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

We’ve got an exciting weekend ahead! From free community events, classical music to theatre and dance – we’ve got it all. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening…

Flight
Sat 4-Thu 23 May

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


My Left Right Foot: The Musical
Tue 14-Sat 18 May

After sell out success at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe, My Left Right Foot makes a visit to Brighton Festival. Irreverent, uplifting and provocative, it is a must-see for lovers of humorous musicals.


Backbone

Wed 14-Fri 17 May

The internationally renowned circus company, Gravity and Other Myths, takes the concept and perception of strength and (literally) tosses it into the air. In this ‘dazzling and warm hearted’ performance (The Independent), individual and collective resilience is tested as the company tumble, backflip and walk across each other’s heads – Backbone explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance.


Séancers

Thu 16-Fri 17 May

Join performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts  as he explores black identities through a piece that brings together movement, song, spoken word and a live score.

Learn more about Jaamil's inspiration behind the show 


Young Glyndebourne Young Artists

Fri 17 May

As part of Glyndebourne’s commitment to supporting the development of young singers, the international opera company works with Jerwood Arts to provide innovative training and performance opportunities for selected members of the acclaimed Glyndebourne Chorus. This special concert from this year’s Jerwood Young Artists features excerpts from across the operatic repertoire.

Chamber Music Will Ashon with Kevin Le Gendre
Fri 17 May

A conversation on a new biography of the Wu-Tang Clan’s iconic hip hop album with Will Ashon and music journalist Kevin Le Gendre

Brighton Festival Youth Choir Under the Moon
Fri 17 May

Inspired by the Museum of the Moon, our choir have assembled an eclectic songbook of moon music ranging from classical to jazz.


Museum of the Moon
Fri 17-Mon 20 May

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

Learn more about the inspiration behind Museum of the Moon

credit Ed Simmons and Visit Greenwich

Flavour Migrations
Fri 17 May

Masterchef winner, Shelina Permalloo joins us to discuss how heritage, family and travel has shaped her cooking

Songs of Longing and Exile
Fri 17 May

Award-winning early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins with remarkable Syrian oud performer Rihab Azar for a unique collaboration inspired by the challenges faced by today’s refugees and migrants.

Find out more about Stile Antico's creative process and inspiration 


Our Place – Manor Gym
Sat 18 May

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


Giraffes Can’t Dance 20th Anniversary Dance Party
Sat 18 May

Join illustrator Guy Park-rees, as we celebrate 30 years of the classical picture book Giraffes Can’t Dance. There will be drawing, reading and, of course dancing!

Bad Nana with Sophy Henn
Sat 18 May

Come and met the creator of Bad Nana, author and illustrators Sophy Henn. There will be laughs, live drawing and lots of opportunity to join in.

Nick Sharratt: The Cat and the King
Sat 18 May

Meet the hilarious heroes of Nick Sharratt’s first-ever chapter book, The Cat and the King. Nick will be telling all, and drawing lots of funny picture too!

Ghost Caribou
Sat 18 May

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


Little Green Pig AMPLIFIED
Sat 18 May

Young people from Brighton & Hove take to the stage with unique tales to tell, the performers inhabit public space and amplify their words as never before. AMPLIFIED is part TED Talk, part YouTube confessional, but ultimately a celebration of the human story.

Dream Mande: Bamanan Djourou
Sat 18 May

Our Guest Director, Rokia Traoré joins us again to present emerging Malian musicians with a new take on traditional music. Prepare to hear five musicians and six female singers, led by Rokia, deliver adaptations of traditional Bambara songs, popular Fresh and international tunes as you’ve never heard them before.


Groove Under the Sea
Sun 19 May

Structured around movement and adventure and played by professional jazz musicians, Groove Baby is not your average kiddie jam! Created by Cameron Reynolds as a special hybrid performance for 3 to 7 year-olds and their carers, it incorporates appropriately themed storytelling that engages kids.

Joseph Coelho
Sun 19 May

Join children's author and poet Joseph Coelho as he shares from two of his picture books: Luna Loves Library Day about a young girl's magical experience reading books in her local library with her father; and IF ALL THE WORLD WERE…, a story about a girl’s love for her storytelling grandfather. Joseph will also help you create a whole new poem!


Groove Into Space
Sun 19 May

Designed to give parents an opportunity to get out and see a top concert while entertaining the little ones, Groove Baby avoids dumbing down and instead focuses on making each themed live gig as fun, engaging and exciting as possible for children. 


Cerrie Burnell – The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth
Sun 19 May

Join former CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell as she presents her magical novel The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth. Cerrie will share her top storytelling tips, and inspire children to go on their own creative writing adventures.

Superhoe
Sun 19-Tue 21 May

Following its sold-out run in London, Superhoe comes to Brighton Festival. A one-woman show by Nicôle Lecky in collaboration with Royal Court Theatre and the first black-led theatre company Talawa Theatre Company.


The Storytelling Army – Worthing
Sun 19 May

Join people from all walks of life in an intimate setting overlooking the beach to enjoy a simple meal together and listen to stories surrounding the theme of food and flavours that people have experienced; stories of where they come from; places they have been; or the places they dream to taste.

Find out more about The Storytelling Army and what they do 


Writing Big Themes for Small People
Sun 19 May

Writers who have taken on these themes – Sita Brahmachari, Joseph Coelho and Alan Durant – discuss with author Giles Paley Phillips why they did, the way children have responded and how stories and poems can help them and their grown-ups through difficult times.

Ruby Wax
Sun 19 May

Writer, comedian and mental health activist Ruby Wax takes a look at How To Be Human in an increasingly automated world. In this follow-up to her sell-out shows Sane New World and Frazzled, Wax is joined by a monk, Gelong Thubten and a neuroscientist Ash Ranpura who help us understand the mind and how our brains make us, well, us. 

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



Lydia Wilkins: How to make Events Accessible and Autism-Friendly

Recently we spoke to Lydia Wilkins, a journalist and occasional blog writer who was diagnosed with autism just before her sixteenth birthday. Hearing from Lydia about the various changes events organisations could implement to make their performances more accessible to those with invisible disabilities, like Autism, mental health issues, and physical handicaps, was enlightening. Lydia feels strongly about the progression events organisations need to be making to accommodate those with disabilities. Here are her thoughts on the changes that should be implemented to allow equal access for everyone:

'Two months shy of my sixteenth birthday I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome - now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. To me it was simply just a label - literally nothing had changed - it was just another word to describe myself.

Even though that was just over four years ago, at times I still find attending events a bit of a struggle sometimes. I love attending concerts - Queen and Adam Lambert anyone? - as well as plays; I regularly review exhibitions and other artistic shows. I love going to “In conversation with..” events, often talking to my favourite writers during or after.

But noise can be an issue for me, as I lack a filter for it. For this reason, I looked at the adjustments venues could make for people with invisible disabilities, such as myself and others. 

Relax The Atmosphere

Sometimes venues can have a very regimented atmosphere; you have to be in one place, you can’t move, and sometimes social expectations are not necessarily obvious. (I was once tutted at, because I made a dash for the loos mid-performance, thinking I was going to be sick.) The more you try not to rattle your delicious confectionary, the louder it seems to be.

The regimented atmosphere could be more relaxed - or at least the expectations made more obvious. Brighton Festival offers relaxed performances - meaning that there’s an open-door policy, a ‘safe space’ available, changes made to lighting, and visual stories are available. 

If you’re attending a performance, be kind in your criticism; someone may be perceived as misbehaving, but they may not necessarily be behaving like that deliberately. This might actually be their means of coping with an overwhelming experience.

Another Star To Steer By (One of our Relaxed Performance shows)

(Above: Another Star to Steer By offers a Relaxed Performance)

Cover All Ages

Autism does not stop at eighteen. It does not stop at twenty-one, either. As I’ve grown older, I have seen more adjustments be made, such as at cinemas; the only thing is, typically they cover only up to a certain age.

As an adult, I quite like the cinema - but sometimes, there aren’t Autism-friendly screenings for a film I wish to see. But they are for a CGI animation for people under the age of eighteen.

If you have a variety of performances for various ages, make sure accessibility is available for all of them. While it’s amazing that accessible performances and events are becoming more commonplace, accessibility needs to be for everyone. 

Normalise Anything Tactile

Sometimes aides are used while at a performance; I quite liked having a purse in my bag that changed colour, thanks to the sequins on it (you swiped your hands up and down). Many case studies show that when autistic people have various aides with them while going out - such as fiddle pencils, fidget spinners or dice, particular toys, etc. they feel more comfortable.

Normalising people bringing these aides (or even providing them) could be really useful; some may feel they’re being stared at, such as if they’re stimming. Brighton Festival offers Touch Tours, which allow for ‘tactile introductions to the set, costumes, props, instruments - and even some of the actors or musicians - before or after the show.’

A Midsummer Night's Dream (One of our Touch Tours performances)

(Above: A Midsummer Night's Dream offers Touch Tours before the performance)

Make Print Dyslexia Friendly

I have a friend who has Dyslexia; at times they struggle, simply because the type may not necessarily be clear enough. If you produce materials such as tickets, menus, programmes, why not make them Dyslexia-friendly?

Have A Safe Space

Safe spaces could be useful for many people with a variety with invisible disabilities; for me, noise can be incredibly overwhelming.

Lets try something; wherever you are reading this, what can you hear? Within a reasonable distance, you may hear a keyboard tapping (if you’re at work), a murmur of voices, possibly a phone ringing. Now, open that wider; can you hear the chairs scraping, voices in the room, the birds outside singing? This is all the while being aware of the change in flickering lights, the doors opening and closing, the shuffling of people moving about.

While at theatres, or concerts, there is so much noise; I lack a filter for it. It’s difficult to deal with, and once it gets to a certain point, it can lead to a meltdown. I would love it, personally, if venues had a ‘safe space’ - somewhere which is quiet, away from the hubbub, just for me to calm down. 

Distorted Constellations (Features an 'antesensory chamber' designed for neurodivergent people)

(Above: Distorted Constellations features an 'antesensory chamber' designed for neurodivergent people to have a calm place of retreat)

Train Staff To Be More Aware

At times I have thought that staff could have better awareness of invisible disabilities; to give an example, at times when someone has found out I am Autistic, they automatically raise their voice. They become loud and patronising while talking to me – neither of which are helpful or necessary adjustments.

Why not allow someone with an invisible disability to be involved with the training? 

To find out more about access at Brighton Festival visit our Access Page.
Read more from Lydia on her blog Mademoisellewomen.com

Brighton Festival's Relaxed Events

It's important to us that everyone who wants to get involved in Brighton Festival is able. This is why we sought out Lydia Wilkins' opinion on how to create an accessible range of events so that everyone is able to find something they will enjoy. We have helpfully compiled a list of the Festival's ‘Relaxed Events’, specifically curated and developed for audiences with Autistic Spectrum Conditions, learning disabilities, or just for anyone who prefers a calmer way of engaging:

My Left Right Foot: The Musical

A hilarious satirical performance about a local amateur dramatic theatre troupe under pressure to conform to the new ‘equalities agenda’. The group decide, misguidedly, to put on a show about ‘the disabled’. What follows is a laugh-out-loud disaster as the actors stumble through ideas of political correctness, missing the mark entirely. This is a fun and thoroughly entertaining show, taking place in Theatre Royal Brighton under relaxed performance conditions – meaning audiences are able to move around and make noise as they watch.

My Left Right Foot scene

For more information about My Left Right Foot: The Musical, visit the Brighton Festival event page! This performance is also captioned, high audio content, and translated into BSL.

Groove Under The Sea

Groove Baby is a colourful, very musical experience, featuring a live band and lots of audience interaction. You and your little ones can steer the submarine’s story and get fully immersed in a truly incomparable show. 


“Normalising people bringing tactile aides [to performances] - or even providing them - could be really useful. I loved Brighton Festival’s idea of offering Touch Tours (more information here), which allow for “tactile introductions to the set, costumes, props, instruments - and even some of the actors or musicians - before or after the show.” - Lydia Wilkins.

For further info about Groove Under the Sea, check out the Brighton Festival event page! This performance is available for Touch Tours. 

(For another chance at grooving in non-relaxed conditions, check out Groove Baby’s Groove into Space!)

Another Star to Steer By

This theatrical storytelling performance tells the tale of Maya, who climbs aboard a small boat to embark on a very big adventure! Join Maya as she ventures across oceans, encounters mythical creatures, and learns some important lessons. This is a highly visual performance with lots of room for audience members to gasp, shout out, and show their appreciation!


To learn more about Another Star to Steer By, visit the Brighton Festival event page! This performance is also translated into BSL.

To find out more about Brighton Festival’s efforts to make this year accessible to everyone, take a look at our Access page, where you can download PDF’s, listen to an audio guide of our brochure, and lots more.

Read Lydia’s full article: How to make Events Accessible and Autism-Friendly.

Everything You Need to Know About 'FREE': Our Place's New Musical Inclusivity Project

If you haven't yet heard of Our Place, Brighton Festival's community outreach programme that became a community-run mini festival of its own, you're missing out on a load of fantastic and totally free events taking place over two weekends in Hangleton and Whitehawk. Even more exciting - this year, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts have announced that a number of young musicians from their free drop-in sessions are performing as 'FREE', an eclectic, diverse range of musical styles from this generation's budding talents. 

Sat 18 May

Young musicians aged 13-19 from SoundCity Drop-in sessions are performing as part of The East Brighton Our Place community takeover event held at Manor Gym. Catch the group performing a live ‘SoundCity Drop-in showcase‘ onstage from 3:30 – 4:30pm in the Green Space. Artists will be performing a diverse mix of incredible music including original material and covers from rap and rock through to acoustic solo, electronic beats and beyond!

Sat 25 May 

Members from ‘U Studios 2’ drop-in sessions will be performing at the West Brighton Our Place community takeover event from 6:30 – 7:30pm. Artists will be showcasing the amazing music they have created including Hip-Hop, Grime and Trap beats, plus live rapping and a young women’s vocal group!


(Above: Laura Grunwald)

The SoundCity Drop-in and U Studios 2 are free music sessions for young people. Established in 2018, they are part of a four-year programme fully funded by Youth Music and as part of the national initiative Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England. The programme aims to offer 13-19 year olds living in the East and West Brighton areas greater inclusion & access to music making activities that are responsive to their unique interests and needs.

East Brighton’s SoundCity Drop-ins, held at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College’s Wilson Avenue site, are delivered by a creative team of Music leaders from Brighton & Hove’s Music Education Hub SoundCity, local charity AudioActive, and The Brighton Metropolitan College.

West Brighton’s U Studios 2 sessions held at Hangleton Community Centre & Knoll Park pavilion are delivered by music leaders from Brighton & Hove’s Music Education Hub SoundCity, local charity AudioActive & youth workers from The Hangleton & Knoll Project.

Our Place

To read more about Our Place's journey since its beginning in 2017, see our blog post 'From Your Place to Our Place', featuring a great video of past years' events. 

For information on how to attend Our Place, see the Hangleton Our Place event page, or the Whitehawk Our Place event page

Brighton Festival Live Streams: Incredible Events to Watch Wherever You Are

You can’t always make it to all the events you’d like to go to – but with Brighton Festival Live Stream we’ve got you covered.

In partnership with Greater Brighton Metropolitan College and their incredible staff and students, we stream some of our exciting events so you can watch them live from wherever you are, or later in your own time. Click on the ‘Get Notified’ button on the events you want to watch. Here’s a quick rundown…


Backbone
Wed 15 May 7.30pm
Backbone explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance. A stripped-back, raw showcase of human ability and connection. With a powerful live soundtrack and beautiful lighting design.


Flavour Migrations
Fri 17 May 8pm

Get some cooking inspiration from Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo. She’ll be discussing how her culture, heritage and loved ones have shaped her cooking.


Dream Mandé: Bamanan Djourou
Sat 18 May 8pm

Once again Rokia Traoré will be performing at Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall. Prepare to hear adaptations of traditional Bambara songs, popular French and international tunes as you’ve never heard them before.



Malian Dance Night

Mon 20 May 7.30pm

This is an evening of dance you will not want to miss. Enjoy a special presentation of three new dance pieces by Mali’s next generation of extraordinary choreographers.


Ariwo and Resonators
Wed 22 May 8pm

Take your ears on a musical adventure. You’ll be listening to rural west African heritage with the energy of the vibrant city of Bamako with a mix of other genres such as jazz, electronic and Cuban rhythms.


Chineke!
Thu 23 May 7.30pm

Chineke! bring their extraordinary energy and enthusiasm to this evening’s performance, taking us on a journey through the 1920s from New York to Weill’s Vienna.


Varhung: Heart to Heart

Fri 24 May 8pm

Experience Ancient Taiwanese culture traditions brought up to date by one of the Pacific Island’s premier indigenous dance-theatre companies Tijmur.


BOYS

Sun 26 May 7.30pm

Celebrating male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS is a joyful and tender dance that hopes to unravel preconceptions and uncover the endless possibilities that can make up a man.


Né So - Rokia Traoré

Malian musician and Brighton Festival Guest Director, Rokia Traoré shares her highly personal sixth album, Né So, an unmissable experience. 


Five Minutes With Abi Radford: Marketing Coordinator of Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings

We spoke to Abi Radford, Marketing Coordinator with sponsor Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings to find out her thoughts about the Festival and what it represents.

Firstly, how would you describe Brighton Festival in three words?

Exciting. Inspiring. Fun!

What are you looking forward to seeing this year?

I’m excited about Backbone, not only to see what these talented performers can do, but also because of the live soundtrack and lighting design. I’m also looking forward to Flight, which I imagine will be quite moving.

What impact do you think the Festival has for visitors and for you?

The buzz that the Festival brings to Brighton during May is electric! I feel it myself and so does everyone I speak to about it. We have a lot of visitors who stay in our properties throughout the Festival because they are attending events. They are amazed at the choice and variety and always say they will be back again next year.

Find out more about Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings visit their website. Interested in becoming a Brighton Festival sponsor? See our Support Us page

In Rehearsal: A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Lord Chamberlain's Men will soon appear at Brighton Festival, with their interpretation of Shakespeare's magic-filled comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Following weeks of rehearsals, this production is shaping up to be a highlight of this special celebratory year of both their 15th birthday and 425 years since The Lord Chamberlain's Men were first formed. 

We captured some of the magic in rehearsals, giving audiences a small insight into what to expect...

Performers stretching on the floor

Cast member reading a script

Cast members standing together reading scripts

Cast members smiling during rehearsal

Cast member rehearsing an emotional scene



A Midsummer Night's Dream
presented by The Lord Chamberlain's Men

Thu 23 - Sat 25 May | St. Nicholas' Rest Garden

Set to be a wonderful event for all the family, enjoy this open-air performance in the beautiful leafy surroundings of St Nicholas’ Rest Garden, located in the heart of Brighton’s city centre. Pitch up with a chair and bring a picnic if you like.

Review: 'Vox Motus have succeeded in turning an awful reality into a poetic tragedy, both poignant and heart wrenching'

As part of our long-standing partnership with University of Sussex, we’re collaborating with students to review Brighton Festival shows and report on events happening across the city.

Our first guest review is by Charlotte Gray, a first year student, BA (Hons) International Development and Anthropology. Here’s what she thought of Flight by Vox Motus.

Recently, I had the privilege of seeing Flight, an intricate moving diorama created and performed by Glasgow based company, Vox Motus. Upon arriving at King Alfred Leisure Centre, I had no idea what to expect. However, having only read outstanding reviews, I knew I was going to be immersed in something different from anything I had seen before. At the beginning, different groups were taken into a room to wait before each person was taken to their individual seat inside a dark cubicle. I was given headphones with soft music playing, and instructions to get close.

Immediately, the experience became incredibly personal. The story is based on playwright Oliver Emanuel’s adaptation of Caroline Brothers' novel Hinterland. It began by introducing Aryan and Kabir, two Afghan brothers at the start of their ambitious journey from Kabul to London. I was immediately drawn into a miniature world of carefully created wooden figures arranged into elaborate scenes. The figures of Aryan and Kabir were depicted travelling by boat, train, on foot, and in the backs of lorries as they battle storms, imprisonment, and various other extreme situations that many migrants face.

Each scene was crafted with the utmost intent. Simple images with purposeful lighting established each setting beautifully. Gripping sound effects accurately established the mood of each scene, whether dreamlike or eerie. Additionally, childlike voices truly made this experience both genuine and imaginative. In addition, sitting in a rotating chair made it more of an interactive experience, as I was able to move with the models as they drifted past.

 Vox Motus have succeeded in turning an awful reality into a poetic tragedy, both poignant and heart wrenching.

In just an hour, Flight emotively illustrates themes of economic migration, modern-day slavery, sexual abuse, capitalism, and hope. The exhaustion and hardship the boys face during their gruelling two-year journey attempting to cross borders into Europe is incredibly realistic.

One aspect that particularly stood out to me was the creative decision to depict border control guards as seagulls; their loud dissonant squawking in place of speech – entirely unintelligible to the poor protagonists in an allegory for the French-Afghan language barrier – profusely exemplified the fright and anxieties they felt losing their liberty. The sympathy this draws is heart-wrenching. The story is mercilessly immersive, forcing the viewer to involve themselves in the plight of young refugees in a way that media coverage can never do.

The craft and skill used to create such a simple yet graphic portrayal of Aryan and Kabir’s story is done to an exorbitant quality. Vox Motus have created a microscopic world to portray issues far bigger and provide an extremely confrontational experience. It becomes almost hard to believe that you are watching miniature models instead of real people. At the end of the performance I left in tears, wishing it wasn’t over. My expectations were exceeded, and I was left speechless. I would highly recommend seeing Flight, it was truly unforgettable.

For your chance to see this unique show during its run at Brighton Festival, visit the Flight event page.

Book now to see Flight at Brighton Festival

What’s on: Theatre at Brighton Festival

We have a huge variety of theatre coming to Brighton Festival. We welcome performers from near and far to celebrate the power of storytelling through performance. Here's what's coming up...

Flight
Sat 4-Thu 23 May

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

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


Cooped
Wed 22-Sun 26 May

As Spymonkey celebrate its 20th anniversary, don’t miss the opportunity to catch the show which made them an international comedy sensation - Cooped.

Read our interview with Spymonkey to find out more


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

Bring a chair or, a blanket and enjoy a glorious May evening watching one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays in this enchanting, open air performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


True Copy BERLIN
Thu 23-Sun 26 May

Based on the true story of possibly the most successful art forger in the world, BERLIN uses its genre-curious style to expose the hypocrisy of the art world.


Another Star to Steer By
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

Andrew McCaldon’s Another Star to Steer By will be premiering at Brighton Festival this May.

One day Maya packs her bag, ready to say goodbye to her home. As she leaves, she finds a little paper boat and begins a very big adventure! Join Maya on a magical journey as she sets sail on a voyage full of sea-soaked folktales, discovers fabulous creatures, meets legends of far-flung oceans, and begins searching for her own story out on the rolling waves.

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


BOYS
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

The PappyShow celebrates male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS gives us a window to share their experiences, their hopes, families and globe-spanning heritage.

Read our interview with The PappyShow to find out more about BOYS 

Five Minutes: Stile Antico: Songs of Longing and Exile

Award-winning early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins with remarkable Syrian oud performer Rihab Azar for a unique collaboration inspired by the challenges faced by today’s refugees and migrants. We learn more about the creative process and inspiration behind Songs of Longing and Exile

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

The programme focuses on the theme of exile and displacement. We have used 16th century music to create a new work of art by adding texts based on first-hand accounts by contemporary migrants. These will be interspersed with music from Syrian-born Oud player Rihab Azar. The programme will be accompanied by projections and specially designed lighting, to give a unique and immersive experience, culminating in a work written specially for Stile Antico and Rihab Azar by the legendary composer Giles Swayne.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This show will be a unique fusion of old and new music, a conversation between Eastern and Western cultures, exploring one of the most urgent issues of our times.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

We were researching a programme of a capella 16th century music on the theme of exile. John Dowland was famous for his expressive and ‘melancholy’ music, and spent much of his life in exile from his homeland. We opened that programme with the first of his seven Lacrimae pavans, the famous song ‘Flow my tears’. It got us wondering about the possibility of adding texts to the other six pieces in Dowland’s collection and that lead us to the poet Peter Oswald. He created some extraordinary lyrics using first-hand accounts of modern-day migrants. We were keen to intersperse the Dowland works with music from the Middle-East and were thrilled to be able to collaborate with virtuoso Oud player Rihab Azar.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Lovers of music of all types, people interested in issues around migration, anyone with a social conscience!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I think people will be surprised by the beauty and emotion of Dowland’s music, the way old music and new lyrics can work together whilst also challenging each other, and the virtuosity and expressiveness of Rihab Azar’s Oud playing!

Watch our interview with Gill Kay to learn more about our classical music programme 

What’s on: Dance events at Brighton Festival

We have a wide-range of award winning and rising dance performers coming to Brighton Festival. We welcome performers from around the world to celebrate the power of storytelling through performance. Find out what's coming up...


Still I Rise

Theatre Royal Brighton: Wed 22 May
Connaught Theatre, Worthing: Thu 23 May

TRIBE//’s all-female cast perform Still I Rise inspired by African-American writer, singer and activist Maya Angelou. Still I Rise is about resilience, equality, being unapologetic for who you are, and rising. Expect a powerful, absorbing and emotive show.


Not Today’s Yesterday
Thu 23 May

Award-winning artist Seeta Patel and choreographer Lina Limonsi join forces, creating a one-woman politically charged dance blending classical Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) and contemporary dance.

★★★★★ ‘This is outstanding, innovative, must-see dance’ – Adelaide Now ‘An unmissable treat’ – British Theatre Guide

Find out what to expect, in our interview with Seeta Patel


Varhung: Heart to Heart

Fri 24 & Sat 25 

Taiwanese Tjimur Dance Theatre presents a richly patterned, open-hearted performance that shows how the Paiwan people, not used to discussing private feelings, use artforms to bring them to the surface. Experience a deeply emotional and open-hearted performance.


SESSION
Thu 23 May-Sun 26 May

Part gig, part social and part dance party, the show is led by an ensemble of young dances who move across hip hop, contemporary folk and Afrobeats – celebrating community, youth and belonging. Join us for a high-energy night of dance and live music!




Five Minutes with Laura McDermott: Creative Director for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Sussex

'Founded in 1961, the University of Sussex has a rich heritage in creating and supporting the arts. We are a major sponsor of Brighton Festival, and have a programming partnership. We have co-commissioned performances, and each year we work together to select a programme of events to be hosted at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA).'

Firstly, how would you describe Brighton Festival in three words?

Effervescent. Communal. Discovery.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I am genuinely excited about all three performances that we are hosting at ACCA:  Séancers from Jaamil Olawale Kosoko; Superhoe, a collaboration between Talawa Theatre Company and Royal Court Theatre; and Belgian company, Berlin is bringing the UK Premiere of True Copy about the real-life art forger, Geert Jan Jansen.

Nicôle Lecky in Superhoe

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko performs Séancers

Elsewhere, I can’t wait to see Session on the Brighton seafront. It’s a high- energy dance piece to live Afrobeats, performed by a group of young women. I’m also looking forward to My Left Right Foot: The Musical at the beautiful Theatre Royal, and I am so excited to see Neneh Cherry. She is on fire right now and her new album is amazing.

SESSION performed by Still House and Empire Sounds

What impact do you think the Festival has for visitors, Brighton residents and for you?

There is so much energy in the city in May. Everyone comes out to play and to explore, enjoying the longer days and the sunshine. People are more adventurous and willing to try new things. It’s an incredibly social time. Brighton Festival has always stood for internationalism and experimentation. It brings artists from all over the world to be here in dialogue with our city and residents.

Interested in becoming a Brighton Festival sponsor? See our Support Us page. To learn more about University of Sussex and their longstanding partnership with Brighton Festival, see their sponsor page.

Five Minutes with: Candice Edmunds - Flight

This May, Scottish theatre company Vox Motus bring critically-acclaimed production Flight to Brighton Festival.

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

We chat to Artistic Director, Candice Edmunds to find out more… 

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

Flight is based on the novel Hinterland by Caroline Brothers. It tells the story of two young brothers travelling alone, on foot, from Afghanistan to London. Their journey is an odyssey: a tale of ever-changing fortunes that is in turns life affirming and horrifically brutal. It is a tale of love, brotherhood, the remarkable resilience of those fleeing turmoil, and the power of imagination.


Flight
is a unique audience experience. Audience members sit in individual booths as a series of 200 handmade diorama revolve before their eyes. The story and soundtrack unfold through a pair of headphones.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Flight is rewarding on so many levels. The story is current, relevant and heart-wrenching. The ‘staging’ and design are completely unique. The experience is individual and immersive. We have been delighted time and again by those who came to engage with the ‘form’ and lost themselves completely in the story, and those who came to hear the story and were blown away by the design and the audience experience.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Initially we were inspired by Caroline’s novel ‘Hinterland’, and what (in 2011, when it was published) felt like the ‘under-the-radar’ story of unaccompanied refugee minors. Over the years that we developed Flight the narrative around refugees and asylum seekers in the UK became increasingly divisive and agenda-driven. We wanted to find a storytelling form that would bring this back to the truly personal: just you (the audience) and the brothers journeying together. Our world in miniature was born out of desire to create a one-to-one experience that played with form, challenged us as artists, and enriched the story and themes. We wanted to make something that was full of imagination that honoured the bravery and resilience of children who flee their homes in search of a safe haven.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Because of the mix of forms/disciplines, Flight appeals to both theatre audiences and those who would be more inclined to engage with visual art/digital art/cinema. The sound design and sound-track are also exceptional in their own right and open the experience up to music audiences. It is a brilliant show for teenagers, and we can provide some excellent resources for teachers to encourage class discussions around the subject matter.

What will surprise people about this show?

We have found that audiences have been completely floored by the emotional impact of the story. They come because they have heard of this wildly original carousel of diorama, and don’t expect a series of 3-D models to be so emotionally devastating.

Buy tickets to Flight or discover more theatre events happening this May 

Five Minutes with Gravity & Other Myths: Backbone

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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


Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

Five Minutes with Jaamil Olawale Kosoko: Séancers

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


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

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?  

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

 What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

Imagery and poetic metaphor, some fun costumes, kisses.

Find out more about Séancers and book your tickets today. 

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. 

Five Minutes with Flexer & Sandiland: Curiouser

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

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

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

Festival Standby in Advance now available

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


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

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

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

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

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:




Free things to do at Brighton Festival

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

Without Walls
Sat 11 May

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

Initiative.dkf – Scalped

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

Talawa Theatre Company – The Tide

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

Justice in Motion – On Edge

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

Motionhouse – Wild

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


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

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

Some of our favourites:

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

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

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

Explore the full programme 


Distorted Constellations
Sat 4-Sun 19 May

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

Sat 18 May

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


Museum of the Moon
Fri 17 – Mon 20 May

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


Iron Men
Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

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


Current Affairs
Thu 18 Apr–Mon 27 May 

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



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Highlights: Brighton Festival Opening Weekend

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

Discover what is happening this weekend at Brighton Festival 

Five Minutes with Season Butler: The New Dystopians

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!

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

The prize package includes:

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

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

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

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

Fri 24 May

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

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

Sat 25 May

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

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

Sun 26 May

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

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

Please read the terms and conditions here

Five Minutes with 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)