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

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Five Minutes with Gravity & Other Myths: Backbone

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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


Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

Children's Parade 2019

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

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

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

children's parade brighton festival moulsecoom downs view

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


anansi the spider brighton festival children's parade


Elm Grove Primary School created an impressive giant Pied Piper

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

Another wonderful highlight was Stargirl by Harbour Primary School

children's parade brighton festival harbour primary stargirl

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shapeshifters
Sun 12 May

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

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

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

Travelling Traditions
Sat 11 May

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

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

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

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

Marmen Quartet at Brighton Festival

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Standby in Advance now available

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


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

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

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

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

Five Minutes with Flexer & Sandiland: Curiouser

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

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

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

Five Minutes with Jaamil Olawale Kosoko: Séancers

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


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

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?  

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

 What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

Imagery and poetic metaphor, some fun costumes, kisses.

Find out more about Séancers and book your tickets today. 

Five Minutes with Season Butler: The New Dystopians

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

Highlights: Brighton Festival Opening Weekend

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

Discover what is happening this weekend at Brighton Festival 

Free things to do at Brighton Festival

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

Without Walls
Sat 11 May

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

Initiative.dkf – Scalped

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

Talawa Theatre Company – The Tide

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

Justice in Motion – On Edge

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

Motionhouse – Wild

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


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

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

Some of our favourites:

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

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

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

Explore the full programme 


Distorted Constellations
Sat 4-Sun 19 May

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

Sat 18 May

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


Museum of the Moon
Fri 17 – Mon 20 May

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


Iron Men
Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

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


Current Affairs
Thu 18 Apr–Mon 27 May 

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



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

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!

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

The prize package includes:

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

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

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

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

Fri 24 May

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

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

Sat 25 May

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

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

Sun 26 May

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

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

Please read the terms and conditions here

Five Minutes with Sheila Hill: Eye to Eye

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


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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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


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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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


Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

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

What will surprise people about this show?

That it’s really funny. 

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


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

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


Our Place – MHangleton
 Sat 25 May

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

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

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


SESSION
Thu 23-26 May

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

Another Star to Steer By
Sat 25 - Sun 26 May

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

Read our interview with writer Andrew McCaldon


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


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

Tomorrow: a story from Syria
Sat 25 May

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

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

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

Who are The Storytelling Army?

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

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

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

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

Check out these organisations they are doing AMAZING things.


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

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

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

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

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


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

And in return we expect a supportive kind audience.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

Five Minutes with Takashi Kikuchi: The Nature of Why

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

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

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


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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

Get making with Our Place Creative Makers

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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


Get making

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

Download your 'how to' makers guide

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

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


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

Supported by


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Phillip Morgan shares fond memories of Brighton Festival

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Must-See Events at Brighton Festival’s Opening Weekend

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

Saturday 4 May

Né So

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


Children’s Parade

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

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


Pitch Perfect

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


Current Affairs
Thu 18 Apr-Mon 27 May

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


Writers at Risk Gallery
Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

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


Iron Men
Sat 4- Sun 26 May

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


Distorted Constellations
Sat 4 - Sun 19 May

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


Sunday 5 May

Creative Writing Workshop with Miriam Halamy

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


30 Years of Mr Bongo

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

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

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

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

Read our interview with Artistic Director Candice Edmunds 

Flight by Vox Motus at Brighton Festival
Ensemble Correspondances

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

Read our interview with Sébastien Daucé to find out more 


Some Small Isle

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


Dream Horse

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

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

Discover more Young Brighton Festival events 

Five Minutes with: Soumik Datta - King of Ghosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Pippa Smith and Sarah Parsons

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

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

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

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

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

What was the inspiration for Same Sky?

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

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favourite part of the Parade?

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

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

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Minutes with Marcus Farnsworth

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

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

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

Why would someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who loves poetry, beautiful music or intimate concerts.

What will surprise people about this show?

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

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