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

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Must-See Events at Brighton Festival’s Opening Weekend

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

Saturday 4 May

Né So

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


Children’s Parade

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

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


Pitch Perfect

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


Current Affairs
Thu 18 Apr-Mon 27 May

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


Writers at Risk Gallery
Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

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


Iron Men
Sat 4- Sun 26 May

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


Distorted Constellations
Sat 4 - Sun 19 May

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


Sunday 5 May

Creative Writing Workshop with Miriam Halamy

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


30 Years of Mr Bongo

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

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

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

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

Read our interview with Artistic Director Candice Edmunds 

Flight by Vox Motus at Brighton Festival
Ensemble Correspondances

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

Read our interview with Sébastien Daucé to find out more 


Some Small Isle

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


Dream Horse

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


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

Phillip Morgan shares fond memories of Brighton Festival

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Five Minutes with: Soumik Datta - King of Ghosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What will surprise people about this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Pippa Smith and Sarah Parsons

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

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

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

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

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

What was the inspiration for Same Sky?

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

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favourite part of the Parade?

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

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

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Minutes with Marcus Farnsworth

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

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

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

Why would someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who loves poetry, beautiful music or intimate concerts.

What will surprise people about this show?

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

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

Five Minutes with Moses Boyd: Mr Bongo

30 Years of Mr Bongo is the highly anticipated multi-cultural musical event, three decades in the making. With a range of sounds including Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul, Reggae from some of the world's most well-loved DJ's, this is one event that any music-lover won't want to miss. To find out a bit more about what we can expect, we spoke to drummer, composer and producer Moses Boyd.

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

My name is Moses Boyd and I’m the leader of the Exodus. Exodus is my journey in sound, sounds I’ve been crafting and perfecting over the years.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because the music will transport you from your current reality into unknown dimensions.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

From my heroes Wayne Shorter, Duke Ellington, Wiley, The Outkast, as well as all the sounds and communities I’ve been around.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Hopefully those that were there during the rave scene years. Also lovers of deep groove and jazz.

What will surprise people about this show?

I have some new young talent in my band, so lots of new energy, a new musical set up and new music. 

Get your tickets for 30 Years of Mr Bongo now to see Moses Boyd and more

Producer Picks | Young Literature

Learn more about the Young Literature events taking place this year, from our Young Literature producer, Hilary Cook. 

Find out more or book tickets 
Read our interview with Ella Burns Director of Little Green Pig


Chineke! / Philharmonia Orchestra / Brighton Festival Chorus

Our Classical Music Producer, Gill Kay discusses two shows coming to Brighton this May featuring Chineke!Philharmonia Orchestra and Brighton Festival Chorus.

Our Place Creative Makers

Our Place Creative Makers is a project that invites the communities of East Brighton and Hangleton and Knoll to explore and celebrate what the idea of Our Place means to them.

This is an invitation to participate in the creation of a large-scale, craft-based installation during this year’s Our Place at the Manor Gym, East Brighton on Saturday 18 May and in Hangleton Community Centre on Saturday 25 May as part of Brighton Festival.


The project is inspired by existing talent and enthusiasm in both communities for making craft. It will become part of the global movement of craftivism, which uses making as a form of social or political, peaceful, creative activism. Its roots are in the creative campaigns of the suffragettes and other activists internationally, with the term ‘craftivism’ itself being coined by American ‘craftivista’ Betsy Greer. 


Get making

Download your 'how to' makers guide

Pick up a FREE craftivism makers kit at...

Hangleton: Hangleton Community Centre / St Richard's Community Centre / Hangleton Library / Hangleton and Knoll Project Youth Workers

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


Come along to a FREE workshop in your area and get making...

Hangleton:
Mon 8 Apr, 10.30am–12.30pm | Hangleton Community Centre
Thu 18 Apr, 2.30–4.30pm | Hangleton Library
Join the Facebook event page

East Brighton:
Tue 2 April, 1–3pm | Ruby Tuesday Group at the Bristol Estate Community Room
Fri 5 Apr 2–4pm | The Worry Tree Cafe in the Whitehawk Inn
Tue 9 Apr 10.30am–12.30pm | Robert Lodge
Thu 18 Apr 10.30am–12.30pm | Whitehawk Library
Wed 24 Apr 10.30am–12.30pm | The Manor Gym
Join the Facebook event

Workshops are suitable for everyone. Children aged 5+ can participate as long as they are accompanied by an adult who is also taking part. All materials are provided


Find out more about Our Place

Produced in partnership with the Our Place Steering Committees of Hangleton and East Brighton, Brighton People's Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project, Hangleton Community Centre and The Manor Gym

Supported by:
 

Five Minutes with The PappyShow: BOYS

We sit down with the lads from The Pappy Show to discuss their show BOYS - a unique celebration of male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England. Unscripted with each story uniquely told in every performance, BOYS is a joyful and tender dance that hopes to unravel preconceptions and uncover the endless possibilities that can make up a man!

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

In an era where toxic masculinity is the dominant narrative of the male experience, BOYS explores and celebrates diverse experiences of manhood centred on the stories of nine men of colour growing up in London; their ancestry, their present lives and their hopes for the future.

The way we move, the way we talk, the way we think… we want to show you the things about BOYS that you never get to see!

It’s a joyful, fascinating and socially revelatory look at what it means to be a man in 2019, subverting the myths and stereotypes of the masculine experience: particularly young men of colour. It combines this with beautiful, playful, movement-driven visual theatre, powerful and humorous direct storytelling, and joyous interactive play.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s a celebration – there’s lots of happiness and joy. It adds to the discussion on masculinity, particularly in young men of colour. We hope people will take away questions on what it means to be a man, and their relationships with the other men in their lives.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone! The show is aimed at all people!

Get your tickets for BOYS by visiting the event page!

Five Minutes with Ultima Vez: TrapTown

TrapTown takes you to a parallel universe, free from defined time and space. Conflicts from the early days and curious strange catastrophes dominate the relationships between the people. The necessity and apparent possibility of emancipation rise to the surface. We discuss the inspiration behind the show with Ultima Vez.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Young, old, fan of dance, theatre or movies? TrapTown is a mixture of different arts melting together in a mythological history.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

From the old myths and the stories of today.

Wim Vandekeybus’ fascination for the universal nature of the age-old myths was already demonstrated in Blush (2002) and Oedipus/bêt noir (2011). For TrapTown, he returns to the limitless and obscure cosmos of the ancient souls, using dance, film, text and music to conceive a new mythology.


What will surprise people about this show?

Dance and film sequences create a seamless live experience. Pieter De Buysser writes the text. The soundtrack is composed by Trixie Whitley and Phoenician Drive and forms the background to an avalanche of images. The architect duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh signed for the design of the scenography. All together they take the audience to oracles, catharsis and euphoria.

Discover more about TrapTown and book tickets

Five Minutes with Luke Wright

Following a sell-out run in Edinburgh, Luke Wright hits the road with the show the critics are calling his best yet. This new show Luke Wright: Poet Laureate is a satirical reflection on current politics, Brexit, and what it means to be a poet in modern Britain. For an inside look into the inner workings of a brilliant creative mind, we caught up with Luke for a five minute chat. 

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

There’s going to be a new Poet Laureate appointed in 2019. They will be the country’s official poet. They’ll have to write wretched drivel about royal weddings and royal babies and the unveiling of statues. Who wouldn’t want to do that job? My new show is nominally my tilt at that gilded position, filled with the very finest of my brand new poems - some to make you laugh, some to make you cry, some to make you THINK (note capitals). But in reality, not only do I not want the job, I don’t think we should even have a Poet Laureate. The laureateship mimics the monarchy, the power structure it was created to prop up - we’ve come a long way since then, I think we can do better. In the show I attempt to write poems about Britain and society and end up going down some personal rabbit holes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hurl etc etc.

Why should someone come and see your show?

I don’t think there is anything quite like it out there. My poetry can make you laugh, but it’s not ‘comic’ poetry. I tackle my subjects (in this instance modern Britain) seriously but it doesn’t mean that I take myself too seriously. I want to present a poetry show that is a great, enjoyable night out without having sacrifice the quality of the poetry. This is my best yet.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I did a show with the same title 13 years ago and I wanted to revisit the idea of writing poetry for a nation, and not oneself, to see how my attitudes have changed. This time round I couldn’t help but look more closely at myself, this is a braver, more vulnerable show that I was able to make aged 24.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

People who like spoken word, and politically engaged people. Do you read the news? Do you care about what’s going on around you? Do you take time to examine yourself and your place in society? Do you like to laugh and cry and feel? I’m your man.

What will surprise people about this show?

My hair’s a lot longer than in the press shots. 

Join Luke Wright for an evening of modern, sardonic poetry and fun

Five Minutes with Graham Luckhurst: Mr Bongo

Three decades in the making, featuring Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul and Reggae sounds from some of the world's most well-loved DJ's, 30 Years of Mr Bongo is one event that any music-lover won't want to miss. To find out a bit more about what we can expect, we spoke to Graham Luckhurst, director of operations at Mr Bongo

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

The show celebrates 30 years of Mr Bongo – the record label, record shop and a huge passion for eclectic, unexpected music from around the world.

Why should someone come and see your show?

They would be very hard pushed this line up anywhere else in the world, especially at that ticket price ;)

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Myself and David at Mr Bongo were talking to Lucy Monkman (Brighton Festival) and formed the idea, then worked with Danni (Brighton Festival) to develop it. It represents past, present and future aspects of Mr Bongo across hip hop reggae dub jazz DJ’ing and a love of records.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

It has both specialist and broad appeal. The line up as a whole feels like a mini festival, especially given that it is on May Bank Holiday Sunday. Each band will have its own appeal but there is significant crossover between The Skints and Hollie Cook for the reggae/dub/punk-heads, and between Moses Boyd and Jungle Brown for the new UK music and jazz heads. DJ Format and Mr Thing very rarely play on the same bill let alone all night together. So we would be hitting the new younger UK Jazz demographic with Moses Boyd, and both 18-25 and 35+/6Music demographics for The Skints, Jungle Brown, Hollie Cook, Mr Thing and DJ Format. Alongside this, Huw Bowles obviously represents the Mr Bongo hip hop shop legacy.

What will surprise people about this show?

This line up is a real bargain for the ticket price. It’s a mini festival line up for a standard price and it will be a brilliant celebration of music in general.

To snatch your ticket for this bargain event, visit our Mr Bongo page!

Five Minutes with Guy Parker-Rees

Would you bet on a long-legged, wobbly-kneed giraffe to win a dance contest? We know we wouldn’t! We asked Guy Parker-Rees, the illustrative force behind the classic, hilarious picture book Giraffes Can't Dance, some questions about his exciting, interactive show - which celebrates 20 years since publication. There will be drawing, reading and, of course, DANCING!

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

It celebrates 20 years of the much loved, best-selling picture book, Giraffes Can’t Dance. The event is all about expressing exuberance – my work as an illustrator, capturing the joy of painting, dancing and animals. With the audience’s help I’ll create a new dancing animal character, show them how I paint picture-book illustrations and get the children to be bold artists by helping them to create their own animal characters. Finally, I’ll read the story with plenty of participation and dancing – Gerald the giraffe may well come out for a dance at the end too!

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because they love the book, are interested in painting and want to see how an illustrator works… oh, and because they want to have fun!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Giles Andreae wrote the story after seeing the enigmatic way that giraffes move in Africa, whilst my ideas for the illustrations came from my long love of Africa, where I was born!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Every parent and child that has loved the book over the last twenty years!

Want to come for a dance with Gerald? Get your tickets at the Giraffes Can't Dance - 20th Anniversary Dance Party event page!

Five Minutes with the Ruisi Quartet

Winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society award for Young British String Players, the Ruisi Quartet has established a reputation as a charismatic and expressive ensemble, delivering performances that are "strikingly immediate, committed and direct" (Chichester Observer). The musicians behind the reputation have given us a quick insight into their upcoming performance at 2019 Brighton Festival.

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

This concert features some of the greatest and yet most contrasting works for a string quartet; from some of the earliest works ever written for 4 strings such as Purcell’s incredible Fantasias, to the genius and power of Beethoven. This is music that’s close to the heart of the Ruisi Quartet, one of the UK’s leading young strong quartets.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This music deals with love, loss, incredible highs and a deep and engaging exploration of what it is that makes us human. You don’t need to know anything about the music to enjoy it; just turn up and get transported to another world.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

If you don’t normally listen to classical music, this is a performance that will get you excited about some of the greatest music ever written. The Ruisi Quartet are young, charismatic players that make the music as relevant as it was hundreds of years ago. If you already like classical music, then this concert is a chance to hear one of the UK’s leading string quartets playing a bold programme of brilliant music.

What will surprise people about this show?

Hopefully people will see that classical music isn’t like the stereotypes; it’s beautiful, thrilling and totally relevant to anyone that likes being moved by live music.

Book your tickets to see the Ruisi Quartet today!

Five Minutes with Ensemble Variances

Founded in 2009 by Martiniquan-French composer and pianist Thierry Pécou, Ensemble Variances seeks to link contemporary music to the humanitarian and environmental concerns of our time. Outre Mémoire (Outside Memory) is a 70-minute, 12 movement work scored for solo piano, flute, clarinet and cello that commemorates the impact of the transatlantic slave trade. We sat down for a five minute interview with the group to learn more. 

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

Outre Mémoire takes audiences on an aural travelogue of the transatlantic slave trade of the eighteenth century. Pécou will take the audience on a voyage of rhythms, colours and themes combining Afro-American work songs, the Brazilian Candomble and jazz.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s Thierry Pécou’s signature piece and most personal work. During the performance, the musicians encircle the audience offering an immersive experience - which is uncommon for audiences these days!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Inspired by his own Martinique heritage, Thierry Pécou’s compositions reflect the words of Martinique poet and essayist Edouard Glissant, as well as novelist Patrick Chamoiseau. The essays of anthropologist Martin Lienhard were Pécou’s second source of ideas and inspirations. Lienhard studied the point of view of the slaves and the Africans at the time of the slave trade, by looking at historical elements such as the words of the chants in Afro-Brazilian rituals, or court rulings. Pécou invents his own rite, as powerful by its organic violence as by the melodic bitterness which infuses his work.

What will surprise people about this show?

Whilst dealing with the dark chapter of French history - slave trade - the composer avoids pathos or romanticism. Also, audiences will listen to a night in the rain forest with rustling sounds of insects, musically transposed by chimes; the chimes, as it turns out, represent the little bell attached to the captive’s ankle. 

For more information about this haunting performance, visit the Outre Mémoire page. 

Five Minutes with Dan Canham: SESSION

SESSION is an explosive outdoor gathering of dance, and live music, Dan Canham has brought together the domineering troupes Still House, Steppaz Performing Arts Academy and Afrobeats to create an exhilarating, adrenaline-fuelled event that you won't want to miss. In between practices, we grabbed Dan for a quick interview to tell us more. 

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

SESSION is a dance event featuring 23 young competitive street dancers from Tottenham’s Steppaz and a live afrobeats band, Empire Sounds. It’s a proper celebration of dance, live music, extraordinary people performing, and of us all being together to witness it.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because they want a good night out. Because they like live music and dance and feeling alive.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It came from a residency in Tottenham via the invitation of LIFT festival, and from meeting amazing people already doing great things in Tottenham.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone with a beating heart.

What will surprise people about this show?

The quality of the dancers (spoiler alert).

SESSION is an outdoor pay-what-you-can event, taking place from Thu 23 May to Sun 26 May.

With thanks to Brighton University and British Airways i360 for supporting this production

Five Minutes with Sébastien Daucé: Ensemble Correspondances

Founded a decade ago in Lyon by the organist and harpsichordist Sébastien Daucé, this ensemble of specialist vocalists and instrumentalists is passionate about rediscovering musical forms and composers now almost forgotten.

Ensemble Correspondances are simply unrivalled in this repertoire and bring their spine-tingling talents to Brighton Festival for the first time, Sébastien had a chat with us to tell us more…

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

This concert recreates life in the salons of Louis XIII’s court with vocal music reflecting themes of night, love and poetry. The first gentleman of France, Louis XIII was a great dancer, musician and even composer; music certainly was one of his main interests – probably before politics!

The French court during his reign reflected his desire for a flourishing artistic life in the salons. He surrounded himself with the greatest artists of the time to compose and play music for his evenings. This programme reveals pieces about love, night and mysteries of passion: typical themes for the poetic airs de cour that we could have heard at the end of the winter at the Louvre court, or in the intimacy of the salons to create small and intimate ceremonies whose intensity and passion remained a blazing fire burning through the night…

Why would someone come and see your show?

This concert is a unique opportunity to dive into the musical life of the 17th century and the close circle of musicians around King Louis XIII. The audience will be able to discover what he liked to hear in the privacy of his Chamber; confidential music by Boësset, Moulinié, Couperin for polyphonic voices, delicate lute and languorous gambas.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The music featured in this programme has hardly been explored or played since its creation and it is absolutely full of musical treasures. When we talk about Louis XIII, we usually think of the Louvre and the court, but a lot of the music of this era is very mysterious to us, and that is what I wanted to explore here.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

This concert will be ravished by curious people who would like to hear music they have never been able to experience before, like some kind of ancient poetry magnified by a small-scale ensemble of musicians.

What will surprise people about this show?

I think that people will come to the show without knowing any of the pieces announced in the programme but this music is so powerful and intense that they will definitely leave the concert humming the airs that they have just discovered!

If you're as intrigued as we are to hear this once-in-a-lifetime performance, discover more about Ensemble Correspondances.

Five Minutes with Cine City Co-director Tim Brown

This May, Brighton-based film festival Cine City bring Julien Faraut's experimental film essay John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection to Brighton Festival.

Cine City will also be presenting a 35mm presentation of Malian filmmaker Souleyman Cissé’s 1987 film Yeelen (Brightness) at the Duke of York’s; and The End of Fear, Barbara Visser’s documentary about one of the most famous crimes against art ever committed.

We have a quick chat with Tim Brown, Co-Director of Cine City to find out more...

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

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection a film documenting the tennis legend’s performance at the 1984 French Open, when he was the world No.1. The film also serves as a treatise on film, spectatorship and the meaning of perfection.

Why would someone come and see your show?

It’s an unusual and highly distinctive film based around hours of beautiful footage shot on colour 16mm film. During the festival is likely to be the only time it will screen in Brighton, so this is a great opportunity to catch on the big screen.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Tennis fans and fans of John McEnroe will of course enjoy the film, but also devotees of the essay film and anyone with a penchant for film as film - as opposed to digital.

What will surprise people about this show?

How close the cameraperson was allowed to get to McEnroe and the lack of security around the tournament is shocking to see now – we were living in very different times!

Discover more Art and Film events happening at Brighton Festival this May 

Producer Picks | Dance, Theatre and Spoken Word

Learn more about the contemporary performance events taking place this year, from our Theatre & Dance Producer, Philippa Barr.

Find out more about our Dance and Theatre programme 

Five Minutes with Saxophonist Jonathan Radford

This May, Saxophonist Jonathan Radford and pianist Ashley Fripp present a heady mixture of eras and musical styles.

Ahead of their show in May, we caught up with Jonathan to find out more...

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

Our programme showcases the saxophone and piano in an exciting mixture of eras and styles. We’ll be presenting familiar transcriptions for the combination alongside newer works such as a world premiere by Cheryl Frances Hoad, there’s really something to suit all tastes.

Why would someone come and see your show?

The show will be an opportunity to hear some well-known works such as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Albeniz’s Suite Española alongside new works and a world premiere!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

We wanted to build a programme that would show many different styles, that would be engaging from start to finish and really relate to audiences.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

There’s really something for everyone in this concert, the repertoire spans from Baroque through to Jazz and modern day with familiar pieces as well as new ones to discover.

What will surprise people about this show?

Audiences are always surprised by the variety of styles and sounds the saxophone can produce. Often only viewed as a jazz instrument the concert really showcases the diversity of the saxophone and its possibilities as a classical instrument.

Discover more Classical Music events happening this May 

Five Minutes with Daniel Hahn

PEN Translates is a scheme by English PEN to promote translation for books from other languages into English. Since 2012, the scheme has supported 250 titles. Amongst the authors it has brought us are widely recognised award-winners such as Alain Mabanckou, Han Kang and José Eduardo Agualusa. This May, we mark this milestone at Brighton Festival in a panel celebrating the contribution of translation to the UK’s reading culture.


We have a quick chat with writer and translator Daniel Hahn to find out more...

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

The show will be commemorating a programme that has supported the publication of over 250 international books in the UK. The PEN Translates programme has enabled writing from all over the world to be made available to UK readers.

Why would someone come and see your show?

Translation is booming in the UK! As is an interest in what’s happening beyond our borders, so we’ll be talking about how stories can travel and how international fiction can enlighten us about the rest of the world, as well as introducing readers to some amazing new writers.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The English PEN programme that supports the promotion of translations in the UK has just hit its 250-book milestone, so this is a great opportunity to talk about why the world’s writing is exciting and important.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Readers who like to read widely, who like to discover new voices, people who have broad international horizons.

Discover more Literature events happening at Brighton Festival this May


Five Minutes with Ella Burns Director of Little Green Pig

Little Green Pig is a Brighton & Hove based writing and mentoring charity for young people. They believe in the right to write, and that this vital form of self-expression builds confidence, communication and literacy skills. 


Following a six-week writing and mentoring project, eight young people from Brighton & Hove take to the stage. Representing diverse backgrounds, and 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.

We catch up with Ella Burns, Director of Little Green Pig to find out more...

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

Amplified is a celebration of the rich stories that come from the lives of young people in our community. Eight teenagers will take to the stage and perform individual stories that they have developed and written over the course of a weekend led by our mentors.

Why would someone come and see your show?

Our show offers a fresh and unique take on life as a young person in Brighton, helping us to view the world from their perspective.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Little Green Pig likes to find new ways of sharing stories and to provide a platform for unheard perspectives. Amplified is a brand new approach for us and came from our commitment to giving young people a voice.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Young people aged 11 and up and their families or just anyone who enjoys a TED-X style event. If you want a new take on what it’s like growing up in Brighton in 2019, this is where you’ll find it.

What will surprise people about this show?

The variety of stories that these young people are presenting will be surprising and enlightening. Shining a spotlight on young people from our community isn’t something we get to do everyday- we think you’ll enjoy being part of that.

Discover more Young Brighton Festival events and Young Literature events or find out more about Little Green Pig