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

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Five Minutes with AKA Trio

The AKA Trio is an international musical summit meeting of three world-renowned virtuosos: Antonio Forcione, Seckou Keita and Adriano Adewale. Coming from three different continents - Europe, Africa and South America - Antonio, Seckou and Adriano grew up in three different landscapes, speaking three different languages, and were formed by three different cultures and musical traditions. All these differences have converged in AKA Trio, and the product is 'Joy', a new album which will release in May 2019.


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

As in the title of the album, the show is about Joy. The Joy three musicians have when doing what they like most: sharing the satisfaction, the freedom and the happiness of being together with others, as well as making music and having fun. It is a sonic, updated photograph of what we were doing when we were little kids, playing football on the streets, playing kites or running around playing in the fields. This is the music we are playing and the feelings we are expressing.

Why should someone come and see your show?

AKA’s music is unique. Although there are three musicians from three different countries and continents, the core of the music is the way we play, how we built our own individual voices and how we can mix it all together. People should come because they will enjoy grooves that they can dance to, melodies and lyrics they can sing along to, and an atmosphere that will make them feel as comfortable as they would in their own living room.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

AKA has always existed, but has only recently been personified. Antonio had already been working with Adriano for many years. Seckou and Antonio met for a concert in London. After that successful concert, there was an opportunity to perform at the Edinburgh festival and Antonio spoke to Adriano and Seckou to see whether the trio could try and make it into a project. Edinburgh was a success and since then AKA has slowly and surely been nurtured through rehearsals, concerts, a bit of cooking great food, and some football! Just imagine three kids, who passionately enjoy playing one of the most beautiful and powerful games on earth together…called music.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

It is difficult to answer, our audience varies from lovers of rock music to fans of classical, jazz, and global music. People from different ages and backgrounds. We play music that we love and we do what we love, we express that joy and the joy of being together. This is something that members of the audience always tell us. They love the joy they see on stage and I guess that people like to feel a connection to it!!

Everybody will enjoy our show, because we are not pretending to be what we are not. We are being ourselves, exposing what we can do and at times risking and pushing ourselves to our limits, daring and laughing at it. We are sharing who we are and people, I guess, love to see honesty everywhere; on stage its’ no different.

What will surprise people about this show?

The approach each of us have to our own instruments is unique. There is innovation in the combination of instruments, as well as the variety of instruments and compositions which are arranged for this kind of line up. People will also be surprised by the simplicity and the depth of the show, and how it unfolds and evolves from one piece to another. 

Tickets for AKA Trio have now sold out!

Five Minutes with: Spymonkey

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

Cooped, a deliciously demented take on the pulp gothic romance – think Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther – is replete with brilliant characters, rip-roaring farce and virtuoso physical comedy. Beautiful, fawn-like Laura du Lay arrives in the heart of darkest Northumberlandshirehampton to work for the reclusive Forbes Murdston, but there are unsettling rumours that surround her new boss and his ominous manservant Klaus. A spooky mansion, a plucky young heroine and a handsome English aristocrat. Add a German butler and a Spanish soap star and you're...COOPED with Spymonkey! Directed by Cal McCrystal, the comedy genius behind One Man Two Guvnors. We have a quick chat with Artistic Directors: Aitor Basauri, Petra Massey & Toby Park...


Why should someone come and see your show?

In the best tradition of British Comedy, from Monty Python to Vic & Bob, Cooped overflows with Spymonkey’s signature clown-esque style: brilliant characters, visual humour, slapstick comedy, naughtiness and nudity. It also features some of the funniest song-and-dance routines you will ever see. The show was written with and directed by Cal McCrystal, the comedy genius behind National Theatre’s One Man Two Guvnors and some of the best-loved sequences of the Paddington films.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Inspirations include Pink Panther, Alfred Hitchcock, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, pulp gothic romance in film and fiction, and director Cal McCrystal’s childhood obsession with the American TV Gothic Soap Opera - Dark Shadows

How will Cooped make someone feel?

Aitor: All shows of Spymonkey are really funny so at the end of any show people leave felling quite good. I like to think that there is a little bit of something for everybody.

Petra: It depends on the person. If they like this kind of thing then they may snort, wet themselves and at times be moved. If they don't then they will sit with a lemon face and say idiots under their breath a lot. And that would be right.

Toby: We hope it will be the funniest thing they have ever seen. At the end of Cooped they will be wrung out like a limp dish cloth with tears of joy streaming down their faces and sides that ache from laughing so much. Only later, in the death despair of night, when they wake from a fitful slumber, drenched in sweat and with their pulses racing, panic rising like nausea in their chests, will they realise how profoundly disturbed they are. And will remain. Life will never be the same again, once you’ve seen it, you cannot un-know the darkness that lives in every one of us: You will never again see Cooped by Spymonkey for the first time.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Fans of comedy, physical theatre, the circus, lovers of grown-up silliness, sophisticated fun-seekers, and anyone looking for an entertaining laugh out loud.

What will surprise people about this show?

Cooped notably contains the most hilariously ill-positioned fig-leaves since Adam and Eve danced a pas-de-deux!

Interview with Luke Jerram: Museum of the Moon

Hanging in the Queens Park during Brighton Festival will be Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon. A model of the moon, seven metres in diameter, it features mind-boggling detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, each centimetre of the internally-lit sphere representing 5km of the moon’s surface.

Whether you plan to explore the surface with your family, enjoy a lunar picnic or serenade a lover, don’t miss your chance to be beneath the moon. We asked artist Luke Jerram about his inspiration for the exhibit:

Where did you get the idea to make an artwork such as Museum of the Moon?

Bristol has the highest tidal range in Europe. There’s a 13 metre gap between high tide and low tide. Cycling to work each day over the river reminded me that it’s the gravitational pull of the Moon that’s making this happen. I had the idea to create the Museum of the Moon some 15 years ago, but it was only until very recently that the data for creating the Moon imagery was made available by NASA.

As a child I always wanted a telescope so I could study the Moon and the night’s sky. Now with my own Moon, I can fly there, study every detail and share this experience with the public. We can explore the far side of the Moon which is never visible from Earth.

The moon has always been an inspiration for artists. What was so inspiring for you about the moon?

From the beginning of human history, the moon has acted as a ‘cultural mirror’ to our beliefs, understanding, and ways of seeing. Over the centuries, the moon has been interpreted as a god and as a planet. It has been used as a timekeeper, calendar, and aid to night time navigation. Throughout history the moon has inspired artists, poets, scientists, writers, and musicians the world over. The ethereal blue light cast by a full moon, the delicate crescent following the setting sun, or the mysterious dark side of the moon has evoked passion and exploration. Different cultures around the world have their own historical, cultural, scientific, and religious relationships to the moon.

Museum of the Moon allows us to observe and contemplate cultural similarities and differences around the world and consider the latest moon science.

During its tour, the Moon has always been shown in public spaces. Why is it important to you to show your artworks in public spaces?

Depending on where the artwork is presented, its meaning and interpretation will shift. Through local research at each location of the artwork, new stories and meanings will be collected and compared from one presentation to the next. The interpretation of the Moon will be completely different if it is presented in a cathedral, warehouse, science museum or arts centre.

Whether the artwork is exhibited in China, the USA, India or Europe, the cultural context and audience affects the public’s interpretation. Every culture has its own relationship to the Moon which varies from one country to another.

Museum of the Moon is made of precise lunar imagery from NASA. Can you explain this choice?

I wanted to make the artwork seem as authentic and realistic as possible to give the public the opportunity to fly to the Moon. For most people, this will be the most intimate, personal encounter they will ever have with the Moon.

What do you expect to provoke among the public with Museum of the Moon?

It’s been wonderful to witness the public’s response to the artwork. Many people spend hours with the Moon exploring its every detail. Some visitors lie down and moon-bathe. In Marseille I arranged an arc of deckchairs beneath the Moon. Within minutes, many of the chairs had been groups into pairs and were occupied by couples holding hands! In Bristol, we had an unexpected group of visitors who arrived in slow motion to the exhibition, dressed as spacemen!

Each venue that hosted the Moon had its own architectural specificities. It also offered different performances beneath the Moon. Therefore, it is always a new story. Why is it important to you to have several performances going on beneath your Moon?

The Museum of the Moon is an installation artwork that combines the architecture of the space, the sculpture of the Moon and a surround sound composition. Each venue and host has the opportunity to curate their own moon-inspired events which reflect their local culture and creativity.

Like many of my artworks like Play Me, I’m Yours and Withdrawn, this work provides opportunities for collaboration and the creative input of others.

Music is also very important for your artwork. How relevant and important is Dan Jones’ composition to your work?

The Museum of the Moon installation is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition. As the artwork tours, new audio compositions will be created and performed by a range of established composers and musicians, so adding to the Museum of the Moon collection.

Find out more about the Mueseum of the Moon or discover FREE things to do at Brighton Festival 

Enjoy the Springtime with our Outdoor Events

Spring is on its way to welcome the 2019 Brighton Festival, and there is no better way to enjoy the sunshine than by checking out our range of dynamic outdoor events!

This year, we have a huge variety of activities, performances, and exhibits hitting the streets of Brighton. Perfect for families and individuals who fancy taking part in the festival whilst breathing in the fresh seaside air, here are a few of the outdoor events you can get involved in.


Silence

Winner of the 2018 Herald Archangel Award for its run at the Edinburgh Festival, we welcome the ‘fiercely physical’ and ‘gasp-worthy’ Silence, performed by the Teatr Biuro Podrozy. According to The Stage, spectators can expect a ‘large scale, high-concept spectacle’ and a harrowing tale of refugees fleeing from an unsettlingly familiar - though fictional - war. To portray the dystopian landscape of the story, ‘pyrotechnics, stilt-walking and abstract physicality’ are used, all set to a ‘soundtrack of yearning cello airs and jaggedly-industrial metal riffs’. The theatrics employed to immerse viewers in the tale are reported to be truly dazzling, ensuring you will be in for an unforgettable, and perhaps enlightening, performance.

‘This is a memorable show and it proves that the perfect theatre is the one which fascinates, refers to the emotions and leaves the audience with the impression that they experienced something important and unique.’ Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 2016. 

...a collage of evocative images that reach back into history but are at their most harrowing when echoing our own conflicted times...Callous violence, valiant beauty and plaintive humanity over-lap and collide as history repeats in a fiercely physical Silence that asks troubling questions. A viscerally memorable experience for those who stand and watch. The Herald, 2018.

Learn more about Silence and how to book your tickets.

Museum of the Moon

Whether you are an aspiring astronaut, lunar enthusiast, or just someone who appreciates the moon for its aesthetic beauty, this exhibit is guaranteed to leave you awed. Inspired by the unusually high tidal range in Bristol where he lives, artist Luke Jerram created a replica of the moon seven metres in diameter, with the intention of giving the public ‘the opportunity to fly to the moon’.

‘As a child I always wanted a telescope so I could study the Moon and the night’s sky. Now with my own Moon, I can fly there, study every detail and share this experience with the public. We can explore the far side of the Moon which is never visible from Earth.’ Luke Jerram, 2018.

Moon with a band

For three days at the Brighton Festival, this entirely free spectacle will be located above Queens Park for everyone to come and observe. How you interact with the moon is entirely up to you – some may choose to picnic on the grass beneath its glow, others might take advantage of its beauty as a backdrop for a serenade, or you may simply want to come along for the chance to see the moon as you have never had the chance to, and never will again.

Read our interview with artist Luke Jerram!

Discover more about Museum of the Moon, including dates and further information.

Our Place

The Brighton Festival guest director of 2017, Kate Tempest, pioneered the outreach programme Your Place – an innovative way of bringing the festival to Brighton’s more rural communities. Over two years the participants of the programme in Hangleton and Whitehawk have adopted the project; this year, it is rebranding to Our Place. The diverse array of musical performances, theatre shows, and workshops within Our Place 2019 are sure to be the most exciting yet!

Our Place will be taking place over two weekends in May, across two different sites. The full line up is yet to be finalised, but here are some of the pre-announced events:

My House by Apocalyptic Circus is a circus theatre experience for young children and their families. Look through the doors and windows of this magical, quirky structure and explore the habits and routines of this unusual home. 

Upswing’s Catch Me, a playful and dynamic pop-up style performance and installation, blending dance and acrobatics.

Learn more information about Our Place and how to get involved!

Without Walls

This year, Brighton Festival are keen to promote accessibility for everyone interested in participating. On Saturday, May 11, we present a full day of completely free events ranging from dance to theatre and beyond. For an inclusive and inexpensive culture immersion, we urge you to check out some of the acts, such as:

Scalped by Initiative.dkf - A dance-theatre exploration of fashion, 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.

On Edge by Justice in Motion - 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!

See the full list of Without Walls events!

These are just a selection of the many outdoor events happening throughout the Brighton Festival in May 2019. To explore more of the different shows, musical performances, interactive workshops and many other cultural events happening in the open air, take a look at our Outdoor Events page!

Onjali Q. Raúf Introduces Young City Reads

On World Book Day Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC invite schools to register for Young City Reads ‘big read’!


To mark World Book Day (7 March) we’re inviting schools to register for the ‘big read’ with Onjali Q. Raúf’s The Boy at the Back of the Class.

The book follows the story of Ahmet, a young Syrian refugee. This beautiful tale of empathy and compassion introduces us to a small group of determined nine-year-olds, who go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure their new classmate has a sense of belonging.

Primary schools across Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond can now register online here and take part in getting children reading and talking about this inspirational story. Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which include bite-size literacy resources and fun activities. On Wed 22 May Brighton Festival is delighted to welcome Onjali Q. Raúf at Brighton Dome Concert Hall with a special live event for schools, tickets can be booked online here.

Watch our interview with this year’s Young City Reads author Onjali Q. Raúf

Collected Works CIC launched Young City Reads with Brighton & Hove Libraries and Crisis Classroom on World Book Day with a fantastic workshop for children from City Academy Whitehawk and St John the Baptist’s Primary School. Crisis Classroom works directly with refugees, asylum seekers and the homeless in the UK, hosting engaging workshops that not only provide a safe environment, but help build communities and friendships through creativity.

Young City Reads Director, Sarah Hutchings commented:

‘Crisis Classroom believe in empowerment through education, for all refugees. They work tirelessly to inspire children and adults to become more involved in their local communities to bring about greater understanding of the refugee crisis and to promote global change. We are delighted to be working with them during this year’s Young City Reads 2019.’

Check out our Young Literature and Young Brighton Festival programme.

From Your Place to Our Place

Back in 2017, Brighton Festival Guest Director Kate Tempest was inspired to initiate Your Place, a project with the aim of taking the Festival out to the communities of Brighton & Hove who might not be able to participate in cultural and artistic events. For Brighton Festival 2019, Your Place will transition to Our Place - a nation-funded initiative that provides free or subsidised tickets for residents to attend Festival events.


Over the last two years, a collaboration has formed between the Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and a dedicated team of volunteers who formed steering groups across Hangleton and East Brighton. Helped along by community development charities Hangleton & Knoll Project and Due East, the passion and enthusiasm amongst the communities has motivated them to adopt the project and re-brand it as Our Place.

Rhianydd from Hangleton Our Place steering group spoke about how families can get involved:

'The best way I can describe the benefits is to talk about the experiences of two groups I’m involved with. The first is Pebbles, a group for parents and carers of children with severe disabilities. In 2017, we worked with the Festival to put on a show especially for the children – we’ve never had the chance to do that before and it was a massive success.

The other group, Hangleton Fun for Families - a support group for families on low income – were able to take a group of 50 to see the No Fit State circus thanks to the Pay It Forward ticket scheme. Everyone had the time of their lives and I was able to take my son who has severe autism and learning difficulties, he was completely relaxed throughout the show and for those who know him, that’s not often the case! It really energised the group and gave them a taste for doing so much more.'


Over in East Brighton, Chris described how the partnership has inspired Whitehawk residents to get involved:

'In the first year I remember Kate Tempest mentioned how much she was looking forward to coming out to perform in Whitehawk and Hangleton. That had an amazing effect on us, because we so rarely hear the names of our communities in such a positive way. Last year, through the Pay It Forward scheme, a group of us went to see Adam, the story of a young person transitioning in Egypt. It wasn’t the sort of show I would normally go to but it was the most moving thing I have ever seen.'

Nicole Monney, from the community development charity Hangleton & Knoll Project, gives a hint of what we can expect to see at Our Place this May:

'This year the steering groups have been working on even bigger programmes in each area. We’re working with more artists, with schools, community groups, GP practices, health centres, libraries, and so many others. The arts do so much for wellbeing and happiness and are giving a real sense of community in Hangleton and Whitehawk.'

Our Place is a free event and takes place over two weekends during the Festival: 

Saturday 18th May at Manor Gym, Whitehawk 

Saturday 25th May at Hangleton Community Centre

The full programme will be announced soon; in the meantime, look out for these exciting outdoor events as part of the line-up:

My House by Apocalyptic Circus is a circus theatre experience for young children and their families. Look through the doors and windows of this magical, quirky structure and explore the habits and routines of this unusual home. Supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Just So Festival.

Upswing’s Catch Me, a playful and dynamic pop-up style performance and installation, blending dance and acrobatics.

Supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Thanks to Our Place supporters – University of Sussex, The Chalk Cliff Trust and Higgidy. 


Five Minutes with: Seeta Patel

Not Today’s Yesterday is an international collaboration between UK award-winning Bharatanatyam artist Seeta Patel and Australian choreographer Lina Limosani. This work blends classical Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) and contemporary dance in a striking, intelligent and engaging evisceration of ‘pretty’ and ‘suitable’ historical stories. It is a one-woman show which subversively co-opts whitewashing against itself. 

We have a quick chat with Seeta Patel to find out more about the show... 

Is your event touring, a premiere, or a one-off for the Brighton Festival?

It had a run at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2017, then a UK tour, a show in Italy and India and will continue to tour in Autumn 2019.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s seductive in its storytelling and visually layered, with and evocative sound design. But I can only touch the tip of the iceberg with words. This is an unusual show sitting between dance and theatre that needs to be seen. In the words of a writer from the ‘twobrowngirls’ publication who saw the work in its early days:

“I’d seen the work in progress around a year ago and it was haunting, hypnotic and extremely clever in its execution. Through the medium of a fairy-tale story, it draws people in with eerie familiarity, but as with any fairy-tale there are always dark undertones. Parts are grotesque and exaggerated with caricatures of colonial supremacy, but other parts are gentle and vulnerable as Seeta gazes wide-eyed into the depths of what was.”


Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The inspiration stems from our concerns that revisionist and airbrushed histories have become a central issue of tension throughout the world, particularly in Western democracies. Britain and Australia, amongst others, have sordid histories and relationships with indigenous and migrant communities. Skewed histories fuel a distorted sense of nationalism. This work aims to open up conversation through a clever appropriation of whitewashed histories.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

From children to the elderly and anyone that likes hearing stories and wants to be taken on a journey. This work is relatable to those versed as well as new to dance. The show is a great way into the medium of dance through nuanced storytelling and visuals. It is attractive to those interested in relevant political questions (without being bashed over the head with politics). It is an emotional and visual way into a complex set of political questions, which can then be chewed over in our special post-show discussion with me and invited guests.

What will surprise people about this show?

There is some very impactful imagery in the work and lots and lots of small details to be tantalised by. And the end is an exquisite hyperbole – operatic even.

Buy tickets to Not Today's Yesterday or check out our dance programme.


Mali in Bloom: Brighton Festival’s branding for 2019

Each year, we’re always excited to reveal the artwork for the Festival and this year has seen a particularly exciting creative collaboration between design agency Johnson Banks and illustrator Simon Prades.

Johnson Banks commissioned freelance illustrator Simon Prades to create a hand drawn illustration which was digitally composed to bring Rokia’s image to life. The campaign imagery uses the Brighton Festival ‘F’ identity enveloped within the silhouette, filled with layers of indigenous African hibiscus flowers.

Michael Johnson, Creative Director of Johnson Banks told us how the idea came about:

“From the very first briefing meetings, we were keen to use Rokia’s powerful profile in the designs to clearly mark it as her festival. Simon’s illustration forms a striking silhouette that is a celebration of growth, movement and the ‘coming together’ that the Festival represents.”


Johnson explains that the branding is deliberately broad --- “We want people to have a sense of the breadth of the Festival, the life and spirit that Rokia brings to her work and her projects and the can-do positivity that she stands for.”

Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director, Malian musician Rokia Traoré explores the themes of identity, movement and humanity particularly in African culture and histories. Using her own image to represent the Festival, Rokia’s aim is to inspire and empower individuals and communities to meet, listen and pass on stories to the next generation.

The London-based creative agency designed our distinctive Festival identity in 2013. For the last six years since it’s been the focal point for our branding, with each guest director, from writer Michael Rosen in 2013 to artist David Shrigley in 2018, given an individual design.

Johnson added: “For local Brighton residents, the wider region and nationally, the branding helps signify that the Festival is approaching and what artists they can expect to see in May.”

Look out for the design appearing across Brighton & Hove, from the Festival brochure to billboard posters, t-shirts and bags.

Find out more about Johnson Banks' Brighton Festival branding here

Welcome to Brighton Festival 2019: An introduction from Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2019, Malian musician Rokia Traoré, shares her story and the inspiration behind this year’s Festival. Rokia introduces us to her home city of Bamako and to some of the Malian artists appearing in Brighton for the first time. 


Video by Echo Video

Brighton Festival Introduction

Catch a glimpse of just some of the artists and performers appearing at Brighton Festival 2019. This May, we welcome artists from around the world and right next door to tell their stories. Join us for three weeks of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature and spoken word across Brighton & Hove and Sussex. Meet. Listen. Pass It On. 


Video by Echo Video

Short film reveals Eye to Eye project coming to life

Back in September we put a call out for mothers and their children, women and young people to take part in a new Brighton Festival commission. Created by theatre-maker Sheila Hill, in partnership with Glyndebourne, a chorus of 80 local singers has now been recruited, with more auditions to come in January, to bring the total to 100 voices!

This short film by Hugo Glendinning was made at the launch weekend and gives an insight into Sheila’s inspiration for the piece which explores the two parallel stories of motherhood and childhood. Chorus Master Jo Tomlinson and composer Howard Skempton also discuss how they’ve approached the project musically.


Calling all artists to take part in Your Place at Brighton Festival 2019

Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free entertainment in Hangleton and Knoll and East Brighton, in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups – returns next May 2019. Artists and performers are invited to submit creative ideas for a community wide celebration of arts and culture in each area. 


Over the last two years, Your Place has surpassed all expectations, reaching over 2,000 members of the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A steering group of local residents in each location programme art made by, with and for people living in the area.  

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre explains more:

'We’re looking for small scale performances and workshops by professional artists who can surprise, entertain and bring people together. Crucially, we’re interested in work that engages audiences as active participants and co-creators in some way.'

Valerie Foucher, Hangleton Community Centre Manager and a member of the Steering Group added:

'We are open to ideas for creative activities that could take place inside or outside both venues. We want to create a buzz so that if someone is waiting to see a show in the main hall they might be able to listen to a musician in the community café or take part in some dance outside in the park.'

For Brighton Festival 2019, award-winning Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is the Guest Director and will be supporting and appearing with the communities in Your Place 2019. People from the local area will have the opportunity to showcase their creative projects and stage fun, pop up activities for children, families and young people throughout the Festival taking place from 4–26 May 2019. Brighton People’s Theatre will have an artist in residence co-creating with local people and Brighton Festival will programme artists from the Festival to perform in Hangleton and East Brighton.

Brighton Festival’s Guest Directors have played an integral role in the project, appearing at events and helping programme Festival artists. The inaugural Your Place was initiated by recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest in 2017 saying:

'It was such an exciting time for everyone, for the people that run the Festival to meet the community steering groups. Everyone was blown away by how much enthusiasm and excitement there was.'

Your Place 2018 followed with a range of events including a talk by visual artist and Guest Director David Shrigley; Phoenix artist in residence Kiki Stickl’s craft making activities; Dundu & Worldbeaters puppet procession and a ‘Belonging’ bandstand designed by award-winning artist Morag Myerscough in collaboration with local residents.

Beth Burgess, Executive Producer, Brighton Festival said:

'We are so excited to be working with the steering groups and Brighton People’s Theatre for the third year of Your Place. Everyone who participates, performs or visits has something unique to contribute to the arts. Let’s make Your Place 2019 the biggest and best one yet!'

Your Place 2019 will take place in locations in East Brighton on 18 May 2019 and Hangleton on 25 May 2019.

The deadline for applications is 9am, Friday 30 November 2018. We welcome applications from BAME and disabled artists. For further information on how to apply.


Brighton Festival reveals 2019 Children's Parade theme

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2019 Children’s Parade, which will take place on Sat 4 May, is Folk Tales from around the world.

Taking over the streets of Brighton will be folk tales from Africa, Europe, the Arctic, the Americas, Asia and Oceania, including the likes of Danish folk tale Fat Cat, How the Zebra Got His Stripes (Namibia), The Little MermaidThe Fox in the Moon (Peru) and Alaskan tale The Salmon Princess.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and sponsored by the University of Brighton for the second year, the annual Children’s Parade will take place on Saturday 4 May 2019 to officially launch the Festival. The largest of its kind in Europe, the free event takes place in central Brighton and has delighted participants and spectators for nearly 30 years. With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as paintings, letters of the alphabet, woodland creatures and street names. 

Schools from across the region will be allocated a folk tale from a selection, chosen to reflect the diversity of artists taking part in the Festival. The stories will be studied and explored by teachers and pupils before being presented in costume, music and carnival structures by around 5,000 school children and community groups.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children & Family programmer explains what folk tales are:

'Folk tales are typically stories that are passed down from generation to generation and are often linked to childhood memories, when parents or grandparents would tell them at bedtime. There are so many fascinating folk tales to explore, from the Anansi tales of West Africa to European tales by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. We can’t wait to see the wildly imaginative creations that participating schools and community groups will present.'

This year, the theme is inspired by Brighton Festival Guest Director, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré. With her work rooted in the Malian musical tradition, Traoré will present the UK premiere of Dream Mandé Djata, a musical monologue based on West African oral history storytelling. The Parade will be led by Rokia alongside schools representing folk tales originating from West Africa.

We had a quick chat with Brighton and Hove’s teachers to find out their thoughts on this year’s theme:

Mr Annaly, Deputy Head of St Lukes Primary School in Hanover said:

'I think this year's theme is lovely. Our Year 2 class are learning about Ghana so I've selected the West African tale ‘Anansi and the Talking Melon’ by Eric A. Kimmel. It will be really interesting to link what we’re teaching the children in class with the Parade.'

Faye Bridgwater, parent at St Lukes Primary School in Hanover:

'I'm an artist and a parent to two children at the school and I've loved getting involved with the Parade for the last 3 years. The parents all come together to help make and design the costumes, everyone loves it! When you see the children taking part it's a really emotional experience.'

Teacher at St. Mark’s Primary School chose Aesop’s Fables:

'We're really excited to discuss with the children how we're going to execute it this year! Aesop’s Fables are very relatable for children as the stories discuss morality. We teach them a lot about morals in class so it's a great way of linking what they learn day-to-day at school or at home, with the Children's Parade.'

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spend months working behind the scenes to create the Children’s Parade. Artists collaborate with teachers to make magnificent effigies, choreograph dance routines and compose parade chants, with free masterclasses to develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.

'Same Sky is excited to be working again with 70 local schools to create next year’s Brighton Festival Children's Parade. The theme of folk stories is a rich and colourful seam for us to mine and we think the schools will find something unique and wonderful to celebrate with their students. Same Sky is celebrating its 30th anniversary and we’re dedicated to creating new stories with communities. What better way to share the world’s stories here in Brighton and Hove.'

Sponsors of the Children's Parade for the second year running are University of Brighton, Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor tells us why:

'The Children’s Parade is a real high point of the year in the City and it is always a great way to start the Brighton Festival. I am absolutely delighted that the University of Brighton will once again be sponsoring this wonderful and joyous event that does so much to bring the whole community together and is enjoyed by everyone, young and old.'


Brighton Festival Reveals Young City Reads Author and Title 2019

Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC are delighted to reveal that Onjali Q. Raúf’s The Boy at the Back of the Class has been chosen as the 2019 ‘big read’ for children across Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond.

The start of the ‘big read’ is on World Book Day, 7 March 2019. At Brighton Festival on 22 May 2019, the Young City Reads live event takes place at Brighton Dome featuring author, Onjali Q. 

The Boy at the Back of the Class (which has been long listed for the Blue Peter Book Awards and nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019) is the story of new boy Ahmet, a refugee from Syria. It is told from the point of view of one of his classmates who goes to great lengths to make friends and give Ahmet a sense of belonging. The unexpected adventure that follows strikes the perfect balance between humour and poignancy, topped off with a terrific twist. The result is an unforgettable story that will find a home in the heart of every child. Onjali Q. Raúf portrays the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child in a way that’s accessible, warm and funny. It’s a story about friendship and how naturally children celebrate, rather than fear, all our differences.

Onjali Q. Raúf is Founder and CEO of Making Herstory -  a human rights organisation working with other movements to end the abuse, trafficking and enslavement of women and girls in the UK and beyond.

Author of The Boy at the Back of the Class Onjali Q. Raúf says:

‘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.'

Sarah Hutchings, Director of Collected Works CIC added:

'Onjali Q. Raúf’s book has all the qualities that we look for – empathy, kindness, adventure and humour. In 2018, nearly 2,000 children took part in the project with 1,438 coming to the final event at Brighton Festival. I know that our Young City Readers will love getting to know Ahmet and his friends.'

Primary school teachers and classes are invited to register online (for free) and agree to read The Boy At The Back of the Class together in class from March to May 2019. The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads Website. 

Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size literacy resources and fun activities to complete.

INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Regarded as one of Africa’s most inventive musicians, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is known for the variety and range of her practice - from her theatre work with Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars to her musical collaborations with Damon Albarn and the Kronos Quartet. We talked to her about being named eleventh Guest Director for Brighton Festival

When you were first approached to be Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2019 what was it that prompted you to say yes?

I knew Brighton Festival and how well organised it is and the possibility of being part of the team and exchanging ideas about which artists will be performing and why is an interesting experience for me. It is an opportunity to take the time to look at and to think about other artists’ work. These are circumstances you cannot usually create when you are working as an artist - even when you make collaborations, but programming a festival is another experience - you do it from a different angle. I’m excited, curious and enthusiastic about the journey, and I want to see what it will bring.

What can arts festivals, like Brighton Festival, bring to communities?

In Brighton, as with any event like this, the place it happens in is very important and the people occupying this space are very important. What such a festival can bring to its audience is more knowledge about the rest of the world - it’s a way to travel without leaving Brighton and to learn something that you wouldn’t be able to by yourself.

Do you have any aims with Guest Directing this year’s Brighton Festival, and any central themes in mind?

I aim to learn about the way this Festival exists, thanks to the work and the personalities of all the people that make it happen - that’s very important. Being a Guest Director means you are part of a team for a while, so it’s important to know your collaborators and their work and how they see things. I used to programme some things, but there are lots of things to learn from the city and the audience and the Festival itself and it’s going to be very exciting and rich months spent together.

You have described your musical influences as ranging from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, to Wagner, Serge Gainsbourg, and the Rolling Stones. How did you develop such broad interests?

My father was a musician and a teacher before becoming a diplomat and his legacy across various art forms and disciplines has had a huge impact on me. My musical and artistic education began with him - I learnt very much with my father about all kinds of things, but not so many of each thing. He grew up in Africa, he lived there, and he had very good knowledge of music in general – he knew a little bit about a lot of things. So I would discover everything with him, from African music to European classical music. Later, meeting people myself and through my work, I could get more experience and discover more about specific kinds of music. Each project is a source of instruction, you learn more and more about possibilities in specific kinds of music - or in artistic skill - so I continue learning and that’s a pleasure.

As the daughter of a diplomat, you travelled a lot growing up and speak (and sing in) several different languages. How has that cross-cultural background affected you and your music? Where do you see home now?

Home is certainly Mali. It has always been my base. When I finished High School I stopped making music and went to University in Brussels (to study Anthropology, Journalism and Music), but then I realised something was missing and that my musical skill was something that I wanted to take advantage of. This was the first time I had disagreed with my father, who felt Africa needed more intellectuals than musicians. He had given up music to provide me with access to this different kind of life. I realised that the life and career that I wanted was only possible in Mali.

Having been exposed to Europe from a young age I have never seen it as ‘superior’, I have always just seen it as an equal place to Mali. I had enough context to understand the way in which Africa is depicted to the world. The value of life should not need to be tied to money. In Africa people may have less money but there is value in finding joy in the everyday. There is a different philosophy, a different way of seeing life in Africa. I want my children to grow up knowing Africa, it’s important that they can decide on who they want to be, understand what it is to be an African person. I am trying to empower young African people to have the confidence to know that they could make it in Africa without travelling to Europe. I felt what I needed to learn was in Mali not in Europe.

For me - making albums, touring etc. alone is not fulfilling – I want my journey to be a shared experience. I see myself as proof that you can ‘make it’ in Africa and feel that it’s my responsibility to share that with young people. Even when living in Europe I have never stopped travelling to Mali.


In 2009 you set up the Foundation Passerelle in support of emerging artists amidst the social crises in Mali. Can you tell us about the project and why it is important to you?

When I started my career, there was no structure for people who wanted to have a career in music in Mali so I wanted to create a way to support people to get involved in the arts. There is no real market there and no real connection with the international art and culture economy. As an artist, I want to try to understand and also try to find solutions, and I think one of the solutions is to have private projects doing what the government doesn’t see the necessity to do because they have so many emergencies to take care of in Africa. For them, when you talk about culture, it’s not something serious. They are trying to find solutions to providing enough food, to providing good health, to providing education so it’s difficult to get them understanding that culture is important - that without culture, there is an important part of education you miss. So I thought my contribution can be a foundation which will find some funding to finance specific projects in Mali and support some venues, some artists, and some promoters who are trying to do things inside art and culture.

Then later, when we started in 2009, I quickly understood that artistic and cultural projects don’t make sense if there are not public spaces for audiences to come and share something and understand and think together. So we started building: buying pieces of land, and building spaces. Now we have a small theatre where we’ve been programming music and different kinds of events during the last ten months, and we have a dance studio for dance lessons and where we also can present some dance projects. We have apartments we are building to be able to have artists in residence and we are trying to find also ideas to make money and to use this money in the construction and realisation of artistic and cultural projects. This is what the Foundation Passerelle is and what we continue trying to be.

Brighton Festival 2019 runs 4 - 26 May 2019
Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 13 February 2019.

5 facts about Rokia Traoré

She knows the theatre world well

As well as being a singer, songwriter and guitarist, Rokia has also been involved in many theatre performances, most notably in Desdemona, a collaboration with Nobel-prize winner Toni Morrison and US director Peter Sellars.

She’s performed alongside the likes of Paul McCartney

In 2012, Rokia joined the Africa Express tour in the UK and was joined on stage by Sir Paul McCartney. She also sang in duet with Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz).

She’s an activist and humanitarian

Rokia was appointed Ambassador of Goodwill for the West and Central Africa region by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2015. In Bamako, Mali (where she grew up - she was born in 1974 in the suburbs of the capital) Rokia has set up Fondation Passerelle, a foundation to promote music and the performing arts amidst the social crises in Mali

She’s been a judge at Cannes

Rokia was a member of the jury of the 68th Cannes International Film Festival in 2015.

She has a varied roster of collaborators

Her 2016 album Né So (Home) features the unmistakeable vocals of Devendra Banhart, and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) plays bass and mandolin. This album and 2013’s Beautiful Africa were produced by John Parish (Eels, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman.) 

Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director Revealed

Award-winning Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré named as the eleventh Brighton Festival Guest Director

Regarded as one of Africa’s most inventive musicians, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is known for the variety and range of her practice. With her work rooted in the Malian musical tradition yet defying the confines of a single culture, Rokia Traoré’s unique sound and liberating style have led her to be described as ‘one of the world's great synthesisers, combining the rhythms and traditions of diverse cultures from Africa and Europe into a complex sound that only she could create’. (Pitchfork)

Born in Mali to a diplomat father, Rokia had a nomadic upbringing that exposed her to a wide variety of international musical influences from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, to Wagner, Serge Gainsbourg, and the Rolling Stones. A protégé of the legendary guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Rokia’s breakthrough came in 1997 when she was hailed as the ‘African Revelation’ by Radio France Internationale.

Frequently collaborating with world-renowned artists such as Damon Albarn, Kronos Quartet and Devendra Banhart, Rokia’s diverse output has also included a number of theatre performances, most notably the acclaimed Desdemona by Toni Morrison, a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Othello directed by Peter Sellars. A dedicated humanitarian, in 2009 she set up the Foundation Passerelle in support of emerging artists amidst the social crises in Mali.

On her appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director Rokia Traoré says:

“I knew Brighton Festival and how well organised it is and being part of the team and exchanging ideas about which artists will be performing and why is an interesting experience for me. It is an opportunity to take the time to look at and to think about other artists’ work. These are circumstances you cannot usually create when you are working as an artist, but programming a festival is another experience - you do it from a different angle.”

“I’m excited, curious and enthusiastic about the journey. There are lots of things to learn from the city and the audience and the Festival itself and it’s going to be a very exciting and rich few months spent together.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says:

“We are delighted to announce Rokia Traoré as our Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2019. She is a remarkable artist who deserves to be recognised for the great breadth and range of her output – from her theatre work with Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars to her musical collaborations with Damon Albarn and the Kronos Quartet. She also has a great preparedness to think beyond her personal practice and engage with and comment upon the world around her – qualities which ideally suit her to the role of Guest Director. I look forward to the engaging, stimulating and eclectic Festival which I have no doubt she will inspire.”

Alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies, Brighton Festival 2019 will feature the UK premiere of Rokia Traoré’s theatrical and musical project Dream Mandé Djata - a musical monologue structured around the griot tradition of oral history storytelling, interwoven with classical songs of the Mandingo epic history. The Festival programme will also feature appearances from some of Rokia’s favourite Malian artists and musicians including a selection of those backed by the Foundation Passerelle.

Programme highlights revealed today include Brighton Festival Commission and world premiere of a new choral work about motherhood and childhood created by theatre-maker Sheila Hill, Eye to Eye, featuring an intergenerational chorus of women and children recruited by Glyndebourne and featuring Glyndebourne Youth Opera.


Also announced today is new commission, True Copy, based on the story of legendary Dutch painter and art forger Geert Jan Jansen by BERLIN, the international theatre company behind former Brighton Festival events Perhaps All the Dragons (2014), Land’s End (2012), and Zvizdal (2016).


This year’s Festival will also see the launch of an extended Children and Young People’s programming strand that will include new partnerships and participatory activities in the run-up to the Festival. These will join returning projects such as the 26 Letters Young People’s Literature events, Adopt an Author and Young City Reads (presented in partnership with Collected Works), the Children’s Parade (produced in partnership with Same Sky), Without Walls, Peacock Poetry Prize, Guest Director’s Guests, and Your Place - free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups.

Read an exclusive interview with our 2019 Guest Director

Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 13 February 2019. 

Singers sought for new choral work as part of Brighton Festival 2019

Brighton Festival and Glyndebourne are bringing together an intergenerational chorus of women and children for a new choral work in Brighton Festival 2019.

The piece will will focus on the nature of motherhood and childhood, and will be conducted by Sian Edwards. We are looking for singers to bring this piece to life and we will be auditioning in the following age brackets:

Glyndebourne Youth Opera 1 (aged 9-13)

Adult female voices (aged 21 or over)

Family groups are encouraged to apply as this work is an exploration of the relationship between mothers (of any age) and their children and grandchildren.

How to Take Part

Auditions will take place on Sunday 30 September at Glyndebourne. You will audition in small groups and are not expected to prepare any material in advance, although you will be asked to sing briefly on your own at some point during the audition.

Dates and Times

If you are successful you will be expected to attend all rehearsals and performances.

Sun 30 Sep: 10:00 – 16:00 Auditions – Glyndebourne

Sat 27 Oct: 10:00 – 16:00 Project Launch Weekend TBC

Sun 28 Oct: 10:00 – 16:00 Project Launch Weekend TBC

Rehearsals: March – May – download a full project schedule below

Performance: May (as part of Brighton Festival)

Head to www.glyndebourne.com/education/take-part/eye-to-eye/ to download a project schedule and sign up.

Image credit: James Bellorini

Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley to design giant snail sculpture for Martlets' public art trail

Hot on the heels of his turn as Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2018, Turner Prize nominated artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley will be designing a giant snail sculpture for Snailspace, a unique public art event in aid of Martlets Hospice.

Run by the team responsible for the immensely popular Snowdogs campaign which raised over £310,000 for the charity, the trail of 50 giant snail sculptures will take place across the streets of Brighton & Hove from 15 Sept to 18 November 2018. Shrigley’s contribution, sponsored by leading local printers One Digital, will be sited outside the Grade 1 listed Brighton Dome on Church street.

Best known for his dark and funny drawings that comment on the absurdity of modern society, David Shrigley was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013. Last year, he created Really Good - a seven-metre-high bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up - for Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.  

As the first locally-based Guest Director of Brighton Festival, David Shrigley was involved in more events than ever across the programme from his exhibition Life Model II at Fabrica, which invited everyone to take part in a life drawing class with a difference, to the world premiere of alt/pop rock musical Problem in Brighton at The Old Market.

On his involvement in the project David Shrigley says:

“I’m very happy to participate in this project and to be able to help the wonderful work of the Martlets hospice.”

The trail of 50 giant snail sculptures, each uniquely decorated by an artist, will be on show for nine weeks, encouraging locals to be tourists in their own city and generating a giant snail sized ‘feel-good’ factor. The giant gastropods will be joined by a host of smaller snails as part of the Junior Snailway. More than 50 nurseries, schools and youth groups will decorate their own snails, which will be displayed in accessible locations across the city. At the end of the trail there will be a celebratory Farewell Event; a chance to see the snail sculptures together. Finally, the giant gastropods will be auctioned to raise money for Martlets and its life-changing care.

Lynn Brazier from One Digital says: “Our connection with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival extends many years and we have happily supported the Festival and will continue to do so. To have the opportunity to sponsor the snail, designed by David Shrigley and to be positioned at the beautiful Brighton Dome, was most welcome and a very easy decision to make. Above all we are very pleased to be involved with helping raise money for Martlets Hospice and support the amazing work they do. Let’s hope we beat last years’ fundraiser – we do love a challenge!”

Imelda Glackin, CEO Martlets Hospice says: “We’re delighted that David Shrigley is designing a snail for our Snailspace public art event and it is highly fitting that it will be displayed at Brighton Dome, in the year that he was Guest Director of the Brighton Festival. We’d like to thank One Digital for sponsoring this snail and supporting our campaign which will ultimately help fund our life-changing care.”

Discover more about Snailspace and Martlets Hospice.

Brighton Festival 2018 commission nominated for acclaimed theatre award

Creation (Pictures for Dorian) - a Brighton Festival 2018 highlight performed by the British/German arts collective Gob Squad - has been nominated for an Offies award. 

After receiving its UK premiere at Brighton Festival 2018, the show ran at Southbank Centre as part of LIFT festival, resulting in a nomination for the TBC Award (for productions that defy traditional categories) in The Off West End Theatre Awards.

The meditative work Creation (Pictures for Dorian) - inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray - saw Gob Squad joined by six volunteer performers: three under the age of 22 and three over 60. The middle-aged members of Gob Squad interact onstage with the six performers, questioning the nature of beauty and asking why we so crave the eye of the beholder.

The show garnered a clutch of positive reviews during its Brighton Festival run, with Lynn Gardner writing in The Guardian that the piece is a ‘woozily beautiful meditation on intention, perception, what we see and what remains invisible’. Bella Todd meanwhile wrote in The Stage that the show is ‘sly yet sumptuous, playfully experimental yet heady and deeply human’.

The Offies are hosted by OffWestEnd.com, a website which ‘exists to celebrate the full spectrum of Off West End theatres and to draw increasing numbers of the general public into the heady darkness and dangerous passion of these little powerhouses'.

Gob Squad - Credit Carys Lavin
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: 'Gob Squad’s Creation was one of this year’s Brighton Festival highlights so it is extremely pleasing to have it recognised in this way'.

Creation (Pictures for Dorian) was co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, LIFT and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, and will be touring internationally from 29th August. Future performance date can be found via Gob Squad’s website.

Image credits: Carys Lavin

Adopt an Author scheme ends on a cake-filled high as Brighton Festival draws to a close

Adopt an Author, the exciting school’s initiative that links local classes with children’s authors, ended its 2018 scheme with an annual 'Meet Your Author' Festival party. With cake, pizza and pet beetles, it was a fun-filled finale to the 15th year of the Adopt an Author project.

This year, 110 children took part from four classes at four different schools - Stanford Juniors, Mile Oak Primary, Benfield Primary and Carden Primary – and four authors, including two  returning adoptees, Rob Lloyd Jones and Alex Milway. For eight weeks, classes adopted an author, writing them weekly emails and completing tasks set by them while they read one for their books, with the project culminating in the ‘Meet your author’ finales full of fun activities for both authors and adoptive classes.

Rose Muddle author Imogen White took Team Carden on a historical journey around Brighton and Hove before dress-up, performance and a quiz, whilst Benfield Primary were treated to a live drawing session of the loveable Pigsticks and Harold with their brilliant author Alex Milway. Stanford Juniors welcomed Beetle Boy author M. G. Leonard and her very special insect guests and Mile Oak were taken on a mysterious journey with Wild Boy author Rob Lloyd Jones.

Imogen White, Adopted Author for Carden Primary School says: "The Adopt an Author project has been my most rewarding author experience to date. Having the opportunity to really get to know a class of mixed abilities, and watch their writing skills progress throughout each task, has been simply amazing. It really is such a special project, one that reaches children in the community that might otherwise miss out. It has been a total privileged to take part”

Alex Milway, Adopted Author for Benfield Primary School says: “Adopt an Author is always so enjoyable to be a part of. Setting tasks for children and receiving feedback from the schools and teachers involved makes you feel that you are making a difference, no matter how small. And most importantly, for what could be quite a complicated scheme, everything always runs so smoothly. There really is nothing like it."

And it wasn’t just the Authors who enjoyed their time on the scheme! A Year 5 participant said: "I loved Adopt an Author because I loved doing the tasks each week" whilst another from Year 2 told their author “You have meant so much to me. You are the best author in the entire world." Many of the participants expressed their new-found excitement in reading; “I can't wait to read the next book, they're really hooking me in!", and a want to start reading and writing more often.

Adopt an Author is a Brighton Festival initiative that began in 2003, designed to develop relationships between classes of students and children’s authors with the aim to promote literacy, and encourage writing. Adopt an Author is produced and delivered by Collected Works CIC, an award-winning reader development organisation based in Brighton. The organisation specialises in delivering innovative projects, events and activities based around shared reading. Its largest projects are City Reads and Young City Reads which it delivers annually, alongside Adopt An Author. 

The project has been kindly supported by the Mrs A Lacy-Tate Trust and The Lynn Foundation.

David Shrigley on Brighton Festival 2018

We chatted to David Shrigley about his experience guest directing this year's Brighton Festival. Here's what he thought...


When we asked what had prompted you to say yes to being Guest Director, you said that you thought it would be fun. How have you found the experience of guest directing Brighton Festival?

The experience of guest directing the Brighton Festival has been fun! I was hoping it would be fun, and it has been fun. I think the most fun thing has been meeting people - people who are performing, people involved in programming, people who are collaborating with me, people visiting the Festival. It’s been a really social experience, and a really positive one.

I feel really embraced by the arts community In Brighton, but I also feel that I in turn have embraced the arts community back. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the Festival in such a big way, and to have met so many people. I feel very lucky.

What have been your highlights?

The Festival is always a voyage of discovery for me. My favourite discovery was Attractor which was an Australian based dance company with Indonesian musicians which was just really, really unusual and crazy, it was very much my kind of thing. That was definitely my highlight. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but that’s the one I’ll remember and definitely would go see again.

Bridget Christie was fantastic, I’m kind of amazed at her energy and that she can be so consistently funny and self-deprecating. She’s a tour du force, a force of nature, a force of comedy! My other highlights have been Brett Goodroad’s show, which obviously I had a lot to do with putting on, Deerhoof, who are always fantastic, Fauna was really great. Lexicon circus was really great. Malcolm Middleton and Iain Shaw - they’re always great. Too much to mention!

You have presented a lot of work at the Festival this year. Has it felt different presenting the work in the place that you live?

I think that presenting my work in my home town, my new home town, is a great privilege. I feel like when you’re an artist and you make work, sometimes the people you know and live alongside don’t usually get to see what you do, often because you usually do it somewhere else. So, it’s been really nice to show my work here and to make some work here, and to collaborate with people.

I’ve realised that Brighton is an incredibly vibrant place. The piece I made here – Problem in Brighton - was a performance piece, and there is no shortage of performers and musicians here, so that’s been fantastic. It’s not really something I’ve done before – directing and being directly involved with writing music. I think that making the project in Brighton really has been a great thing. It’s a town that’s really synonymous with a vibrant music scene, so it was a definitely the right place to do it. I’ve learned so much and made some really fantastic connections here, so I’m really happy.

What was it like to appear at Your place?

I was in Hangleton at Your Place last weekend, and it was really great. I think because I haven’t been in Brighton that long, I haven’t really explored the city limits as it were so, it was great to go out there and meet people and see what a great resource they have in the community facilities. I think it’s also important for the Festival to have a presence throughout the city, so its great to have an outpost of the Festival there so that people can engage with it.

Have you learned anything else about the city or the Festival that you didn’t know before through the experience?

I think I’ve learned a lot about the city that I didn’t know. I think it takes a long time to live in a city and really discuss what the city is about, because really, most people only know their own bit of the city, its not until you start going elsewhere, and working elsewhere and meeting people that you start to get a measure of the place. I guess I’m still discovering Brighton but I feel that this has been a fast track to discovering the city and I’ve learned a lot in these three weeks.

What makes Brighton Festival special in your opinion?

I think what makes Brighton Festival special is the fact that it’s in Brighton! That’s what makes it special for me, because I live in Brighton and its great that its here. I can just walk outside my house and see so much that’s going on. But, on a not so purely selfish level, to have a Festival that celebrates and presents the arts so well and so thoroughly is something very positive. I think Brighton is a positive city and the Festival is a really positive thing. I think it makes a real change in people’s lives, and it’s something to treasured. 

Most participatory Brighton Festival ever comes to a close

We look back at Brighton Festival 2018, highlighting some choice stories, facts & figures, alongside a few words from Guest Director David Shrigley

As the first locally-based Guest Director, David Shrigley was the most active and present yet – involved in more events than ever across the programme - from Life Model II, which invited everyone to take part in a life drawing class with a difference, to the world premiere of alt/pop rock musical Problem in Brighton, created with Brighton musician Lee Baker and fronted by local Spymonkey Stephan Kreiss and actor Pauline Knowles.

Taking its cue from David Shrigley’s offbeat artistic take, Brighton Festival 2018 had an absurd sensibility and spirit of participation at its heart. This year’s programme had more opportunities than ever for people to get involved: over 12,500 visitors took part in David Shrigley’s life drawing class installation, Life Model II, 200 residents joined Over 60’s dance company Three Score Dance to create Pina Bausch’s extraordinary promenade on the seafront, The Nelken Line, 150 budding performers took up the invitation to become integral parts of overnight choral sleepover The Arms of Sleep, 40 volunteers took part in immersive dance performance Attractor, and six local performers took part in Gob Squad’s intergenerational piece about aging and beauty, Creation, to memorable effect.

Gob Squad - Credit Carys Lavin
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “This year’s Brighton Festival had more opportunities than ever for everyone to get involved and participate - truly highlighting that Brighton Festival is not just three weeks of quality performance, art and debate but also an opportunity for the whole city to celebrate and embrace the arts and culture that enrich our daily lives.”

David Shrigley says: “The experience of guest directing Brighton Festival has been fun! I think the most fun thing has been meeting people - people who are performing, people involved in programming, people who are collaborating with me, people visiting the Festival. It’s been a really social experience, and a really positive one. I feel really embraced by the arts community In Brighton, but I also feel that I in turn have embraced the arts community back. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the Festival in such a big way, and to have met so many people. I feel very lucky.”

A Weekend Without Walls - Credit Victor Frankowski
Brighton Festival 2018 also featured an abundance of free events including Nick Steur’s extraordinary rock balancing performance, A Piece of 2, which played out to enthusiastic and sun-drenched crowds on the beach level by the i360 throughout the first week, and A Weekend Without Walls, the annual free celebration of family friendly outdoors performance packed with acrobatics, aerial circus, dance, installations, music and theatre, at Easthill Park and by the i360 over the final weekend. 

Kate Tempest debuted her new album in an exclusive performance at Your Place (which returned for its second year) bringing a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to Hangleton and East Brighton communities. As Artists in Residence, Kate McCoy explored Random Acts of Neighbourliness, where residents learned what neighbours thought about their area in an interactive exhibition, while Kiki Stickl presented life-sized “avatar” cut outs inspired by the local community. This year’s events were bigger and better than ever before, with approximately 2,400 people attending over the two weekends.

The Pay-It-Forward scheme also returned for its second year, showcasing the generosity of Brighton Festival audiences. Those booking tickets for Festival events were given the option of paying an extra £5 (or an amount of their choosing), which Brighton Festival then matched. This resulted in 1,175 ticket vouchers being offered to people who may otherwise have been unable to experience Festival events.

Brownton Abbey - Credit Victor Frankowski
As ever, Brighton Festival 2018 featured a host of strong commissions and co-commissions from a wide range of national and international artists including The Arms of Sleep; Hofesh Shechter’s Grand Finale; A String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a new work from leading maverick director Calixto Bieito, Cuckmere: A Portrait, a filmic homage to the changing moods of the Cuckmere river accompanied by a live score; KAYA from the Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc’s all-female company and Creation (Pictures for Dorian), a new piece inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray from acclaimed British/German arts collective Gob Squad. Brighton Festival 2018 also featured the first incarnation of Brownton Abbey, which saw Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall transform into a kaleidoscopic, afrofuturist party celebrating the work of queer artists of colour.

One of the most popular Festival events was an extended visit from internationally-renowned NoFit State circus who presented their dazzling new production Lexicon in a Big Top circus tent on Hove Lawns. Over the 11 night stay, over 9,700 people were dazzled by the spectacular show, which featured a large live band, a smorgasbord of impressive acrobatic set pieces – including an astonishing array of unicycles, quadricycles and everything in-between – and much more in a two hour feast for the senses.

Adam - Credit Victor Frankowski
Adam brought trans narrative centre-stage in the National Theatre of Scotland’s remarkable, true story of a young trans man and his journey to reconciliation, directed by award-winning theatre director Cora Bissett. The uplifting play was a word-of-mouth highlight of the Festival, along with a joyous and energising performance from West African all-female supergroup Les Amazones D’Afrique, and the delightful expedition of Rear View, which enabled audiences to see Brighton as they never had before in a unique poetry performance viewed from the back of a bus.

A special Brighton Festival moment was the 50th anniversary for Brighton Festival Chorus, who celebrated the occasion with two large-scale performances. The BFC joined forces with Britten Sinfonia and Orchestre de Picardie to mark the centenary of the end of World War One with a moving performance of Britten’s War Requiem. Just as in its 1968 debut, Brighton Festival Chorus was joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Belshazzar’s Feast for a special, historic commemorative concert on the final night of Brighton Festival 2018.

Image credits: The Nelken Line - Michael Fung
Gob Quad - Carys Lavin
A Weekend Without Walls - Victor Frankowski
Brownton Abbey - Victor Frankowski
Adam - Victor Frankowski

In Photos: Week 3

Wow - what a month we have had! We've enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2018 and we hope you had a blast too. This past week, we've had outdoor spectaculars, incredible music and much more. 

Photos by Vic FrankowskiSummer Dean, and Carys Lavin.

A Change is Gonna Come

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey

David Shrigley TalkDavid Shrigley Talk

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey 3

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey 4

Gob SquadGob Squad

Iain ShawIain Shaw

Malcolm MiddletonMalcolm Middleton

The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and AnxietyThe String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

The Wave Epoch

2018 in photos

Thank you so much for helping to make Brighton Festival 2018. Below are just a few of our favourite photos from the past three weeks.

Photos by Vic FrankowskiSummer Dean, and Carys Lavin.

 

Week 1

Problem in BrightonProblem in Brighton

Rear ViewRear View

The Boy, The Piano and The BeachThe Boy, The Piano and The Beach

Joep BevingJoep Beving

The Arms of SleepThe Arms of Sleep

ADAMADAM

Cuckmere: A PortraitCuckmere: A Portrait

Penguins

Woodland

Week 2

Attractor

 

The Big Book GroupThe Big Book Group

FaunaFauna

Fauna

Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet

NELKEN-LineNELKEN-Line

XFRMRtechno

Week 3

A Change is Gonna Come

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey

David Shrigley TalkDavid Shrigley Talk

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey 3

Brownton AbbeyBrownton Abbey 4

Gob SquadGob Squad

Iain ShawIain Shaw

Malcolm MiddletonMalcolm Middleton

The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and AnxietyThe String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

The Wave Epoch