Brighton Festival 2018Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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Festival Hot Seat: Tangomotan

The passion and the power of Tango are given an audacious new dimension by Tangomotán, a dynamic quartet that is weaving new musical sounds into the Tango tradition. We caught up with the quartet to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Hola, we are Tangomotán. During a concert, we, the 4 musicians (2 women and 2 men), bring the audience into pure tango music sensations. Our show is about tango: how the traditional music sounds today, and how the new compositions describe modern life. We are trying to lead our music into the biggest vertigos.

Why should someone come and see your show?
Our music talks about the struggle in life, as it was in Argentina in the 19th century (birthplace of the tango). Along our multiple concerts, we experimented how this music expresses a universal feeling of human condition and its dilemmas, that reaches everybody's heart.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea was to pursue the tango's story by adding new interpretations and new compositions. It was also the idea to mix people from different musical background having a common language of music in one band. Some musicians come from the tango, others from the classical music education and our roads cross a few years ago. The inspiration of this special sound mixes traditional tango music and uses the contemporary environment of each of us that come from France, Armenia, Finland and Argentina. Our music has no borders, and talks about everything.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
We believe that it is important to touch people's heart and soul and give them energy, but we don't deliver any message. Our purpose is to give people energy by the vertigos. We want that our music gives them strength to dance with the life.
We play instrumental tango, far from traditional milongas, and we claim our affiliation to the modern instrumental music, which is something rare today, because we want to popularize and defend the sensation that comes out of pure music.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think we get too wrapped up in the mundane bricks and mortar of the world, we forget
the possibility of the unexpected, the slightly out of the ordinary. Not the through-the-back-of-the-wardrobe fantasy of a children’s story, but the excitement of finding a spiralstaircase that leads down into the dark… and the ability to go have a look at what’s down there.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
All the music lovers (we hope)!!!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
What's surprising nowadays is the universality of the tango and the energy of this music.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
It's a great opportunity to share our music in your festival. We are very eager to live our first favourite moments in Brighton Festival. Furthermore, Brighton is a cost and sea-side like Buenos Aires!

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We are excited to see a modern English production and to see Brighton for the very first time.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: MEDEA, Written in Rage

We talked to Festival regular Neil Bartlett to find out more about his sensational one-man re-invention of the classic Greek legend, Medea. 

Written by Jean-René Lemoine, Directed by Festival regular Neil Bartlett and featuring extraordinary performer and vocalist François Testory, this powerful new vision of ancient myth features live music by Phil Von to create a searing statement about marginalisation and exile.  

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about? 
MEDEA, Written in Rage is a re-telling of the story of the most notorious heroine in world literature. She is the ultimate outsider – a barbarian, a sorceress – a woman who abandons everything for the man of her dreams – and then murders her own children. There have been many versions of her story, but this time, she is telling it herself.

How and where will the work be staged? 
MEDEA, Written in Rage is a solo performance created by award-winning director Neil Bartlett. It is performed on a bare stage – but with incredible costume (Medea's gown is created by the legendary Mr Pearl), swirling lights and a live, improvised operatic/electronic soundscape created by Berlin-based DJ and composer Phil Von Magnet. The solo performer is the extraordinary Francois Testory – dancer and singer with Lindsay Kemp, DV8 and Gecko. The show is on at the Theatre Royal, and for one night only: the last Saturday night of the Festival.

Why should someone come and see your show?
Because it's a mesmerising piece of gender-bending solo performance; because it has so much of my trademark theatricality; because it's a roller-coaster re-telling of a powerful, primeval story .

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The script is an English translation of a brand new text by French playwright Jean-Renee Lemoine. As soon as I read it, I thought that Francois and Medea would be the perfect combination of performer and role. Francois has an incredible power as a performer – and he has both the look and the voice that this role needs.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Medea is the ultimate outsider. In this telling of her story, there is a powerful contemporary sense of her as a foreigner, an alien, someone forever being judged because she comes from elsewhere, from outside of Europe. That story has very powerful resonance right now. I was also very attracted to working on this particular story with a performer who works way beyond gender. I think that gives a very particular twist to the idea of the outsider, of she-who-must-be-punished.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
If you like your theatre theatrical, beautiful, transgressive and hard–hitting – if you like  DV8 or Gecko or Schecter – or if you've enjoyed some of my own previous work at the Theatre Royal in past Festivals, such as my sell-out staging of Benjamin Britten's Canticles with Ian Bostridge, or my own one-man show of queer monologues – then I think you'll like this.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Maybe just how much power one person can have on stage – just how much one body and one voice can conjure .

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
I love presenting my work at the Theatre Royal – there's always such a great connection between the audience and the stage. I love its weird, shabby glamour – that really hits my spot as a director. And the best thing about the Festival is always the audience – diverse, adventurous, up for anything. Especially by the last Saturday night ! I think this is my ninth Festival, and it's the audience that keeps on bringing me back.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Well, I have to say seeing Francois make his entrance as Medea. It's quite something.

Find out more about Medea ticket availability.

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.

Click here to learn more about ‘Weren’t You Expecting Me'

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.

Head to the event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Last Dance: The Wave Epoch

Last Dance: The Wave Epoch is a unique collaboration between grime DJ and producer Elijah, musician GAIKA and visual artists Haroon Mirza and Jack Jelfs. 

Alli Beddoes, Lighthouse's Artistic Director and CEO tells us more about this unique new project.

How and where will the work be staged?
We are presenting two performances at the Brighthelm Community Centre on the same day (24 May), one in the afternoon, one in the evening. The performance includes video footage, photographs, sound recordings, filmed performances, and conversations with physicists, all gathered at the collider. It will also feature a devise, which Haroon and his studio have made out of components left over from experiments. We are also really excited about two local DJ collectives Shook and Off Peak coming to do a set each.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We talk a lot about what is happening to culture and how it forms and shapes and adjusts to the things and decisions that surround us. The Wave Epoch gathers different approaches from art, music and science to take us on a journey 2000 years into the future – our audience can make their own interpretations of where that might end up. We hope it will inspire new connections and partnerships. It is also a great moment to celebrate and dance.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The Wave Epoch is part of Lighthouse’s Associate Artistic Director Elijah’s Last Dance programme, a series of events that look at the changing nature of club culture. In the UK, lots of clubs are closing; half the clubs in London alone have shut in the last five years. This is having an impact on youth culture, which feeds into, and influences, our wider cultural landscape.

The Wave Epoch is inspired by the idea of what might happen to club culture in the future. But it’s also about the past, about how the ritual of gathering together and dancing is as old as humanity itself, and will continue in some form for as long as we continue to exist.


Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Cultural spaces are shrinking and changing, and we urgently need to value and protect them. There are no other places where music, art and ideas, both old and new, can be experienced in such a direct, immersive and communal way.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Anyone with a curious mind that feels connected to art or music or science (or all three).

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
People who want to dance, hear new music and enjoy will do, but the extraordinary thing about this performance will encourage a deeper thinking about the importance of connecting with others.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
The festival is a huge part of Brighton’s identity. It means a lot and presents inspiration, breadth and diversity, adventure and the official mark of the summer.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
It’s a brilliant programme and looking forward to lots of things. Aside from Lighthouse’s Last Dance: Re-Imagined Futures programme, my top three picks are: Lemn Sissay at ACCAThe Last Poets at Theatre Royal (remarkable even 50 years later!) and Problem In Brighton at The Old Market.

Visit lighthouse.org.uk, or discover more about The Last Dance:The Wave Epoch.

Festival Hot Seat: I Wish I Was A Mountain

Called 'the future' by Kate Tempest, Toby Thompson is a writer and spoken word performer. He will be bringing I Wish I Was A Mountain to the Brighton Festival this year, a unique one-man show for young audiences based on Herman Hesse's fairy tale, Faldum

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
I Wish I Was A Mountain is a fairytale; an adaptation of my favourite short story by Hermann Hesse. It tells the tale of a mysterious wanderer who casually tips up at the annual fair of Faldum and starts dishing out wishes left right and centre. One young man wishes for a magic violin, and another to be turned into a mountain.

How and where will the work be staged?
I have a couple of record players on stage with me, as well as an upright piano. It’s an analogue thing. Also mirrors, lots of mirrors. It’s on at the Brighthelm Centre.

Why should someone come and see your show?
The show is really an invitation for people - grown ups and littlens alike - to ponder a few of the fundamentals of human existence: desire, music, nature, impermanence. With that in mind, if I were someone, I’d come and see the show if I wanted to get a bit philosophical. But also just to experience the unfolding of a beautiful and rather unusual story.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Hermann Hesse is one of my favourite writers, and his story Faldum, upon which this show is based, resonated with me in a very deep way. I liked how it seemed to ask many more questions than it answered.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The story offers an alternative to the black and white hollywood framework. It takes you on a journey, and throws up a number of moral questions, but it doesn’t ram its message home. I find the story endlessly enchanting, and I’m told the production is suitably captivating, but the tale itself isn’t just a bit of fun, it’s a mirror for self reflecting in.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Well it’s ostensibly for a children (7+) and families, but I’d say adults are catered for too. If you’re into poetry, then certainly this will be right up your street, but I wouldn’t rule out poetry cynics. Anyone who likes a good story really.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
The music might. I worked in a children’s theatre for years and you do get a bit sick of glockenspiel scores after a while. I Wish I Was A Mountain is set against a backdrop of tunes by Bill Evans, Horace Silver, Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou, Nina Simone, loads of classics, all on vinyl.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I’ve only been to the festival once, but Brighton has a special place in my heart. Some close friends of mine went to the Uni and so for 3 years I’d go and stay for days at a time, writing in cafes and trawling the record shops. Last year at the Festival I did a gig in The Spire, supporting Kojey Radical with Lyrix Organix, it was definitely one to remember.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I’ve been wanting to see This Is The Kit live for the longest time. The Last Poets too, true living legends.

Head to the event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Adam

Adam is National Theatre of Scotland’s remarkable production about one trans man’s powerful true story - and the winner of a clutch of awards. We caught up with Director Cora Bissett to find out more about the incredible true story behind the show. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Adam is the real-life story of a young man named Adam, who was born biologically female in Egypt but who, from a young age, knew himself to be male. In a society that is deeply conservative, he knew that it wouldn’t be safe to live as himself there, so he escaped.  

The play charts his journey from Egypt to Glasgow, the struggles he goes through to be accepted as the man he knows himself to be. Adam himself stars in the show, alongside the excellent Rehanna MacDonald, each portraying the two sides to Adam’s psyche.. It also features a 120 strong digital choir made up of trans and non binary people from all over the world, singing a beautiful score by the world-renowned composer Jocelyn Pook.

How and where will the work be staged?
The show is playing at the Brighton Theatre Royal from the 9th to the 12th of May.

Why should someone come and see your show?
I think people are genuinely becoming more curious about trans experiences; they may not necessarily understand the difference between transvestite and transgender, non-binary, 3rd sex, androgyny and the myriad of ways in which people are formed, and are really eager to learn about these things. I hope Adam's story really helps in the evolution of understanding

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I first met Adam after seeing him perform a very short monologue about his life back in 2013, as part of a Scottish Refugee Council event called Here We Stay at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre. I was incredibly moved by his story, his honesty and his strength, so I approached him straight afterwards and asked if he would like to meet me to tell me more, as I had a strong sense that I would like to turn his story into a full production. We began working with the brilliant writer Frances Poet to spend time understanding Adam's story, and then adapting it in a fittingly exciting way. Five years later here we are!

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Despite great progress being made on gay rights, it seems as though we are still eons away from really understanding and granting the same level of understanding to trans and non-binary individuals. I think a lot of people feel they can't ask the questions, they don't want to appear ignorant, but actually opening up dialogue is urgently necessary. Gender clinics around the world have seen a marked rise in young people presenting as trans individuals.

I think the groundswell of documentary coverage is helping to open that up, but this is just the beginning. Theatre can speak directly, you can actually see that human being on stage; not an oddity, not some exoticised character in a reality TV sensation. A normal human being, who was just born with a different brain and soul from the gender they were assigned at birth. Even that idea is a little mind blowing if no one has presented it to you before.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Anyone with a love of exciting theatre! When the show opened at the Edinburgh Fringe last year we were all overwhelmed by the responses we had from our audiences. All kinds of different people, young and old, from all over the world, came along and found something beautiful in Adam’s story, because it’s one that is both personal and universal. 

I had aunts and uncles in their 80's whom I wasn't sure would connect with it, but they were blown away. They said they had really learnt something new. Adam received emails from people who had come from Spain, Germany, all over and would gush 'this is MY story too!' I was delighted to see a huge turn out of young people, who told me they really identified with the feelings of isolation Adam experienced, and also a large amount of trans and non binary individuals came to the show. I hope that trans and non-binary people watching if feel that it is their story too, since it is not a documentary style expose of Adam's life. We were all very clear it is Adam’s journey, but it is also reflective of thousands of trans people's struggles in the world. I hope they can watch it and feel strengthened and represented.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Hopefully all sorts of things, the fact that Adam on whom the story is based, does actually play himself alongside another actress. Despite this being said in marketing material last Fringe, I was amazed how many people came out and only then discovered 'Oh wow, that was THE ACTUAL GUY!!' also one to highlight is our designer Emily James’s beautiful set, which may look straightforward on the surface but is full of ingenious little secrets!

The choral music, which is sung by 120 trans and non binary people from around the world, is created by the wonderful composer Jocelyn Pook, who has created film scores for the likes of Stanley Kubrik's Eyes Wide Shut. All the people you see singing recorded their own parts in various countries of the world, through their laptops, and so have never actually met any of the other choir members in the flesh. A truly virtual choir.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I love Brighton. I performed here about 7 years ago in David Grieg's romcom Midsummer. We had a ball, I remember loving the whole vibe, the openness, the relaxed nature of the place. I remember meeting a particularly butch looking Rottweiler in a bar who came up and placed a paw on my lap... only to reveal his fabulous pink neon painted nails. It was very Brighton!

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The line up is fantastic, but I am particularly interested in catching Palmyra, Joan, The Enormous Room and The Journeys.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: COAT

Picture this. Nigeria, a grandmother passes. In London, a son cooks a pot of stew for his mother hoping to uncover hidden stories and unanswered questions. Yomi Sode talks to us about immigration, identity, displacement and his moving performance, COAT

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
COAT explores the relationship between Junior and his mother following recent news of his Grandmother’s (on his Dad’s side) death. Junior invites his mother to his new flat for dinner, knowing what’s on his mum’s mind to discuss. There is a cultural obligation to travel to Nigeria for her burial, however, Junior is not as keen to comply.

How and where will the work be staged?
The play takes place in Junior’s kitchen in his new flat as he prepares the meal, however, we often travel in the past to get a sense of Junior’s experience growing up in England.

Why should someone come and see your show?
COAT explores identity, displacement and belonging. It also opens up a dialogue as to how much we know those close to us. Things are kept for protection or to calm anxieties. Often, we dine with family and friends, but we are strangers. COAT tackles what happens when the elephant is the room is spotted.

Even if the narrative does not apply, the message of the show will, and rather than generic “How are you?” questions, it’s more “talk to me / tell me about your day”.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I remember having a conversation with my younger cousins. They shared their anxieties of visiting Nigeria. They all had a fixed thought that Nigeria would not accept them. In the same breath, I thought about the stigma of Black men in Britain and this term ‘acceptance’, as well as my experience of sharing their exact thoughts about Nigeria when I was their age too. 

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I wanted to share this struggle of displacement and search for acceptance because it’s okay to feel lost. At one point, that was me, and I was silent, and it was shit. Now older, and a Father – I can tell a story that connects, that can make one person feel that they are not alone. That’s why it took me the time it did to write, that’s why this show is everything to me.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Teens, parents, grandparents… ET could even pop down and spend an hour then fly home after.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
If I told you, no one would attend! *rolls eyes*

Bums on seats! Plus it’s my first time ever doing a show in Brighton! COME ON! I can’t wait. I think I’ll be hugging everyone afterwards like “thank you thank you thank you thank you…”

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I’m not sure how to even answer this. I will say that I am thankful to be invited to bring this story to Brighton Festival this Year. And I’ll treasure this festival because I was invited with just a belief that I will do what needs to be done and that trust will stay with me for a very long time. May 10th / 11th will be epic, fam. Thank you.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The shows that I can see for sure, but the people most importantly. I want to talk and break bread with folks in the community and get my knowledge up about Brighton. I’m excited about that. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: LEXICON

LEXICON is the latest creation by NoFit State and award-winning director, Firenza Guidi - a daring, seductive and utterly contemporary take on circus for a seated audience in the round. We had a chat with the crew to find out more about this exciting new performance.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
LEXICON is NoFit State’s latest show, unveiled in Newcastle-under-Lyme last month and opening to the world in Brighton as part of the Brighton Festival. It is a performance created for our big top, a nod to the history and heritage of British Circus, crafted for a seated audience in the round and combining top of the art technology with traditional circus skills.

How and where will the work be staged?
Under the NoFit State Big Top, over on Hove Lawns, Kingsway.

Why should someone come and see your show?
For the spectacular circus skills, the brilliant live music but also to discover a world that sits slightly on the side of reality, a world where the magic begins, a world inhabited by misfits where anything can happen.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
This year is the 250th anniversary of circus, which was created by a British man called Philip Astley. Although this is a common fact in the circus world across the globe, not many people in the UK know about Astley, his life and legacy to the arts world. We have wanted to pay homage to the man but also to 250 years of tradition, and begin shaping the next 250 years of circus in the UK. There are many strands of inspiration behind LEXICON but the main one is about the heritage, and a group of people who have found each other in the circus and begin misbehaving.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The circus sector in the UK has evolved slightly slower than in other countries such as France, Canada and Australia that are now at the forefront of contemporary circus. We have felt it important to re-claim the role Britain has played in the evolution of the art form and make a piece of work that is inspired and informed by our history.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
The NoFit State audience has always been a very broad crowd. In the past, our shows have been standing promenade performances, with live music and a bar running the full duration of the show so as well as arts audiences, we have always attracted individuals that wouldn’t perhaps got to see performance work otherwise. With LEXICON and our seating in the round, we hope we have created something that will continue to excite our own audience but perhaps be more accessible to families, younger kids and their grand-parents… Circus is for everyone and we want everyone to feel they are welcome and able to run away with us for two hours.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
We love going to Brighton. We love this early period in the season, being by the sea and hopefully this year again, the sun. It’s a great place to kick off the touring season and the Brighton audience is a great one to perform to. There is also an air of nostalgia in Brighton with the pier, the arcades, the lawns which is particularly fitting to LEXICON, so we’re very excited to be presenting our new show there. It is also a time for us to meet with artists friends, see other shows, and hopefully have one or two parties...

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We are looking forward to Amanda Palmer’s gig, there is a long time connection with her from our partying years in Edinburgh (a long time ago…) and it will be a pleasure to catch up with her again. We’re also very much looking forward to Hofesh Shechter’s new piece Grand Finale, we’d love to do a project together with him one day!

Head to the event page to find out more about ticket availability.

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! 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Blaas

We caught up with the Artistic Director of Blaas, Boukje Schweigman, to find out more about her collaboration with installation artist Cocky Eek. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
It is not a story that you need to understand, it is an immersive happening. You have to surrender to the experience. In a way, it is a kind of abstract, non-figurative puppetry in which material and space come to life. In the Dutch language Blaas has a double meaning. It means blow/breath but also means bubble. This performance is as much about breathing and life as it is about a temporary space that can be created in which we can come together.

How and where will the work be staged?
We are performing at Moulsecoomb Leisure Centre in one of the sports halls! It doesn’t sound like the most obvious place for a theatre performance but that’s part of the fun of it. Experiencing the unexpected where you least expect it to happen.

Why should someone come and see your show?
You’ll come to Blaas in order to have a unique, unusual experience. You’ll enter a kind of space you will never have been in before. It is a kind of theatre that many will have never experienced before.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I knew about the work of visual artist Cocky Eek and really really loved it. The work is very sensual. Many of her inflatable installations are reminiscent of bodily organs. When we met, we go on so well that we decide to collaborate. We decided to make a theatrical performance out of her inflatables. Blaas crosses the borders between visual arts and theatre and puppetry.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
It’s a piece for anyone who wants an extraordinary experience. For someone with an open mind and for someone who wants to explore new forms of theatre.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Everything!

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
This is the first time we are visiting the festival so we’re looking forward to creating new favourite moments.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The breadth and diversity of the programme is great, particularly the performances in unusual sites and venues of course.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: KAYA

Ceyda Tanc, artistic director and founder of Brighton-based dance theatre company Ceyda Tanc Dance, tells us about her brand new work, KAYA. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
KAYA is a contemporary dance work with influence of traditional Turkish folk dance, the dance style of my heritage. The piece explores human experiences of displacement, drawing on the strength and resilience of those searching for a sense of belonging within a new community.

How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be performed at the Theatre Royal on Monday 14th May at 8pm. As a Brighton based company we are really excited to be bringing our work to such a prestigious venue.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We try to create work that is accessible for all, not just the regular theatre goers and contemporary dance audiences. We hope that people can relate to the human issues explored in the work, link to their own experiences or gain an increased awareness of the different cultural influences within their own communities.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The work is based on the village of Kaya in Turkey where I spent a lot of time as a child. The village was home to a Greek community and in 1925 they were forcefully evacuated from their homes resulting in a Turkish/Greek exchange and leaving the village as a ‘ghost town’.

Through my father's anthropological research, and my time spent living in Kaya as a child, I became increasingly interested in exploring this further within my work.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Nearly a hundred years on from the forced displacement of people from Kaya, Turkey is at the epicentre of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, holding over 3.2 million Syrian refugees. I was compelled to make a work that will provoke audiences to reflect on the global scale of displacement prevalent today.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Hopefully anyone and everyone, whether they are a contemporary dance fan or it is their first experience. I aim to make dance work which is accessible for people of all ages and backgrounds, to provide an inclusive way for audiences to interact with dance and find common ground with others in their community.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
We have developed a unique movement vocabulary, which fuses traditional Turkish folk dance and contemporary dance styles. I aim to challenge gender stereotypes by utilising the virtuoso movements of male Turkish dancers on female bodies.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Having grown up in Brighton, May has always been a really exciting time with so much opportunity to see great art work in and around the city. It’s a brilliant chance to experience a variety of work from different artists and to try something new.

Our performance in last year’s festival as part of Your Place was a real highlight for us. We had a cast of 30 people made up of older dancers and youth dancers and people from the community were involved in the running of the event. There was an amazing atmosphere on the day.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I heard about The Arms of Sleep by The Voice Project at the festival launch and it sounds fascinating! There are often immersive events in the festival, which create really memorable experiences. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Attractor

Indonesia’s music duo Senyawa joins forces with two of Australia’s leading dance companies, Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc to take you on a trance-noise odyssey in Attractor. Choreographers Lucy and Gideon give us the low-down on this exciting new performance.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Attractor is a work where dance and music propel each other into heightened experiences for performers and spectators. Its a collaboration with Indonesian music duo Senyawa. Eight dancers are swept up by the energy of the music that in turn responds to their physical abandonment.

Senyawa reinterprets the Javanese tradition of trance through dance and music as a powerful, secular, present-day form. Their unusual sound borrows from the metal bands they listened to as teenagers – Black Sabbath, Metallica, Iron Maiden – and Indonesian ritual and folk idioms.

20 completely unrehearsed audience members volunteer to join the artists on stage. This participatory act of doing dissolves the demarcations between dancer and non-dancer, audience and performer, professional and amateur

How and where will the work be staged?
Attractor will be presented at the Brighton Festival in the Brighton Dome Concert Hall.

It begins with the two musicians and the dancers setting up in a circle centre stage. The music propels the dancers into movement and the musicians respond to the physical intensity of the dancers creating a visceral experience for the audience. About two thirds of the way through, twenty members of the audience get up from their seats and make their way to the stage where they join the dancers and become an integral part of the performance.

These participants are volunteers that sign up to be part of the show beforehand. They arrive before it starts and are fitted with in-ear devices. When the time comes, they are verbally directed through their ear- pieces to go onstage and guided through a series of instructions to perform a dance that merges with the professional dancers. There are no prior rehearsals.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We think audiences will be truly inspired by Attractor. This is a work that blurs the line between performer and spectator, creating an empathetic and intense experience for the viewer. The energy and skill of the dancers is not just an opportunity to sit back and watch, but to engage with the way that dance and music can enliven and transform us.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Gideon Obarzanek (Director/Choreographer) first met Indonesian music duo Senyawa in Yogyakarta in 2014, and travelled with them to a remote village in far eastern Java to observe a traditional trance ceremony. After two nights of prayers and offerings to the dead, dancers entered a state of trance through a series of astounding performances. Some time after that, Gideon was reflecting on his many years of creating virtuosic stage productions with highly trained dancers, in contrast with his early experiences of dance. These took place on kibbutz in Israel where he grew up as a child doing folk dancing, where participation was privileged over performance.

As contemporary artists performing to secular audiences, Rully, Wukir (Senyawa) and Gideon discussed their interest in traditional music and dance. They pondered why they and other non-religious people are drawn to this type of ceremonial performance and concluded that dance and music can create transcendent states for participants, through which they become a part of something bigger than themselves. Making Attractor comes from a shared interest to construct rituals for non-believers.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
This show is surprising on several levels. Senyawa’s music is completely captivating and like nothing you’ve heard before. It’s an impossible blend of heavy metal, noise, throat singing, operatic vocals and traditional music that somehow results in a unique coherent sound. The dancers are virtuosic in their immersion in the choreography and music and their commitment to the intensity of the show.

But perhaps the most surprising element is when 20 audience members get up out of their seats, walk on stage, and join the dancers . This breaks down the barrier between audience and performer and unites 30 people onstage in a shared experience as they collectively succumb to the inherent power of the experience. The remaining audience have a strong empathetic connection as they watch people like themselves in this exhilarating predicament. People are often amazed by the fact that the audience participants who join the dancers onstage have no prior rehearsal and are doing the show for the very first time.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Brighton Festival is an event we have heard about for years but have never experienced. To us, it inspires thoughts of an innovative artistic program linked to the places, culture and people of the city. We have high expectations!

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We are really looking forward to seeing what’s happening in contemporary UK performance and the international work that’s in the program. Coming from Australia, it’s a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in the festival atmosphere of Brighton and understand its identity and future visions. We are also thrilled that Brighton audiences will have the chance to see Attractor.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

Actors Marc Antolin and Daisy Maywood give us an insight into The Flying Lovers of Vitebska new show from Kneehigh Theatre that traces the extraordinary lives of Marc and Bella Chagall. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Daisy
: The show is called The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. Fundamentally, it's a love story between Marc Chagall and his first wife Bella, their extraordinary lives and achievements and the turbulent period of history that they lived through.

Marc: The background to the love story are some of the most incredible moments of European history. I think this play is also about what it is to be an artist

Why should someone come and see your show?
Daisy:
It's a playful world of art, music and love that audiences can escape to for ninety minutes.

Marc: It’s also quite unique in the way that it marries music, drama and dance seamlessly.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Daisy: 
Emma (our director) and her then partner Daniel (our writer) saw one of Chagall's paintings and Daniel noticed that Emma looked like Bella. They then looked into their lives and love story and Daniel wrote the play for Emma.
 

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Marc: 
It’s always important to keep telling stories, this one is about two artists falling in love and the sacrifices one of them has to make in the relationship. The themes discussed also are so relevant today and I think there’s so much in this story that people can reflect and learn from.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Marc:
We’ve had so many people of different ages and cultures watch this show when we’ve performed it before and I’m always constantly surprised from what people take from it.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Marc:
I think people will come away from this show wanting to learn so much more about Marc Chagall and his work and will be surprised about how incredibly creative Bella was, but how she took a step back in order to let Marc pursue his work.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Daisy: I’m so thrilled to bring this show to Brighton festival because I love this place and knowing that I like Brighton and I like festivals, so I'm very excited to be a part of Brighton Festival.

Marc: I’m so thrilled to bring this show to Brighton festival because I love this place and knowing that Kneehigh have such a big following here, I’m excited for them to see this show.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Marc: Taking Flying Lovers of Vitebsk to Edinburgh last year was incredible, it was my first festival and I had the most amazing time. I can’t wait to see lots of different theatre, music, comedy and be inspired by people telling stories in their own unique way.

Daisy: I'm really hoping to catch Kaya from Ceyda Tanc's all-female dance company which puts a modern spin on traditional Turkish folk dance.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: The Humours of Bandon

Margaret McAuliffe, writer and performer of The Humours of Bandon, talks to us about Riverdance, childhood hobbies and the competitive world of Irish Dance. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
The Humours of Bandon is a one-person coming of age comedy drama centered around the world of competitive Irish Dance.

How and where will the work be staged?
It’s on in the Brighthelm Centre at 7:30pm from 16th – 20th May. 

Why should someone come and see your show?
People should enjoy this show if they ever had a childhood passion that came to an end as adulthood beckoned, and they fancy a trip down memory lane. It will also *infotain* its audience on the competitive world of Irish Dance!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The inspiration came from my personal experience of competitive Irish Dancing. The idea formulated once I applied for the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2016 and realized the scene was prime for a dramatic telling of a coming-of-age story.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The moment you give up something you’ve dedicated many hours to, you feel a sort of void. I’ve heard from audiences the length and breadth of the country that this play resonates with them owing to their previous exploits in swimming, football, ballet, athletics and even junior paramedics! I think it’s important to remember the skills you might have pursued in your teenage years and the impact they had on your personal development, it’s nice to reflect on your journey.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
This play is for anyone that had a childhood/teenage passion. It’s also loved by the parents or teachers of said teenagers who recognize the role they played in that teenager’s life. It’s funny to look back on those moments that were fraught with tension and great drama with the benefit of hindsight, makes for a lot of laughs.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
People are going to be surprised by how interested they become in the competitive world of Irish Dancing (no, seriously) an arena that can showcase Olympic-level athleticism mixed with art, pageantry, stock characters, common tropes and niche knowledge.

Riverdance brought Irish Dancing to the world stage in 1994 but audiences have yet to see where this talent is honed, Irish Dancers develop their skill through competitions or ‘feiseanna’ and this play brings you behind the scenes at the most important event in the feis calendar.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
This will be my first year at the Brighton festival so am very excited to see what’s on offer. I played the Dublin Fringe Festival ‘16 and last year the four weeks of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Brighton is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and the fact that I get to perform there for the festival is very fortunate indeed.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hotseat: XFRMR

We caught up with Robbie Thomson, artist and thearte maker to talk about XFRMR, an installation that explores the possibilities of the Tesla Coil as an instrument.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
XFRMR is a live audio-visual performance which explores the creative possibilities of the Tesla Coil as a musical instrument in its own right. The technology is based on Nikola Tesla's 1891 design which was originally developed for long range power transmission. In the show, I synthesise waveforms that manipulate the high voltage discharges from the coil to create live musical tones which is set against an underlying electronic score.

The composition itself moves between soundscapes inspired by the sounds of space weather and percussive sections rooted in industrial music and techno.

How and where will the work be staged?
In XFRMR the Tesla Coil takes centre stage, it's housed in a large steel Faraday cage that shields the 250,000 Volt arcs of plasma and the electromagnetic fields that the coil produces. The show is driven along by dynamic lighting effects and audio-reactive projections which are mapped onto the setup. The performances at Brighton Festival are taking place in The Spire.

Why should someone come and see your show?
It's a chance to experience raw electricity first hand, the Tesla Coil is a visceral phenomenon to be up-close to, and you might even smell the ozone being created from the sparks.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I was interested in high voltage devices and so was drawn to using the Tesla coil on a visual level and from a historical perspective before I was really aware of it's musical potential. The direct correlation of the sonic and visual elements and the real physicality of the coil as an electro-acoustic instrument (the air ionising to create sound and light) made it ideal to use in an artistic context.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The ways in which technology is being used to synthesise natural phenomena relates to so many aspects of where the frontier of science is at today. The boundaries between synthetic and natural worlds are constantly being tested (whether that be in artificial intelligence or nanotechnology) so it's interesting to consider the nature of electricity and invisible wavelengths within this context, as it is something that we usually either ignore or take for granted.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Audiences for XFRMR have been really varied in the past; I've played in clubs where the emphasis has been on dancing and in seated theatres where people have tuned in more to the nuances of the sound. I think there's something there for anyone with an interest in electronic music and technology but also for people who are more visually orientated and want to experience a dramatic display of electricity.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
I think people will be surprised by how musical the Tesla Coil can be, you can make it really expressive and create quite delicate timbres as well as distorted tones and harsh percussive stabs.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The Wave Epoch sounds like a really interesting project; it'd also be wicked to see Deerhoof again.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: A House Repeated

A House Repeated is an interactive performance-game that combines the simplicity of bare-bones storytelling with the limitless possibilities of contemporary open-world computer games. We caught up with creator and performer Seth Kriebel to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
A House Repeated is part-show, part-game. The performers describe a place and the
audience tell us what they want to do next — go North, open the door, that sort of thing —
and then we describe the consequence of their choices… and the show unfolds from
there. In this show we’ll be exploring the Brighton Dome, as it undergoes its restoration…the audience gets to poke into the dark corners of its past, present and possible future —without leaving their seats!

How and where will the work be staged?
We’ll be in Brighton Dome during the first week of the Festival. As the show is all about the building, it’s great to be right there, in between the history and the construction as we explore and play with the fabric of the building and time.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We open the door to a world waiting to be explored. It’s not improv — it’s all there ready to be found — but it’s up to you to navigate. It’s very gentle and fun… it’s not a scary, put people-on-the-spot experience. We work together with the audience to uncover a Brighton Dome as it was, is and might become.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
It’s basically a live version of the old interactive-fiction computer games I played as a kid
in the early 80s, back before computer graphics, when it was just a glowing green line of text against a black background… so everything happens in your imagination. It’s somewhere between old fashioned storytelling and the most recent open-world computer games that give you the freedom to go anywhere and do anything you like.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think we get too wrapped up in the mundane bricks and mortar of the world, we forget
the possibility of the unexpected, the slightly out of the ordinary. Not the through-the-back-of-the-wardrobe fantasy of a children’s story, but the excitement of finding a spiralstaircase that leads down into the dark… and the ability to go have a look at what’s down there.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Anyone who likes storytelling, games, immersive theatre, the history of Brighton and the Dome… and the possibilities of finding out just what might be hiding behind that door…

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
How exciting it is to explore - and maybe even build - a world that exists only in the minds of you and your fellow audience members.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I love the buzz of the city in May! It’s great to see the mix of international companies and local artists — Brighton has such a vibrant creative community. And as a local parent myself, I think I’ve walked in the children’s parade every year since 2009…

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I’m really looking forward to Elephant & Castle… And I loved Kneehigh’s Tristan and Yseult last year, so I can’t wait for The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. Also, everyone in our house is a big fan of John Finnemore, so we’ll be front row centre for his show!

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: The Enormous Room

In an epic new production from Stopgap Dance Company - part of the Festival's caravan biennial showcase - we follow a father and daughter gradually coming to terms with the loss of their wife and mother. In this Festival Hot Seat, Stopgap's Artistic Director Lucy Bennett talks to us about her inspiration behind the piece.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
The Enormous Room is a dance theatre show that explores a father-and-daughter relationship. They have recently lost their wife/mother and the audience gaze into how they are each going through the grieving process differently.

How and where will the work be staged?
A conventional black box theatre at The Old Market

Why should someone come and see your show?
Because it’s a beautiful and evocative piece of dance theatre. By exploring something personal like grief, everyone invested something genuine in the creative process, and this shared ownership of the work is what makes it so moving. The Enormous Room has been described as an absorbing encounter with grief and loss that comforts and provokes long after the piece has ended.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea first emerged when I was listening to Hofesh Shechter talking with William Forsythe as part of The Brighton Festival in 2014. As a young choreographer Forsythe had some invaluable advice from his ballet teacher. When struggling to make a piece of work his teacher said: ‘Close your eyes, imagine the piece that you want to watch and make that one’.

At that moment I did just that. I saw a small room full of clutter and dark furniture set within a big space. I saw characters appearing and disappearing through drawers and cupboards, the dancers were restricted and their limbs and faces told the story.

From there the idea meandered for two years while I explored forms and narratives. I was interested in using text for this show and one of our dancers David Toole and I had already spoken about exploring this. I became interested in him playing a character who was unable to let go of the past.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Grief touches us all, and by seeing how people react to it in different ways, it might console or support when you are faced with it eventually. In the creation process, we had diverse contributors from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as age and disability, and the breadth of perspectives have enriched and deepened how our characters each experience and deal with it. Grief makes your mood fluctuate wildly, and it was good to get perspectives of different people to explore it in the creation process.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: SHUT DOWN

Charlotte Vincent, choreographer and director of Brighton-based company Vincent Dance Theatre, tells us about her newest piece SHUT DOWN, a brother work to last Festival's VIRGIN TERRITORY.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
It’s not exactly a show! It’s a full-length production, in film installation form, that explores the pressures, contradictions and confusions of being a man today, filtered through my eyes as a female choreographer / director.

How and where will the work be staged?
SHUT DOWN film installation, shot and edited by VDT’s brilliant cinematographer Bosie Vincent, plays across six screens at ONCA Gallery, throughout the festival. This complex, humorous and visually layered production is accompanied by short works made by young men working with VDT and Audio Active as part of Mankind’s Room To Rant programme (LINK) and at The Connected Hub (LINK).  Reflecting on modern masculinity using charcoal drawing, stills photography and spoken word, Young People’s work will also be shared on Vincent Dance Theatre’s Youtube Youth Channel from May onwards.


Why should someone come and see your production?
It’s funny, sensitive and moving and relevant for us all – particularly as we see the ‘crisis of masculinity’ continuing to gather momentum all around us with the #metoo and #timesup campaigns.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
SHUT DOWN is the brother piece to VDT’s VIRGIN TERRITORY, which appeared at ONCA in the 2017 Brighton Festival and is currently on tour throughout the UK. These two partner pieces - full-length stage productions that become widely shared full-length film installations - consider the society that we have created for young people, in particular examining the impact of growing up within a gender divisive world where social media presents very real crises of confidence, online dangers and a degree of self-loathing.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The themes we consider in both works are around the influence of pornography on our kids and how they treat each other, the pressures to be masculine and feminine when we know there is a spectrum of experience, the challenge to mental health that a body obsessed society incites and issues around absent parents, home and belonging that everyone can relate to.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Although the piece is about perceptions of masculinity and pressures on boys and men to behave a particular way, it’s relevant for anyone interested in dance, theatre and film or gender politics. The choreography is influenced by partnering, street dance and ensemble work, and there is some passionate spoken word performed by 15-year-old Eben ‘Flo from local music organisation AudioActive – a charity that supports young urban artists - in the past including Rag ‘n’ Bone Man (who is now their Patron) and Rizzle Kicks.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
I’ve presented work in the last three Brighton Festivals, since moving my company to Brighton from Sheffield. As an Associate Company of Brighton Dome this is how it should be – the festival is a great platform for any artist’s work and I love the way work that crosses political boundaries and challenges expected forms can be seen by such a diverse audience. Last year we had 1000 people pass through ONCA over two weeks seeing dance theatre as part of VIRGIN TERRITORY multiscreen film installation. These are audience figures that are hard to gather live on tour in one venue, so the digital model is working for us to get my choreographic work seen by non-dance attenders, film enthusiasts, general public and visual artists. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Bang Said the Gun

Bang Said the Gun calls themselves poetry for people who don't like poetry. Co-founder, Dan Cockrill, is here to tell us why. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
BANG! Said The Gun is a poetry event for people who don’t necessarily like poetry. We take the best Spoken Word poets around and smash them together with entertainment to create a raw and raucous rollercoaster ride of emotions. It’s loud, political, trivial, serious and very funny. It will make you laugh out loud and cry tears of wonderment.


How and where will the work be staged?
We will be at St Georges Church on St Georges Road on SATURDAY 19TH MAY. Show kicks off at 7.30pm. One stage, one mic, Soul music, hand made shakers, balloons and animations. (And that is just the first 5 minutes of the show.)

Why should someone come and see your show?
To have their belief in humanity and the human experience restored. Or just to a have a good time.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
BANG! Said The Gun was started by Martin Galton and Daniel Cockrill 20 years ago as an antidote to dreary poetry and even drearier poetry nights. They wanted it to be a night that everyone could enjoy whether you liked poetry or not. The other members of the group, Rob Auton and Laurie Bolger, have added their ideas and charm to the mix to create a real Rock n Roll poetry show.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think people want to be alive and enjoy being alive. Everyday life can sometimes make that a difficult thing to achieve. So we created a space where people can shake away some of the dust, have a great time in the process and maybe learn something new along the way.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
People who DON’T like poetry will love this show. People who DO like poetry will also love this show. That is pretty much everyone.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
If you have never encountered a BANG! Said The Gun show you will be surprised by the raw energy and noise produced. If you have never experienced live poetry you will be surprised by just how moving words can be. A little bit of truth can be an amazing thing when you are bombarded and confronted by dishonesty and fake news on a daily basis. They will also be surprised by how much fun they will have. It’s a joyous show to be part of.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
Bang performed at the Festival last year to a packed crowd. We had such a great time we thought we’d do it all again this year. I studied at Brighton University in the mid nineties, so it was great coming back to see faces I hadn’t seen for years.

Meeting all the festival staff was great too. We had a right good giggle with all the tech team and festival liaisons. We were looked after tremendously by all the locals and festival team.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I’m going to give a shout out to some of BANG’s friends, many of them have appeared on the BANG stage over the years. Jemima Foxtrot and Cecilia Knapp are appearing in a play called Rear View, which I believe takes place on a bus. 

Our good friends Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore, Toby Campion & Theresa Lola have teamed up with some Illustrators for some live poetry and drawing which sounds like great fun. Yomi Sode has his one man show Coat at the festival. And if you have never seen Lemn Sissay perform then I would definitely go see him. I love all of those guys, so any of those shows will be a treat. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Rear View

David Wheeler, artistic director of Halifax-based IOU theatre tells us about Rear View and working on the show with performance poets Jemima Foxtrot and Cecilia Knapp.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
The central idea is that the audience is lead around the town by a young woman visiting special places in her future life. We begin in an art class when she is in her sixties and we hear her thoughts as they are gradually taken over by her younger self. She then takes us out of the art class and onto IOU’s specially made open-top bus and we are taken on her journey. Everything in a sense is in the future, there is ambiguity about whether we are looking back or looking forward. An important part of the concept is that it is imagined and written from the perspective of a young women at the beginning of her adult life.

How and where will the work be staged?
Rear View starts on The Barge at Brighton Marina where the art class scene takes place and then the audience boards the Rear View bus for a journey around Brighton. Cecilia and Jemima have each written their own version of the show and the performances alternate between them, so as one group of audience board the bus, the next group begins the art class. The locations visited on the journey remain the same each time, but Cecilia’s and Jemima’s words were written independently by them and their performances are very different and personal to them.

Why should someone come and see your show?
The show presents an unusual and affecting premise for audiences to experience. The drawing class gently starts the process of looking and observing so that when the audience begins the bus journey around the town they are in a slightly altered state and more intimately connected to the woman’s character.  

Travelling through the real world listening to the words and soundscape through headphones, cocooned in a heightened sound world, creates a very immersive feeling. The small details of everyday life of people in the real world going about their daily business magically become integrated into the poetry of the words. The combination is quite moving and contemplative and at the same time it is an exhilarating experience travelling around on the very conspicuous backward-facing bus.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The words and poetry come from Cecilia’s and Jemima’s own experiences and imagination set in the context that we have created for them. IOU has always tried to make the experience for an audience surprising and unusual, putting on work in places where people don’t normally see theatre and often moving them around on mass between scenes. The bus is an obvious solution to all those years of complex logistics and risk assessments. But most of all, it is a vehicle that everyone wants to ride on!

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Because it is a story I think many of us are constantly having with ourselves already. We have an inner dialogue going on that tries to place us in time and place, thinking about what has just happened and what might happen next, planning and abandoning plans, being diverted and thinking, “is it that time already?” 

The show takes us along streets and roads that may have been here for hundreds of years, past buildings that have had generation after generation take possession. The show heightens our sense of how fleetingly we occupy these spaces and places, but the experience is life affirming and people often say how much it meant to them and how well it described their own life in the town.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
What surprises me each time I see the show is how beautifully the real world mixes with the imagined world that Cecilia’s and Jemima’s words create.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Brighton has always been a favourite festival for us and the first of many shows we performed here was TOWERS in 1977. Does anyone still have any photos?! Perhaps my favourite moment was in a night time show seeing Steve Gumbley walking out to sea wearing very large inflatable trousers, bobbing out to sea standing bolt upright like a fishing cork and disappearing into the darkness.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Gob Squad, Creation (Pictures for Dorian). I love their calm audacity; long may they reign!  

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: The Boy, The Piano and The Beach

The Boy, The Piano and The Beach is a lovingly created show by Lewes based Slot Machine Theatre. It is a story about adventure and transformation, full of warmth, music and surprises. We talked to artistic directors Nick Tigg and Nicola Blackwell to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Our show is called The Boy, The Piano and The Beach, and it’s an epic adventure told through puppetry, projection, dance, with the whole story set to live piano music. Turn it inside out and it’s a piano recital with an amazing visual story. It opens with a young boy waking on a beach - and the tide coming in fast. Before he can escape, the world of the beach begins to shift, objects start to take on a life of their own, and an unearthly sound lures him into a big adventure - into another dimension.

How and where will the work be staged?
The show is on at the Brighthelm Centre on North Road, from the 5th-7th May. Brighthelm itself is a really family-friendly venue, in central Brighton near to the station, with a great cafe and plenty of space for buggies, wheelchairs etc. 

Why should someone come and see your show?
Whole families can come and see The Boy, The Piano and The Beach together: it's not just for kids, there's something for all ages, which is how we make all of our family shows. If you like live music and a richly imaginative visual world, then this is for you.

As a show with no spoken word, it’s highly accessible for families, including those with SEN children and adults. There is a relaxed performance on the 6th of May, and bespoke touch tours available on request from box office for those with impaired sight, or those on the autistic spectrum.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
We took a lot of inspiration from Selkie myths - selkies are seal-like beings that emerge from the sea. When they take off their special coats, they can become human. There's a lot of selkie myths from around the north coast of Scotland, they're sort of like mermaids, but a bit more scary and interesting! We are also inspired by the work of our award-winning projection artist, Will Monks. Will makes amazing textural projections for theatre, dance and bands, and we’re hugely excited to be working with him.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
It’s important because it’s a story about adventure and transformation and finding your way back home. It’s also important because of it’s elements: Dance, beguiling visuals, puppetry and the incredibly varied world of piano repertoire. We are really passionate as a company about making world-class work accessible to the most diverse audiences we are able to reach. And we love work that is relevant across generations and abilities.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Cutting-edge, international work and world class performances, all brought to our city.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We love David Shrigley so we’re looking forward to his exhibition, and the music made from his writing. Brownton Abbey looks brilliant too. Also, Hofesch Shechter, that’s exciting, No Fit State are great, Kneehigh and their Chagal show we really want to see, Blaas looks interesting, Malcolm Middleton’s versions of David Shrigley works are funny and interestingThe Wave Epoch looks good - too much, too much.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Fauna

Fauna is a captivating exploration of primal behaviour in the animal kingdom. We caught up with the exciting new Circus company behind it to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Our show is called Fauna. It’s a captivating exploration of primal behaviour, created by six leading professional artists. The audience is welcomed into our world to witness the ritual of courtship, the aggression of competition, and the Machiavellian cunning and simple pleasures of play, brought to life by the entrancing skills of our performers. Fauna is also set to an original live soundtrack by award-winning acoustic and percussive guitarist Geordie Little.

How and where will the work be staged?
Theatre Royal Brighton

Why should someone come and see your show?
Fauna is a multidisciplinary new circus show that has entwined elements of dance, live music, high level acrobatics and physical theatre in a new and innovative way. It is also an exciting demonstration of physical strength, and pushes circus in a new artistic direction.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea behind Fauna came from a very organic process. All of our artists wanted to explore movement and character in terms of our animalistic tendencies. It felt like a very rich source of inspiration for creating innovative ways of performing circus, while still giving purpose for tricks and flips.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
We feel it’s important to story tell to connect with our audiences, and take them on a journey
through our world, and into the brains of our artists and their crazy ways.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Any lover of movement, acrobatics and music will love our show. Its targeted to all ages.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
The way in which high level acrobatics is entwined into a strong narrative. Also, the development of the characters and the connections between performers.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? (If you’ve been with us before, do you have a favourite Festival moment?)
Brighton Festival is a beautiful opportunity for us to perform our art to an array of open minded people, and to welcome and share with the local community.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Checking out some different performance genres and supporting the local artists!

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Elephant and Castle

Husband and wife team, Tom Adams and Lillian Henley’s show Elephant and Castle is all about Tom's sleep talking and sleep walking. We caught up with Tom to find out more…

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Hello, our show is called Elephant and CastleIt is a Gig-Theatre show all about sleep walking and sleep talking told by a married couple, me (Tom) and Lillian. It uses live music, theatre, and 300 audio recordings of me sleep talking taken from three years to tell a personal and wider story about relationships, identity and how to cope when your partner is a parasomniac. 

Some of the audio recordings are funny. Some of them are dark and disturbing. All of them tell us something. Something that is desperate to be heard. And may be catastrophic for this relationship. It is called Elephant and Castle because the first thing I said to Lillian in my sleep was “I want to get in a wardrobe and take you to ‘Elephant and Castle”.

How and where will the work be staged?
Our show is staged like a live music gig, with piano, electric guitar and microphones
dotted around the stage. We want people to feel the intimacy of our bedroom so we
have a large inflatable bed with a dark red divan in the centre of the stage which we
manipulate, lie on top of, project animation onto. Lillian and I wear paisley pyjamas
and the feel of the show is intimate, funny and a little bit dirty. It has been described
as David Lynch meets Skegness B&B.

Why should someone come and see your show?
It is a personal story told by a real life married couple about subjects that affects us all: How do we sleep? Who are we when we go to sleep? Do we really know the person we share a bed with?

The show has a strong narrative but also a dreamlike flow to the style. The music is inspired by Americana with storytelling and humour and Lillian’s voice has been called
‘extraordinarily beautiful’ by The Stage and the humour of the songs as ‘Bill Baileyesque’.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
When Lillian and I first got together, she told me that I slept talked and slept walked a lot. I did not know this really. I knew I had a slight problem, but I didn’t know it was every night.

This made me download the cool app for the iPhone called Sleeptalk that switches on at night when any sounds are made. I realised that I was saying interesting things most nights such as “Ooooh you don’t want to see this guy, Jesus” and “Can I have a potato? Um, just one thanks”. I had been wanting to collaborate with Lillian for a long time and this felt like the perfect project to work together on. A true story about us.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think it is an important story because it is true. We have not doctored or exaggerated any of the stories about the sleep talking or sleep walking I do. It is a clear, intimate portrayal of a couple which invites the audience to view their own relationships in another light. The show’s message is ultimately about love and compassion for each other.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Someone who wants something different from a live performance.
Someone who enjoys watching alternative comedy
Someone who is interested in the science of sleep
Someone who would usually watch live music. They will come for the live music and really enjoy the storytelling.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
There is a moment of beautiful silliness 3/4 of the way through the show that will get people’s attention.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Woe are so proud to be programmed alongside such brilliant artists.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Tim KeyThe Castle Builder, The Cult of Water and Rear View

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat: Wot? No Fish!!

In our first Hot Seat Interview of 2018, Danny Braverman talks us through his one-man performance in Wot? No fish!!, an intimate look at lost art of his Great Uncle Ab.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Wot? No Fish!! is a remarkable story about discovering the art of my Great-Uncle, Ab Solomons. Ab drew a picture once a week for his wife Celie over 55-years of their marriage. The story is about lots of things, including love, art, history and catering.

How and where will the work be staged?
At the Brighthelm Centre, 8th and 9th May at 19:30pm

Why should someone come and see your show?
Audiences and critics across the world have loved the show; people laugh and cry and tell me it’s memorable and meaningful to them.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Initially, I wanted to share the hidden art work of a remarkable ‘outsider artist’.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The story resonates differently for different people; it may be “historical”, but it’s also fiercely contemporary. To some, the heart of the story is about the struggles of the children of immigrants; for others, the story of the institutionalisation of Ab and Celie’s disabled son Larry is the most affecting part; for others, perhaps most people, the show is about the power of love.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
This is a show that crosses divides. Bring with you someone you love; friend or family. It crosses generations. It’s a Jewish story and my fellow Jews will recognise a lot of the references. But it is also universal, most recently received very warmly in China!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
There are a lot of astonishing revelations. The ending is a surprise and a treat too.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
It’s great to see a festival so diverse and political - that balances exciting emerging artists with established names.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The range is amazing. I’m a massive Miles Davis fan, so the reinterpretation of Kind of Blue is exciting. I’m also hugely looking forward to StopGap Dance and Amanda Palmer.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Festival Hot Seat...The Hum

Breathing new life into the mundane,The Hum takes over Brighton this year to remind us of the beauty in the everyday. We caught up with director, Nic Sandiland, to find out more.

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Yes, it’s about looking at the detail of our everyday and mundane activities within the City; things we take for granted and don’t give a moment’s notice because of their overfamiliarity. Cinema is very good at showing us this; it gives us an opportunity to dwell and reflect on such details. For The Hum, we’re simply taking some standard filmic techniques: narration and soundtrack, and using a smartphone to overlay these onto the live visuals of each site; it’s like an inside out cinema.

How and where will the work be staged?

At 15 locations around the City, each within walking distance of each other. The public uses a free app to guide them to each place which, on arrival, plays a narrated soundtrack which accompanies the day to day choreography which takes place there.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To re-experience the city from a different perspective, to hear some thought provoking text set to an emotive musical score.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was looking to develop a location-based app to give more people access to our work. Our projects are very visual but we quite quickly realised that a tiny Iphone screen was no match for the surrounding environment, however dull it seemed to be. This made me consider what it was that smartphones could bring to such environments and how we could look at these places anew. In this case, it was navigation and sound playback. Put these ingredients together and you get The Hum.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

So much mainstream cinema and theatre is about the big events, things that most people don’t really experience in their day to day lives. The Hum, on the other hand, is about the world of the everyday, it reflects on acts such as: waiting at a bus stop, standing on an escalator or walking down the road. These are the places that we spend most of our time in, so why not elevate their status and place frames around them.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

It’s not an action movie, it’s more a reflective and emotive one. Perhaps this is for those who want to avoid the rush of the city and “stand and stare” as W.H.Davies famously said.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Possibly its simplicity, but mainly its content. Being an app-based event one might assume that the dramatic or reflective content is not such a priority; however, this is at the core to the work. It is a very personal and contemplative piece, mainly thanks to the dexterity and sensitivity of the writers involved.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

The Festival is a focal point of culture and new challenging work. I have many favourite moments over the years. Last year Simon McBurney’s The Encounter was a beautiful application of new technology. Embracing digital forms of presentation whist holding onto the intimate narrative he managed to conjure up a transfixing performance in an adept manner.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?

I’d like to see Theo Clinkard’s new piece, he’s working with James Keane, a fabulously talented composer who also created the soundtracks to The Hum!

To experience The Hum download the app here from the 6 May onwards.