapes, film, music, toy sea creatures and a lot of local pebbles to ask us to think about plastic pollution, consumerism and maritime art.  

The Young Americans
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

Today’s generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in this powerful new exhibition, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Rainmaker Gallery. Native artists from diverse tribal nations examine what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States with a display of fine art photography, printmaking and painting. Their explosive visual mix of techniques, experimentation and individual perspectives shatter clichéd perceptions of Indigenous art and life.


The Informals II
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

Artists Polina Medvedeva and Andreas Kühne present an interactive exhibition exploring music subcultures of Brighton, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival. Projections of video, text, music and dialogue tell stories of Brighton’s digital-savvy emerging talent who use musical culture to challenge stigmas and stereotypes at a time when politics is against them.
Come along to a live, improvised audio-visual performance on Wed 6 May, 5pm. The artists collaborate with local artists PhoneticBobbie Johnson, Ollie Hutchison and Marshall Mandiangu to create a collective portrait of, and give a platform to, Brighton’s extraordinary youth culture.



HALO
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

HALO is a large-scale immersive installation made by renowned Brighton-based artist duo Semiconductor following a residency at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. The duo are known for their innovative artworks which explore the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lenses of science and technology, blending experimental moving image techniques, scientific research and digital technologies. Allowing us to look at and listen to this data gives audiences a sense of something bigger than themselves. The installation is a multi-sensory experience of matter formation in the early universe generated through projections and sound played out upon hundreds of vertical piano strings. To support this exhibition, The Lighthouse are producing a series of workshops.


Art of Attachment

Vincent Dance Theatre world premiere Art of Attachment commissioned by Brighton-based Oasis Project. The film installation combines sound and moving image, exploring the devastating impact physical, sexual and emotional abuse on women’s lives and the complex bond between substance misusing mothers and their children. Hard-hitting and deeply moving, Art of Attachment celebrates the resilience and resolve of women and children, whose stories demand to be seen and heard.


Arrivals & Departures
Sat 2-Mon 11 May
Friend’s Meeting House

YARA + DAVINA bring a public artwork about birth, death and the journey in between. Arrivals + Departures takes the recognisable form of an arrivals and departures board, displaying the names of people submitted by the public as a way of celebrating a birth (arrival) or commemorating a death (departure).Capturing both the joy and sadness of an arrival’s hall or departure lounge, visitors and passers-by can choose to contribute names to acknowledge, celebrate and commemorate. Names may range from the personal to the political, from our unsung personal heroes to national treasures, as they are shared on the large-scale artwork via a live interaction. 

A Simple Act of Wonder
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

During May, through a series of colourful, collaborative interventions, acclaimed artists Walter & Zoniel bring their attention and irrepressible energy to Fabrica and Moulsecoomb, asking how we connect with each other as individuals and communities.


In C by the Sea
Sat 2 May

To coincide with Terry Riley's 85th birthday and Kronos Quartet's performance at Brighton Festival, young musicians from Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and East Sussex Music along with members of Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, will perform their interpretation of Terry Riley's iconic work, In C. This minimalist masterpiece for a flexible ensemble will see young musicians from across the region performing by the sea in locations including Brighton seafront.



A Weekend Without Walls | Crawley
Sat 9 May

Spend an afternoon at Queens Square, Crawley discovering exhilarating FREE and new pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From hiphop to circus, come and enjoy these playful and uplifting shows for all the family. Discover the programme here.



A Weekend Without Walls | Brighton Beach
Sun 10 May

Spend an afternoon at Brighton beach discovering exhilarating FREE and new pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From hiphop to circus, come and enjoy these playful and uplifting shows for all the family.


A Weekend Without Walls | The Level
Sat 23 & Sun 24 May

Spend an afternoon discovering exhilarating FREE and new pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From an interactive augmented reality trail to inspiring dance there will be something to appeal to all. Discover the programme here. 


Discover events for £10 and under.

10 Must-see Art exhibitions in Brighton This May

Discover a range of art events and exhibitions happening in Brighton and beyond throughout May. 

Washed Up Car-go | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Hove Warehouse

Artist Chris Dobrowolski’s playfully thought-provoking Washed Up Car-go features iconic Brighton landscapes, film, music, toy sea creatures and a lot of local pebbles to ask us to think about plastic pollution, consumerism and maritime art.  


The Young Americans | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Phoenix Art Space

Today’s generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in this powerful new exhibition, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Rainmaker Gallery. Native artists from diverse tribal nations examine what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States with a display of fine art photography, printmaking and painting. Their explosive visual mix of techniques, experimentation and individual perspectives shatter clichéd perceptions of Indigenous art and life.


The Informals II | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
The Lighthouse

Artists Polina Medvedeva and Andreas Kühne present an interactive exhibition exploring music subcultures of Brighton, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival. Projections of video, text, music and dialogue tell stories of Brighton’s digital-savvy emerging talent who use musical culture to challenge stigmas and stereotypes at a time when politics is against them.

Come along to a live, improvised audio-visual performance on Wed 6 May, 5pm. The artists collaborate with local artists Phonetic, Bobbie Johnson, Ollie Hutchison and Marshall Mandiangu to create a collective portrait of, and give a platform to, Brighton’s extraordinary youth culture.


HALO | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
ACCA

HALO is a large-scale immersive installation made by renowned Brighton-based artist duo Semiconductor following a residency at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. The duo are known for their innovative artworks which explore the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lenses of science and technology, blending experimental moving image techniques, scientific research and digital technologies.Allowing us to look at and listen to this data gives audiences a sense of something bigger than themselves.The installation is a multi-sensory experience of matter formation in the early universe generated through projections and sound played out upon hundreds of vertical piano strings. To support this exhibition, The Lighthouse are producing a series of workshops. 


Art of Attachment | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
ONCA Gallery

Vincent Dance Theatre world premiere Art of Attachment commissioned by Brighton-based Oasis Project. The film installation combines sound and moving image, exploring the devastating impact physical, sexual and emotional abuse on women’s lives and the complex bond between substance misusing mothers and their children. Hard-hitting and deeply moving, Art of Attachment celebrates the resilience and resolve of women and children, whose stories demand to be seen and heard. 


Arrivals & Departures | Free
Sat 2-Mon 11 May
Friend’s Meeting House

YARA + DAVINA bring a public artwork about birth, death and the journey in between. Arrivals + Departures takes the recognisable form of an arrivals and departures board, displaying the names of people submitted by the public as a way of celebrating a birth (arrival) or commemorating a death (departure). Capturing both the joy and sadness of an arrival’s hall or departure lounge, visitors and passers-by can choose to contribute names to acknowledge, celebrate and commemorate. Names may range from the personal to the political, from our unsung personal heroes to national treasures, as they are shared on the large-scale artwork via a live interaction. 


A Simple Act of Wonder | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Fabrica Gallery & Moulsecoomb 

During May, through a series of colourful, collaborative interventions, acclaimed artists Walter & Zoniel bring their attention and irrepressible energy to Fabrica and Moulsecoomb, asking how we connect with each other as individuals and communities. 


The Sleeping Tree
Sun 2-Sun 24 May
Hove Warehouse

Yorkshire-based interactive arts studio, Invisible Flock will present the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree, an immersive, three-dimensional, audio-visual experience of one of the last great rain forests of North Sumatra, Indonesia. The installation conveys a powerful sense of this endangered environment, flooding the senses with heat, mist, humidity and captivating and microscopically accurate sounds of the jungle. You will follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and return to their sleeping tree, one of the six majestic trees they have used for generations. 


Points of Departure
Thu 7-10 & Wed 13-Sun 17 May
Shoreham Port 

Ray Lee presents the world premiere of Points of Departure at Shoreham Port. Visitors are invited to take a walk through the atmospheric industrial landscape of Shoreham Port and experience the otherworldly sound and light installations. The installation is a series of giant towers holding suspended speaker cones which gradually swing higher and higher until each arm soars up over the heads of the audience ringing electronic tones. 


Discover the full programme here 

Free Day of Pop-up Performances Comes to Crawley This May

A Weekend Without Walls, an afternoon of free pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies will take place in Queens Square, Crawley on Sat 9 May as part of this year’s Brighton Festival. 

From hip hop and circus to inspiring dance and an interactive augmented reality trail, the whole family will enjoy these playful and uplifting shows.

Roll Play – Prepare to be amazed by Simple Cypher’s latest outdoor creation Roll Play, which breathlessly fuses hip-hop and circus. Featuring Cyr wheel, group juggling, feel-good choreography and exceptional beats, three performers use intricate moves and agility to create a captivating, cheeky and effortlessly cool show challenging identity, status and societal roles

There Should Be Unicorns – Award-winning company Middle Child presents Luke Barnes’s There Should Be Unicorns, a family show about a young girl who sets out to change the world. Hip-hop, dance and theatre collide in this uplifting outdoor production, which asks: how can we be good when we’re caught up in what’s bad?

The Rascally Diner – Join Rufus Skumskins O’Parsley, a chef renowned for some of the world’s most disgusting dishes, for a TV special celebrating his restaurant’s 10th birthday. Inspired by the award-winning children’s book The Rascally Cake, LAStheatre’s family show for audiences aged five and above is full of fun, food and silly songs.


Councillor Chris Mullins, Cabinet member for Wellbeing at Crawley Borough Council, said:

“This is very exciting news for Crawley; it sounds like a wonderful free event for all the family. This is going to be a busy weekend for great events in the town as Run Gatwick returns for the third year on Sunday 10 May. There is no need to go anywhere else for your bank holiday weekend entertainment!”

Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, said:

 “I’m delighted that we will have the first-ever Brighton Festival event in Crawley this year. We are committed to enhancing our events programme and this exciting announcement reflects our desire to attract more people into our regenerated town centre.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival, added: 

“Bringing artists and communities together is at the heart of Brighton Festival so we're delighted to bring Without Walls to Crawley this year. The performances take place outdoors in Queens Square throughout the day so we hope visitors will stop by and enjoy some of the UK’s most innovative artists, all for free!”

A Weekend Without Walls comes to Crawley on Sat 9 May, The Level on Sat 23 & Sun 24 May and Brighton Beach on Sun 10 May. 

Invisible Flock premiere immersive rainforest installation at Brighton Festival 2020

Yorkshire-based interactive arts studio, Invisible Flock will present the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree in a disused warehouse space in Hove throughout Brighton Festival this May.  

The award-winning studio operates at the intersection of art and technology and makes innovative, participatory artworks that are experienced around the world. Drawing directly from the world around them the collective focuses on our emotional relationships to the natural world.

“We believe that art today must have a positive impact on society and the world we live in and as artists we have a responsibility to open up collective thinking and to build space for critical inquiry.”

Their recent works include Earth Tones, a global mapping project, capturing environmental data from a variety of landscapes at the forefront of climate change, whilst reimagining the information in multi-sensory art installations.

Their latest work, The Sleeping Tree is an immersive, three-dimensional, audio-visual experience of one of the last great rainforests of North Sumatra, Indonesia. The installation aims to emphasise the urgency of the threat to the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet.

Bringing UK audiences closer to the deforestation emergency in this distant and seemingly intangible ecosystem, the installation conveys a powerful sense of this endangered environment, flooding the senses with heat, mist, humidity and captivating and microscopically accurate sounds of the jungle. You will follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and return to their sleeping tree, one of the six majestic trees they have used for generations.


The Sleeping Tree has been developed through intensive research living in the jungle with Siamang Gibbons. Invisible Flock have captured over 5000 hours of audio recordings of this rare species in its diminishing natural habitat, collecting scientifically valuable data on sound frequencies as well as the temperature and humidity within the jungle, which indicate the rapid changes taking place in this fragile ecosystem, as result of palm oil production.

The Sleeping Tree will open on Sat 2 May until Sun 24 May. Book your tickets here.

Discover more Art and Film events.

This event is kindly supported by Selective Asia 

£10 and Under Events at Brighton Festival

Discover a whole range of theatre, art, film, music, spoken word, dance and family events for £10 or under at Brighton Festival this May. 

The Sleeping Tree
Sat 2-Sun 25 May

Don’t miss out on this multi-sensory experience. Enter one of the last great rainforests of North Sumatra, Indonesia, and follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and dutifully return to their sleeping tree, one of six majestic trees they have used for generations. As mist gently falls you are surrounded by vibrant projected 3D digital images: a visual banquet of flora and fauna unfolds, accompanied by captivating and microscopically accurate sounds of the jungle, and of the primates’ distinct calls.


Ali Smith
Sat 2 May

Guest Director of 2015, Ali Smith returns to Brighton Festival this year to discuss her season quartet Seasons – a series of novels starting in autumn and proceeding chronologically to the soon-to-be Summer. In conversation with author and translator Daniel Hahn, they will explore what has been lost, what was gained, what is true and what remains.

Photo by Antonio Olmos
Double Murder: Clowns/New Creation
Fri 1-Sun 3 May

The much anticipated new work from the celebrated choreographer (and our 2014 Guest Director) Hofesh Shechter OBE premieres right here in Brighton. The thrilling double-bill is an event of two halves each very different in mood. Performed by ten dancers, we begin with the pitch-black humour of Clowns and the New Creation is tender and fragile.


Superior: Angela Saini
Sun 3 May

Angela Saini’s third book, Superior, explores the twisted historical trajectory of race science and the sinister ways in which it is being repackaged by the far-right in the 21st century. Moderated by writer and broadcaster Colin Grant, Angela will shed light on enduring myths and the political motivations for them.


Time Shifts: Irenosen Okojie & Yara Rodrigues Fowler
Sun 3 May

Join authors of Butterfly Fish and Stubborn Archivist, discuss their debut novels moderated by world traveller and social commentator Naana Orleans-Amissah. 


The Patient Gloria
Tue 5-Sat 9 May

A wild and experimental extravaganza, this mash-up of re-enactment, real footage, lives experience and a punk gig was a must-see hit at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, inspired by the 1965 films Three Approaches to Psychotherapy. 


Jeremiah ‘SugarJ’ Brown: Likkle Rum with Grandma
Wed 6 May

Fusing poetry, performance and a Jamaican grandmother’s voice from a generation that’s rapidly being forgotten, Likkle Rum with Grandma comes to Brighton following sold out shows in London, which explores migration, displacement, loneliness and the importance of inter generational discourse. 


My Name is Why
Wed 7 May

Guest Director Lemn Sissay joins us to discuss his memoir My Name is Why with journalist and CEO of the Bernie Grant Art Centre, Hannah Azieb Pool. Lemn will reflect on a childhood in foster care, self-expression and Britishness. 


Brighton Festival Youth Choir
Wed 6 May

Brighton Festival Youth Choir present works by the celebrated Finnish choral composer, Mia Makaroff, Spes and Butterfly through to Blackbird by Lennon & McCartney. The concert will also celebrate some of the wonderful heritage of folk songs from the British Isles including Blow the Wind Southerly and The Last Rose of Summer.


Out of Chaos
Fri 8-Sun 10 May

Following the success of the sensational Backbone at last year’s Brighton festival, Gravity & Other Myths return with their boldest and most ambitious performance yet, telling the story of how things come together, moving between chaos and order. 

Gravity and Other Myths
Vintage Poets
Fri 8 May

Vintage, through its imprints Chatto & Windus and Cape, has been building a formidable list of poets who are pushing the envelope and engaging new readers. Join us as, Vintage present some of its new stars of the future including Romalyn Ante and Seán Hewitt.


Groove Baby: Groove into the Woods
Sat 9 May

Get ready to join your child on the dance floor as the Groove Baby Organ Trio bring to life the great Blue Note '60s era of soul-jazz, boogaloo, funk and hard bop. Step into the deep, dark woods for a fast-paced mix of storytelling, interactive music-making and solid groove, specially designed for children aged 3–7 years and their families. 


A Place in Time Evie Wyld & Niven Govinden
Sat 9 May

Join the author of The Bass Rock, Evie Wyld and This Brutal House, Niven Govinden as they explore their power to address injustice.


Tribes: David Lammy
Sat 9 May

Member of Parliament, David Lammy joins us to discuss his new book, Tribes, which explores how our human need to belong manifests in positive and negative ways.


One Two Three Four: The Beatles In Time with Craig Brown
Sat 9 May

Crag Brown’s hilarious new book – part biography, part memoir, part anthropology is a fascinating examination of The Beatles phenomenon. Join Craig as he shares some of his sublimely strange finding from this new biography. A must for any Beatles fan. 


Travelling Traditions
Sun 19 May

After a hugely successful debut last year, we continue our Travelling Traditions events exploring the enduring DNA of storytelling. This year we are lucky to welcome four of the most compelling writers of our times - George Szirtes, Preti Taneja, Olivia Sudjic & Romesh Gunesekera.

News News News
Sun 10 May

News News News is a television news show made by children for adults, recorded in front of a studio audience and broadcast live on the internet by children from Benefield Primary school in Portslade.


BIG UP!
Sun 10 May

Come and watch as Theatre-Rites & 20 Stories High create a world full of joy and chaos, where objects come to life and everything is possible. BIG UP! is perfect for little people who want to be big, and big people who just might have forgotten how to play.


Pecho Mama: Medea Electronica
Sun 10 May

Pecho Mama’s bold and genre-defying debut, Medea Electronica is a powerful and deeply moving retelling of an ancient Greek tragedy set in the technological turbulence of '80s rural England. Staged amidst searing live electronica and progressive rock gig, this is the heart-stopping story of a family caught in the brutal throes of a marriage unravelling.


Undersong
Mon 11 May

In the critically acclaimed Undersong live singers build vibrant a Capella music and movement as they bring to life a series of brand-new compositions. Voices weave amongst the audience, from a whispered duet to a screaming mob, moving between tender and expansive.


The End
Tue 12 May

In this new piece created in collaboration with Laura Dannequin, Bert & Nasi dance the end of their relationship, imagining how a future without each other might look. Projected onto a screen above the stage, two parallel narratives run alongside each other: the end of the Earth and of their collaboration. A poignant, sad and funny account of the ongoing ecological crisis.


Civilisation
Tue 12 May

A day in the life of a woman following a tragic event. An experiment in theatrical realism and contemporary dance. Jaz Woodcock-Stewart from award-winning company Antler collaborates with choreographer Morgann Runacre-Temple.


Take 5
Wed 13 May

This May we bring together five of the most compelling poets on stage, Hibaq Osman, Laurie Ogden, Amina Jama, Debris Stevenson & Zena Edwards for an evening of spoken word. 


Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: Brighton Festival Chorus
Thu 14 May

Two great ensembles are reunited for a concert and a trio of internationally acclaimed soloists for two contrasting masterworks.

The Lost Decade: Polly Toynbee
Thu 14 May

After a decade dominated by inward-looking rhetoric, the UK ended the decade on the path to an unclear Brexit, with thousands reliant on food banks for everyday sustenance. In conversation with long-time collaborator David Walker, The Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee dissects the dark decade that was.


Hot Brown Honey
Thu 14-Sat 16 May

The award-winning firecracker of a show, Hot Brown Honey turns up the heat at Brighton Festival. This genre-defying mix of cabaret, music and dance will make you laugh until you cry.


Lime Time
Thu 14 May

We bring together major prize-winning poets, Valerie Bloom, John Agard and Grace Nichols as well as T.S. Eliot Prize winner Roger Robinson for an evening of spoken word performance. 


The Time Has Now Come: New Habesha Visionaries
Fri 15 May

Spend an evening with some of Ethiopia and Eritrea's new visionaries, Maaza Mengiste, Hannah Azieb Pool & Aida Edemariam.


Alain Mabanckou
Sat 16 May

Join prolific Congolese journalist and author, Alain Mabanckou as he discusses the death of Comrade President Marien Ngouabi.


Jacqueline Wilson
Sun 17 May

Discover how Jacqueline Wilson started her writing career and find out more about her latest book, Love Frankie.

Jacqueline Wilson
New Writing South Statement Kit de Waal
Sun 17 May

The New Writing South Statement provides a platform for an eminent writer to share ideas, articulate passions, and initiate a debate on aspects of the power and position of literature in the world. Writer, activist and Common People editor Kit De Waal to deliver the New Writing South 2020 Statement on democracy and the literary landscape.

Kit de Waal
Time Capsules
Sun 17 May

We invite you to experience the joys of the short story with two of its finer practitioners in the UK – Courttia Newland and Lisa Blower – together on stage for the first time, chaired by writer and primary school teacher Luan Goldie.


SLIME
Mon 18-Fri 22 May

Enter the undergrowth to SQUISH, SQUELCH and PLAY your way through this hilarious, surreal show for 2–5 year-olds and their families, told with a handful of words and a whole lot of SLIME. Including a stay and play with slug’s 'slime' in the giant garden.


Bromance
Tue 19-Sat 23 May

Award-winning smash hit Bromance lands at Brighton Festival, a fusion of high energy physical heroics and breath taking form.


How to Be Autistic: Charlotte Amelia Poe
Thu 21 May

Self-taught artist Charlotte joins us, in conversation with Naana Orleans-Amissah to share their journey through school to adulthood, challenging neurotypical narratives of autism as something that needs ‘fixing’. 


Kronos Quartet
Fri 22 May

This May, Kronos Quartet brings a multimedia production, incorporating music sounds harvested from space as NASA’s Voyager probes hurtled past Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. A sensational sonic and visual experience, you shouldn’t miss.


Drag Queen Story Hour UK
Sun 24 May

Following Aida's huge success at Brighton Dome last autumn, she returns with Drag Queen Story Hour UK for Brighton Festival 2020. With a burst of energy and a fabulous look, Aida has been delighting children across the country with her high energy, high fashion and wonderful approach to making your favourite stories come alive.


In Translation: Rodaan al Galidi & Alia Trabucco Zerán 
Sun 24 May

In Translation presents two moving writers: Rodaan al Galidi, author of Two Blankets, Three Sheets, a quietly powerful story set in The Netherlands and narrated by Karim, who endures the limbo of eight years in an asylum centre; and Alia Trabucco Zerán, whose The Remainder, shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, dissects the repercussions of a brutal dictatorship on a new generation. Chaired by Jonathan Reeder.


Don’t miss our range of 21 free events.

Discover our Young Readers programme and Classical Lunchtime programme – all events are £10 or under. 

Pay it Forward Scheme

Pay It Forward (PIF) is a scheme that ensures everyone can enjoy Brighton Festival.

Introduced in 2017 by Guest Director, Kate Tempest, the Pay It Forward scheme will be entering its third year of bringing the together at Brighton Festival.

Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2020, Lemn Sissay welcomes everyone to unite, join in and reflect:

“The most damaging mirror trick in society is to convince people they have no imagination and that they are not creative. It’s just not true. There’s going to be something for you in this Festival. Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020.”

The generosity we received last year was incredible and we hope this year is no different. Here are some comments from previous PIF recipients:

“Connecting members of the community together again.”

“It's a fabulous opportunity! Many of the young people we work with would not be able to attend the paid events in the Brighton Festival without the scheme” - YMCA DownsLink Group

“It means I can access events I wouldn’t normally be able to afford to go to, even if I did want to see them.”

Join the Pay It Forward movement and help more people experience Brighton Festival. Pay an extra £5 when you book your tickets, or donate online, and we’ll put this towards giving a free ticket to someone who might not otherwise be able to attend. Vouchers will be distributed at Our Place, local schools, charities and partner organisations.

If you would like to get involved with the Pay It Forward scheme, please contact pif@brightonfestival.org

Brighton Festival 2020 Highlights

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020.



Since it was first established in 1967, Brighton Festival has given artists and performers at the cutting edge of artistic practice and on the edge of society, the creative space to have their voices heard and to showcase new work. This year’s programme is no exception. Here are some highlights from Brighton Festival 2020 programme:


LGBTQ artists including Ivan Coyote, Amy Bell and Travis Alabanza recount their inspiring stories in dance, theatre and spoken word. Female empowerment is given a playful and provocative portrayal in Hot Brown Honey’s fusion of hip-hop and politics and comedian Josie Long tells her tale of first-time motherhood.


caravan, the bi-annual international showcase for English theatre and performing artists returns with a dynamic three days of new work attracting international promoters and presenters.


Several Festival events will involve individual opportunities to become involved in the art itself. Families and friends will be celebrated in Arrivals & Departures, an interactive public artwork located in Brighton’s Friends Meeting House garden that will be a changing display of names commemorating the birth or death of a loved one. In the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree, visitors will enter one of the last great rainforests of Indonesia through a live sensory environment and the UK premiere of Semiconductor’s HALO offers a mesmeric and consuming installation based on the Big Bang.

From Italy, Gabriella Salvaterra’s Sollievo invites the audience to travel through a candle-lit labyrinth in an intimate theatrical experience that explores the fragility of humanity and what can and can’t be repaired.


The annual Children’s Parade with Same Sky officially marks the start of the Festival on Saturday 2 May and this year’s theme of Nature’s Marvels celebrates the year of biodiversity as well as highlighting climate change action – a theme that resonates with several Festival artists who respond to the global crisis, including the world premiere of Dear Nature by artist John Newling in collaboration with Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft. His poetic letters to nature will be read by representatives from the local community set to a musical composition. Belgian performance group Ontroerend Goed’s ground-breaking work, Are we not drawn onward to new erA is a serious but joyfully powerful piece of theatre that asks questions about our ability to repair the damage already done to our planet. An installation by artist Chris Dobrowolski, Washed Up Car-go, brings a thought provoking and eye-catching work about plastic pollution to a new outdoor site in Hove.


Festival events will be reaching out to more communities than ever before. A residential street in Moulsecoomb, will be transformed into a colourful artwork in a new co-commission by Brighton Festival and Fabrica with A Simple Act of Wonder by acclaimed contemporary artists Walter and Zoniel.

Without Walls will visit Crawley’s Queens Square to bring an exhilarating programme of pop-up events from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From hip hop and circus to inspiring dance and an interactive augmented reality trail, the whole family will enjoy these playful and uplifting shows. Artist Ray Lee’s spectacular giant sound and light sculptures are brought together for the first time in Points of Departure, set against an atmospheric night-time backdrop of Shoreham Port. And Our Place continues to bring free arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton.


Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“Brighton Festival is an annual invitation to everyone to explore great art from all over the world and inspire individual creativity. We’re excited and proud to be bringing the Festival to so many areas of the city and the wider region and we hope that Lemn’s encouragement to be brave and try something new creates an ‘Imagine Nation’ in which we can all take part.”

As always, the Festival will include free and participatory events and activities for all ages, abilities and incomes – over 100 events are free or cost £10 or less to attend and the Pay It Forward scheme will offer free ticket vouchers to community organisations.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wed 12 February and general sale at 9am, Wed 19 February. 

Welcome to the Imagine Nation with Lemn Sissay Brighton Festival 2020

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020.

Brighton Festival is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England and will feature over 120 events taking place in 27 venues and locations across the region - from the industrial landscapes of Shoreham Port and warehouses in Hove, to the suburban streets of Crawley and Moulsecoomb, theatres, community centres and cinemas in Worthing, Hangleton, East Brighton and Lewes. Artists experimenting and creating new work is at the heart of the Festival with 17 premieres, exclusives, commissions and co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists.

Lemn’s personal passions flow throughout the 2020 programme, connected by a love of words and language across theatre, song, spoken word, art and poetry. Contemporary writers and poets are given a particular spotlight with several spoken word and book events including The Time Has Now ComeLime Time, Take 5 and Vintage Poets. 


Lemn’s support for new and established Ethiopian artists features prominently with appearances by Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, contemporary pianist/composer Samuel Yirga and writers Maaza Mengiste and Aida Edemariam. Marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey, a new generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in The Young Americans, a powerful new exhibition in partnership with Rainmaker Gallery at Phoenix Art Space that reveals what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States. And using art as a way to explore our most personal experiences will offer some of the most powerful events in the Festival. In Adopt A Nation, Lemn invites the public to adopt him in an intimate one-on-one experience that will ask participants to share their own thoughts about family; and his best-selling memoir My Name is Why is discussed in conversation with British-Eritrean writer Hannah Azieb Pool.

Guest Director Lemn Sissay explains how Imagine Nation is a place to join in, reflect and take time for a personal creative experience:

“The most damaging mirror trick in society is to convince people they have no imagination and that they are not creative. It’s just not true. There’s going to be something for you in this Festival. Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“Brighton Festival is an annual invitation to everyone to explore great art from all over the world and inspire individual creativity. We’re excited and proud to be bringing the Festival to so many areas of the city and the wider region and we hope that Lemn’s encouragement to be brave and try something new creates an ‘Imagine Nation’ in which we can all take part.”

Thanks to our Sponsors for supporting Brighton Festival 2020: University of SussexSouthern WaterUniversity of BrightonBrighton CollegeDotsquaresGriffith SmithSelective AsiaSelits and Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings

We’re proud to announce our media partners are BBC Sussex, Radio Reverbtheartsdesk.com and Brighton & Hove Independent.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wed 12 February and general sale at 9am, Wed 19 February. 

Disused Hove Warehouse to Host Brighton Festival Events

A disused warehouse next to Hove train station will be the venue for several public events as part of Brighton Festival 2020. Property developers, Watkin Jones Group, have partnered with the Festival to provide the empty spaces which are due for demolition.

Brighton Festival is presenting three events on the site from 2 to 24 May 2020, including the world premiere of a large-scale digital installation, the UK premiere of an immersive theatre production and an outdoor interactive sculpture.

In The Sleeping Tree, visitors will enter one of the last great rainforests of Indonesia and follow a family of endangered Gibbons as they go through their daily rituals, returning to the same tree they have inhabited for generations. Created by UK interactive arts company Invisible Flock, the unique sensory installation fuses art, film and digital technology with the aim of highlighting urgent conservation issues. The company worked with rangers and primatologists in Sumatra to record the images and sounds of the jungle and the fascinating habitat of these endangered species.


In the adjacent space, Sollievo offers an intimate theatrical performance by acclaimed Italian artist Gabriella Salvaterra. 23 performers invite guests to travel through a tranquil candle-lit labyrinth and listen to stories, peek into boxes, sit at their dinner table and flutter through pages of books. The spine-tingling production is an enchanting and dream-like journey for just 40 audience members, with several performances throughout the evening.

Outside the warehouse, an ordinary looking car is parked on the forecourt, but on closer inspection viewers will see this is no ordinary vehicle. Featuring found objects from Brighton beach, toy sea creatures, sand and pebbles, Washed Up Car-go  is an art installation with a difference. Using film and music, artist Chris Dobrowolski’s playfully thought-provoking sculpture raises awareness about plastic consumerism and the pollution of the world’s oceans.


The use of this industrial space as an art venue is an opportunity to bring events to unusual locations and communities beyond the city. Brighton Festival can also be found at Shoreham Port, where Ray Lee’s Points of Departure will dazzle audiences with sound and light installations during a night-time encounter. Further locations include Queens Square in Crawley, which will host Without Walls, a series of free outdoor pop-up art events suitable for all ages. 

Brighton Festival & caravan support new theatre work with artist opportunities

caravan returns to Brighton Festival 2020 to present the new theatre and performance from English artists to a selection of international and national promoters and presenters.

Organised by Farnham Maltings for Brighton Festival, caravan is a convivial event designed to encourage artists, commissioners, programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working together, share ambitions and reach new audiences.

The caravan marketplace is an opportunity for artists and companies to host a stand and to share information about current or future artistic projects with approximately 60 national and international delegates. The marketplace will be held during Brighton Festival on Tuesday 12 May between 10am and 12pm. Artists, writers, directors and companies can apply to take part by Thur 13 February 2020, full details are available here. 

The marketplace takes place alongside caravan showcase at Brighton Festival from 10 to 12 May 2020. The programme introduces a selected group of England’s brightest performance companies to the public, festival organisers and programmers from around the world, with the ambition of developing new partnerships.

caravan is supported by Arts Council England and British Council.

caravan Showcase Returns to Brighton Festival 2020

caravan, the biennial showcase of England’s brightest independent performing artists returns to Brighton Festival from 10 to 12 May 2020.

The three-day showcase presents the best new performances made in England to an audience of international and national commissioners, promoters and programmers, delivered by Farnham Maltings in partnership with Brighton Festival. caravan is a convivial event designed to encourage artists, commissioners, programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working together, share ambitions and reach new audiences. caravan 2020 follows the success of the bi-annual events, established at the Festival in 2008.


Gavin Stride, Director of caravan and Farnham Maltings explains:

“caravan aims to strengthen international networks and expand the range of opportunities for performing artists and companies based in England, allowing them to present their work to audiences across the world.”

The 2020 programme features nine live events encompassing music, theatre, dance, cabaret and family-friendly, selected by a curatorial group drawn from some of the country’s leading directors and producers. All shows are open to the public with tickets priced from £6-£12.50.

Highlights include Nouveau Riche’s Queens of Sheba, the hilarious, moving and uplifting stories of four Black women battling everyday misogynoir; News News News by Andy Field and Beckie Darlington, a television news show made by children for adults; Pecho Mama’s bold and genre-defying debut, Medea Electronica blends live gig with theatrical storytelling; Jamal Gerald’s Idol is a daring and unapologetic examination of religion, pop culture and Black representation and Bert & Nasi’s new work, The End, offers a poignant, sad and funny account of two parallel endings - their relationship and the Earth.


The caravan marketplace takes place alongside the showcase and will be held on Tuesday 12 May between 10am and 12pm. Artists and companies can apply to host a stand and pitch ideas with national and international delegates.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Festival added:

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming caravan back as part of this year’s Festival. The showcase has grown substantially since it was launched in 2008, and now encompasses a selection of the most dynamic and innovative creatives from across England. It has become a leading platform for international promoters and programmers to experience a diverse range of new work by talented artists who are prime candidates at this stage in their careers to tour internationally.”

caravan is supported by Arts Council England and British Council.

Everything you need to know about The War of the Worlds by Rhum and Clay

The classic science fiction story, The War of the Worlds is playfully reimagined by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company and comes to Worthing’s Connaught Theatre in May as part of Brighton Festival. 

Here are a few interesting facts about the show: 

  • Born in Paris at the École Jacques Lecoq in 2010 by Julian Spooner and Matthew Wells, Rhum and Clay Theatre Company is currently based in London at the New Diorama Theatre.
  • In 2018, co-Artistic Director Julian Spooner followed in the footsteps of the likes of Daniel Kitson, Monica Dolan and Phoebe Waller-Bridge by winning a coveted Stage Award for Acting Excellence for his performance in Mistero Buffo.
  • Rhum and Clay’s productions are cinematic in the telling, playing with overlapping narratives, flashbacks and montages that cumulatively create beautiful, visually textured on-stage worlds.
  • The War of the Worlds by Rhum and Clay is a remarkable adaption inspired by H.G Well’s novel which was published in 1897. It’s one of the first fictional stories about a conflict between mankind and extra-terrestrial life.
  • In 1938, Orson Welles’ created a thrilling radio drama adaptation of H.G Well’s novel. When aired as part of a CBS drama series, the Mercury Theatre on the Air, it caused public panic amongst listeners, who were just getting used to the outside world invading their living rooms via the radio. 
  • Fast forward to 2020, and the internet has replaced the radio as the medium through which we make sense of the world. Rhum and Clay connect Welles’ broadcast with a modern-day podcaster who is researching an old family secret. The cast of four actors takes the audience on a journey through time, from an era when breaking news was shared live on-air to today’s clickbait headlines and Twitter trends.


  • Playfully reimagined for the fake news generation the show will leave audiences questioning the grey area between truth and fiction and the dangerously seductive power of a good story.
  • The play takes the form of a series of news broadcasts, using a recording from the 1938 radio drama, as well as references to Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film adaption.
  • In Welles’ broadcast, the aliens land in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. For research, Julian Spooner visited the town, which has a café dedicated to the broadcast and a monument claiming that in 1938 up to 1 million people believe the Martian invasion was real.
  • The ever so popular tale has been adapted by the likes of Spielberg in 2005 and inspired Jeff Wayne’s 1978 concept album. The latest TV adaption is BBC one’s three-part series starring Eleanor Tomlinson, Rafe Spall and Robert Carlyle.

Find out more about Rhum and Clay

Everything you need to know about Lemn Sissay

The much-loved British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE is Brighton Festival’s Guest Director in 2020.

Here are a few interesting facts about Lemn’s life and work.

  • Lemn was born on 21 May 1967 to an Ethiopian mother, shortly after she moved to England to study. Lemn was taken into long-term foster care in Wigan and was named Norman.
  • At the age of 18, Lemn was reunited with his birth mother. She revealed that she had named him Lemn, meaning ‘why’ in Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic. There is only one person in the world named Lemn Sissay!
  • Aged 21, he published his first book of poems, Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist, and sold it in pubs, at political marches, and any place he could stand up and perform.
  • Lemn has published 10 books since 1985 and written several plays including Something Dark and Why I don’t hate white people.
  • Lemn was awarded an MBE for services to literature by The Queen of England in 2010 and a Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister in 2017.
  • He is Dr Dr Dr Dr Lemn Sissay. He is Chancellor of The University of Manchester and an Honorary Doctor from The University of Huddersfield, The University of Kent and The University of Brunel.
  • Lemn is featured on 21st Century Poem on the Left field album, Leftism which sold millions. In 2018 on the twentieth anniversary of the album he toured with the band to sell out tours throughout the country.
  • He was the official poet for the London 2012 Olympics and for the FA Cup in 2015. His poem Spark Catchers at the Olympic Park remembers the Victorian socialist Annie Besant, who led the Matchgirls Strike in 1888.
  • Inspired by his own experience of leaving social care, Lemn established ‘The Christmas Dinners’ with the intention that no social care leaver is alone at Christmas. Since launching in 2013, The Christmas Dinners have taken place in Manchester, Leeds, London, Liverpool, Oxford and continue to grow.
  • His Landmark Poems can be found on the walls of hospitals, libraries, pubs, universities and train stations, bringing his writing to communities in public spaces every day. Gilt of Cain was unveiled by Bishop Desmond Tutu in The City of London and his poem what if was exhibited at The Royal Academy and toured galleries from Tokyo to New York.
  • Lemn’s Channel 4 documentary, Superkids: Breaking Away from Care, was nominated for a BAFTA. A BBC TV documentary, Internal Flight, and radio documentary, Child of the State, were both based about his life.
  • Lemn’s TED talks in the Houses of Parliament have been viewed by over a million people and his interview on Desert Island Discs was chosen as a BBC Pick of the Year 2019.
  • In 2019, Lemn won the PEN Pinter prize, set up in memory of playwright Harold Pinter.

He said: “What I like about this award is that it is from a great writer and a great organisation. I accept it as a sign that I should continue. All I have is what I leave behind. All I am is what I do.”

  • Lemn published his memoir, My Name is Why in August 2019 which reflects on his childhood, self-expression, Britishness, race, family, and the meaning of home. The publication is a Sunday Times number one bestseller and has been listed as book of the year in publications such as The Times, New Statesman, The Guardian and the Telegraph.

Find out more about Lemn Sissay.

Brighton Festival 2020 Children’s Parade will Celebrate Nature’s Marvels for the Year of Biodiversity

Brighton city centre will be filled with a sea of colour and creativity next May as thousands of children, parents and teachers celebrate the natural world at the annual Brighton Festival Children’s Parade.

Next year’s theme, Nature’s Marvels, will celebrate the wonders of flora and fauna from around the world, as well as reflecting on the urgent need to protect and conserve the planet’s natural environment. 2020 marks the end of the UN Decade on Biodiversity and the Nature2020 initiative will see organisations across the county actively engaging in events to celebrate Brighton and Lewes’ Downs biosphere and the living coast.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts charity Same Sky, the Children’s Parade will take place on Sat 2 May 2020 to mark the start of Brighton Festival, three weeks of arts and culture across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

The largest of its kind in Europe, the family-friendly, free event takes place in central Brighton and has delighted participants and spectators for 30 years. Around 10,000 people come along to see the parade and be part of a vibrant procession of dance, music and fun for the whole city. With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as folk tales, paintings, letters of the alphabet and street names.

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky said:

'Next year recognises the importance of biodiversity and will provide a rich topic for school pupils to learn about and to get creative. Nearly 60 schools and groups from Brighton and Hove will work together with our artists to create a moving pageant that celebrates nature’s wonderful ecological diversity.'

The Children’s Parade is one of the most spectacular community events in the UK, with months of behind the scenes planning and preparations. Artists collaborate with teachers and volunteers to make magnificent effigies, choreograph dance routines and compose parade chants, with free masterclasses to develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow. Brighton based disability charity, Carousel and learning disabled artists will provide a live broadcast of the event, to allow people unable to attend in person to be part of the experience.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

'We’ve seen how passionate children and young people are about protecting the planet and it seemed such an obvious choice that the 2020 children’s parade should reflect what’s happening across the world but also to celebrate the biodiversity that’s right here on our doorstep. Each year we are amazed by the imagination and incredible hard work that goes into making the parade happen and the sheer joy it brings to everyone who takes part or who watch from the streets of Brighton.'

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Brighton Festival’s 2020 Guest Director is poet, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE and runs from 2 to 24 May 2020.

Brighton Festival 2020 programme launches on Tue 11 Feb 2020 and online. 

Brighton Festival 2020 Guest Director is acclaimed poet Lemn Sissay MBE

Lemn Sissay is a passionate and powerful voice whose performances are humbling and exhilarating.

– Kate Tempest, 2017 Brighton Festival Guest Director

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has been announced as the twelfth Brighton Festival Guest Director, following in the footsteps of Rokia Traoré (2019), David Shrigley (2018), Kate Tempest (2017) and Laurie Anderson (2016) amongst others.

Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA nominated award winning writer, best-selling author, prolific speaker and performer, who has inspired audiences across the world. He was the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics and his Landmark Poems can be found on the walls of hospitals, libraries, pubs, universities and train stations, bringing his writing to communities in public spaces every day. Sissay is Chancellor of Manchester University and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2010, PEN Pinter Prize 2019 and Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister in 2017.

In his 2019 memoir, My Name Is Why, Sissay reflects on his childhood, self-expression and Britishness, and explores the institutional care system he was raised in, race, family and the meaning of home. His moving, frank and timely story is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity. The publication is a Sunday Times number one bestseller and has been listed as book of the year in The Times, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman and The Herald.

On his appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director Lemn Sissay said:

“Art saves lives, it literally saves lives. Art is how we translate the human spirit. That’s why you have art and religions. That’s why people sing. That’s why we read poems at funerals and weddings, we need some bridge between the spiritual, the physical, the past, the present, the future. Something that lifts us to a higher place, that celebrates our humanity. And here we get to celebrate together, in an arts festival on the edge of the sea, in the month of my birthday. What an honour that is.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“We’re thrilled Lemn is directing Brighton Festival 2020. He is a truly inspiring artist whose work connects with everyone and wakes us up to what it means to be human. His generous, collaborative imagination ranges across everything we do and he has an instinctive feel for Brighton. We can’t wait to see his festival brought to life next May.”

Further Festival highlights announced today include a contemporary adaptation of The War of the Worlds by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre. Inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel and Orson Welles’ legendary radio broadcast, the play has been reimagined for the fake news generation and will leave audiences questioning what is truth and what is fiction.

Also appearing exclusively in Brighton, ahead of their London date in May are Malian musicians Amadou & Mariam, performing together with the Grammy Award-winning gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama. The artists have forged a friendship that has led to a world tour that combines contemporary African sounds with African-American roots music, coming to Brighton Dome Concert Hall for an unforgettable Festival event.

The Festival opening weekend will feature the world première of Double Murder, by Hofesh Shechter Company. The thrilling, two-part contemporary dance for our times, has been created by the multitalented choreographer Hofesh Shechter OBE and will be performed by ten of his inimitable dancers, accompanied by the epic sounds of a Shechter-composed score.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Running from 2 to 24 May 2020, it opens with the popular Children’s Parade, produced in partnership with Same Sky. Community and participation events will appear across the city – Our Place will continue to bring free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton; Young City Reads encourages school children to share their love of reading and Without Walls family friendly events will pop-up in unexpected outdoor locations.

Full programme details will be announced at the Brighton Festival 2020 launch on Tuesday 11 February 2020 and online.

The end of the world will be broadcast from Worthing in Brighton Festival 2020 theatre show

The classic science fiction story, The War of the Worlds is playfully reimagined for the Fake News generation.


Adapted by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company, the show comes to Worthing’s Connaught Theatre next May as part of Brighton Festival 2020. Inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel and Orson Welles’ legendary 1938 radio broadcast, the production has been playfully reimagined for the fake news generation and will leave audiences questioning the grey area between truth and fiction and the dangerously seductive power of a good story.

Rhum and Clay connect Welles’ broadcast with a modern-day podcaster who is researching an old family secret. The cast of four actors take the audience on a journey through time, from an era when breaking news was shared live on-air to today’s clickbait headlines and twitter trends. The play takes the form of a series of news broadcasts, using recordings from the 1938 radio drama, as well as references to Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film adaption.


Matthew Wells, co-Artistic Director of Rhum and Clay said:

“It's particularly special for us to be part of Brighton Festival as they were one of the first champions of our show and as a co-producer, have offered so much creative, practical and moral support. Sadly for the purposes of a good story, H.G. Wells’ original invasion of alien pods took place in Woking rather than Worthing, but perhaps we can invent some of our own fake news about that? Our story also involves that other seismic master storyteller, Orson Welles, but fundamentally, who doesn't love a good alien invasion story?”

Wells’ book was published in 1897 and is one of the first science fiction novels to explore the relationship between humans and extra-terrestrial life. Orson Welles’ infamous radio play was so realistic that it caused public panic among listeners who thought the Martian invasion was really happening. In Rhum and Clay’s theatrical retelling, it’s not aliens who are the enemy but anyone who has access to the internet.

Rhum and Clay Theatre Company are based in London at the New Diorama Theatre and is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Stage Edinburgh Award for Best Performance 2018. Their productions are cinematic in the telling, playing with overlapping narratives, flashbacks and montages that cumulatively create beautiful, visually textured on-stage worlds. The War of the Worlds has been co-produced by Brighton Festival, HOME Manchester, New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth and Nuffield Southampton Theatres. Rhum and Clay's adaption was written for stage by Isley Lynn.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England and runs from 2 to 24 May 2020. Full programme details will be announced at the Brighton Festival 2020 launch on Tuesday 11 February 2020 and online. 

Amadou & Mariam and the Blind Boys of Alabama

Malian duo Amadou & Mariam will be performing with Grammy award-winning the Blind Boys of Alabama exclusively at Brighton Festival in May ahead of their London date.

Amadou & Mariam made a name for themselves playing Malian blues. They have released a string of acclaimed albums, working with producers such as Manu Chao and Damon Albarn to create joyous music that inspires live shows, festival stages and wild remixes.

Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia met at the Bamako Institute for the Young Blind, bonding over their love for music. They married and began to play together in the early 1980s while Amadou continued a successful solo career and ran the Institute for the Young Blind‘s music programme. The couple have worked with renowned contemporary artists including Coldplay, Santigold, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and U2.

It was on a festival bill that they first met the Blind Boys of Alabama and their friendship has led to a worldwide tour together. The Blind Boys are known for their remarkable interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favourites to contemporary spiritual material by songwriters such as Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits.

The "gospel titans" started out together as children in the 1930s and have gone on to win five Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and perform at the White House for three different presidents.

Their performance at Brighton Dome Concert Hall brings the two groups together in a collaborative celebration of world music ahead of their Royal Festival Hall date in London.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England and runs from 2 to 24 May 2020. Full programme details will be announced at the Brighton Festival 2020 launch on Tuesday 11 February 2020 and online.

Thrilling seaside mystery Malamander is chosen for Young City Reads 2020

A reading project for primary school children has revealed Malamander has been chosen as the Young City Reads title for 2020. Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC selects one book for children across Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond to read, explore and discuss from World Book Day on 5 March 2020 until a special live event at Brighton Festival in May 2020.

Published by Walker Books, Malamander is the creation of award-winning children’s author and illustrator Thomas Taylor, known for his distinctive cover artwork on J.K. Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Based in Bexhill-on-Sea, Taylor has written and illustrated several picture books and young novels including the Daniel Dyer series and Scarlett Hart for Marcus Sedgwick.

Malamander is set in Eerie-on-Sea, a town where strange stories seem to wash up on the shore. The story follows a daring duo, Herbert Lemon, Lost and Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, and Violet Parma, a young girl searching for her parents who disappeared twelve years earlier, as they team up to solve the mystery of a legendary sea-monster. Sony Pictures have secured the film rights for the movie adaptation and Game of Thrones actor Alfie Allen is the voice of the audiobook.


Thomas Taylor the 2020 Young City Reads author commented:

‘I’ve always lived near the sea and seaside towns, but it was only when I finally came to live in one that I discovered the secrets of coastal life that inspired my book Malamander. I’m thrilled to participate in Young City Reads 2020 as it seems so appropriate to have children who live and go to school near the coast read my book. I hope it captures their imagination to create their own stories and encourages a life-long love of reading.’

In 2019, over 3,000 pupils from schools across Sussex took part, sharing Onjali Q Raúf’s book, The Boy at the Back of the Class and taking part in free weekly activities sent directly to teachers for their class.


Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said:

‘We’re delighted to have Young City Reads take part in Brighton Festival’s young literature events. Encouraging children to enjoy books and discover new ideas together improves their literacy in a fun and creative way. We’re sure Malamander will be a big hit with children across the county and encourage primary schools to sign up and take part for this big read event.’

Young City Reads culminates in a special live event with the author as part of Brighton Festival’s Children and Young People’s Literature programme in May 2020.

Sarah Hutchings, Director of Young City Reads added:

‘We are so excited to share this sensational seaside adventure with young readers across Sussex. Herbert Lemon and Violet Parma are a spirited, unforgettable double act and this timeless tale is just the thing to inspire children to fall in love with reading. It’s really easy for Primary Schools to get involved. Teachers can register on the Young City Reads website for free and we’ll send them weekly literary resources and fun activities for their classes to take part.’

Denise Johnstone-Burt, Executive Editorial Director at Walker Books commented:

‘We’re delighted that Young City Reads have chosen Malamander by Thomas Taylor as their 2020 title. It’s a brilliantly quirky seaside book and the perfect read for children growing up in Brighton & Hove. I hope the wonderfully mysterious atmosphere and exciting story will nurture their love of reading and spark their imaginations.’

First Show Announced for Brighton Festival 2020

Brighton Festival, the biggest annual multi-arts festival in England returns next year from 2 to 24 May 2020 with a world première by Hofesh Shechter Company.

Double Murder is a thrilling new two-part contemporary dance for our times, led by the multitalented choreographer Hofesh Shechter OBE and performed by ten of his inimitable dancers, accompanied by the epic sounds of a Shechter-composed score. The double bill consists of New Creation, an antidote and partner piece to the murderous, poisonous anarchy of Shechter’s Clowns, which premiered on 29 April 2016 at Nederlands Dans Theater 1 in The Hague, The Netherlands. Violence, tenderness and hope are all laid bare through Shechter’s achingly beautiful cinematic lens, bringing a tender and fragile energy to Brighton Dome’s stage.

Hofesh Shechter commented:

"I am very excited to bring a new creation to Brighton Festival next year. Together with the dancers I’m looking to find the spark of hope, that deep and childish, fragile human need of warmth. We walked into the studio feeling like a balance is required, a place where we allow time to be on our side as opposed to against us. A fix.”

The boundary-breaking dance company was established by Shechter in 2008 and became Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival’s first resident artists. Shechter was Guest Director in 2014 and Double Murder will be the company’s third world première at the Festival, having previously performed The Art of Not Looking Back in 2009 and Political Mother in 2010.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“Brighton Festival is proud to have worked with Hofesh and his company for over 10 years and we’re thrilled to announce Double Murder as our first show for 2020. As Brighton Dome resident artists, we’re excited to welcome them back home to perform here and for Festival audiences to experience their new work for the first time.”

Andrew Comben added:

“Next year’s Festival will build on the success of 2019 by reaching out to local communities through initiatives such as the Pay it Forward ticket scheme which allowed more people than ever before to see a Festival event for free. We’re looking forward to revealing the Guest Director and the Children’s Parade theme in the next few weeks.”

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Running across three weeks in May, it opens on Sat 2 May 2020 with the popular Children’s Parade, produced in partnership with Brighton based community arts charity Same Sky. Participation events will appear across the city – Our Place will continue to bring free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton; Young City Reads encourages school children to share their love of reading and family friendly events and installations will pop-up in unexpected outdoor locations.

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! 

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


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.

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

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.

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!



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

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: 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 

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 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.

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 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. 

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:




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!

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.

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. 

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.



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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 

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.

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)


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.

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


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. 


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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 

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 

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

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

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 

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 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 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 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 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 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 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!

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 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 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 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 

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!

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!

Interview with Luke Jerram: Museum of the Moon

Hanging in the Q