A Weekend Without Walls
The annual free celebration of family friendly outdoors performance is back, promising a fun programme of acrobatics, aerial circus, dance, installations, music and theatre that is sure to thrill, inspire and entertain audiences of all ages. So gather your friends and family, don't forget to pack a picnic, and head outdoors...
Installation and family-friendly performance theatre
Bird in the Hand Theatre's The Bewonderment Machine
A brand new theatre company combining the talents of puppet maker and director Alison Duddle and puppeteer extraordinaire Mark Whitaker. The Bewonderment Machine is an artist-built cycle powered carousel with riding space for up to 10 small children. A quirky dreamscape and magical miniature theatrical flight.
Helen Eastman Production's Bicycle Boy A bicycle powered musical for children aged 6–10 and their families. Sam and Mike loved their bikes as youngsters and pretended to be superheroes. Now grown-up, they’re clearing out their grandad’s old bike workshop and sharing childhood dreams with laughs, songs, and percussion played on spare bike parts. A celebration of pedal power!
Ramshacklicious' The band at the end of the world! (Sat 26 May only)Raucous brass music, processing with a home-made, water spurting, flaming, roaming vehicle. A punk marching band existing within their very own miniature apocalyptic microclimate. These idiots are convinced that the end of the world is upon us – how do we take responsibility for the world we live in?
Travelling Light Circus' The Playground of Illusions Play with three giants' toys which each contain a visual or sound illusion! Inspired by steampunk and using vintage industrial machines to make quirky gadgets with levers to pull, buttons to push and pedals to press. An unforgettable and fascinating experience for all ages which will ignite your imagination.
Candoco Dance Company's Dedicated to… Critically acclaimed company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. This new duet choreographed by Caroline Bowditch, reveals the extraordinary bonds we make throughout our lives. A touching portrayal of female strength, support and friendship and how people come in and out of our lives and evolve and can shape us.
Flex Dance Company's WIREDA solo performance by George Williams who in 2015 became the first dancer with a learning disability to tour with the National Youth Dance Company of England. From the comfort of his bedroom George forges connections to all that is special to him: Music, games, the world-wide web and more. At times a hive of activity, at others a sanctuary, Everyday objects can become a playground. It’s hard to focus when you’re this wired!
Rosie Kay Dance Company's Modern Warrior (Sun 27 May only)Fast-paced urban takeover inspired by martial arts movies with exciting and dramatic sequences as two opposing groups meet in an epic stand-off. Pick a side, join either the Mods (Modernists) or the Trads (Traditionalists) and train to be a MODERN WARRIOR. Join in and become part of the action or simply watch as the legend unfolds. Rosie Kay Dance Company won Best Independent Dance Company in 2015 by the National Dance Awards and is nominated again for 2018 with winners announced on 19 February.
Hikapee's Look Up
A beautiful, highly visual and inspiring performance of circus, puppetry and theatre for families. When we are constantly glued to our mobile phones, what joy can we find when we dare to look up and appreciate nature.
Brighton Festival is part of Without Walls, the UK’s largest commissioner of outdoor arts shows, taking inspiring new work to audiences all over the country and beyond. Find out more: withoutwalls.uk.com
A Weekend Without Walls is supported by Southern Water
Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018
Picasso’s Dove of Peace and Munch’s The Scream among the creations at the Children’s Parade 2018
Celebrating art from the likes of Picasso, Salvador Dali and many more, 20,000 people packed the streets on Sat 5 May as the 52nd Brighton Festival launched with the Children’s Parade.
The theme for the 2018 Children’s Parade was ‘Paintings’, inspired by Guest Director David Shrigley. Participants took inspiration from a wide range of well-known art from across the ages, including paintings by Alan Davies and Jean Michael Basquiat; Mae West by Salvador Dali; Surprised by Henri Rousseau; Mural by Joan Miro; and American Gothic by Grant Wood. The parade was led by this year’s Guest Director David Shrigley.
Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and supported by Yeomans Toyota Brighton for the second year and for the first time by the University of Brighton, the annual Children’s Parade officially launches Brighton Festival and has delighted participants and spectators for over 25 years. The largest of its kind in Europe, the parade is attended by around 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.
Previous themes have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet and Brighton street names to books, mermaids and even slices of cake for the annual Children’s Parade.
One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the Children’s Parade, with creative teams instructing teaching staff how to teach dance and parade chants, run free masterclasses, help develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.
If you missed it this year, you can see some of this year's creations in Brighton Dome's Cafe/Bar, entrance is via Church Street.
“We were hugely impressed once again with the ingenious ways in which schools have embraced the theme of the parade, choosing paintings by the likes of Salvador Dali, Matisse and many more. A fitting start to Brighton Festival!’ Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival
From the British Airways i360 to Brighton Museum - young musicians to pitch up in locations all over city for Brighton Festival
Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and Brighton Festival presents its annual feast of music from the next generation on Saturday 5 May. This showcase for young musicians will include music for all tastes, featuring the Brighton & Hove Big Band; unplugged pop and folk-inspired acts; and string quartets and chamber wind ensembles. Performances will be taking place at a variety of different locations, from high above Brighton in a British Airways i360 pod to busy, central Bartholomew Square.
Brighton & Hove Music & Arts provides high quality and inclusive music and arts education and performance opportunities for all children and young people across the city including music lessons, ensembles, projects, workshops, orchestras, summer schools and dance classes. BHMA is the lead partner of the award winning SoundCity, the Music Education Hub for Brighton & Hove. Working alongside the Brighton Dome & Festival, Glyndebourne, Rhythmix, University of Sussex, Royal Pavilion and Museums, representatives from Public Health and the Music Industry Their vision is for all children and young people in the city, whatever their background, to be able to engage with, to enjoy, and to be inspired by high quality music and arts opportunities.
For some high-flying fun, take a ride on the i360 with a String Quartet. The Quartet is made up of members from the prestigious Brighton Youth Orchestra String Ensemble. BYOSE is an award-winning course based ensemble that has performed several times at the Royal Albert Hall for the Music for Youth Schools Prom. They regularly collaborate with choirs and dance artists and once a year, have an intensive rehearsal and performance programme on the Isle of Wight. The ensemble has performed in such prestigious venues as the Japanese Embassy, Inveraray Castle in Scotland in addition to giving an hour long live performance on Classic FM.
There will be two flights open to the public, with the first at 11.30am and second at midday on Saturday 5th May, so book now to avoid missing out. Relax, sit back and enjoy the perfect backdrop of the beautiful city of Brighton and the stunning Sussex coastline – an experience that is certain to lift your spirits. These talented young performers are ones not to miss!
For something completely different, Brighton & Hove Youth Big Band will be performing a set between 1.30pm & 2.40pm on the 'pitch' outside Moshimo in Bartholomew Square. Playing soul, funk and classic big band, they’re sure to 'Brighton' up your day.
Brighton Children’s parade participants need not worry, as Brighton Museum and Dome Café Bar will also be showcasing performances throughout the afternoon! Brighton Museum’s south balcony will host Brighton & Hove Music & Arts' classical players between 2pm & 4pm, during the Museum’s 'Free for the Festival' Day. Explore the exhibitions whilst our players perform beautiful works ranging from Bach to Disney classics. Or, unwind between 2pm & 4pm with Brighton & Hove Music & Arts' contemporary acoustic stage in the Café Bar. Take the weight off your feet after a busy parade and enjoy the best of local singer-songwriters as they perform their own material mixed in with some covers.
Festival Hot Seat: Snigel and Friends
Join Snigel (leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch) the inquisitive snail in their cozy home underneath the leaf canopy; a colourful and sensory world, designed by Laura Hook, where Snigel's insect friends come to visit. We talked to co-creators Caroline Bowditch and Laura Hook about this inviting new work for children.
Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Snigel and Friends is an interactive sensory world for babies and their adults to explore. Snigel is an inquisitive snail who plays, dances, sings and makes music with their insect friends.
How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be performed at the Brighton Dome Founders Room. Babies and their adults join the cast in the undergrowth, sitting on mats and cushions under a magical leafy canopy.
Why should someone come and see your show?
There are very few shows that made specifically for babies this young. We worked with our ‘baby board’ to make sure we created the best possible environment for little ones to engage in the colours and live music of the undergrowth while interacting with the characters and the props.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The presence of visibly disabled performers in performance work targeted at young audiences is incredibly rare. Caroline has been working with Imaginate on the Weren’t You Expecting Me Project, taking a closer look at the impact, if any, that this may have on disabled and non-disabled children, particularly looking at the effect on aspirations, self-esteem and overall perceptions of disability. Snigel and Friends was created to address the lack of this kind of work for young people.
Laura has created a set that is built in proportion to Caroline, which also means all the action happens at perfect baby height. The leafy canopy creates a magical world that allows the audience to relax in the undergrowth.
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
It’s not necessarily the story that’s important, but more the overall experience. It’s an exercise in mindfulness and diversity that allows a positive theatre experience for parents and their wee ones.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
Babies who like bright colours, soothing sounds and making friends with slippery snails, singing cicadas, buzzing bees and beautiful butterflies.
What’s going to surprise people about this show?
That not only are babies welcome in the show, but they are free to wriggle around, make noise, be fed and interact with each other and the performers. At the end of the performance everyone is invited to come on stage to meet the characters and play with the props.
What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
This is the first time any of us from the company will be performing as part of Brighton Festival. The programme looks amazing and it’s so exciting to be part of it.
We are also excited to be performing with Brighton resident, dancer Welly O’Brien at the performances on 25th May and then can't wait to watch her perform in the outdoor piece ‘Dedicated to…’ - part of Weekend Without Walls - that Laura, Zac and myself made for Candoco Dance Company earlier this year.
What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The programme looks amazing and it’s so exciting to be part of it. We’re very much hoping we can be part of the party that is Brownton Abbey. Would also love to be in Andy Hamilton’s audience.
Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Family events to enjoy this May
Looking for events to take the kids to this Brighton Festival? Pippa Smith, Children's and Family Programmer shares a couple of her top performance picks for families.
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, two penguins in New York Zoo adopted an egg and hatched a chick...but Roy and Silo are both boys. After their keeper spotted them trying to hatch a stone, he gave them a discarded egg to adopt. Roy and Silo loved their chick very much and taught it to dive and swim.
I saw this exquisite piece of dance-theatre in Birmingham. Despite travelling there and back from Brighton in one day, I came home grinning with delight! I am so proud to be bringing it to Brighton Festival. This really is a show for anyone who loves dance, and dance which tells a story. It has enough colour and laughter to entertain any child.
Snigel and Friends
If you look closely at the picture of Snigel and Friends (0 - 12) in your brochure, you'll notice the parents gently restraining their babies in the background. Babies are drawn to Caroline Bowditch (Snigel) and her company of insect friends like teens to a rock stage! The stage is deliberately low so that the artists are within touching distance of the non-walking audience. The audience are free to spend the performance crawling alongside the actors, sharing the colour and costumes, the discoveries and the delights. Borrow a baby and be there!
I discovered Apples (1.5 -3 years) at a Theatre Festival in Belgium. Casier and Dies are a couple from Netherlands and their work has never been seen in England before. Enter a cosy yurt to discover an unusual apple tree. The show is as much about the functioning of extraordinary and unexpected kitchen equipment, as it is about the dance theatre performance of these two charming cooks. You will see apples cut from their tree, smell them cooking and see the delicious puree squirt into miniature bottles, carried by a moving truck.
For more information on our range of amazing performances for kids, see our full Family programme.
Enter our drawing competition for The Boy, The Piano and The Beach
Budding artists are encouraged to unleash their creativity at this year’s Brighton Festival for the show The Boy, The Piano & The Beach.
Children aged 6-12 can enter the art competition to make or draw the most extraordinary creature they can imagine, getting inspiration from the show’s story where a Boy on a beach hears an unearthly sound leading him to another dimension where he meets strange new creatures.
Told through live classical piano, puppetry, projection and dance, the show’s creators hope children will be inspired by all elements of the performance.
The competition will be judged by the Sussex-based artist Pearl Bates, who is illustrating the show’s storybook programme, and the winner will receive an art set and an original print by Pearl.
Pearl says:'I can't wait to see the entries for our Extraordinary Creature competition. I'm sure they will all be amazing. In particular though, I will be looking out for a young artist who has really put their imagination to the test, and has managed to create something that I might never have seen before!
Inspiration can come from creatures or plants that already exist – perhaps you could try combining them and see what happens? Or maybe you have seen a creature in your dreams that you would like to describe with a painting, drawing or sculpture.
What kind of personality will your creature have? Will it be friendly, silly or scary? Does it make a roaring sound? Or maybe it likes to sing songs? Think carefully about what colours you will choose, and whether you would like to work with paint, pencils, crayons, felt-tipped pens – or even pieces of string, wire, fabric or flowers. This is a chance to really let your creativity go wild.
Good luck to everyone, and have fun!'
To enter: Take a photo of your child’s creation and email it to email@example.com, or pop the original in the post to Slot Machine Theatre Ltd, 45 South Way, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1LY.
The deadline is Thursday 31 May, and remember to include your child’s name and age.
(Unfortunately we cannot return original entries sent to us)
Share your creation on Twitter using hashtag #boypianobeach and we'll put it into our Facebook gallery.
The Boy, The Piano & The Beach is at the Brighthelm Centre on 5–7 May, find out more about the show and book tickets.
Festival Hot Seat: Penguins
Choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra tells us more about Penguins, a delightful show about the changing nature of family, based on a true story that touched hearts worldwide.
Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Penguins is a show about families, the importance of love, and of being true to oneself. We tell the true story of two penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo - Roy and Silo - who were very good friends. They did everything together! They ate together, danced together and swam together, and then they became a couple. When they saw all the other penguins sitting around their nests looking after their eggs, Roy and Silo discovered they had no egg themselves. They found a rock and decided to sit on it, but of course, after much waiting, nothing happened. The zookeeper, who had been watching them, decided to give them a discarded egg and then... it hatched into a lovely baby penguin, Tango!
How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be staged at the Sallis Benney Theatre. We also have an incredible, magical set designed by Sabine Dargent that will transport audiences from the theatre into a very cool and futuristic penguin enclosure.
Why should someone come and see your show?
Penguins is a fun and endearing show - but above all, it is a very important show because of the story it tells. It is full of comedy, magic and three very unique penguins.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The director, Paul MacEneaney's, initial inspiration was the 2004 article in the New York Times about Roy and Silo. In the early stages of creating Penguins, I had to do a lot of research. I watched many documentaries, read a lot about penguin behaviour, and I even spent some time with real penguins at Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre! I discovered some incredible facts about penguins. For example, once a penguin meets his or her partner, they compose a song together which is unique to them, and is what they to use to call each other. I think that is very beautiful.
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think it’s a very important story to tell because what it says is that all families are different, and that’s ok. Some families have a mum and a dad, some have two dads, some have two mums, some are made up of friends and relatives, but what really matters is that kids are loved and looked after. It also encourages you to be true to yourself, and to dance to your own tune. I think it’s very important to share this with children, and even more important to remind parents and adult friends about it.
What’s going to surprise people about this show?
I can’t give away too much about this but…Paul MacEneaney is a great magician as well as a theatre director, so you can expect real magic throughout! There is some great dancing as well from three very likeable penguins and their cute zookeeper, and the score ranges from New York jazz to waltzes. For a small scale production, there’s a lot packed in this egg!
What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
This is actually my first time at Brighton Festival, so I am very excited to be here! As a choreographer, I’ve always seen the festival as one of the international hot spots for dance and theatre. Many of the choreographers I admire the most have presented work in the festival, so I’m very honoured. I am in love with the city of Brighton too, as I’ve created work here before with Fringe, so I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic time.
What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
It’s such a great and varied programme that this is a very tricky question! I am very intrigued by Gob Squad’s Creation (Pictures for Dorian); Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk looks deliciously dramatic; I’ve always loved Amanda Palmer and I think that my highlight will be Adam, by National Theatre of Scotland. The festival has so much to offer for everyone, that I’m really considering relocating for the month!
Spotlight: Your Place
Your Place returns to the Brighton Festival with another exciting programme of free theatre, art, dance, music, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to create a vibrant weekend of arts and activities for their local communities.
Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place for a second year following its wonderful success in 2017. Expect new and exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.
Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.
Video produced by echovideo.co.uk
Brighton Festival announces 2018 Children’s Parade theme
Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2018 Children’s Parade - which will take place on Saturday 5 May - is Paintings.
Each school will be allocated a painting from a selection which have been chosen to reflect the diversity of artists worldwide. The paintings will be studied and explored in detail in the schools before being presented in costume, music and carnival structures on the streets in May.
Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky, and supported By Yeomans Toyota Brighton for the second year and for the first time by the University of Brighton, the annual Children’s Parade officially launches Brighton Festival and has delighted participants and spectators for over 25 years. The largest of its kind in Europe, the parade is attended by around 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.
With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet to the Prince Regent and Fat Boy Slim. This year participants donned costumes ranging from cats and clowns to The Giant Jam Sandwich in homage the theme of Poetry in Motion which was chosen by poet, rapper and musician Kate Tempest who headed up Brighton Festival 2017 as Guest Director. The parade was let by Grammy-nominated Hot 8 Brass Band, who brought their New Orleans style to Brighton’s streets.
The 2018 theme, ‘paintings’, is inspired by visual artist David Shrigley, who was recently unveiled as the latest artistic figure to take up the role of shaping the three-week programme of cultural events as Guest Director. Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, his work also spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music. Nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013, Shrigley’s Really Good, a seven-metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, is the current incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.
Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children & Family programmer says: “We were so impressed by the way that schools took their poems to heart last year and we believe that the same will happen with the paintings. The works will be studied and explored and become part of the school culture between November and May. This in-depth exploration of a work of art is something that most people don’t have the opportunity to do until they go to art school.”
One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the Children’s Parade with creative teams instructing teaching staff how to teach dance and parade chants, run free masterclasses, help develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.
John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky says: “Same Sky is very excited by the 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley and his theme for the parade. We will be working with 70 Brighton & Hove schools to create the parade and enable the children to hit the street with dazzling costumes, puppets and sounds. Same Sky once again thanks Brighton Festival for giving us this great opportunity to work with nearly every school in our wonderfully creative city.”
Luke Devitt-Spooner, General Manager at Yeomans Toyota Brighton says: 'Yeomans Toyota Brighton are once again proud to be supporting Brighton Festival’s Children's Parade. Bringing an ever-cleaner automotive future for our children's world with Hybrid, Electric and Hydrogen powered vehicles'
Hugh Jones, University Brighton says: “The University of Brighton are proud to sponsor the Children’s parade as part of their commitment to the city, creativity and education.”
Brighton Festival will take place from 5-27 May 2018. The full programme will be unveiled on 15 February 2018 but a handful of events have already been announced. These include the co-commission Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter- a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall, which has recently opened to glowing reviews at Sadler’s Wells; Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; and The Voice Project’s Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images.
In photos: Week 3
Brighton Festival 2017 is over! We can't believe what a fantastic month it has been – here's a few photos from events in the last week
Photos by Vic Frankowski and Adam Weatherley
In photos: Week 1
The first week of Brighton Festival 2017 has come and gone! We've been really enjoying all the shows, events and happenings – here's a few pictures of what's been going on
Photos by Victor Frankowski and Adam Weatherley.
In Pictures: Chidren's Parade 2017
Poetry In Motion!
A few photos from an incredible Children's Parade. What an amazing and wonderful way to mark the start of Brighton Festival 2017.
The theme for the 2017 Children’s Parade, the largest of its kind in Europe, which is jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and supported by local business Yeomans Toyota Brighton, was Poetry in Motion, and around 5,000 children from 67 schools and community groups from across the region took part.
Leading the parade was Guest Director Kate Tempest and special guests Hot 8 Brass Band, who brought a brilliant slice of New Orleans funk to the occasion.
Participants took inspiration from poems and poets including Edward Lear, Spike Milligan, Rudyard Kipling, Christina Rossetti, Lewis Carroll and William Shakespeare, resulting in a glorious array of outfits and mannequins from an Owl and a Pussycat in a pea green boat to a giant jam sandwich!
A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved. Thank you all for your magnificent creations and for your enthusiasm and to Same Sky Brighton and our sponsors for making this an epic Children's Parade to remember.
Find out more about our sponsor Yeomans Toyota Brighton
Danny Wallace’s Hamish and the Worldstoppers chosen for Young City Reads
Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival - which celebrates its 50th edition in 2016 - are delighted to reveal that Danny Wallace's Hamish and the Worldstoppers has been chosen as the 2016 'Big Read' for children across Brighton & Hove. The concept is simple: one book, by one author is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.
‘Everyone knows that Brighton has the funniest, coolest, stinkiest children in Britain - and when I heard that they’d all be reading my book, my feet fell off in delight. Brighton Young City Reads is a brilliant thing, and for Hamish to be at the centre of it this year is a real honour. Jamie and I can’t wait to see what the kids think. Now excuse me while I put my feet back on.’ Danny Wallace, Young City Reads author, Jan 2016
About the book
What would YOU do... if the whole world just stopped? Yes the WHOLE WORLD. Birds in the air. Planes in the sky. And every single person on the planet - except you. Because that's what keeps happening to ten-year-old Hamish Ellerby. And it's being caused by The WorldStoppers and their terrifying friends The Terribles! They have a PLAN. They want to take our world for their own . . . Oh, and they hate children. Especially if you're a child who knows about them. Hang on - You know now, don't you? Oh dear. Can Hamish save us from the WorldStoppers? Only time will tell…..
Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, Collected Works CIC, commented, ‘Young City Reads is all about the pure pleasure of reading. It inspires children to take time over the reading a book and then encourages them to discuss it with friends, teachers, parents or grandparents. It’s a celebration of words and pictures. And did I mention it’s also great fun!’
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘Young City Reads is always a highlight of Brighton Festival; young booklovers, en masse, discussing and sharing one story before meeting the author themselves… it’s a unique event and something we’re very proud of. One theme we’ll be exploring at our 50th Brighton Festival is the future of art - who are the new voices, what will the next generation make and what role might they play? That Danny Wallace’s adventurous tale sees the fate of the world in the hands of one plucky youngster is, to me, a very fitting and apt choice for the whole city to enjoy.’
How can local primary schools get involved?
• Primary school teachers and classes are being invited to register online (for FREE) and agree to read Hamish and the Worldstoppers together in class between (3 March – 19 May 2016). The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads website at: cityreads.co.uk
• Throughout the project, participating classes will receive FREE weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Hamish quizzes, puzzles and fun activities to complete.
• This is a great way for classes to get excited about a book and to experience the benefits of shared reading and the fun it brings.
• 3rd March 2016 (World Book Day) Young City Reads launches at Jubilee Library
• 19th May 2016 (Brighton Festival Event) Special Young City Reads event at Brighton Festival featuring the author and illustrator LIVE.
Brighton Festival 2015 soars to a close
Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-wining author Ali Smith at the helm as Guest Director - came to a soaring conclusion this weekend.
Over the three-week Festival - the biggest and most established in England - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions were explored in a thrilling selection of events which spanned music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate featuring artists and performers the world over from Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha to the newly Palme d’Or honoured filmmaker Agnès Varda.
Three central themes - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - provided a fascinating jumping off point to explore some of the key ideas and issues of the moment as well as a memorable visual image of a swift in flight which proved a fitting and popular emblem for the 2015 Festival.
The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest of its kind in Europe. Supported by regional businesses Class of their Own, Gatwick Airport and Riverford, the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event. Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, costumes included bird life in all its forms as well as flying machines, creatures from fantasy and fable, bugs, bees and butterflies.
The Children's Parade. Photo by Jordan Hughes
During the ensuing 23 days it wasn’t just the kids who took flight – with more reviews praising the artistic excellence of this year’s programme than ever. One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Stage and the artsdesk amongst others described them as “exemplary”, “extraordinary”, “profound” and “faultlessly directed”. This was swiftly followed by the top accolade going to violinist Isabelle Faust’s amazing feat of solo virtuosity, Paine’s Plough’s poignant exploration of love and relationships in Lungs and Nina Conti’s extraordinary tour de force of improvised comedy amongst others.
Fleeting on Brighton Beach. Photo by Chris Bethall
At just under 400 performances across 150 events, including 34 that were entirely free to the public, Brighton Festival 2015 featured the highest number of exclusives, premieres and commissions to date including a sizeable proportion of events that cannot - and could not - be experienced anywhere else outside of Brighton Festival, from Sam Lee’s intimate Nightingale Walks on the Downs to Laurie Anderson’s one-off concert All the Animals and Festival finale Fleeting, the spectacular installation over the West Pier by And Now in which hundreds of individual points of fire created shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.
In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2015 saw a plethora of shows - including high profile events such as physical theatre show The Spalding Suite which takes as its subject the UK's basketball sub-culture and Jess Thom’s inspiring and uplifting exploration of her experience of living with Tourette’s, Backstage in Biscuit Land - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival also reached out beyond the centre more than ever before, working with Without Walls to present a number of family-friendly performances in Saltdean and Woodingdean for the first time as well as the enthralling 451 at Preston Barracks and playful Ear Trumpet in Queen’s Park. This was complemented by a fantastic response to community driven events such as a new children’s birdwatching trail which was generously embraced by the business community, and the return of the Guest Director’s Guests, the Peacock Poetry Prize and the Young City Reads schemes.
Backstage in Biscuit Land. Photo by Victor Frankowski
Other Festival highlights included a one off live screening of Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy; the English premiere of Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland’s The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a homage to one of Scotland's most likeable, most individual and most unexpected 20th century figures; a new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing; and the UK premiere of The Forgotten / L’Oublié(e), the directorial debut of Raphaëlle Boitel, one of the most remarkable performers on the European visual and physical theatre scene.
Brighton Festival 2015 featured 396 performances across 150 events including 45 exclusives, premieres and commissions and 34 free events.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “From the 5 stars across-the-board success of Richard Nelson’s extraordinary Apple Family Plays to the headline-grabbing performance of Kate Tempest and a very special personal appearance by newly Palme D’Or honoured Agnes Varda - this year really has been a Festival to remember. Ali Smith, as Guest Director, has been an absolute pleasure to work with and a wonderful inspiration to us all. Her remarkable sense of possibility, wonder, imagination and excitement at anything that she encounters has been evident every step of the way, from her invaluable input during the programming process to her lively and engaging presence throughout the month. The Festival’s continued ability to not only bring such an eclectic range of artists onto one bill but to make it a resounding success, is testament to the extraordinary support we have from funders, sponsors and from audiences themselves. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year. I cannot wait to lift the lid on what surprises we have in store for the city and beyond.”
Fancy A Spot Of Bird Watching? Do The Brighton Festival Big Bird Trail
We are twitching with excitement about our Big Bird Trail! Take your bird-watching on the move – gather stickers from local businesses and venues, for a chance to win some amazing prizes.
Enjoy a luxurious Lunch for 2 at local bistro, The Manor. Grab some sweet treats from Cybercandy for the sugar enthusiasts. Appendage and Pussy Home Boutique are offering a selection of quirky goodies. Pamper yourself with a range of hair-care prizes from the North Laine Hair Co. Get your hands on a £50 Brighton Dome voucher to spend on the upcoming shows of your choice. Plus, no respectable bird-watcher’s life would be complete without a Bird Feeder from the RSPB! See the full list of prizes.
The shops participating are:
• Oxfam Books
• Fidra Jewellers
• North Laine Hair Company
• Pussy Home Boutique
• Whirligig Toy
• The Manor
• RSPB Shop for Nature
• Ticket Office- Brighton Dome
For more info and the shops addresses head this way.
Grab a copy of the trail in our Family Festival Guide, available at the Brighton Dome Ticket Office to get started.
Behind the scenes... on GLOW
With the highly anticipated children’s show GLOW opening today, Professor Anna Franklin from the Sussex Baby Lab discusses how their studies on infant vision, colour perception and what babies find most stimulating helped theatre company Flying Eye create the show
What have you found out so far in the Baby Lab?
The Rainbow Project, which is investigating how babies see colours, is still ongoing but we’ve just analysed the data from the first phase.
So far, we’ve found that babies can categorise colours and our analysis of recent data shows that they use the basic channels of colour vision to divide up the colour spectrum. So it suggests that when we group colours into categories such as green and blue that there is some kind of biological underpinning for how we do that; it’s not just random. And that’s been debated for a long time. People have argued that colour categories are random because there are different terms in different languages but it turns out that babies actually use the biology of their colour vision to do it, which provides some constraint on how languages can then divide up colours into different terms.
Babies have got some colour vision when they are born but it’s limited. It develops quite rapidly over the first couple of months of life and they’re trichromatic by the time they’re three months old, so three types of photo receptors are functioning. We work with babies at four months old upwards, once we are sure that they have got colour vision.
Colour perception gets a lot better as the baby develops. It actually gets better up until adolescence and then it actually starts to get worse. In toddlers we are looking at how they learn the words for colour but also how they keep colours constant in their mind when the lighting changes – something called colour constancy, which means that if you look at a banana under any colour light, you still see it and think of it as yellow. It’s basically because our brain factors out the illuminant so it can keep the surfaces constant so we’ve got a more constant world. We’re looking at that in toddlers and seeing how it develops.
Why is it important to understand these things?
It’s important for several reasons. First of all, from a scientific viewpoint, it’s important to know how the brain develops and how the brain learns to process the information in the world around it. And colour is a good way of testing questions around that - it’s a good testing ground for looking at the effect of environment on brain development and processing of stimuli. So, basic, fundamental questions about our cognition can be addressed using colour.
And there are practical implications. For example, we’ve done consultancies with toy companies on products related to infants, talking about what infants can see and what they prefer to look at and what will grab their attention.
Also, potentially there are implications down the line for how you educate children and what kinds of educational materials they respond well to. For example, if you’ve got colour vision deficiency, how would that impact on your learning in the classroom and your use of coloured education materials?
As a group, we’re most interested in the scientific questions - the goal of understanding the human brain and how we learn. But there is also practical, commercial application as well.
A huge guiding principle is that to understand how adults do something, or how the adult brain works, you need to understand how that process develops. So, for example, if you want to understand memory, then, by researching how memory develops, you can understand a lot about it in its adult form. And so the same goes with vision and with colour. Seeing things develop and seeing that development in action, you can actually understand the mechanisms much more.
How do you find your baby subjects?
We have a research assistant in the lab, Gemma, who advertises the Baby Lab studies on Facebook, and Alice keeps Baby Lab followers updated about our latest studies on Twitter. And then basically anywhere where there’s a baby in Brighton or Lewes or Eastbourne we try to get our postcards, which advertise what we’re about. A lot of people we get coming in have been told about the Baby Lab by friends who have also bought their babies in. It’s something fun that parents can do, something interesting, and they learn something about their baby in doing it.
Has anything you’ve found particularly surprised you (eg. gender differences)?
We’ve not found any gender differences before. There’s some evidence in the literature that male babies might be less good at one of the subsystems of colour vision; the red/green one. But we’ve not found any evidence of that ourselves.
The most surprising thing to me has been that infants tend to look longer at the colours that adults like. You tend to think of colour preference as being something fairly idiosyncratic – it’s just a personal choice – but actually the fact that adults’ colour preferences map on to infants looking suggests that there’s some kind of early origins of something about those colours that make us like them but also make infants look longer.
Colour is an interesting stimulus because it’s always there in everything that we look at and it can have quite subtle effects on us and our behaviour, how we process things and our emotional response. But we’re rarely really aware of that happening – it’s almost like an invisible vapour or something that you don’t really know is there but it does affect you. So it’s quite interesting from that viewpoint.
How did the Brighton Festival show come about?
Sachi and Kristina, who are the directors, just contacted me; they found the Baby Lab on the web. They wanted a play that was going to resonate with babies and that would fit with babies’ abilities in understanding and seeing. They came to the lab and we showed them some babies taking part in our research. We talked about infant vision and cognition, gave them some things to read and we just had ongoing discussion really about that so they could feed it into their play.
It was really interesting to see how science could be drawn upon in art. They’re such creative women and it was really interesting to see how they took the scientific findings and used them. I went to a couple of the shows where they were developing the different components of the play - to see how you get from the scientific work to putting it in action was really interesting for me.
Was the process quite different to how you approach things as a researcher?
Absolutely, yes. There is definitely creativity in research but their creativity has got a different goal.
I was surprised when I watched the test show how engaged babies were and how much enjoyment they got from it and also how it led to this bond between the baby and the parent. It seemed quite a rich experience for the parent to have their baby engage with something so much. When we were having conversations talking about the science and talking about their ideas, I didn’t realise that it was all going to knit together so effectively.
There’s certainly a need for more things that are directed towards infants. The GLOW show sold out on the first day that it was released and that really shows that we should be producing more things for babies. Especially because early experience is really important for shaping visual development and cognitive development, so we want to give young minds a rich experience.
Glow plays on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 May. For tickets, click here.
To find out more about the Sussex Baby Lab and how babies can take part in Baby Lab research, click here.