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

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Festival Hot Seat: Elephant and Castle

Husband and wife team, Tom Adams and Lillian Henley’s show Elephant and Castle is all about Tom's sleep talking and sleep walking. We caught up with Tom to find out more…

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Hello, our show is called Elephant and CastleIt is a Gig-Theatre show all about sleep walking and sleep talking told by a married couple, me (Tom) and Lillian. It uses live music, theatre, and 300 audio recordings of me sleep talking taken from three years to tell a personal and wider story about relationships, identity and how to cope when your partner is a parasomniac. 

Some of the audio recordings are funny. Some of them are dark and disturbing. All of them tell us something. Something that is desperate to be heard. And may be catastrophic for this relationship. It is called Elephant and Castle because the first thing I said to Lillian in my sleep was “I want to get in a wardrobe and take you to ‘Elephant and Castle”.

How and where will the work be staged?
Our show is staged like a live music gig, with piano, electric guitar and microphones
dotted around the stage. We want people to feel the intimacy of our bedroom so we
have a large inflatable bed with a dark red divan in the centre of the stage which we
manipulate, lie on top of, project animation onto. Lillian and I wear paisley pyjamas
and the feel of the show is intimate, funny and a little bit dirty. It has been described
as David Lynch meets Skegness B&B.

Why should someone come and see your show?
It is a personal story told by a real life married couple about subjects that affects us all: How do we sleep? Who are we when we go to sleep? Do we really know the person we share a bed with?

The show has a strong narrative but also a dreamlike flow to the style. The music is inspired by Americana with storytelling and humour and Lillian’s voice has been called
‘extraordinarily beautiful’ by The Stage and the humour of the songs as ‘Bill Baileyesque’.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
When Lillian and I first got together, she told me that I slept talked and slept walked a lot. I did not know this really. I knew I had a slight problem, but I didn’t know it was every night.

This made me download the cool app for the iPhone called Sleeptalk that switches on at night when any sounds are made. I realised that I was saying interesting things most nights such as “Ooooh you don’t want to see this guy, Jesus” and “Can I have a potato? Um, just one thanks”. I had been wanting to collaborate with Lillian for a long time and this felt like the perfect project to work together on. A true story about us.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think it is an important story because it is true. We have not doctored or exaggerated any of the stories about the sleep talking or sleep walking I do. It is a clear, intimate portrayal of a couple which invites the audience to view their own relationships in another light. The show’s message is ultimately about love and compassion for each other.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Someone who wants something different from a live performance.
Someone who enjoys watching alternative comedy
Someone who is interested in the science of sleep
Someone who would usually watch live music. They will come for the live music and really enjoy the storytelling.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
There is a moment of beautiful silliness 3/4 of the way through the show that will get people’s attention.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Woe are so proud to be programmed alongside such brilliant artists.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Tim KeyThe Castle Builder, The Cult of Water and Rear View

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

Festival Hot Seat: Wot? No Fish!!

In our first Hot Seat Interview of 2018, Danny Braverman talks us through his one-man performance in Wot? No fish!!, an intimate look at lost art of his Great Uncle Ab.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Wot? No Fish!! is a remarkable story about discovering the art of my Great-Uncle, Ab Solomons. Ab drew a picture once a week for his wife Celie over 55-years of their marriage. The story is about lots of things, including love, art, history and catering.

How and where will the work be staged?
At the Brighthelm Centre, 8th and 9th May at 19:30pm

Why should someone come and see your show?
Audiences and critics across the world have loved the show; people laugh and cry and tell me it’s memorable and meaningful to them.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Initially, I wanted to share the hidden art work of a remarkable ‘outsider artist’.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The story resonates differently for different people; it may be “historical”, but it’s also fiercely contemporary. To some, the heart of the story is about the struggles of the children of immigrants; for others, the story of the institutionalisation of Ab and Celie’s disabled son Larry is the most affecting part; for others, perhaps most people, the show is about the power of love.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
This is a show that crosses divides. Bring with you someone you love; friend or family. It crosses generations. It’s a Jewish story and my fellow Jews will recognise a lot of the references. But it is also universal, most recently received very warmly in China!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
There are a lot of astonishing revelations. The ending is a surprise and a treat too.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
It’s great to see a festival so diverse and political - that balances exciting emerging artists with established names.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The range is amazing. I’m a massive Miles Davis fan, so the reinterpretation of Kind of Blue is exciting. I’m also hugely looking forward to StopGap Dance and Amanda Palmer.

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

Tenor and Bass singers sought for Brighton Festival’s unique choral project

Brighton Festival & The Voice Project seek extra male voices (16+) to perform as part of a unique new choral project, The Arms of Sleep.

Set to be one of the highlights of the Brighton Festival programme, The Arms of Sleep is an unforgettable overnight sleepover experience created by directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images. 

Choir members will need to be available for up to three performances from Fri 11 May to Tue 15 May (approximately 7pm - 11pm, and returning at 6 - 8am the following morning). Brighton’s own Kirsty Martin – Choral Conductor for Brighton Festival 2018’s Depart and Musical Director for several Brighton choirs will be co-running some of the rehearsals.

Rehearsals have been underway for the last two months and are going really well. However, The Arms of Sleep Choir is still in need of male voices. If you're a Tenor or Bass and would like to be a part of our unique project, join us at one of our rehearsals below at The Basement;

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

Sat 3 March - 10.30am - 4.00pm
Tue 6 March - 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Wed 21 March- 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Sat 24 March – 10.30am - 4.00pm
Tue 10 April- 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Sat 14 April 10.30am - 4.00pm
Sun 15 April- 10.30am - 4.00pm
Wed 25 April - 7.30 - 9.45pm
Tues 1 May - 7.30pm - 9.45pm

Rehearsals on site from 8th May - exact dates and times TBC

Should you decide that you would like to partake in this very exciting project, a member's fee of £20 will be required. (Please speak to the Voice Project administrators for bursary solutions).

For more information please contact info@voiceproject.co.uk

LOOK AT THIS! David Shrigley Brighton Festival Tips

Under David Shrigley's directorship, we are going to have an amazing Brighton Festival 2018 - he’s pretty good at picking and making great shows and events. Obviously, we’ve loved a lot of his work, but here are some of his picks…

Brett Goodroad
Brett and I met in 2013 when we were both on an artist-in-residency programme in Headlands Centre for the Arts which is near San Francisco. We became good friends, and he’s just a really interesting visual artist: an amazing painter, print-maker and he also make great drawings. Brett has never exhibited his work in UK: I thought it would be a great opportunity to have his work shown here.

Brett is also a truck driver because lower-income artists don’t seem to be well supported in the United States. Most people there who are visual artists have another job as well. Oddly Brett is a truck driver which is not an easy thing to do. He drives organic vegetables from northern California to southern Texas once a week. It’s an interesting job for a visual artist to do and he’s an unusual truck driver.

Shrigley Talk & Big Book Group
I’m doing a talk about my work, which is something I do periodically. I show images of my work, and I waffle on about it and try not to make it boring! Big Book Group is an event which Craig Melvin is hosting. Craig has hosted it quite several times, and this year Matt Haig – who’s Brighton based - and Jess Kid are speaking. I think that it will be a really interesting event because they’re both really fantastic writers… and then there’s me who isn’t really.

Deerhoof 
Deerhoof are a rock band from San Francisco who I made a record cover for about ten years ago. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. They’re a fantastic band, and a band whose music is not just great on record, but also really makes sense live. So, as the Guest Director, I, they were near the top of my list for bands I wanted to bring. Whenever anyone sees them play a live show, they’re always blown away by them. They’re also going to be doing a collaboration with Stargaze which is going to be well worth seeing.

Life Drawing II
Life Model II is the second incarnation of the life model piece that I made for the Turner prize show. The first one was a male, whilst this one is a female figure. Everybody who visits the exhibition is invited to make a drawing of the life model, and all the drawings will form part of the exhibition. 

Those drawings will form the two-dimensional aspect to the exhibition. It’s a piece about drawing, it’s a piece about everybody being included, about participating and making an exhibition yourself. I suppose that the arts – visual art particularly – is often seen as elitist and inaccessible. I suppose that’s what the piece is about; that art is for everybody, and that making art is for everybody too. It’s an artwork that begets other artworks and invites you to think about who’s the artist and who’s the subject.


Iain Shaw
Iain Shaw is also a friend of mine, from Glasgow. He’s a singer-songwriter in the tradition of Elliott Smith or Jackson C Frank. I wrote a lot of silly lyrics and he made them into some really wonderful songs, quite wistful, pop, folky type songs that he’s done largely with acoustic guitar. It’s a great collaboration.

A Shit Odyssey
A Shit Odyssey is a fly on the wall documentary about the making of Pass the Spoon, an opera I made in Glasgow in 2011. A Shit Odyssey was made by Cara Connolly and Martin Clark who are friends of mine. They are documentary film makers from the fine art world in Glasgow. It’s a project that’s taken around seven years to finally be shown! I think that will be a voyage of discovery to see a slightly younger version of myself, making a fool of myself. It is really a very interesting documentary because it’s a really, really strange project. So that will be fantastic.


Ezra Furman
Ezra Furman is, I think, one of the best writers of pop songs around today. He’s somebody I haven’t seen play, but I’ve got all his records. I’ve always managed to be out of town when he’s visited before, so this is just a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.

Bridget Christie
Bridget Christie is a brilliant comedian from London. Again, she’s a person whose proper show I’ve always managed to miss. I’ve seen her in a small vignette of her acts that she did at an event, but I wanted to see the full show. Fortunately, she said yes to performing at the Festival – so I’m really looking forward to that!


Malcom Middleton
Malcom Middleton is well known as a solo artist; however, he is also part of the influential indie rock band Arab Strap. Malcom and I made a spoken word record together a couple years ago and I’ve also made some artwork for album covers for him. I’m a big fan of his music. I think he’s one of the best singer-songwriters in the country at the moment, or at least of his generation.

The Problem in Brighton
The main project that I’m bringing to the festival is called Problem in Brighton and it’s a new musical theatre piece. It’s a bizarre rock and roll opera in collaboration with Lee Baker, a visual artist and a talented musician. I’m not really a writer as such, but I thought it was an opportunity to make something in Brighton, sort of my first project that’s made here – the first big project – outside my studio. It’s an opportunity to get to work with people, with a venue and it’s part funded by the festival which is really great! Lee’s writing the music and then some other people I’ve met will be playing the music on instruments I’ve created. 

Become a Brighton Festival Volunteer!

Join us at our volunteer drop-in evening on Thu 8 Mar, 5pm - 7pm 

Be part of the action and volunteer with Brighton Festival 2018.

If you are passionate about the arts, Brighton Festival 2018 would love to hear from you!

Members of staff from various Brighton Festival departments will hold a special drop-in session for anyone interested in volunteering at the Festival on Thursday 8th March from 5pm - 7pm at the Brighton Dome Café-bar.

Brighton Festival’s successful volunteer scheme has been running for several years. From greeting the public and directing customers to outdoor promotions and educational work, the scheme aims to be as varied and accessible as the Festival itself, offering a well-rounded insight into how a festival works.

As a volunteer, individuals will have the opportunity to assist in delivering a whole range of exciting events throughout the May Festival and beyond; both across Brighton Dome venues and at other festival sites around the city, working with multiple Brighton Festival departments including Marketing, Artistic Planning, Press, Production and Visitor Services.

There will be opportunities for volunteers to work weekdays and weekends, daytimes and evenings from April. Don’t worry if the hours you have free are scattered, we’d still love to hear from you! For more information about these volunteering opportunities click here

Spotlight: Cuckmere: A Portrait

Discover more about Cuckmere: A Portrait, a Brighton Festival Co-commission.

For centuries the Cuckmere River has inspired artists, sheltered smugglers and preserved a host of rare habitats and wildlife as it charts a course through some of the most evocative landscapes in southern England.

In a work of beauty and eloquence, the filmmaker Cesca Eaton and the composer/conductor Ed Hughes trace the changing moods of the Cuckmere river, from its source in the Sussex Downs to its dramatic twists and turns as it meanders to the sea at Cuckmere Haven. The score, specially composed by Ed Hughes, is played live by The Orchestra of Sound and Light in this world premiere.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

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

In a co-commission with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Holland Festival, the Brighton Festival presents The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety.

In this exciting production, the tempestuous relationship between sex, anxiety and music is explored and examined by one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito.

Music and drama collide as the award-winning string powerhouse The Heath Quartet perform alongside an equally stunning quartet of actors to deliver an unmissable montage of melody and madness. These eight artists will take you on a journey through time to explore how our innermost thoughts battle with our artistic impulses.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

Brighton Festival launches programme with David Shrigley as Guest Director

The full programme for Brighton Festival 2018, the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England, was unveiled today with the Turner Prize-nominated visual artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley (b.1968) as Guest Director.

Best known for his darkly humorous works that comment on the inconsequential, bizarre, and disquieting elements of daily life, the artist’s offbeat take is reflected in an eclectic programme spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate, from Brighton Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by David Shrigley himself to a live durational reading of Camus’ seminal The Myth of Sisyphus, and performances from genderqueer rock‘n’roll hero Ezra Furman and cult-favourite Amanda Palmer.

Alongside Life Model II, a follow-up to the artist’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name which invites visitors to take part in a life drawing class with a sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman as the ‘model’, an illustrated talk billed as ‘containing numerous rambling anecdotes… not in the slightest bit boring’, and a screening of a documentary about his work titled A Shit Odyssey, David Shrigley’s trademark wit is also evident in his brochure cover design, featuring a hammer and a bent nail and bearing the tagline ‘Strive for Excellence’. Other events close to the artist’s heart include an exclusive collaboration between orchestral collective Stargaze and one of his favourite bands, Deerhoof; an exhibition by San-Francisco-based artist and trucker Brett Goodroad; and a double bill from his friend Malcolm Middleton, one half of Arab Strap, and Scottish musician Iain Shaw, whose quirky folk song-smithery has turned Shrigley’s poems into incisive songs on albums like Awesome and Listening to Slayer.

As ever Brighton Festival 2018 features a host of commissions and co-commissions from a wide range of national and internal artists including: Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter, a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall; The Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience from The Voice Project in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like night of music stories, sound and images; Cuckmere: A Portrait, a filmic homage to the changing moods of the Cuckmere river accompanied by a live score; and Creation (Pictures for Dorian), a new piece inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray from acclaimed British/German arts collective Gob Squad.

Elsewhere, circus and dance make a significant appearance in the programme via an extended visit from internationally-renowned NoFit State circus who present their dazzling new production Lexicon; a collaboration from Australia’s dance luminaries Dancenorth, Lucy Guerin Inc and Gideon Obarzanek and Indonesian music duo Senyawa, Attractor; Brighton Festival commission KAYA from the Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc’s all-female company which fuses traditional Turkish folk dance with contemporary style; an award-winning debut by one of the most exciting new companies on the contemporary circus scene, Fauna; and a collaboration between Netherlands-based theatre-maker Boukje Schweigman, visual artist Cocky Eek and performer Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti in Blaas (Blow), a weird but wonderful ballet of abstract configurations.

From A Change is Gonna Come, a collaboration between three of the most gifted soul, jazz and rap artists, Carleen Anderson, Nikki Yeoh and Speech Debelle, exploring the power of the protest song to Les Amazones d'Afrique, West Africa’s first all-female super group, formed in the fight against violence towards women, and Brownton Abbey - a new Afrofuturist collective headlined by New Orleans ‘Queen of Bounce’ Big Freedia, best known for her appearance on Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ track and collaborations with Diplo and RuPaul. The contemporary music and spoken word programme is particularly wide-ranging, including a  Brighton Festival Commission with Travis Alabanza: Before I Step Outside (You Love Me), an evening of Black trans poetics with one of the UK’s leading trans voices; and performances from This is the Kit and Jungle also feature.

Alongside the return of caravan, a three-day biennial curated industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which is open to the public for the first time this year, theatre highlights include National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam, the remarkable, true story of a young trans man and his journey to reconciliation, directed by award-winning theatre director Cora Bissett; and Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Emma Rice’s acclaimed ode to Marc and Bella Chagall.

Other highlights include appearances from Lemn Sissay, Michael Rosen, Rose Tremain, Iain Sinclair, Bridget Christie, Brett Anderson, Viv Albertine, Tim Key and Shami Chakrabarti; an exhibition from controversial artist duo Gilbert & George, and a touring mobile installation from multi-award winning contemporary designer Morag Myerscough; two special classical concerts to mark the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival Choir, Britten’s War Requiem and Belshazzar’s Feast, and performances from Vox Luminis and Cédric Tiberghien.

As ever Brighton Festival will kick off with the Children’s Parade - the largest event of its kind in Europe - produced by Same Sky. Other family events include Snigel and Friends from leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch’s company; the world premiere of I Wish I Was a Mountain, a re-imagined version of Herman Hesse’s classic fairytale - from writer, performer and former Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion Toby Thompson; and the UK premiere of Apples, a wordless and charming feast for the senses.

Brighton Festival 2018 also continues its emphasis on programming work in the community with the return of Your Place - two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Your Place joins regular free, participatory events such as City Reads and Young City Reads; and Weekend Without Walls, two days of free arts in the parks.

David Shrigley says: “As a resident of Brighton and Hove the Festival is always a delight. Those who have visited the Festival before will know that having such an incredible array of events occur in our city every year is a great privilege. I’m very excited about this year’s lineup. Not only for the things that I have selected but also for the things I have only read about; one of the best things about the Festival for me is that it can be a voyage of discovery.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “Like Brighton Festival, David Shrigley’s work is for everyone. Both powerful and funny, his work manages to speak to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he is also a great advocate for the arts helping our health and wellbeing. We are thrilled that David is bringing his distinctive take to the Festival and the city he has now made his home.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Brighton Festival is one of the year’s cultural highlights, not just in Brighton itself – but nationally. It presents a programme of work that is accessible, imaginative, exciting and inspiring, engaging audiences from across the city and beyond; a programme that we are pleased to support. David Shrigley has a wonderfully dark and offbeat take on life and I really look forward to seeing his influence on this year’s Festival. Art and culture make a huge contribution to Brighton’s success and its reputation for excellence. With its international reach and fantastic programme, which spans a wide range of art-forms, Brighton Festival is a significant part of what makes Brighton such a great place to live, work and visit.”

Spotlight: The Arms of Sleep

Discover more about The Arms of Sleep, a Brighton Festival Co-commission with Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

In one of its most ambitious and magical productions to date, The Voice Project takes us on an epic 10-hour immersive overnight experience of choral music, film and animation set in the beautiful grounds of historic stately home Firle Place.

Through dusk and darkness to dawn, drift and dream with The Voice Project Brighton Choir as you travel into the space of sleep.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video produced by echovideo.co.uk
Stills by JMA Photography

Spotlight: Hofesh Shechter Company: Grand Finale

Discover more about Hofesh Shechter Company’s Grand Finale, a Brighton Festival Co-commission.

‘One of the British dance scene’s hottest properties’ (New York Times), Brighton Festival Associate Artist and former Guest Director Hofesh Shechter is back with his exhilarating new work.

Grand Finale is at once comic, bleak and beautiful, reflecting the uncertainty and confusion of the troubled times we are living in. Characteristically visceral, Shechter creates a vision of a world in free fall, full of anarchic energy and violent comedy.

With an exceptional international ensemble of ten dancers and six live musicians, Grand Finale is part gig, part dance, part theatre, and wholly original.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Gob Squad: Creation (Pictures for Dorian)

Creation is the realm of gods and artists, who create beauty through sheer will and their own bare hands. But who decides what is beautiful?

British/German arts collective Gob Squad have performed all over the world for 25 years. Now middle-aged, they have no desire to exit the stage just yet. UK Premiere and Brighton Festival co-commission, Creation (Pictures for Dorian), is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray, who remains eternally youthful at a terrible cost to his soul. 

There’s probably a little bit of Dorian in all of us. Joined onstage by older and younger local performers, Gob Squad peeps behind the vanity mirror to question beauty, morality and power - and ask why we so crave the eye of the beholder.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns to the Brighton Festival with another exciting programme of free theatre, art, dance, music, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to create a vibrant weekend of arts and activities for their local communities.

Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place for a second year following its wonderful success in 2017. Expect new and exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.

Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns for a second year with another exciting programme of free theatre, dance, music, art, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to conjure up a weekend of adventure for the people of their local areas.

Now, Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place following its wonderful success in 2017.This year will feature lots more exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.

Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Title revealed for City Reads 2018

Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country chosen for city-wide 'big read' as part of Brighton Festival

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country has been chosen as this year’s City Read across Brighton & Hove and beyond. The concept is simple: one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.

Sacred Country tells the story of Mary Ward who one day stands shivering in an England field in February 1952 and realises she is meant to be a boy. She is six years old. From its opening pages Sacred Country vows to take the reader on a compelling literary journey through Mary's fight to become Martin. Spanning three decades, from the oppressive English countryside of the 1950s, to London in the Swinging Sixties, to 1970’s America, Sacred Country follows Mary in her plight to find a place of safety and fulfilment in a savage and confusing world.

Fox Fisher, trans artist and activist said: ‘As a trans person myself, I never saw trans characters in books (or in ‘real life’, for that matter) growing up. Although Sacred Country is written by an author that isn’t trans, I was utterly gripped with the storyline and characters. The audiobook is read by a trans man which adds to the authenticity and is an example of the level of care and consideration when creating this book. As a film-maker, I could really visualise how well this would translate to a feature length fiction. And when the time comes, I hope the person to make the film is me!’

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, City Reads commented: 'Sacred Country tells the compelling story of Mary, born in the wrong body and their arduous journey to become Martin. Despite being written in 1992, Sacred Country is a novel that deserves to be re-discovered as it is still a hugely relevant work. Mary’s story is told with skill, compassion and empathy. Rose Tremain is one of the UK’s most respected writers and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Brighton & Hove in May to discuss this groundbreaking novel with readers across the City.’

Rose Tremain was one of only five women writers to be included in Granta’s original list of 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 1983, and was made a CBE in 2007. Her award-winning novels and short stories have been published worldwide in 27 countries. Sacred Country won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Prix Femina Etranger. It has oft been compared to Virginia Woolf's iconic novel Orlando through its reconsideration of the essence of gender. 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘We are delighted that City Reads is part of Brighton Festival again this year - building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. To have a writer of the calibre of Rose Tremain as our selected author is particularly exciting and we look forward to people reading and enjoying the book together over the coming months.’

Victoria Murray-Browne, Senior Editor, Vintage said: ‘We’re thrilled that Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country has been picked for this year’s City Reads. Set in rural Suffolk in the 1950s, it tells the story of Mary who, aged six, has a sudden revelation: I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I'm a boy. It’s a story about the search for identity and finding fulfilment in an unforgiving world that resonates as strongly today as when it was first published 25 years ago’

From its launch on World Book Night (23 April) to the final event at Brighton Festival on 13 May, there are a wide range of activities on offer as part of City Reads, aimed at encouraging residents across the City (and beyond) to get reading and start talking. Highlights include: the return of the Booky Photo Booth at Jubilee Library (23 April - 5 May), the ever popular City Reads Book Quiz on Weds 25 April in Lewes and Brighton on Weds 2 May, crime writer William Shaw’s Impromptu Book Group podcast on Thurs 26 April, themed film screenings at Jubilee Library and Depot (Lewes) and of course Rose Tremain, live at Brighton Festival for the City Reads finale on Sunday 13 May 2018.

For more information visit the City Reads website. To find out more about this year’s Young City Reads ‘big read’ (Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal), visit our News page.

Meet David Shrigley, our 2018 Guest Director

We're delighted to welcome visual artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley as the Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2018.

Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, his work also spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music.

Nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013, Shrigley’s Really Good, a 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, is the current incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.

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

British Council Arts created a great 'About the Artist' video, which sees David discussing his working practices and briefly discussing his career as you can watch below. 

Brighton Festival 2018: 5 – 27 May
Full programme announced: Thu 15 Feb
Members’ priority booking opens: Fri 16 Feb
Public booking opens: Fri 23 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fill out this form to register your interest

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

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

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

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

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

Title revealed for Young City Reads 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brighton Festival announces 2018 Children’s Parade theme

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

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

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky, and supported By Yeomans Toyota Brighton for the second year and for the first time by the University of Brighton, the annual Children’s Parade officially launches Brighton Festival and has delighted participants and spectators for over 25 years. The largest of its kind in Europe, the parade is attended by around 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.

With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet to the Prince Regent and Fat Boy Slim. This year participants donned costumes ranging from cats and clowns to The Giant Jam Sandwich in homage the theme of Poetry in Motion which was chosen by poet, rapper and musician Kate Tempest who headed up Brighton Festival 2017 as Guest Director. The parade was let by Grammy-nominated Hot 8 Brass Band, who brought their New Orleans style to Brighton’s streets.

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

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

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the Children’s Parade with creative teams instructing teaching staff how to teach dance and parade chants, run free masterclasses, help develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky says: “Same Sky is very excited by the 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley and his theme for the parade. We will be working with 70 Brighton & Hove schools to create the parade and enable the children to hit the street with dazzling costumes, puppets and sounds. Same Sky once again thanks Brighton Festival for giving us this great opportunity to work with nearly every school in our wonderfully creative city.”

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

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

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

INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visual artist David Shrigley named as Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First shows announced for Brighton Festival 2018

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

Hofesh Shechter: Grand Finale

Brighton Festival co-commission

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

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


The Voice Project: The Arms of Sleep

Brighton Festival co-commission

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

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


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

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

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


Your Place

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

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

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

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

Your Place returns for Brighton Festival 2018

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO: 'The arts should be in our communities’

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

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

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

Introducing the Lulu.com short story competition winners

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

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

Beki Turner - Together We Can


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

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

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

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

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

Extract from Together We Can:

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

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

David Benedictus - Protected Housing


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

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

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

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

Extract from Protected Housing:

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

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

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

‘Would you like to go back?’

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

Jenny Gaitskell - On the Threshold


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

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

Extract from On the Threshold:

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

Saba Sams - Nice Light


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

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

Extract from Nice Light:

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

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

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