Brighton Festival announces award-winning author Ali Smith as Guest Director for 2015
Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England - is delighted to announce that the 2015 Guest Director is award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of Smith’s winning of the Goldsmiths Prize 2014 - a new literary award for boldly original fiction that sets out to recognise work that opens up new possibilities for the novel form - and her nomination for the Costa Book Award for her latest novel How to be Both which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014.
Recently described as an ‘heir to Virginia Woolf’, Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form – fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful. Her latest novel is her most experimental and idiosyncratic yet; borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it is a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions.
Smith’s numerous other acclaimed novels, short story and essay collections include The Accidental (shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange Prize), Hotel World (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize) and There but for the.
On her role and her thinking behind Brighton Festival 2015, Ali Smith says:
'I'm a fan of the unexpected connection, the crossing places between the art forms, the place where they meet, open to each other and fuse into something more. The word festival comes from the place where the word for feast crosses into the word for joyful, happy, honouring, celebratory. The word Brighton, in the month of May: that means festival.'
Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has a rich history of pushing boundaries. In its inaugural year the programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals for artists and audiences, Brighton Festival is known for commissioning and producing an ambitious programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere. It has been widely recognised for presenting exciting site specific work, thought provoking debate and newly commissioned works.
The seventh Guest Director of Brighton Festival, Ali Smith takes on the mantle from visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012), poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013) and choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014) in shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.
Ali Smith continues: “Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird. Migrating birds are born naturally equipped with maps that even new-born birds know how to follow, maps of landscapes with no borders. Birds with nothing but the urge to flock together, get there, be here now. Imagine the borders between the artforms. Imagine them opened, crossed, melted, made invisible, so that poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance meets thought meets sculptural meets rhythm meets fiction meets the natural world.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: 'We are delighted to have welcomed Ali Smith on board as Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2015. Her contribution brings a new focus for us, at the same time as continuing the tradition of prominent artistic figures who have brought their particular knowledge and experience of the arts to the programme. At once deeply playful and deeply serious, Ali Smith brings a sensibility which perfectly mirrors the ambition of Brighton Festival – a willingness to take imaginative risks, defy genres, push boundaries and celebrate a love of art in all its infinite forms and varieties. I am certain that Ali Smith will bring a very special element to next year’s Festival and I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience it in May.'
The annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 2 to 24 May 2015. Full programme details including events in which she will be participating will be available online on Wed 18 Feb 2015.
Brighton Festival Highlights - Day by Day
What a smashing Festival. We loved every second and we loved sharing it with you. We thought we’d have little reminisce with some of many Brighton Festival highlights and some of the wonderful comments we received.
Hofesh Shechter leads the Children’s Parade to the beat of his own riff ably supported by the Mayor
Over 1000 people visit Nowhere & Everywhere at the Same Time No.2, on its opening day
“Enjoyed the William Forsythe pendulum installation at Circus St so much we went twice today! The kids were captivated too” - Jon
Sun comes home to Brighton
Yvonne says: “Received strong dose of Sun at brightfest and spent the night dreaming of sheep. Stunning production.”
Murikamification picks up passers by to follow this amazing dancing and then join hands for a circle dance and wins an Argus Angel
12 year old boy says: “I don’t know what it is - but I like it. This is just hardcore Parkour – he ends like a majestic swan"
Art and Sound installations draw the crowds to great acclaim: Jessie says: “LOVED the Zimoun: Sound in Motion exhibition nice to be reminded that things can be beautiful in all kinds of ways”
Hofesh Shechter reveals all in Sun Dust
“Enjoying @brightfest this weekend. Hofesh Shechter demonstrated what his dancers are actually listening to whilst dancing. Amazing” - audience member tweet
Daily Telegraph describes opening weekend of the Festival as “visionary” – we are chuffed!!
Turner prize winner Martin Creed and his band deliver an off-beat performance and Opus No.7, another Argus Angel winner, continues to delight
Talvin Singh’s Bombay Talkie blows the audience away…
Rowan says: “Heart melted & mind blown watching Bombay Talkies for @ Brightfest. Talvin Singh is the coolest guy I've ever seen. Roopa Panesar - just wow.”
We welcomed Cheek By Jowl to Theatre Royal with Tis Pity She’s a Whore the audience said:
“absolutely tremendous, fantastic, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it.. If you are going to see anything through the Festival, this is the one to see!”
Down By the Greenwood Side opens in Lewes in the disused Harvey’s Brewery depot and wins an Argus Angel 45 years after it premiered at Brighton Festival on the West Pier
“A gripping show” Richard Morrison, The Times****
Invisible Flock’s Bring the Happy open their happy memory collecting shop at Onca gallery.
543 happy memories are collected over 10 days
Legend of Hamba’ world premieres in Pavilion Gardens
Sir Harrison Birtwistle celebrates his 80th birthday
Gavin Henderson Antiphonies are performed in the Pavilion Gardens and Action Hero attract the crowds for more free events with Slap Talk
Whilst Zara McFarlane is the big jazz star of the Festival at TOM – she says “Definitely the best weekend of the year so far @brightfest”
Ours was the Fen Country expands to fill the Corn Exchange part of the caravan showcase
Hauschka puts his pianos through their paces and his performance is one of the 12 shows that are live streamed
Catch 22 opens at Theatre Royal with a WW2 bomber right across the stage!
Brian Lobel opens his poignant installation Mourning Glory in the Founders Room
Hofesh’s dancers return with the wonderful In Good Company
Wild Justice from Hydrocracker claims another Argus Angel
Lost Dog premiere their Festival Commission Like Rabbits – which they are!
David McCandless fills the Concert Hall and shares data stories about “the new soil” revealing whether toast or porridge is more popular (its toast by a mile) – George says “informative, beautiful & fun. Wish I could do a Venn diagram of it”.
Our lunchtime concerts continue to delight: “Just been to a piano recital by the superbly gifted Jonathan Biss - definitely the highlight of my #BrightFest so far!”
Jeremy Deller shares his Desert Island Pics
Whilst Gruff Rhys finds his inner animal - “Charming, funny & beautiful musical journey with Welsh adventurer John Evans & the captivating vocals of Gruff Rhys"
ZOO use a prepared piano in their enhanced dance with John Cage for 5 year olds
‘Safe House’ wins an Argus Angel described as, “Innovative, graceful, effective, well staged, clever. Loved it. Come back to brightfest again”.
Ida Barr mashes things up outside the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre
Brian Lobel performs ‘Purge’ - “Purge- stunning, funny, insightful, heartfelt. Off to complete my own purge and can't wait”
Cat Power brings her extended song set to Brighton Dome
“An artist at the peak of her powers”, Caroline Sullivan, The Guardian****
The Epicene Butcher wins another Argus Angel
“Loved The Epicene Butcher. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes moving, always engaging”
Peaches brings the Theatre Royal house down
“What a woman. What a show”, Caroline Sullivan The Guardian
Tipping Point opens including a live performance and our Visual Art installations continue to entice and excite.
Circus Feria Musica mesmerise with Sinue
Laurence says:“Amazing show - playful, exhilarating, funny, beautiful”.
“I leave the theatre as if I have just emerged from a flotation chamber.” - The Circus Diaries
The Sleeping Army march primary schools into the Brighton Dome Concert Hall for Francesca Simon’s Young City Reads talk.
Flown fuses comedy, music and circus to fill the Theatre Shakespeare’s Globe brave the elements in Much Ado About Nothing … and win
Dark & Stormy mini crime fest weekend opens
Bring the Happy Live uses the record breaking 543 memories to create their live wedding/wake show
Emmylou Harris makes a special visit for a sold out Brighton dome Concert Hall gig
One Million takes Black Rock by storm with 60 local young people in the cast
Munch!’ shares out some waffles to an appreciative audience
The Philharmonia Orchestra and Brighton Festival Chorus on stunning form in the Brighton Festival exclusive concert which had a staggering 237 performers and then the 23 strong string section give a spine-tingling late night performance of Strauss’s Metamorphosen the atmospheric Circus Street Market.
Spies: Fact & Fiction sees Stella Rimington admitting to reading the odd spy novel under her desk in her younger days
26 Letters leaves us believing in Unicorns and wins another Argus Angel
People enjoyed a last dance in the Forsythe installation – record-breaking last day with 1280 visitors – also wins final special critics choice Argus Angel
Hofesh Shechter finishes with his closing night joke, with Les Slovaks performing their improvised Opening Night
We'lll finish up with this wonderful tweet now: “In fact, I think this year's @brightfest is one of the best yet. Excellent programme of events”
WHAT A FESTIVAL! We had a lot of fun! Thank you all and thank you for your feedback!
We’ll see you next year - 2 – 24 May 2015
‘Visionary’ Brighton Festival 2014 comes to a close
Brighton Festival 2014 - with critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter at the helm as Guest Director - came to a close this week. Described as ‘visionary’ by the Daily Telegraph, the wide-ranging programme of quality performance, visual arts, literature and debate from international, national and home-grown companies and artists has been acclaimed by audiences, artists and critics alike, with attendance across the Festival exceeding 81% of capacity.
With Hofesh Shechter as Guest Director, this year’s Brighton Festival programme was truly genre defying; and featured the highest number of premieres and commissions to date, including the world premieres of Vanishing Point’s Tomorrow and Lost Dog & Lucy Kirkwood’s dance piece Like Rabbits, alongside UK premieres of international theatre company Berlin’s multi-media work Perhaps All the Dragons and contemporary circus from Feria Musica in Sinué
Opus No.7 by acclaimed Russian theatre director Dmitry Krymov - which also had its UK premiere at the Festival - received 4 stars across the board from all the major broadsheet critics. Matt Trueman, writing in the Daily Telegraph, described the work as ‘visionary stuff, utterly singular’; Lyn Gardner in the Guardian said it was ‘unbearably poignant’, ‘visually stunning’ and ‘more like alchemy than theatre’; Dominic Maxwell in The Times praised the work for being ‘merry and macabre in a memorable mix’; while Maxie Szalwinski, in the Sunday Times referred to the piece’s ‘almost paranormal intensity’ and William McEvoy in The Stage described it as ‘unforgettable’.
One of the Festival’s biggest hits was William Forsythe’s interactive choreographic installation Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same time, no.2 in Circus Street Market with more than 12 500 visitors dancing in the piece during the three week period. Visitors described it as ‘amazing’, ‘hypnotic’ and ‘better than brilliant’, popular social networking site Instagram spread word about the installation to 32million international followers via its weekly ‘ArtThursday’ blog and a video documenting its installation attracted 60 000 views.
The 80th birthday of legendary composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle was celebrated with a series of events, headlined by a revival of his 1969 Brighton Festival commission Down by the Greenwood Side. Set in a disused brewery depot in Lewes, this unique production continued the Festival’s tradition of pioneering site-specific and immersive performances in unusual locations.
Other Brighton Festival 2014 exclusives included a new visual arts co-commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE titled The British Library, which has now been extended until 22 June due to popular demand, Tangled Feet’s immersive, free outdoor performance One Million and much more.
Brighton Festival also played host to an eclectic mix of names across contemporary music; from iconic country music singer Emmylou Harris to a rare live performance from Cat Power and a tour de force performance from Peaches in her one woman rendition of Peaches Christ Superstar – of which Caroline Sullivan in the Guardian wrote simply ‘what a woman. What a show.’
The books and debate strand of the programme boasted a number of high-profile events included a sell-out lecture by best-selling author and designer David McCandless, conversations with Irvine Welsh, Jeremy Deller, Viv Albertine alongside discussions and talks about maths, migration and dementia.
Events for all the family this year included a UK premieres of Tanzfuchs Produktion’s dance extravaganza Munch! for the under 4s and Enhanced Dance to Disguised Music; Belgian choreographer Thomas Hauert’s first piece for young people accompanied by a prepared piano soundtrack by John Cage. Meanwhile, on film the Cinema of Childhood (throughout May) - curated by Mark Cousins - looked at the depiction of children in cinema.
In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2014 saw 13 shows - including six Brighton Festival exclusives like Wim Vandekeybus in conversation with Hofesh Shechter and a debate on immigration chaired by Simon Fanshawe - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival 2014 also saw the launch of a new initiative Collidescope. Designed for artists and creators to intensively engage with the Brighton Festival programme, the scheme offered seven artists who have been making work for at least five years the opportunity for peer-to-peer creative development, with the goal of potentially creating new marriages of minds for future explorations.
As Guest Director, Hofesh Shechter followed in the footsteps of visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012) and poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013) in shaping the Brighton Festival programme. Resident in Brighton throughout the month, Hofesh was actively engaged in the programme – attending countless events and appearing in many, including leading in-conversations with Williiam Forsythe, Wim Vandekeybus and Yinka Shinbare. He also challenged audiences to respond to the world’s ugly injustices in the Brighton Festival co-commission Sun which “came home” to Brighton after touring globally.
This year’s Brighton Festival featured 448 performances and 147 events in 34 venues across the city. In total there were 37 premieres, exclusives and co-commissions and 26 free events.
Yinka Shonibare MBE’s 10,000 book installation ‘The British Library’ extended due to popular demand
Brighton Festival and HOUSE, Brighton’s festival of visual art and domestic space, are delighted to announce that YinkaShonibare MBE’s The British Library - a dramatic sculptural installation which responds to the immigration debate has been extended due to popular demand. The installation, which was co-commissioned by HOUSE and Brighton Festival 2014, will now remain open to the public until Sunday 22 June.
Photo: Victor Frankowski
Presented in the former Reference Library in Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, once the stable block for the Royal Pavilion, The British Library is comprised of over 10, 000 books bound in Shonibare's trademark African Dutch wax batik fabric. Printed in gold foil on the spines of 3,500 of the books are the names of notable British cultural figures; either immigrants themselves or descendants from an immigrant family, including examples of those who have actively opposed immigration. The names –including Henry James, T S Eliot, Hans Holbein, Helen Mirren, Tony Blair, Kazuo Ishiguro and Nigel Farage - appear individually on the books, which are arranged on the original wood bookcases of the dramatic Edwardian library - a space used for almost 100 years by writers, historians, academics and local residents.
Yinka Shonibare MBE says, “Whilst the installation is a celebration of the ongoing contributions made to British society by people who have arrived here from other parts of the world or whose ancestors came to Britain as immigrants, it does not exclude the points of view of those who object to it. The British Library is inspired by the current debates about immigration and the public response to the new presence of Romanians in Britain. In creating the piece I thought about the space – a Library - and I surrendered to the space and let the space be my muse.”
The British Library was created partly in the artist’s studio and largely in the Library itself with the assistance of over 60 volunteers drawn from the local community.
Photo: Victor Frankowski
In pictures: Week 3
From Peaches' one woman rendition of Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar to Invisible Flock's collaborative map of memories for Bring the Happy, take a look at our gallery of some of the highlights of the third and final week of Brighton Festival 2014.
Photos by Victor Frankowski and Dan Dennison
William Forsythe's Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2. attracts thousands
Over 5,000 people have already visited Circus Street Market to see William Forsythe’s installation Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No.2 - including the American choreographer himself, who experienced the piece ahead of his own Brighton Festival event.
Throughout May the derelict Circus Street Market site near Grand Parade will play host to the unique choreographic art installation. Co-programmed by South East Dance as part of Brighton Festival, the work asks audiences to move between hundreds of delicate pendulums, each swinging in timed sequences. Becoming dancers themselves, their strides and side steps produce a lively, intricate and unique choreography.
William Forsythe has been credited with moving the focus of dance from the classical tradition to a dynamic 21st century art form, exploring the idea of movement in its widest context. He is one of the world’s most celebrated choreographers.
'Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2, an installation by choreographer and artist William Forsythe, comprises some 400 swinging pendulums, suspended from an automated rig in an empty old marketplace in Brighton, England. You can think of it like a daunting booby trap or an elaborate heist movie security system. Just like Indiana Jones and Catherine Zeta Jones before you, the objective is to pass through unscathed.' Wired
Film by Shy Camera.
The installation is open daily until Sun 25 May, 11am – 7pm (Mon – Sun) and 11am – 8pm (Thu). Entry is free.
Brighton Festival’s free visual arts programme also includes The British Library by Yinka Shonibare MBE (3-25 May), a new sculptural installation which explores the impact of immigration on British culture and considers notions of territory and place, cultural identity, displacement and refuge; Zimoun: Sound in Motion at Brighton University Gallery (Mon 5–Sun 25 May), Kathy Hinde’s Tipping Point at Brighton Dome Founders Room (20–24 May) and Jacob Dahlgren’s Heaven is a place and The Wonderful World of Abstraction (3 May–25 May) at Fabrica.
In pictures: Week 2
Author and designer David McCandless shared his passion for the merging of design, information, text and story in Information is Beautiful, there was music from Will Gregory Moog Ensemble, Gruff Rhys and Hauschka, Brian Lobel explored loss and connections in Mourning Glory and Purge, we experienced dance and theatre with In Good Company, Like Rabbits, Talk to the Demon and Enhanced Dance to Disguised Music, and Metro-Boulot-Dodo's ground-breaking cross-artform work, Safe House combined live performance, site-specific installations, visual art and new media.
Photos by Victor Frankowski and Dan Dennison
New London Consort: The Tempest in Musick
Join us to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and years of diverse and imaginative adaptations of his most magical masterpiece.
One of the world's leading early music ensembles, the versatile New London Consort explores a uniquely wide and colourful repertoire of Renaissance and Baroque music. The principal artists, all established soloists in their own right, share a rare unanimity of purpose and style, resulting in the New London Consort's undisputed reputation for artistry, flair and virtuosity. Preparations have been underway for their Brighton Festival performance of Music for The Tempest which premiered at Cité de la Musique in Paris on 2 April 2014.
Shakespeare’s The Tempest has been adapted numerous times and lends itself to artists as inspiration, who frequently forge it in new styles and formats: in music, at least 46 operas by composers such as Halévy, Fibich and Adès; orchestral works by Tchaikovsky, Sullivan and Honegger; and songs by such diverse artists as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Michael Nyman and Pete Seeger; in literature, Shelley's poem With a Guitar, To Jane and W. H. Auden's The Sea and the Mirror; novels by Césaire and The Diviners by Margaret Laurence; in paintings by Hogarth, Fuseli, and Millais; and on screen, ranging through a hand-tinted version of Herbert Beerbohm Tree's 1905 stage performance, the science fiction film Forbidden Planet in 1956, Peter Greenaway's 1991 Prospero's Books featuring John Gielgud as Prospero, to Julie Taymor's 2010 film version which changed Prospero to Prospera, played by Helen Mirren.
Now, the New London Consort present all the music written for the 17th- and early 18th-century revivals of the play, creating a dramatic collage of enchanting symphonies, songs, choruses and dances, including daring instrumental music by Locke, Draghi's evocative character dances, contrasting versions of Ariel's songs, Purcell's 'Dear pretty youth' and the exquisite Masques of Devils and of Neptune & Amphitrite by Humfrey and Weldon.
Revelling in the power of nature and the supernatural, an ensemble of 11 singers and a colourful late-Restoration theatre band evoke the exuberance of London's playhouses around 1700. Take a musical voyage into the sound-world of the Restoration theatre with The Tempest in Musick.
Listen to the ravishing and seductive echo song – which features Ferdinand and Ariel
Listen to The Tempest on the France-Musique website (available for streaming until the end of the month) here.
A beautiful and evocative picture which will be projected behind the orchestra during the performance. The designer Cam Pickering is only 18 and already promised to a great career, whether as an artist, musician and/or DJ.
Get your ticket for the UK premiere of The Tempest in Musick here.
Plans makes its world premiere at Brighton Station
Brighton & Hove’s Three Score Dance Company – a dance company for the over 60s – performed the world premiere of a new co-commission Plans made by former Hofesh Shechter Company dancer James Finnemore amongst the hustle and bustle of Brighton Station this weekend.
Crowds, commuters and tourists came to a standstill as the eighteen dancers performed throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday in a flash-mob.
Three Score Dance Company is the vision of two local women, Saskia Heriz and Christina Thompson, both of whom have been inspired by the work of The Company of Elders; a dance company for the over 60’s resident at the internationally renowned Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. Although many members of Three Score Dance Company have had no prior dance training, their wealth of life experience brings a unique quality to their work. The company is lead by Rehearsal Director, Jason Keenan-Smith, with professional choreographers commissioned to create bespoke pieces for performance.
Three Score Dance Company is supported by South East Dance in association with Brighton Dome with additional funding from Sport England.
Hear more about Plans and Three Score Dance in this Podcast, where we talk with the co-founders of Three Score Dance Saskia Heriz and Christina Thompson.
#ThatChangedMyLife film project launches in Brighton & Hove
Residents to reveal how art and culture changed their life
Whether it’s a theatre performance that moved you to tears, a music gig that left you speechless or a book that made you look at the world differently, throughout May members of the public are being asked to discuss how arts and culture matter to them in a new film project called That Changed My Life.
Devised by the What Next? South East group – which is comprised of a range of arts organisations large and small across the region – the project aims to highlight, advocate and celebrate the strong engagement with the arts, particularly by residents in Brighton and Hove, by allowing a wide range of people to tell their story and create an online archive of proof.
Participants are invited to film themselves discussing a song, movie, performance, comic, song, book or work of art that has meant something special to them. The change it made in their life may be small - it cheered them up or was a shared experience with someone important to them – or it may be lifelong.
The film can be recorded on anything; a video camera, a phone, a webcam. Submissions should be uploaded to YouTube with your name, the name of the artist or event and #thatchangedmylife in the title.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: ‘What Next is a fantastic opportunity for those involved in arts and culture to collaborate with each other in a spirit of generosity. We hope people will get involved with the That Changed My Life project and help us make the argument for having art in everyone’s lives’.
Those interested in taking part without the access to video-making equipment are invited to the Victorian Bathing Machine in New Road any weekend (12-5pm) in May during Brighton Festival, where a volunteer will shoot and upload their video. The New Road bathing machine will also serve as a video booth throughout the month.
Matt Adams, Co-founder Blast Theory says: ‘Artists are under pressure in the UK with cuts from the government, the Arts Council and local authorities. That Changed My Life is a chance for everybody to share why art and culture matter so much to so many people. Most of us have had a special encounter in our life with, for example, a book or play, where everything seemed different afterwards. For me, it was seeing An Inspector Calls at the age of 13: it opened my eyes to the fact that adults can lie! I hope everyone will take the chance to share that moment for them. It takes a couple of minutes to film yourself on a phone and upload it to YouTube and there already some fantastic videos online.’
The What Next? Movement exists to create a national conversation on new ways to champion arts and culture. The South East group aims to build a What Next? South East forum where interested people can come and talk about what’s going on locally in the arts (policy, infrastructure etc) on a regular basis, acting as both a networking opportunity, an information sharing hub and a place to create collective actions.
In pictures: Week 1
Harvey's Depot in Lewes was the location for Sir Harrison Birtwistle's dark chamber opera Down by the Greenwood Side, we saw talks with artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, William Forsythe and musician Ben Watt, 26 Letters took over the Sallis Benney and there was music from jazz/Baroque fusion with Louis Sclavis and Amarillis Ensemble through to Indian classical music with Talvin Singh.
Photos: Victor Frankowski, Dan Dennison and Agata Rybicka
Why the sheep?
Many of you have been asking why we’ve chosen a sheep to represent Brighton Festival 2014.
Initially, inspiration was gleaned from seeing Hofesh Shechter’s Sun and spying this lovely fella in the production.
Since our Guest Director Hofesh Shechter was going to bring Sun ‘home’ to Brighton on the conclusion of its first world tour, it seemed appropriate we should celebrate this and work from it as a starting point. As the idea grew other elements were added – had you noticed the fleece is made up of dancers? Our sheep was designed to celebrate and symbolise many of the strands and themes that are important to this year’s Festival and to convey the sentiments of our Guest Director Hofesh Shechter. We wanted everyone, from anywhere of any background to be able to ‘flock to the arts’, which Hofesh can explain more succinctly…
‘I always loved performing in festivals. It’s a place where everyone is an outsider and – immediately – nobody is. A place of gathering, where cultures and society can be questioned, celebrated and ridiculed, a space where we restructure the world the way we want it – a great festival feels like a country all of its own. It’s been my quest to bring as many disruptive voices, imaginative and interpretative responses to the world we live in – as many black sheep as possible to our newly formed republic.’
If you’d like to know more about the illustrator, Chris Kasch then head this way.
If you missed the spectacular Sun at our opening weekend, don’t panic - there’s heaps more fantastic dance and performance to come. Take a look at this video from our Dance programmer Cath James - Programme Director at South East Dance and leads Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival Dance Programming.
Brighton Festival Opening Weekend 'Visionary'
Brighton Festival 2014 kicked off with a bang last weekend with a plethora of visual art, music, dance and theatre shows and performances. Here's a selection of responses to them...
Sun, by Hofesh Shechter, is a spare, eloquent and emotive work.
- Fringe Review
Brighton Festival, opening weekend, review: 'visionary'
Dmitry Krymov got the Brighton Festival off to a super start with Opus No.7, his take on art's duty during atrocities.
Bonanza was beautiful, heartbreaking and hauntingly poignant. Honestly created and right up my street. Nice one. #rapidreview
#RapidReview Simon thacker brilliant this lunchtime. Wonderful combination of instruments. Emotional and fabulous to listen to
what happens to the hope at the end of the evening: The rage and fear of Tim’s character is, in many ways, more identifiable than Andy’s cool detachment, an inevitable response to an alienating, alienated world which perhaps, as the Mayans suggest (and Andy explains) actually did end in 2012, the process of dissolution beginning invisibly, interminably. In such a world, the theatre as a place to briefly come together, discarding those anxieties like un-needed shoes at the door, has never felt more beautifully idealistic.
- Total Theatre
Nowhere and everywhere at the same time is a #BrightonFestival must. Fun, meditative, beautiful, simple. #RapidReview
Loved Opus No 7 @brightfest An extraordinary theatrical experience. Both visually spectacular and quietly moving #rapidreview
@brightfest Just seen Mani Soleymanlou's One. Charismatic, moving and funny exploration of one's identity. Thought-provoking. #RapidReview
#RapidReview Without doubt, @viv_albertine gave the finest commentary on the punk era I've ever heard. Witty, insightful and honest.
Opus No 7 makes its wild ideas potent and surprising, mixing the merry, the musical and the macabre in the most memorable way.
#RapidReview what a treat to hear @viv_albertine in conversation today. Open, honest and galvanising. #BrightonFestival
Great fun in Brighton today #childrensparade #lovebrighton
Brighton Festival Picks: Heidi Kuisma
We asked a selection of Brighton dwellers, Brighton lovers and Brighton businesses to give us their Brighton Festival picks. Here Brighton based photographer, Heidi Kuisma shares her highlights...
I moved to Brighton in the beginning of March. With Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe and Artist Open Houses launching today, I could not have picked a better time.
There are so many different events and things I want to see and experience that it’s difficult not to feel little overwhelmed by the incredible choice from Dance and Visual Art to Theatre and Film. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to choose my top 5 picks from Brighton Festival.
Martin Creed Band, Mind Trap
I lived in Scotland for thirteen years and I think I would be breaking some sort of law if I didn’t include Martin Creed in my top Festival Picks. Luckily I’m also keen to see a show which The Guardian describe as 'Like something between Steve Reich and The Ramones’. Surely you can’t go wrong with a combination like that? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
A film by Wim Vandekeybus, Blush
After seeing the trailer for Wim Vandekeybus’ Blush I knew straightaway it would be a must see for me. What makes it interesting to me is to see how a more traditional dance performance has been translated into a film. The trailer shows a glimpse into a rather dark and moody world which I’m looking forward to immersing myself into during the hectic month of May.
Zimoun (Bern), Sound in Motion
Festival brochure promises that Zimoun’s Sound in Motion will make us ‘re-evaluate the relationship between the visual, sonic and physical elements of a space.’ The work has been specially created for the space it’ll be shown at so I’m really looking forward to seeing and experiencing it. I’ve seen couple of clips of Zimoun’s work online and it’ll be great to see it in a space where I can fully appreciate it. Plus work that combines plastic bags, cardboard boxes, old furniture, ventilators, speakers and microphones is one not to be missed!
Jacob Dahlgren, On Balance
Jacob Dahlgren’s work The Wonderful World of Abstraction reminds me of Nicholas Hlobo’s work I saw in The Bluecoat at Liverpool Biennial 2010. Both artists have used ribbon in a very similar way and seeing it in Fabrica is the only way to determine whose work I like the most. That said, I really like artwork that can be experienced with several senses, touch and experience fully by moving through it.
William Forsythe, Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2
Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2 is another installation the audience can become if not part of at least the force behind it. The work features hundreds of pendulums which move and react to how people move in the room. I’m sure I’ll be visiting this work several times so that I can experience it with different number of people.
Brighton Festival Picks: Jonathan Granger
We asked a selection of Brighton dwellers, Brighton lovers and Brighton businesses to give us their Brighton Festival picks. Jonathan Granger who is currently studying in Sussex University shares his highlights...
What do I hope to see this year at Brighton Festival? I don’t even know where to begin!
With such a vast selection of artforms, it would be an understatement for me to list my top three choices.
To keep it short and sweet, I’d have to say, first and foremost, that I’m most looking forward to the dramatisation of Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22”. I’m actually in the middle of reading the book, and now find myself very curious as to how the intriguing slow-paced narrative might translate to theatre. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so I’ll just leave it there, but if the performance enchants me like the novel did; then I’ll be sure to get my money’s worth.
I’ve got to say – I’m a sucker for film. Cinema, to me, is the most visually appealing art form because it most accurately portrays situations and emotions. I hope that “Willow and Wind” by Mohammed-Ali Talebi proves that a deep message can be conveyed across the simplest of storylines. The plot is as follows: a school window is broken, and the children can’t concentrate because the rain keeps coming in. I’m hungry to find out how this story might unfold, and greatly anticipate its screening on the 19th of May.
Finally, my love for Jazz can only be satisfied by the French trio: Louis Sclavis and Friends. Renowned leaders in the French jazz scene; Louis Sclavis and friends are sure to leave you in a cigar and brandy kind of mood. So if you’re looking for some relaxing tunes, I really recommend getting tickets for what’s going to be a memorable performance.
So there you have it, my top three picks for Brighton Festival. I greatly look forward to being there, and hope to experience a vibrant atmosphere at one of Britain’s most acclaimed art festivals.
Brighton Festival 2014 begins!
Brighton Festival 2014 - with critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter at the helm as Guest Director - begins on Saturday 3 May 2014 as 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups across the region take to Brighton’s streets for the annual Children’s Parade.
Watched and cheered on by more than 20,000 people, the parade - now the largest of its kind in Europe - takes ‘The Arts’ as its theme and kicks off a packed three weeks of wide-ranging quality performance, visual arts, literature and debate from international, national and home-grown companies and artists.
This year’s Brighton Festival programme is particularly genre defying and features the world premieres of both Vanishing Point’s Tomorrow and Lost Dog & Lucy Kirkwood’s dance piece Like Rabbits, alongside UK premieres of Opus No.7 from Russian theatre director Dmitry Krymov, choreographer Wim Vandekeybus’ visceral Talk to the Demon, international theatre company Berlin’s multi-media work Perhaps All the Dragons and contemporary circus from Feria Musica in Sinué.
Other Brighton Festival 2014 exclusives include Tangled Feet’s immersive outdoor performance One Million, a new visual arts co-commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE titled The British Library, William Forsythe’s hypnotic installation Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No.2, New London Consort’s classical musical voyage into Shakespeare’s mysterious play with The Tempest In Musick and much more. This year’s programme also celebrates Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th birthday with a series of events, including a revival of his 1969 Brighton Festival commission Down by the Greenwood Side set in a disused brewery depot in Lewes.
Brighton Festival also plays host to an eclectic mix of names across contemporary music; from iconic country music singer Emmylou Harris to a rare live performance from Cat Power and a raucous show from Peaches in Peaches Christ Superstar. The books and debate strand of the programme boasts a number of high-profile events including conversations with Irvine Welsh, Jeremy Deller, Edmund White and Viv Albertine alongside discussions and talks about migration, maths, data and dementia.
Events for all the family this year include a UK premieres of Tanzfuchs Produktion’s dance extravaganza Munch! for the under 4s and Enhanced Dance to Disguised Music; Belgian choreographer Thomas Hauert’s first piece for young people which is accompanied by a prepared piano soundtrack by John Cage. Meanwhile, on film the Cinema of Childhood - curated by Mark Cousins - looks at the depiction of children in cinema, is suitable for the whole family to enjoy together.
As Guest Director, Hofesh Shechter follows in the footsteps of visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012) and poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013) in shaping the Brighton Festival programme. He will challenge audiences to respond to the world’s ugly injustices in Brighton Festival co-commission Sun which “comes home” to Brighton after touring globally.
Hofesh Shechter said, ’Brighton has a magic to it that no one can explain. Finding a place where one can develop and grow artistically is a delicate thing, an important thing. Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival have been an inspiring, energising and encouraging place for my company and me in the last 5 years. We’ve enjoyed the buzz, the lightness, energy, and the unexplainable essence of Brighton. We have resided in its cultural heart - Brighton Dome, and the pulsating artistic heart of Brighton Dome is the annual Brighton Festival. It's been a privilege to have been part of the planning for this inspiring event and I feel a rush of excitement about sharing our programme with audiences in Brighton and beyond.’
This year’s Brighton Festival holds in store 448 performances and 147 events in 34 venues across the city. In total there will be 37 premieres, exclusives and co-commissions and 26 free events.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, said, ‘We’re thrilled that Hofesh Shechter is our Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2014. Hofesh’s instinctive understanding of Brighton and our Festival means it is particularly pertinent that he steps into the role in 2014 following a highly successful five years of working together. Hofesh’s creative vision and energy contains that rare quality and sense of adventure that sparks the imaginations of a much wider audience beyond his own discipline and encourages us all to try something new. With such an eclectic artist at the helm, Brighton Festival 2014 is set to be a very exciting one indeed and I am delighted to be welcoming so many brilliant artists to our city this Spring.’
Hofesh Shechter’s appointment as Guest Director is the culmination of a five year relationship between the choreographer and the organisation. Fresh from being named the first resident company at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival in 2008, Hofesh Shechter Company’s dramatic Brighton Dome Concert Hall debut In your rooms / Uprising was followed by back-to-back world premières of two specially-commissioned works; The Art of Not Looking Back (Brighton Festival 2009) and Political Mother (Brighton Festival 2010). In 2009, Brighton Festival also commissioned Hofesh’s Bangers and Mash; a youth community project featuring over 100 young dancers and musicians, and in 2013 Brighton Festival commissioned Nomad Land; a collaborative dance and film project that explored the energy and complexity of male relationships. Brighton Dome has also played host to evenings of brand-new work choreographed and presented by Hofesh Shechter Company dancers titled In Good Company and, following its international success, seen the sellout return of Political Mother to the venue in 2012.
Brighton Festival Picks: La Choza
We asked a selection of Brighton dwellers, Brighton lovers and Brighton businesses to give us their Brighton Festival picks. La Choza, Brighton’s first authentic Mexican Street Food restaurant share their highlights...
The Children’s Parade
One of our favorite annual events that the Brighton Festival puts on, is the children's parade. There is always a theme, and all the schools participate whole heartedly the streets become awash with little cuties dressed up as lady birds, giants or beatles banging drums, singing and generally creating a carnival atmosphere in the heart of Brighton. Whats not to like!
The out door free event that Brighton put on are always a winner. This show looks like it's going to be a massive visual spectacular, we are dying to check out Tangled Feet's theatrics and pyrotechnics.
We like the look of this event as it sound surreal, taking dance into the street and making the world a theater of its own. Playing without the boundaries of the stage and bringing art into the streets.
This promises to be an evening of of Hip Hop Heaven, we are looking forward to seeing street dancers from around the globe as well as some local talent. Can’t wait.
An interview with Dmitry Krymov
Featuring larger-than-life puppets, duelling pianos, living walls and blizzards of newsprint, Dmitry Krymov’s Opus No. 7 (3 - 8 May) is theatre on an epic scale.
On the eve of their arrival in Brighton, The Argus newspaper’s Duncan Hall spoke to Dmitry about the show and what audiences can expect
What made you want to link the experiences of the Jews of Eastern Europe with the life and career of Shostakovich in Opus No 7? When did you first make that link?
I had two absolutely separate ideas a long time ago. One was about the Bible (for some reason there men always bore men). The second one was about Shostakovich, his ingenious martyrdom under the government's oppression. I had them written on different pieces of paper that were placed in different places. Once, when I cleaned up my apartment, I saw both these papers in front of me, and I thought ‘it's interesting to do a two act performance. One about the great people, that feels bad, and the other one about the great man, who also feels bad’. So, the idea to comprise the big and the small - one human being and a People, one man and his past, artist and music, man and death, man and his motherland, mum and so on - was the main idea for this work… the stepping stone for it.
How did the work develop? Did you originally envisage Opus No 7 as a whole piece, or did it come together separately?
Yes, I envisioned one piece made of two parts. The work on the two parts was parallel; there were two different set-designers and two composers working separately on each act. They were not really interested in anything outside their parts. And the idea of it as a whole was only in my head, only during the last period of our work we had started to combine these two parts into one piece.
Why did you pick those two pieces of music by Shostakovich - the Piano Trio no 2 and the Seventh Symphony? Are they two works which have a particular significance for you?
No, nothing personal or of particular significance. Both these pieces are simply works of genius, and both are very theatrical… and in the Trio there is also an evident Jewish theme, which helps combine the two parts.
Opus 7 was developed with former student designers from your course at the Russian Academy Of Theatre Arts (GITIS) - are they still involved in this touring version? How much has the piece changed since it was first performed in 2008?
The set-designers of the performance are two of my former students, they were on the 3rd year at the Academy at the moment, and this work was their diploma work in GITIS. The actors are the same throughout the years… and I hope, that the performance is too. There is one exception, though: Shostakovich's part together with Anya Sinyakina will be played by one more actress, Maria Smolnikova. Both are spectacular.
Your work has been described as "genre-blending" - is it important to you that your work doesn't get compartmentalised?
Yes, I like it a lot.
How much has your early career as a set designer influenced your stage work as a director? Do you see design and direction as being part of the same job?
What you are in the present directly comes out of what you have been in the past. A man is a unity. He consists of his past at 85% and of his present at the remaining 25%, but it is hard for me to take a look at myself from the side. I think, that it naturally looks as a kind of large compote.
What made you return to the stage after 12 years working as a visual artist?
It was a pure chance… like when you are walking a wide street and suddenly you come across a friend of yours, who asks you to look into a small sideway. You walk in there out of curiosity, and it turns out that it's so interesting there that you don't ever return to your broad street any more. The initial cause of everything is curiosity.
What was your experience of working with the Royal Shakespeare Company like on A Midsummer Night's Dream (As You Like It) in 2012? Were they supportive of such a dramatically different reading?
The people there are wonderful. When I said to Michael Boyd - their artistic director at the time - that I am a bit afraid of doing my piece on the same stage where Peter Brook staged his ingenious version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, he put my hand on my shoulder, smiled and said 'don't worry, do whatever you want'. It was a gesture of an experienced psychotherapist.
Are you looking forward to bringing your work to Brighton? Where has Opus 7 been performed before? What challenges do you face taking in to different venues?
Opus 7 was performed in New York, Lyon, also in Germany, Poland, Finland and Estonia. We were worried because of the new audiences; whether they will understand the performance, one that we did not intend to tour and that we did for ourselves and for our own pleasure… but so far, everything has been well, fingers crossed!
What do you have planned for the future?
Oh, I am afraid to talk about it...
Dmitry Krymov was speaking to Duncan Hall, Features writer at The Argus. For more Brighton Festival interviews and news stories, visit The Argus.
Peacock Poetry Prize Update
Pippa Smith, our Head of Creative Learning, tells us more about this year's Peacock Poetry Prize.
The preliminary judging took place yesterday and the finalists’ poems have now been sent off to the Senior Judge, poet Rachel Rooney, who will chose the outright winner in each category. To be announced on Fri 23 May.
The judges consisted of senior staff from Brighton Festival and Senior Teachers of English from BHASVIC (who support the prize each year)
The five of us spent a lot of time considering the poems, individually reading them before the meeting; and then deliberating with one another as we championed our favourites. There were over ninety poems and we have just twelve finalists to select (six younger children and three from each of the two older age groups) ; so some sad decisions had to be made. All the people who didn’t get through to the finals will get a personal certificate and in some cases a note of the judges’ comments – particularly in situations where we would like to urge the poets to come back next year!
The finalists are a worthy bunch with some serious poets amongst them particularly amongst the older age group (19 -25). All the judging was done anonymously so the Bhasvic staff cant wait to see if any of their own students were in the final selection.
One 8 year old was of particular interest – his vocabulary and grasp of structure was so sophisticated that the judging team decided it might be a good idea to check with his mum that it really was his own work!
This is what she said :
Yes, the poem was his own work. I will tell you how it happened... He was given the task for homework by his school (Brighton College) on the subject of 'belonging. He chose a topic, one very close to his heart, frogs (he spends almost all of his summer looking for marsh frogs). We sat down and looked through a book of poetry that Theo had, to get a feel for different styles. We both noticed a nice one, I think by Ted Hughes, where he began each stanza with the same word for each of the first three lines. Theo thought this would make a good model/basis to hang his poem on. As he knows a lot about frogs, I encouraged him to imagine himself into the role and he began writing it. I told him to spice up his language by looking in the Thesaurus (something they are strongly encouraged by school to do).
Words like 'daystar' he hadn't heard before, but liked so much, he used instead of 'sun'. All the other words he knew, some he probably wouldn't have thought of had it not been for the Thesaurus!!
Anyway, he will be thrilled! He reads an awful lot (currently The Lord of the Rings) and enjoys nature whenever he is not at school! One more thing, he became 9 last Sunday (27th)!
Yours, (his mum)
Brighton Festival Picks: Street Diner
We asked a selection of Brighton dwellers, Brighton lovers and Brighton businesses to give us their Brighton Festival picks. Street Diner, Brighton’s only weekly street food market have been impressing Brighton with tasty delights for just over a year - here are their highlights...
We love the Brighton festival. Spring’s in the air, summer’s on its way, and there’s always a real buzz about the city. Along with the Brighton Fringe, Artists Open Houses and The Great Escape, you can’t move in May without bumping into a performance, a band, an exhibition, an outdoor happening. This year, we’re really looking forward to:
Flown at the Theatre Royal
There’s been an amazing explosion of circus/cabaret/theatre crossovers in the past few years. Last year we saw the incredible Knee Deep by Casus at the Theatre Royal – returning this year as part of the Fringe to the beautiful Spiegeltent – and it blew our minds. Flown by Pirates of the Carabina (great name!) looks to do the same. A show about what goes wrong when you’re not ready for a show to start, it promises choreographed chaos, aerialists, acrobats and stunt artists, with live music. It’s got a flying ironing board. Our kind of show.
One Million at Black Rock
As market people, we love being outside, and we always love the huge outdoor performances at Brighton Festival. This one looks brilliant – the fantastic Tangled Feet working with a huge cast of local young people. Acrobatics, music, massive contraptions, an open sky, the seafront and fireworks. We always take a little flask of something naughty to sip on, and a pocket of our favourite nibbles. What’s not to love? What’s more, it’s free!
Tomorrow at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Vanishing Point always produce extraordinary, beautiful, dreamlike work – we caught their show Interiors at the Lyric Hammersmith about 5 years ago, and it was wonderful – and this brand new exploration of ageing looks brilliant. It’s always exciting to see a world premiere. Ageing is something that happens to all of us. This promises to be a moving meditation on growing old and needing to be cared for – and our need to care. If you’ve never caught their work before, give it a try. The kind of show that stays with you long after it ends.
Peaches Christ Superstar at the Theatre Royal
Who doesn’t love a bit of Peaches? She’s sexy, she’s provocative, she’s stupidly talented. And she’s single-handedly performing the whole of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Jesus Christ Superstar – just her, and a piano. You don’t have to love Lloyd Weber – and we don’t, generally – to know this is going to be exquisite. And beautiful. If just a bit bonkers.
Ida Barr’s Mash Up at the Brighton Dome Studio
Christopher Green is a genius of many personas. Try and catch him at the Spiegeltent as his alter ego, country singer Tina C – she’s insanely funny. For this show, he’s donning the frocks and wigs that make up Ida Barr – ‘the world’s only old-time music hall artiste turned Rap superstar’. Think Dame Edna meets “Marie Lloyd meets Missy Elliott” (as The Guardian puts it). She calls it Artificial Hip Hop. We couldn’t be more excited. And it’s on a Sunday afternoon. So you can pop down the pub for a roast. Pure Festival joy.
Brighton Festival Picks: Alex Leith, Viva Brighton Magazine
We asked a selection of Brighton dwellers, Brighton lovers and Brighton businesses to give us their Brighton Festival picks. Here Alex Leith of Viva Brighton Magazine shares his highlights...
When I heard the name of this year’s Guest Director of Brighton Festival, I guess I wasn’t the only person to think ‘Hofesh who?’ But, having since interviewed Mr Shechter, I think he constituted a bold choice by the organisers, a real outsider who has made ‘outsiders’ the theme of the Festival. I must admit that apart from a few visits to Sadlers Wells over the years, I haven’t really directed much of my attention towards the contemporary dance scene, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the Hofesh Shechter Company perform Sun on Saturday 3rd. Hofesh promises it to be a dark, hard-hitting piece about alienation. You can read the interview in the May issue of Viva Brighton Magazine.
Another interviewee in the same edition is Yinka Shonibare, of Fourth-plinth-fame, who has turned the old reference library in Brighton Museum – which I used to frequent to research historical pieces for Viva – into a colourful installation piece on colonialism, called The British Library. He’s covered thousands of books with his trademark ‘African’ fabrics, which are actually designed in Indonesia and made in Holland, and demonstrate how globalisation means that nobody is truly from one just place any more. On the spines of the books are written the names of various immigrants and descendants of immigrants some of which – Mick Jagger and Helen Mirren for example – are quite surprising. We’ve dedicated the centre spread of the mag to a close up of this work and it looks like it’s going to be stunning.
I was watching Later... with Jools Holland the other day, and was delighted to see that Zara McFarlane was among the guests. She’s a soul-fuelled jazz singer who brings to mind Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holliday, and she performed a nuanced and powerful rendition of Junior Murvin’s Police and Thieves, then did some improvisation with the compere playing the piano. Wow. She’s performing at The Old Market on the 11th.
There are some interesting people being live-interviewed, including musician/author Ben Watts (we got there first, as you’ll see in the May mag), Slit guitarist Viv Albertine (ditto) and (filth-y) novelist Irvine Welsh. And talking one-to-ones, one event I’ll certainly clear the diary for is the New Writing South annual lecture from Lynn Barber, Britain’s most well-respected newspaper interviewer. We were chuffed when she agreed to let the tables be turned on her, in our Festival special edition… and our writer Steve Ramsey certainly gave as good as he got.
So those are the main set pieces that I’m looking forward to come May. But the real beauty of Brighton Festival (and all the other offshoot events) isn’t about what you’re expecting to enjoy, but what takes you by surprise. Which is one reason I’ve made a pledge to do at least one Festivals-related thing every day, throughout the three weeks of the year that Brighton gets turned into the cultural capital of the country*. I’m hoping that most of those surprises will be positive ones…
*minor exaggeration alert
The Teaches of Peaches - 6 Things You Need to Know About Peaches
An unlikely scenario: Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar performed by one woman accompanied by a single piano. Even more unlikely when that woman is Peaches, the electro-rock provocateuse who has made sexual frankness her calling-card.
This extraordinary show, Peaches Christ Superstar, comes to Brighton Festival this May. It's a performance that will be a revelation to anyone who saw her film Peaches Does Herself at Brighton Dome last December as it brings out Peaches' emotional and dramatic power.
From the outset of her career, Peaches has endeavoured to challenge social norms throughout a variety of artistic disciplines. Naturally a lot has snuck under the radar and with this in mind, here’s six things you may not have known about Peaches:
- She became the poster girl at the forefront of the ‘Electroclash’ genre, which is actually now recognised in dictionaries:
a type of electronic music, originating in the first decade of the 21st century, that combines modern techno with synthesizer music characteristic of the 1980s
- The 'Electroclash' genre died a pretty swift death and Peaches now claims to be the queen of ‘Electrocrap’.
- F*** the Pain Away has been used throughout a myriad of pop culture and perhaps most surprisingly of all ended up as a catwalk soundtrack for both Prada and Givenchy in 2001. The song has since featured in Lost in Translation and South Park.
- Peaches was one of the first women to work with Cynthia Plaster Caster, who famously makes plaster molds of musician’s genitals. Her chest was molded and joined an illustrious troupe of sexual organs including donations from Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa.
- Before deciding to pursue music on a full time basis, Peaches was a children's music and drama teacher at a Jewish primary school.
- Peaches was born Merrill Beth Nisker. Her pseudonym is derived in reference to Four Women by Nina Simone at the end of which Nina shouts 'my name is Peaches'.
Peaches Christ Superstar will be shown at Theatre Royal Brighton on Mon 19 May. Peaches' tribute to a score she has loved since she was a teenager is a chance to see the star and the musical in an entirely new light.
Peacock Poetry Prize: The Youthful Poet
Victoria York is administering the Peacock Poetry Prize for Brighton Festival 2014. The Prize is supported by Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College. In celebration of the number of high quality entries the Prize has received this year Victoria wrote this article in celebration of The Youthful Poet.
Wisdom is often said to be an ingredient of good writing, and one assumes that with wisdom comes the experience of having lived a long and fruitful life. Yet the proverb 'age and treachery will overcome youth and skill' sits uncomfortably with me. A simple look at some of our best loved poets and you see that it is youth and talent that often go hand in hand. A Google search quickly found me many literary greats whose work had the strength to survive beyond their short lives disputing Stanislaw Jaenzy Lec's idea that 'youth is a gift of nature but age is a work of art'. Their poetic accomplishments are celebrated long after they’ve deceased, opening up the question of poetry’s relationship with youth and proving that those on the other side of thirty are capable of achieving literature worth celebrating.
If I think about it, I would not consider John Keats to have been particularly young when reading his work. The way he describes the bright star’s eternal lids and the aches of love so evidently felt and read between the lines of his poems, evoke maturity and experience. Keats however, died at the age of 25. This was a man (not far off being a boy) that existed and still exists forever ageless within his poetry, opposing the fact that age is relevant at all. It proves that children, teenagers and young adults are exposed to the very same beats and rhythms of life and can offer a perspective beyond innocence and naivety that would be so quickly associated with youth. This is not a matter of offering 'a voice of a generation', any person, young or old, big or small, can resonate with a good poem, just as any person young or old, big or small, can write a good poem. AA Milne wrote my favourite poems from childhood despite the fact that he was an adult. And why shouldn't it work the other way?
Unfortunately young people aren’t always encouraged to celebrate their own talents, thinking that time and experience will give them artistic development and improvement. Emotions can often be dismissed with comments like 'oh darling you are too young to experience THAT' when from my first-hand experience it is during youth when things are the most intense and so much feels amplified. The list below should be enough to inspire those that do write, that they can write and sit among the greats. There are no boundaries and there should be no limits. Submit your words and your work could be applauded, long after the standing ovation sits back down.
See below for small extracts from some of the world’s best loved, young poets. Can you think of any youthful poets whose work you love?
John Keats (died aged 25)
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.
Fragment: Modern Love
And what is love? It is a doll dress'd up
For idleness to cosset, nurse, and dandle;
A thing of soft misnomers, so divine
That silly youth doth think to make itself
Divine by loving, nad so goes on
Yawning and doting a whole summer long
Wilfred Owen (Died aged 25)
The Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
Sylvia Plath (Died aged 31)
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.
But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do
I Am Vertical
Compared with me, a tree is immortal
And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.
Doom of Exiles
Backward we traveled to reclaim the day
Before we fell, like Icarus, undone;
All we find are altars in decay
And profane words scrawled black across the sun.
Thomas Chatterton (Died age 17)
A New Song
A blame me not, Broderip, if mounted aloft,
I chatter and spoil the dull air;
How can I imagine thy foppery soft,
When discord's the voice of my fair?
Help us do more...
Did you know that we run a comprehensive outreach arts programme in order to encourage participation?
During the festival we deliver:
- The Children's Parade, the annual grand opening of the Brighton Festival which involves nearly 5,000 children from over 80 schools.
- Adopt an Author, a project which links children from local schools with well-known authors in order to promote literacy and the love of books.
- many free events during the Brighton Festival so everyone can get involved, look out for Safe House on 17 May at Hove Park and One Million on 23 & 24 May at Black Rock, Madeira Drive
Throughout the year we deliver::
- the Umbrella Club, a new project which is for children with life- shortening conditions. It allows access to the arts through the provision of free tickets and participation in the arts through workshops.
- a ground-breaking arts programme called Miss Represented which works with vulnerable young women within youth services across the city. It aims to inspire these young women to work towards a more positive life trajectory.
You can make a donation of £2 or more - It’s easy
Text BDFL14 £2 to 70070
Video Playlist: Dance at Brighton Festival 2014
A plethora of Dance shows from internationally celebrated names to emerging artists are all part of Brighton Festival 2014. You can expect shows from William Forsythe, Wim Vandekeybus, Les Slovaks, and this year’s Guest Director, Hofesh Shechter amongst plenty of others. Why not take a moment and enjoy a taster of some of the incredible and awe inspiring shows we have in store for you: