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

Showing 26 to 50 of 40 items

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.

Festival Hot Seat...This Bright Field

Brighton-based choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard has built a reputation for creating affecting and visually arresting work for his company including this new piece, This Bright Field, which is in two parts and gradually builds in momentum to become a spectacle of visual and emotional power.


How and where will the work be staged?

This Bright Field will be presented at The Brighton Dome Concert Hall and is conceived in two parts. In part one, the audience enter the theatre in small groups to find themselves on the edge of the stage where they experience 15 minutes of intimate and tender solos and duets that explore touch.

In part two the audience is situated together in the auditorium and everything that has been established in part one is put to the test. Individual dancers move within a series of external conditions, both social and choreographic. The piece gradually builds in momentum to reach an epic scale, so that at one point the cast appears to be made up of hundreds of people. Live drumming and bold costumes also create memorable final scenes.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

In 2013, I was invited to make a work for the larger stage by an organisation called Dance4 and I began researching how I might rethink some of the conventions of dance presented in bigger venues.

I devised a structure where an audience might establish personal connections with the cast by initially situating them close to the action, then using the volume of the auditorium as a gentle provocation. Could the group be seen through the lens of the audience’s individual connections now that they have essentially zoomed out from the action?

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

I believe that mankind has difficulty humanising statistics, as we struggle to grasp scale. The numbers remain abstract while our brains seemingly can’t hold the information.

A group of 'other' people can easily be dehumanised when we fail to recognise the independent lives that make up the group, and the risk is often greater when we add in different belief systems. We might be able to empathise with those on our doorstep, but when the people in question are not in our immediate sphere of experience, it becomes harder.

My work could serve as a reminder to retain a human-scale perception in the world. I went on to consider the large group of performers I was working with, and even the audience themselves. The thinking is included in the way I structured and formed the piece rather than in a theatrical sense.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because they believe that dance can tap into something instinctive and human that other art forms struggle to touch upon. Also, because they are interested in how live music can radically increase the nature of performance and because they are not shy of work that comes from and speaks to the heart.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Someone who enjoys films or other artworks that require them to sit forward and figure it out for themselves, who loves to see skilled dancers in a creation that works with, empowers and celebrates their differences. Also, someone who is curious about humankind and how we see the world and believes that contemporary work has a duty to draw upon the world as it is right now.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The set-up in two parts, which is unusual in terms of where the audience is situated and what this does to their attention. The considered design that creates numerous distinct worlds on stage and the stirring live music.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

As a local, Brighton Festival means great work from around the world right on my doorstep. As an associate at the Dome, I feel I have a base from which to be in dialogue with the extraordinary work that comes through its doors, to be part of a bigger worldwide conversation and celebrate all that unites us with other worlds and contexts. It is necessary now more than ever before.

This Bright Field by Theo Clinkard is on at Brighton Dome on 25 May from 5.10pm

Festival Hot Seat...SPECTRA: CAST

Artist duo Walter & Zoniel plan to transform Brighton Beach into the biggest canvas in town with SPECTRA: CAST, which is part performance, part installation. Here they tell us more about what’s in store.


Can you tell us what your show is about?

SPECTRA: CAST is a large-scale public installation where we will be painting Brighton beach multi-coloured. It is an interactive art piece, so everyone is invited to take part.

The installation is purposefully simplistic in terms of interaction yet it works on multiple levels, so each person will take something different from it.

It deals with themes of inclusivity in art and accessing creativity through crossing lines we aren’t normally allowed to. We use fun and mischief as tools in the installation to inspire engagement with the subjects.

How and where will the work be staged?

The work takes place on the beach in between Brighton Pier and the Doughnut Groyne. The active part will be on Doughnut Groyne, so anyone wanting to take part should head there. It can be viewed from all around, including the promenade and the pier, for those wishing to just watch the piece take shape.

Those taking part are invited to cast their multi-coloured stones onto the ‘canvas’of the beach. Each stone is coloured to represent each person’s individual opinion.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It will be fun, surreal and beautiful and those who input will be part of a massive artistic creation which will remain on the beach until nature takes its course.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

For our SPECTRA series of installations we wanted to use mischief and surrealism, getting people to cross lines they wouldn’t normally be allowed to cross. We were inspired by societal concepts of rules which led to the idea of crossing lines and using colour to change spaces in people’s consciousness.

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

It’s important for us to look at what restrains us and what fuels us on a daily and societal level, what rules are there and why, and when it’s useful to step aside from them to think creatively. Also, public engagement with art is a key element of this piece. Everyone should feel empowered to engage and have access to art, and we are strong advocates of that. The artwork exhibited on the beach will be a representation of everyone’s opinions.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who likes fun, or art, or expressing their opinions. Also anyone who enjoys being part of something bigger than themselves.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

That it works on multiple levels. There is much more to it than the simple act of throwing a coloured stone. We’re not telling you what, or it wouldn’t be a surprise.

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

We are really into Kate Tempest’s curation and how it’s focusing on the accessibility of art, as this is a subject close to our hearts. Brighton is such a vibrant and colourful city and the festival team is pushing boundaries of what can be created. We are looking forward to it all.

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

There are so many interesting events going on, it’s hard to choose. The light installation in the woods ‘For The Birds’ looks pretty intriguing.

SPECTRA: CAST is at Brighton Beach, Doughnut Groyne from 13-14 May

Festival Hot Seat...Rich Hall's Hoedown

Rich Hall and his musical mates present the Hoedown, a mash-up of the very best of music and comedy, featuring his critically-acclaimed grouchy humour and deadpan style. He explains a bit more about the show.


Why should someone come and see your live show?

I love the fact that when a live show is over, it’s gone. It's happened, and it will never happen like that again. It can’t be replicated. That’s a great magical moment.

In every single show, there are always two or three moments where I’m thinking, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ You’re constantly thinking on your feet.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

I try to tap into what is happening locally and address that musically by writing an improvised song based on the town I’m in.

Once audiences realise you're not just trotting out your regular act, people think, ‘He’s made a real effort. He’s on our side, so we're on his side.’ Then you can take them anywhere.

Where did the idea come from to do the improvised songs?

I like to do something custom-made every night, otherwise you would just be like a robot. That can really wear you down. Nobody gets more sick of hearing their own voice than a comedian.

When you're improvising a song, you think, 'I may never do this one again, but it’s a special moment for everyone here.’

Music works in my show because it connects with people on a very personal level. Having a band there makes it a much richer experience – if you’ll pardon the phrase!

A lot of comedians just come on stage and say, ‘I was on a bus and I passed so and so.’ But that’s just a reaction to something rather than a specific, custom-made song that engages people. The magic is more important than the material. People really respond to that.

What are the other inspirations for your comedy?

It is always good to articulate anger. If you don’t, you’re merely preaching to the converted and asking, ‘Have you ever noticed?’ Yes, we are paying you to notice things we haven’t already noticed!

You want to reach the point where audiences say, ‘I’d like to see that guy again’. You want to deliver the goods and be Old Reliable. I’m not a big showbiz hound, but for me being on stage is the most satisfying thing imaginable.

Rich Hall’s Hoedown is at Theatre Royal Brighton on Sun 21 May at 8pm

Festival Hot Seat...One Hundred Homes

One Hundred Homes is a lovingly conceived intimate performance by Belgian theatre maker Yinka Kuitenbrouwer. Full of warmth and insight, the show won rave reviews at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. We talked to Yina to find out more. 


Can you tell us what your show is about?

One Hundred Homes is an intimate performance based on over 100 talks about ‘home’. I went to visit over a hundred people in their houses. I tried to visit a lot of different kinds of people: those living in special houses such as boats, train stations and squats, along with people who fled their country or who moved around a lot. Based on all these talks, with the help of pictures, tea and biscuits, I perform my show.

How and where will the work be staged?

One Hundred Homes will play in a community pub, in a very intimate setting of a little kitchen and is always played to a small number of people. This way, I really get in touch with the audience, so the show is an encounter similar to the ones I had while visiting people researching the show.

Why should someone come and see your show?

One Hundred Homes is more than a regular performance, it’s an immersive encounter between the audience and me, the actor. It’s also about a topic that relates to us all – being at home. And there will be biscuits!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was born and raised in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. When I was 19 I moved to Ghent in Belgium to study Drama. Although I always planned to go back to Amsterdam after my graduation, I started to feel more at home in Ghent than in Amsterdam, although I had been living there for the larger part of my life. This realisation made me wonder what ‘home’ really is and this idea formed the starting point for the show. While I was doing my interviews as research, I was struck by the openness of the people I visited, and the intimate stories they told me, even though I had never met them before. This inspired me to make the show personal and honest.

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

It’s universal and very relevant to the current times with refugees crossing borders in order to find safe new homes.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Someone who likes to discover new places where theatre can be performed, who likes stories and meeting new people. Also, someone who likes an intimate setting where it’s a bit different to a regular performance. And who likes biscuits!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The range of people that are involved in the show and the fact that there are so many stories about home, but in the end everybody is more-or-less searching for the same thing. Also, people may not realise that there this is a special Brighton adaptation with local interviewees involved in the show.

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

It will be my first time visiting Brighton and the Festival. I’m very excited to be part of the Festival as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I’m also excited to be coming back to the UK after my run at the Edinburgh Fringe last August.

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

There is a lot to choose from, and with my seven performances in three days, and biscuits to bake for each, I don’t know if I will have time to see as many other performances as I’d like to! I’m really looking forward to enjoying the atmosphere of the city during the Festival.

One Hundred Homes is at the Bevy Community Pub from Friday 26 May to Sunday 28 May.

Festival Hot Seat...FK Alexander

The Glasgow-based performance artist is all set to give a performance like no other at this year’s Brighton Festival. Here she tells us more about (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow


Can you tell us what your show is about?

It’s not really a show – it’s an interactive one-to-one performance art piece, where I sing Over The Rainbow to one audience member at a time. Other people can witness the song being sung, and the Glasgow-based noise band Okishima Island Tourist Association play a wall of noise throughout the whole situation. I am singing live to a recording of the last time Judy Garland performed Over The Rainbow, a few months before she died, and while I sing I am holding the person’s hand and not breaking eye contact. It’s quite a loud situation, but filled with love.

How and where will the work be staged?

It will be presented at The Spire, which is a stunning site. There will be three different days where we will be sharing the work, in four hour durations.

Why should someone come and see your show?

People who love Judy Garland might connect to this, as well as fans of noise music, people seeking a moment of full attention from a stranger (myself) and people who are curious or enjoy intimate performance. Also, people seeking something real, intimate and genuine. Or maybe people who just like loud work!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Judy Garland is my spirit guide and for a long time I was seeking to make a work where I might occupy the space of her spiritually in the current time. I wanted to display the complexities of her, and her history and myth. I also wanted to draw on the tensions between the iconic song and the misunderstood music genre of noise, of which I have been a fan for years.

I wanted to make a real, live connection between myself and others, that happened in real time. It was a very personal process to make this when it was first shown in January 2014 in the Arches in Glasgow. I wanted to explore vulnerability and strength at the same time - of myself and others.

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

It’s not a story, it’s not a metaphor – it’s real!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone is open to come along – my work is never for anyone in particular. Everyone is welcome.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

It’s loud, it’s repetitive, there are no hidden sections. People are often very moved and I’ve held the hands of people crying. I am surprised by how emotional I feel every time.

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

I’ve never been! But I understand Brighton Festival to be of a very high quality, with an international programme that means a lot to the local community and those coming specially to see a diverse range of form-pushing and mind- and heart-expanding work.

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

I hope I see something I have not experienced before. It’s a huge programme with an unlimited scope for new sensations and so much I haven't heard of, which is really exciting.

(I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow is at The Spire on 26-28 May.

Festival Hot Seat ... Zvizdal

We catch up with Yves Degryse, Artistic Director of Berlin, who are bringing their ‘filmic portrait’ Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close) to Brighton Festival


Can you tell us what your show is about?

Over four years we have been filming near Chernobyl in the forbidden zone. Each time we went it was to meet two people, Petro and Nadia, a couple in their 80s, living in Zvizdal and who refused to be evacuated following the nuclear disaster. They have been living with no water or electricity and no means of communication with the outside world. Every time we went we took a plane and hoped they were still there. We spent time filming them in their everyday lives.

How and where will it be staged?

The audience will be seated in two tiers in front of a big screen, and underneath the screen will be three scale models of the couple’s house and grounds, depicting three seasons. There will be two cameras filming the models and these images will be interspersed in the film.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The French journalist Cathy Blisson, formerly a critic, but who moved into reportage, came into contact with Petro and Nadia and asked if we would be interested to collaborate with her, and we quickly decided to start the project.

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

The moment you enter the forbidden zone, you are entering a microcosm of human experience. It is a very extreme situation, but there are layers that you recognise, and as you spend time there the layers become more visible.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Our work can be complex but at the same time it appeals to a very broad audience.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

There will be surprises, relating to the concept of the piece, but the surprises you should not know beforehand.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

We have brought work to Brighton Festival before including Perhaps All The Dragons in 2014, and Lands End in 2012. What I really like about Brighton Festival is that I have the impression that the audiences are very eager to discover things. I think it’s connected with the way the Festival approaches the audience, not underestimating the audience.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I’m very happy that we will be part of that moment.

Book now for Zvizdal.


Festival Hot Seat… Breaking the Rules

Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, composed some of the most intense and glorious music of the Renaissance. He was also a brutal killer, and the full horror of his crimes stands in stark contrast to his astonishing music. We talk to Clare Norburn, the author of The Marian Consort’s Breaking the Rules to find out more about this unique show…

How and where will it be staged?

In All Saint’s Church, Hove (very fitting as the play is set part in Gesualdo’s chapel and partly in his head!) – it is half a concert/half a one man play – and our wonderful director Nicholas Renton (best known for his TV work on Musketeers, Lewis and George Gently) has staged it so that the music and text are really blurred and we try to bring the action around the audience. We want the audience to feel that Gesualdo is really speaking to them personally.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Well, our pilot performance and preview have had a really amazing audience reaction. People are fascinated by the story and seem to leave wanting to know more about the man and his music – which makes me feel we’re on to something special. Also, it’s rather unusual being half a play and half a concert – no one has toured a show quite like it before.

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

I think Gesualdo’s life and music has been misunderstood. He’s underrated as a composer and not often performed because the music out of context is seen as “difficult” – but it really isn’t once you adjust your ears. It’s extraordinarily powerful and exciting. I see Gesualdo as a kind of Gustav Mahler figure of the late 16th century – once people were given a way into Mahler’s music, he quickly became a “cult classical music figure”. I think the same could become true of Gesualdo.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

If you like slightly dark stories and something a bit different then this is the show for you!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Hopefully the music. The story. And the way that we have tried to create a completely different kind of show – half a concert/ half a play.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

Do you have a favourite Festival moment? I grew up in Brighton and as a teenager I sang in the Brighton Festival Chorus so I got to perform in many Festival concerts in the mid 80s. As a teenager, I didn’t really have a lot of access to arts events in London and so the Brighton Festival was for me the time when the city (which felt quite ordinary in the mid 80s – not as arty as it is now) became a truly magical place where anything could happen and where I felt part of a cultural community. I loved hanging out after performances at the Festival Club and seeing who might turn up!

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I came to the Festival launch in February and, although I was already thrilled that we had been asked to take part, hearing about all the other starry events made me feel particularly excited and honoured to be involved this year. Brighton Festival has been a huge part of my life – as a teenager performing with local choirs, as a singer performing as a young artists in the classical lunchtime series and now with my play here too.

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

I am keen to see La Nuova Musica’s Dido and Aeneas (they are a particularly exciting up and coming young group and I just saw them in London) and I’m really interested to see Stella by Neil Bartlett at the Theatre Royal. As a teenager I was fascinated by local history and so the story of a local cross-dressing Victorian actor brought to life on a Brighton stage sounds fascinating.

Book now for Breaking the Rules

Festival Hot Seat... Portraits in Motion

Volker Gerling spent over a decade touring Germany by foot, capturing the people that he met in his distinctive flipbook portraits. We caught up with him to find out about the development of his craft and his extraordinary show Portraits in Motion

Can you tell us what your show is about?

In the summer of 2002 I took an old wooden kitchen tray and made it into a simple hawker’s tray. It had room for six photographic flipbooks, which showed portraits of my friends, and I hung a sign on it saying “Please visit my traveling exhibition”.

I walked through Berlin, showing people my flipbook ‘movies’. I screwed an empty honey jar underneath the hawker’s tray so that visitors could pay a symbolic entrance fee.

For nearly a year I showed people my flipbook movies in Berlin. Then, I decided to become a journeyman – I wanted to find out how people all over the country would react to my flipbooks.

And I wanted to make some new flipbooks.

I was afraid that I would miss something if I travelled too quickly, so I decided to walk. In the summer of 2003 I walked from Berlin to Basel – a walk of 1,200 kilometres – and it was a great experience. So I decided to do it again.

Since then I have walked nearly every summer and in total I have walked some 3,500 kilometres, nearly all in Germany. On all of these walks my only source of money came from showing my flipbooks. Portraits in Motion is based on my long summer walks and the people I met on them.

Volker with his tray of flipbooks

How and where will it be staged?

I leaf through the flipbooks under a video camera that projects them onto a large screen, and I tell the stories about the people that are portrayed. The show is a reflection on the passing of time and what it means when people meet each other.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To see my protagonists come to life on screen in a way that you’ve probably never experienced before.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my fascination for human beings, faces, portrait photography, walking and storytelling.

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

Because every story that is told from the heart is important.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everybody who is able to see great things emerge from small things.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Nothing will prepare you for the intimacy of the flip books. There's something magical about these miniature glimpses into human souls.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It feels like a big honour for me to be part of the festival this year.

Book now for Portraits in Motion

Festival Hot Seat... Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal

Chilean company Silencio Blanco tells us more about the UK Premiere of their show Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal at Brighton Festival. 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Chiflón, The Silence of the Coal is the story of the mines, from the perspective of the people who worked them. A young miner is expelled from the coal pit where he works, and to keep working he has to accept a job in ‘El Chiflón del Diablo’, an infamously sinister mine. Silencio Blanco portrays the miners’ world through everyday situations and anonymous characters - also focusing on the role of women in these mining communities. 

How and where will it be staged?

Chiflón is going to be presented at the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, and it’s a simple collaboration between the puppets and their manipulators, who give life to the marionettes in a manner almost like a little dance between them. This is supplemented with simple scenery made with recycled materials like old wood, to show the simplicity of the work and the lifelike detail of every movement.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This play is unmissable, primarily for the visual language that’s used: marionettes constructed of newspaper and chopsticks, which, together with other day-to-day elements that have been recycled and re-purposed, give life to these bodies and to a fascinating and moving story.

Furthermore, despite us coming from far-away Chile - at the edge of Latin America - this language allows us to tell a completely universal story, focusing on the depths of these people, touching the very fibres of their being through everyday situations, just using movement and gesture.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

This play emerged from our intention to portray a particular job, a lost job, anonymous and lonely. That’s why we chose miners, inspired by Baldomero Lillo’s tale, Chiflón Del Diablo. Lillo is a brilliant Chilean author, naturalist, and witness of the world that he observes. He is considered to be the Chilean Emile Zola.

To develop the idea and the inspiration, we traveled to the town of Lota, in southern Chile, where we met mining families and ex-miners that today have no jobs. They told us their stories and experiences, their sadness, pains and dreams, and we realised that the miners’ history is a living treasure that we want to tell with our work.

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

Mainly because it’s a universal story.

It’s inspired by a town in Chile, but it cuts across all of humanity, because it talks about the human emotions of the workers faced with these conditions, and the role of the women and their uncertainty of not knowing if their men will come back from the mine or not.

Also because it talks about history - from the little stories of anonymous characters and the daily situations they face. It tells history from the perspective of the defeated, not the winners.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone aged 6 to 99.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The magic of the marionettes – how delicate and natural they are.

The illusion that can be produced through the marionettes is able to stir even the deepest emotion in the heart.

Have you visited Brighton before? What were/are your impressions of the city?

No we haven’t visited Brighton before, but we’re really excited to get to know the city and enjoy the festival. We don’t have any expectations – we just want have fun and enjoy it – but we hope people there will love and enjoy our work, which was prepared with a lot of love, care, attention to detail and, of course, hard work.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

We’re excited to be part of this huge festival and celebrate together the 50th anniversary. To us, it’s very important be part of this, because this is the first time that a Chilean company has participated in Brighton Festival, so it’s an honour to represent our country there – particularly with a very Chilean story, the story of the miners. It’s a privilege to present this work, and we are sure that everyone is going to enjoy it. We are bringing you a little piece of our history. 

Book now for Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal

Festival Hot Seat... Slap and Tickle

We catch up with Liz Aggiss, the 'unclassifiable' performance artist behind Slap and Tickle 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

As the title suggests it’s a show of opposites; slap and tickle, punishment reward, push and pull……..all the way home. It’s about inconsistencies, propaganda, interpretations, mythologies, platitudes and expectations on, and of, girls, ladies, women, mummies, mothers, grannies, pensioners and senior citizens. It’s about using performance as a means to create a discussion, a dialogue about the observed and received cultural mores, forays and sexual taboos.

How and where will it be staged?

Slap and Tickle is presented in three fast moving acts, using a visual and aural collage of movement, text, props, costumes (Holly Murray), sound (Joe Murray) and cover versions (Alan Boorman/Wevie). The performances take place in the intimate black box Studio Theatre space on Thursday 19th May at 8 pm, and Friday 20th May at 7pm and 9.30 pm.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because for the past 40 years I have been re(de)fining my own brand of British contemporary dance performance, dodging categorization and being classified as unclassifiable. Because there are limited opportunities to see live work. Because if you don’t come to see the work in Brighton the next chance will be London, then, Tasmania, India, Norwich, Bournemouth, Scotland and I can’t guarantee it will return to Brighton in the near future. No contest! Because I invite the audience to ‘…..have a party’ and then confound their expectations of what this party might be. Because I make, funny, accessible, empowering and thoughtful work. Because what are you waiting for? Permission? Because it’s granted!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was born on Nanny Goats Common, Dagenham, Essex, a post war baby, into a repressive era in the suburbs, where parents were truly in charge and children were seen and not heard. I never had a clue who I was, or what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to be seen and heard. I come from a pre televisual age, a world of radio drama, Mrs. Mills, post music hall variety acts, cor blimey and oooer missus, that opened the dark tabernacle into the soul of early feminism. It is this personal history when placed alongside feminist politics that compels me to create a context in which to scratch that particular itch. Slap and Tickle is that itch.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Bring an open mind and no preconceptions as to what you think a mature, ageing, post menopausal, solo, female, dancing body should be doing, why she should be doing it, and where it should be done, and you should be just fine. There are no limits except for those under 15 on account of the strong language. Not my call!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The pace, the speed, the unpredictability, the roller coaster ride.

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

Flexing my performance muscle and presenting Slap and Tickle in three consecutive performances. Apart from that taking a punt on unknown and new discoveries in unexplored locations, whilst soaking up Brighton and the festival atmosphere.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I’ve lived in Brighton since 1975. I’m still here, still making, still performing, still touring, nationally and internationally, still in the picture……… though not so still, I can’t stop moving! Must be the sea air.

Book now for Slap and Tickle

Festival Hot Seat... Clairière Urbaine

We caught up with Retouramont to find out more about their UK premiere Clairière Urbaine

Why should someone come and see your show?

The show - and more broadly the artistic work of the company Retouramont - offers new perspectives on the city. It doesn’t consider walls as limits but rather as openings and opportunities - and a means to invent new choreography. In our shows we aim to shift perspectives and invite the audience to discover their neighbourhood in a very new way.

How and where will it be staged?

It will be staged in Lavender Street. Some anchoring will be made on two buildings so the dance can evolve on the wall of one of them and in-between, in the air and over the audience.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It came from the desire to go beyond, but not in the usual sense. As a climber, cliffs or boulders are limits you want to go over. I like when this movement can also be inventive and aesthetic. In the city, I find this desire for crossing and going over particularly joyful and creative.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everyone can enjoy this aerial and acrobatic dance show that grabs the city in all its dimensions. We do not try to impose any story on the audience - each person can create their own story. This is our way of inviting the audience to feel and accept a shift of perceptions and take a new look at their surroundings.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

We propose a different and new use of the city that no one has seen before, not even the architects or inhabitants of the neighbourhood. They may look up for the first time and see buildings differently from now on.

Have you visited Brighton before? What were/are your impressions of the city?

This is my first time in Brighton - I'm curious to discover it.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It’s great to see such longevity in a festival of art, vertical dance is about 25 years old. In this sense, I find it very interesting to question and analyse our practices in the long-term: how did street arts emerge? What is their social role? etc.

Head this way for more info on free event Clairière Urbaine.

Festival Hot Seat... The Last Resort

In the first of a new blog series we caught up with artists Tristan Shorr and Rachel Champion aka Art Of Disappearing to find out more about upcoming Brighton Festival commission The Last Resort

Can you tell us what your show is about?

The Last Resort takes a wry look at a rather bleak future. It throws out questions and ideas and possibilities. It’s an experience that should challenge imagination and thought.

How and where will it be staged?

Two participants at a time embark on a fictional tour of a forgotten resort. They move along the barren stretch of beach, imagining what might or might not have been, led by an immersive score.. The site is near the dock at Portslade which we chose for its bleakness and solitary position, the perfect environment for the imagination to be set loose!

Why should someone come and see your show?

If you enjoy dystopian ideas, beautiful barren landscapes and sci-fi whilst spending time in an imaginative experience then this is the show for you. With an original score, the chance to spend quality time with friend, family or stranger, and a shop to buy The Last Resort goodies...what more could you want!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The outdoor site in Portslade was a perfect fit for certain ideas we have been mulling over for a while. The opportunity to create a work for Brighton Festival gave us the chance to bring the idea to life in a very real and raw way.

How we make the work and what the work is about are intrinsically linked for us. Within the creation of imaginary realities and reinterpreted landscapes the work looks to inspire, challenge and feed the participants imagination and create a space for action rather than passivity.

The context is of a future where our imaginations and our ability to think for ourselves as individuals is placed in doubt. Our inspiration is in the making of a work that encourages both active listening and active participation from our audiences.

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

Its both exciting and depressing to think about the future...what will happen, what are we doing and what choices will be made….this work looks at one extreme possibility all wrapped up in the nicest possible experience. It’s important to think ahead…

The Last Resort is a work that hopefully you leave asking a few questions.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The nudist beach along the route might be an eye opener!

The show is unusual, in that it uses sound along with the participants imaginations to create an immersive world.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who holds a fascination with the future, enjoys being outdoors, loves listening to music in headphones, enjoys the challenge of spending time with a friend, a stranger or a family member and definitely anyone who wants to broaden and challenge their imagination.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

Rachel:

I was born locally and have lived near Brighton for the majority of my life. Brighton has always been a place of positive escapism for me, the live music, the great coffee shops and the Brighton Festival. I actually performed in Brighton Fringe with my school 27 years ago! Ouch! It’s always been there...long may it continue!

Tristan:

I think at a time where funding for the arts is dwindling and when challenging audiences and social passivity to the world around us is also taking a step back, it's hugely important that arts and cultural festivals like Brighton Festival exist. It is also important that places that support work and artists pushing the boundaries of the arts exist too and this is what the festival means to us both.

This isn't to say that we view ourselves as particularly radical in our approach, but we definitely appreciate the importance of Brighton Festival giving a place for us artists to call home!

Do you have a favourite festival moment?

It hasn’t happened yet!! The festival is always great, the city wakes up! Can’t ask for more than that! We’re going to be pretty busy this year with the show so it will be a very different experience… we might have to hear about it rather than join in!

Book now for the last remaining slots of The Last Resort.