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

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Festival Hot Seat: Last Dance: The Wave Epoch

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: I Wish I Was A Mountain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Family events to enjoy this May

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


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

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


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


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

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

You can also view or download our Family Events flyer here

Festival Hot Seat: Adam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pearl Bates at Brighton Festival

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

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

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

Good luck to everyone, and have fun!'

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

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

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

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

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Classical Music

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: COAT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: LEXICON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: Penguins

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the Problem in Brighton event page for more information.

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Theatre, Circus and Dance

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

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

Fauna at Brighton Festival

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Film events to enjoy this May

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


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


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




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



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

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

Attractor: Participants sought to take part in immersive dance show

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

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

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

The rehearsal sessions will take place on.

Tuesday 15th May

18.00 – 19.00

Wednesday 16th May

18.00 – 19.00 

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: Blaas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: KAYA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: Attractor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shrigley on Shrigley

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: The Humours of Bandon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Of Thrones and Band of Gold actors announced for The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

The tempestuous relationship between sex, anxiety and music comes to a head in a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyday Epic: Anthology of Short Stories Launched

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

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

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

Their mission is to ensure that the event of theatre is for all and reflects the current experiences and diverse voices of our generation. Many of the works published in this anthology were first shared via these pop-up performanes. Writers living in Sussex were asked to respond to the theme selected by Kate Tempest for Brighton Festival 2017, Everyday Epic, in no more than 4,000 words. The remaining four stories are from members of the Sussex-wide public who won the Everyday Epic story writing competition run by Lulu.com which was run in conjunction with Brighton Festival.