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

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David Shrigley on Brighton Festival 2018

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


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

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

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

What have been your highlights?

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

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

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

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

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

What was it like to appear at Your place?

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

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

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

What makes Brighton Festival special in your opinion?

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

Shrigley on Shrigley

Guest director David Shrigley talks us through his events at the Brighton Festival 2018. 

Best known for his darkly humorous works that comment on the inconsequential, bizarre, and disquieting elements of daily life, the artist’s offbeat take is reflected in his own events at this years festival. There's Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by Shrigley himself, and Life Model II, a follow-up to the artist’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name which invites visitors to take part in a life drawing class with a sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman as the ‘model’. Shrigley will also be doing an also an illustrated talk billed as ‘containing numerous rambling anecdotes… not in the slightest bit boring’, and a screening of a documentary about his work titled A Shit Odyssey. 

Head to our Whats On page to see the full programme
Video edited by Summer Dean

LOOK AT THIS! David Shrigley Brighton Festival Tips

Under David Shrigley's directorship, we are going to have an amazing Brighton Festival 2018 - he’s pretty good at picking and making great shows and events. Obviously, we’ve loved a lot of his work, but here are some of his picks…

Brett Goodroad
Brett and I met in 2013 when we were both on an artist-in-residency programme in Headlands Centre for the Arts which is near San Francisco. We became good friends, and he’s just a really interesting visual artist: an amazing painter, print-maker and he also make great drawings. Brett has never exhibited his work in UK: I thought it would be a great opportunity to have his work shown here.

Brett is also a truck driver because lower-income artists don’t seem to be well supported in the United States. Most people there who are visual artists have another job as well. Oddly Brett is a truck driver which is not an easy thing to do. He drives organic vegetables from northern California to southern Texas once a week. It’s an interesting job for a visual artist to do and he’s an unusual truck driver.

Shrigley Talk & Big Book Group
I’m doing a talk about my work, which is something I do periodically. I show images of my work, and I waffle on about it and try not to make it boring! Big Book Group is an event which Craig Melvin is hosting. Craig has hosted it quite several times, and this year Matt Haig – who’s Brighton based - and Jess Kid are speaking. I think that it will be a really interesting event because they’re both really fantastic writers… and then there’s me who isn’t really.

Deerhoof 
Deerhoof are a rock band from San Francisco who I made a record cover for about ten years ago. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. They’re a fantastic band, and a band whose music is not just great on record, but also really makes sense live. So, as the Guest Director, I, they were near the top of my list for bands I wanted to bring. Whenever anyone sees them play a live show, they’re always blown away by them. They’re also going to be doing a collaboration with Stargaze which is going to be well worth seeing.

Life Drawing II
Life Model II is the second incarnation of the life model piece that I made for the Turner prize show. The first one was a male, whilst this one is a female figure. Everybody who visits the exhibition is invited to make a drawing of the life model, and all the drawings will form part of the exhibition. 

Those drawings will form the two-dimensional aspect to the exhibition. It’s a piece about drawing, it’s a piece about everybody being included, about participating and making an exhibition yourself. I suppose that the arts – visual art particularly – is often seen as elitist and inaccessible. I suppose that’s what the piece is about; that art is for everybody, and that making art is for everybody too. It’s an artwork that begets other artworks and invites you to think about who’s the artist and who’s the subject.


Iain Shaw
Iain Shaw is also a friend of mine, from Glasgow. He’s a singer-songwriter in the tradition of Elliott Smith or Jackson C Frank. I wrote a lot of silly lyrics and he made them into some really wonderful songs, quite wistful, pop, folky type songs that he’s done largely with acoustic guitar. It’s a great collaboration.

A Shit Odyssey
A Shit Odyssey is a fly on the wall documentary about the making of Pass the Spoon, an opera I made in Glasgow in 2011. A Shit Odyssey was made by Cara Connolly and Martin Clark who are friends of mine. They are documentary film makers from the fine art world in Glasgow. It’s a project that’s taken around seven years to finally be shown! I think that will be a voyage of discovery to see a slightly younger version of myself, making a fool of myself. It is really a very interesting documentary because it’s a really, really strange project. So that will be fantastic.


Ezra Furman
Ezra Furman is, I think, one of the best writers of pop songs around today. He’s somebody I haven’t seen play, but I’ve got all his records. I’ve always managed to be out of town when he’s visited before, so this is just a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.

Bridget Christie
Bridget Christie is a brilliant comedian from London. Again, she’s a person whose proper show I’ve always managed to miss. I’ve seen her in a small vignette of her acts that she did at an event, but I wanted to see the full show. Fortunately, she said yes to performing at the Festival – so I’m really looking forward to that!


Malcom Middleton
Malcom Middleton is well known as a solo artist; however, he is also part of the influential indie rock band Arab Strap. Malcom and I made a spoken word record together a couple years ago and I’ve also made some artwork for album covers for him. I’m a big fan of his music. I think he’s one of the best singer-songwriters in the country at the moment, or at least of his generation.

The Problem in Brighton
The main project that I’m bringing to the festival is called Problem in Brighton and it’s a new musical theatre piece. It’s a bizarre rock and roll opera in collaboration with Lee Baker, a visual artist and a talented musician. I’m not really a writer as such, but I thought it was an opportunity to make something in Brighton, sort of my first project that’s made here – the first big project – outside my studio. It’s an opportunity to get to work with people, with a venue and it’s part funded by the festival which is really great! Lee’s writing the music and then some other people I’ve met will be playing the music on instruments I’ve created. 

Brighton Festival launches programme with David Shrigley as Guest Director

The full programme for Brighton Festival 2018, the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England, was unveiled today with the Turner Prize-nominated visual artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley (b.1968) as Guest Director.

Best known for his darkly humorous works that comment on the inconsequential, bizarre, and disquieting elements of daily life, the artist’s offbeat take is reflected in an eclectic programme spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate, from Brighton Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by David Shrigley himself to a live durational reading of Camus’ seminal The Myth of Sisyphus, and performances from genderqueer rock‘n’roll hero Ezra Furman and cult-favourite Amanda Palmer.

Alongside Life Model II, a follow-up to the artist’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name which invites visitors to take part in a life drawing class with a sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman as the ‘model’, an illustrated talk billed as ‘containing numerous rambling anecdotes… not in the slightest bit boring’, and a screening of a documentary about his work titled A Shit Odyssey, David Shrigley’s trademark wit is also evident in his brochure cover design, featuring a hammer and a bent nail and bearing the tagline ‘Strive for Excellence’. Other events close to the artist’s heart include an exclusive collaboration between orchestral collective Stargaze and one of his favourite bands, Deerhoof; an exhibition by San-Francisco-based artist and trucker Brett Goodroad; and a double bill from his friend Malcolm Middleton, one half of Arab Strap, and Scottish musician Iain Shaw, whose quirky folk song-smithery has turned Shrigley’s poems into incisive songs on albums like Awesome and Listening to Slayer.

As ever Brighton Festival 2018 features a host of commissions and co-commissions from a wide range of national and internal artists including: Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter, a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall; The Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience from The Voice Project in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like night of music stories, sound and images; Cuckmere: A Portrait, a filmic homage to the changing moods of the Cuckmere river accompanied by a live score; and Creation (Pictures for Dorian), a new piece inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray from acclaimed British/German arts collective Gob Squad.

Elsewhere, circus and dance make a significant appearance in the programme via an extended visit from internationally-renowned NoFit State circus who present their dazzling new production Lexicon; a collaboration from Australia’s dance luminaries Dancenorth, Lucy Guerin Inc and Gideon Obarzanek and Indonesian music duo Senyawa, Attractor; Brighton Festival commission KAYA from the Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc’s all-female company which fuses traditional Turkish folk dance with contemporary style; an award-winning debut by one of the most exciting new companies on the contemporary circus scene, Fauna; and a collaboration between Netherlands-based theatre-maker Boukje Schweigman, visual artist Cocky Eek and performer Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti in Blaas (Blow), a weird but wonderful ballet of abstract configurations.

From A Change is Gonna Come, a collaboration between three of the most gifted soul, jazz and rap artists, Carleen Anderson, Nikki Yeoh and Speech Debelle, exploring the power of the protest song to Les Amazones d'Afrique, West Africa’s first all-female super group, formed in the fight against violence towards women, and Brownton Abbey - a new Afrofuturist collective headlined by New Orleans ‘Queen of Bounce’ Big Freedia, best known for her appearance on Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ track and collaborations with Diplo and RuPaul. The contemporary music and spoken word programme is particularly wide-ranging, including a  Brighton Festival Commission with Travis Alabanza: Before I Step Outside (You Love Me), an evening of Black trans poetics with one of the UK’s leading trans voices; and performances from This is the Kit and Jungle also feature.

Alongside the return of caravan, a three-day biennial curated industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which is open to the public for the first time this year, theatre highlights include National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam, the remarkable, true story of a young trans man and his journey to reconciliation, directed by award-winning theatre director Cora Bissett; and Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Emma Rice’s acclaimed ode to Marc and Bella Chagall.

Other highlights include appearances from Lemn Sissay, Michael Rosen, Rose Tremain, Iain Sinclair, Bridget Christie, Brett Anderson, Viv Albertine, Tim Key and Shami Chakrabarti; an exhibition from controversial artist duo Gilbert & George, and a touring mobile installation from multi-award winning contemporary designer Morag Myerscough; two special classical concerts to mark the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival Choir, Britten’s War Requiem and Belshazzar’s Feast, and performances from Vox Luminis and Cédric Tiberghien.

As ever Brighton Festival will kick off with the Children’s Parade - the largest event of its kind in Europe - produced by Same Sky. Other family events include Snigel and Friends from leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch’s company; the world premiere of I Wish I Was a Mountain, a re-imagined version of Herman Hesse’s classic fairytale - from writer, performer and former Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion Toby Thompson; and the UK premiere of Apples, a wordless and charming feast for the senses.

Brighton Festival 2018 also continues its emphasis on programming work in the community with the return of Your Place - two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Your Place joins regular free, participatory events such as City Reads and Young City Reads; and Weekend Without Walls, two days of free arts in the parks.

David Shrigley says: “As a resident of Brighton and Hove the Festival is always a delight. Those who have visited the Festival before will know that having such an incredible array of events occur in our city every year is a great privilege. I’m very excited about this year’s lineup. Not only for the things that I have selected but also for the things I have only read about; one of the best things about the Festival for me is that it can be a voyage of discovery.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “Like Brighton Festival, David Shrigley’s work is for everyone. Both powerful and funny, his work manages to speak to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he is also a great advocate for the arts helping our health and wellbeing. We are thrilled that David is bringing his distinctive take to the Festival and the city he has now made his home.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Brighton Festival is one of the year’s cultural highlights, not just in Brighton itself – but nationally. It presents a programme of work that is accessible, imaginative, exciting and inspiring, engaging audiences from across the city and beyond; a programme that we are pleased to support. David Shrigley has a wonderfully dark and offbeat take on life and I really look forward to seeing his influence on this year’s Festival. Art and culture make a huge contribution to Brighton’s success and its reputation for excellence. With its international reach and fantastic programme, which spans a wide range of art-forms, Brighton Festival is a significant part of what makes Brighton such a great place to live, work and visit.”

Meet David Shrigley, our 2018 Guest Director

We're delighted to welcome visual artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley as the Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2018.

Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, his work also spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music.

Nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013, Shrigley’s Really Good, a 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, is the current incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.

David Shrigley says:
“The great thing about Brighton Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’ve never heard of before. What I’m looking forward to about the role of Guest Director is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.”

British Council Arts created a great 'About the Artist' video, which sees David discussing his working practices and briefly discussing his career as you can watch below. 

Brighton Festival 2018: 5 – 27 May
Full programme announced: Thu 15 Feb
Members’ priority booking opens: Fri 16 Feb
Public booking opens: Fri 23 Feb

INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley

The visual artist and cartoonist on following in the footsteps of the illustrious roster of Brighton Festival Guest Directors, his love of art, music and football and why he decided to make Brighton his home

When you were first approached to be Guest Director of Brighton Festival, what was it that prompted you to say yes? What most excites you about the role?

When I was approached to be the Guest Director of Brighton Festival, I said yes because I thought it was going to be fun! What I’m most looking forward to is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.

You’re following in the footsteps of the likes of Anish Kapoor, Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno in accepting the role of Guest Director, how does it feel to be taking up the baton from such company?

It feels pretty flattering given the illustrious roster of people who have fulfilled this role before me, so, yeah, I feel quite humbled to be in such company.

Are there any particular dream artists on your wishlist for Brighton Festival this year?

I think it would be good if David Bowie would come back from the dead and play at the Festival, but that’s probably not going to happen! The great thing about the Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’d never heard of before. So, what I’m really looking forward to is the stuff that people haven’t heard of before, that they’re going to be surprised and amazed by.

You’ve recently moved to Brighton, what drew you here and what has been your relationship with the city and the Festival to date?

I lived in Glasgow for 27 years until two years ago when I moved to Brighton because I fancied it, because the weather’s nicer than Glasgow and it’s a town that I’ve always really liked. My sister used to live here in the 1990s so I used to visit quite a lot and I have very happy memories of being here then. When I first started visiting Brighton with a view to moving here, it was around the time of the Festival that Ali Smith was the Guest Director, and it seemed like there was a lot going on, it was super busy and there was a lot of interesting stuff to go and see. The Festival is a great time to be in Brighton.

I hear you’re a fan of Whitehawk football club. Is that something you’ve got into since you moved to Brighton?

I started going to watch Whitehawk play football pretty soon after I moved here. I’m a bit of a football nerd, and I tend to go and watch football wherever I go. I really enjoy watching Whitehawk because it’s a lot of fun, and because the fanbase have really good politics. They are anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, which I think is very important, and is very refreshing, having been a football fan since the 1970s. I also like the fact that you can drink beer and take your dog to Whitehawk.



How important are arts and culture to your own life, and what do you think festivals like Brighton Festival can bring to communities?

The things that I like most in life are art, music, and football, and I think a lot of people like those things as well. I think people need to value the arts perhaps more than they do, because they are very important culturally, but also in terms of people’s wellbeing. Engagement with the arts has a real therapeutic value as well as a cultural value, an entertainment value, and that’s something I’m very passionate about.

You are a member of the Save the Arts campaign, why is it important to you to support the campaign?

I’ve been involved with a few arts organisations that have a political dimension to them. I’ve been involved in community education for a lot of years when I lived in Glasgow, and I’m the patron of a charity for a children’s art gallery there. I’ve been involved in the Save the Arts campaign, which was a lobbying group to campaign not to cut arts funding from the government. More recently I’ve been involved in a policy document about the arts, health and wellbeing, which is to illustrate the value of the arts for people’s health and wellbeing, and how it can be something that needs to be taken seriously by government in those terms, rather than just as entertainment or culture – it’s also a very valuable thing for people’s day to day lives.

Your sculpture - a giant bronze thumbs-up called Really Good – can currently be seen on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. How did you feel about being asked to do such a prestigious commission and what role do you think public art plays?

I wrote a kind of slightly ironic blurb about it where I said that basically it was going to make the world a better place through some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, where you say that everything’s really good and then it becomes really good. And, in a way, that was ironic because it’s slightly ridiculous to suggest that a giant sculpture makes the world a better place. But then at the same time, as an artist, you have to believe that what you do makes the world a better place on some level. So I guess that piece has a strange duality to it, in that it’s both ironic and sincere at the same time.

Brighton Festival 2018 will take place from 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be unveiled on Thurs 15 February 2018.

Visual artist David Shrigley named as Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director

We are delighted to announce that the 2018 Guest Director is the Brighton-based visual artist David Shrigley

Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, Shrigley’s darkly humorous compositions reflect the inconsequential, the bizarre, and the disquieting elements of daily life. While drawing is at the centre of his practice, his work spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music.

Widely admired by the art world and public alike, David Shrigley was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013 for his solo show David Shrigley: Brain Activity at the Hayward Gallery. In September 2016, Really Good, a 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, was unveiled as the latest incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth - described as the ‘tallest and most positive yet’. An active member of the Save the Arts campaign, Shrigley recently contributed a series of illustrations depicting the benefits of the arts to health and wellbeing to accompany a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

On his appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director David Shrigley says:

“The great thing about Brighton Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’ve never heard of before. What I’m looking forward to about the role of Guest Director is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.”

David Shrigley is the first visual artist to take on the role of Guest Director since the inaugural Guest Director, Anish Kapoor in 2009. Other previous Guest Directors include the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest (2017), pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson, who led the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, award-winning author Ali Smith (2015) and musician Brian Eno (2010) who have all taken turns shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says:

“Like Brighton Festival, David Shrigley’s work is for everyone. Both powerful and funny, his work manages to navigate ‘high’ and ‘low’ art and speak to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he has also joined in championing the power of the arts to help health and wellbeing. We are thrilled that David is bringing his distinctive take to the Festival and the city he has now made his home. We look forward to a programme that we hope will entertain and inspire.” 

Brighton Festival 2018 (5-27 May 2018) will feature new work from David Shrigley alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies.

Full programme details will be announced in February but a handful of events that can be revealed now include the co-commission Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter- a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall, which has recently opened to glowing reviews at Sadler’s Wells; Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; and The Voice Project’s The Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images.

Next year’s Festival will also continue its emphasis on programming work in the community with the return of Your Place - two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Artists, community groups and an artist-in-residence are currently being sought to take part in Your Place 2018.

Following its successful trial last year, the Pay-it-Forward scheme will also return for 2018. Audiences are encouraged to donate £5 (or an amount of their choosing) on top of ticket prices as they complete their purchase, which is then match-funded by Brighton Festival to give a special £10 Pay-It-Forward Festival Ticket Voucher (valid for all Festival events) to someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response last year was phenomenal with over 1000 people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.

Brighton Festival will run 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be announced on Thursday 15 February 2018. 

Read an interview with David Shrigley on his appointment as Guest Director

VIDEO: 'The arts should be in our communities’

Brighton Festival 2017 reached more new audiences and more parts of the city than ever before. We shone a light on some of this year’s flagship community events and projects 

Reflecting Guest Director Kate Tempest's belief that: ‘The arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes’, events took place across the city - from the South Downs to Brighton Marina to Woodvale cemetery - drawing a ticketed audience of over 81,000, the largest ever in the Festival’s 51-year-history.

In this film we shine a light on some of this year’s flagship events and projects including new ventures The Storytelling Army, which saw a dynamic collective of storytellers from all walks of life pop up in locations from bus stops to Brighton pier; and Your Place, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, which brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities Festival artists and local residents to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities.

Brighton Festival 2017 goes down a storm

The 51st Brighton Festival - with acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest as Guest Director - came to a storming conclusion last weekend. 

The three-week celebration of the arts saw events take place in more venues across the city than ever before - from the South Downs to Brighton Marina to Woodvale cemetery - drawing a ticketed audience of over 81,000, the largest ever in the Festival’s 51-year-history.

At a political and social moment that feels particularly precarious, the wide-ranging programme paid homage to what Tempest calls the ‘Everyday Epic’ - art that helps us connect to ourselves and others, explores our individual stories and differences, and encourages audiences to take a walk in someone else’s shoes.

None did this more successfully than the UK Premiere of The Gabriels, Tony-award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s extraordinarily, intimate depiction of one American family, written and set in real time during the turbulent US election year. The plays received a series of 5* reviews and were lauded by critics as ‘deeply moving portraits of the dissolving American dream’ (The Guardian), ‘a quietly stunning theatrical achievement’ (The Stage), and ‘miraculous, almost invisible craft’ (The Arts Desk).

Kate Tempest herself featured in a plethora of performances both large and small: including an exclusive opening gig of music and spoken word, her largest full band performance to date; and a live orchestration of her recent album Let Them Eat Chaos, produced in collaboration with Oscar-nominated artist Mica Levi. All were rapturously received by sell-out audiences – with fans taking to Twitter to proclaim the likes of: “Transcendent doesn't even cover it: Kate you blew my mind. Thank you”.

Reflecting on the experience Tempest says:

“It’s felt crazy - the things that I’ve been doing have been things that I never would have had the opportunity to try out, had it not been for this particular Festival, for example getting the opportunity to play with a string and woodwind ensemble. That was an experience that I’ve dreamed of, but was completely impossible. 

To get that many players of that calibre together, and to do it in a way that felt like it was providing something new for the work. It felt like a real moment of artistic endeavour and true collaboration." 

With an audience of 15,000 over 16 evenings, one of the Festival’s biggest talking-points was For the Birds, a spectacular night-time trail of sound and light installations at a secret woodland location. The largest ticketed event ever presented at Brighton Festival, this unique event set social media abuzz throughout the month, with audiences dubbing it ‘mesmerising’, ‘fascinating’ and ‘beautiful”.

Reflecting Tempest’s belief that: ‘The arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes’, two new ventures ensured Brighton Festival 2017 did just that: The Storytelling Army, a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life popped up in unusual locations across the city to tell their ‘Everyday Epic’ stories - in turn humorous, inspiring, thought-provoking, emotional, and rousing; and new initiative Your Place, in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities Festival artists and local residents to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A resounding success, 1500 people took part in Your Place across two weekends.

Brighton Festival audiences were also encouraged to join the Pay-It-Forward movement for the first time in another new initiative which offered the chance to donate £5 on top of ticket prices which was match-funded to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response was phenomenal with over a thousand people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.

As Tempest herself said:

"One of my big hopes was that we could do just what we have done, which is to bring the Festival out a little bit, open it up, and have some events going on in the communities, so people who can’t make it into town for whatever reason, still get to access some of the great programming and some of that feeling of this Festival.”

Other Brighton Festival 2017 highlights included an ethereal promenade performance through Woodvale Cemetery for Circa’s Depart; Kneehigh’s acclaimed production of Emma Rice’s staging of Tristan & Yseult; a special performance from legendary folk singer Shirley Collins; a major new co-commission from sculptor Cathie Pilkington; a virtual exploration of the Australian outback with Lynette Wallworth’s thought-provoking Virtual Reality film experience Collisions; two special events to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of Monteverdi: and an inspirational sold-out book tour event from US Senator Bernie Sanders.

As ever this year’s Festival has been a triumph of partnership working, made possible through collaborations with many major organisations across the city and beyond including Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, Lighthouse, Fabrica, University of Brighton, Onca Gallery, Theatre Royal Brighton and Without Walls amongst others.

2017 also saw the highest number of shows yet live-streamed to audiences around the world for free, thanks to the on-going partnership with Greater Brighton Metropolitan College with highlights including Kate Tempest’s collaboration with Mica Levi and Orchestrate, an extravaganza of music and performance by queer artists of colour headlined by Mykki Blanco, and playful dance theatre by Joan Clevillé Dance with Plan B for Utopia.

Sponsorship and corporate support has also been vital this year with generous contributions from new and returning sponsors and supporters including London Gatwick Airport, University of Sussex, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, GM Building, Griffith Smith Farringdon Webb, Lulu.com, Nutshell Construction, Yeomans Toyota Brighton, Selits, and ZSTa.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Bringing Brighton Festival together is a great privilege and this year with Kate Tempest’s inspiration we’ve been thrilled to have reached new audiences and achieved some fantastic new records. But it is only possible because of the extraordinary support we have from funders, patrons, supporters, sponsors, members, partners and artists. We are also blessed with one of the most adventurous, curious and experimental audiences anywhere. I would like to thank everyone for their invaluable contributions, for making Brighton Festival what it is and for bringing this wonderful city and its wonderful festival to life.”

In photos: Week 3

Brighton Festival 2017 is over! We can't believe what a fantastic month it has been – here's a few photos from events in the last week

Photos by Vic Frankowski and Adam Weatherley

In photos: Week 2

Another amazing week of Brighton Festival 2017 has passed already! Check out these photos from some of the incredible events over the last week.

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Caitlin Mogridge and Lucy Brooks.

In photos: Week 1

The first week of Brighton Festival 2017 has come and gone! We've been really enjoying all the shows, events and happenings – here's a few pictures of what's been going on

Photos by Victor Frankowski and Adam Weatherley.

Guest Director Kate Tempest's Picks

With this year’s celebration of the everyday epic fast approaching, we felt there was no one better to guide us through the month ahead than our pioneering Guest Director, Kate Tempest.

Below she lays down the events she is especially excited about in the hope you will see, hear and feel something new.

Five Short Blasts Shoreham

Five Short Blasts Brighton Festival

Who? Austalian artist duo Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey (the team behind Gauge, Brighton Festival 2015)

What? Cast off aboard a small boat into the River Adur and navigate the uncertainties of the changing tide whilst tuning in to the sounds of the people who live and work on the water.

They Say“Five Short Blasts Shoreham is a journey in a boat, where you listen to the sound of the place and the sound of the people in the place. You listen to where you are but also you listen to voices and sounds that we have orchestrated and created for you as we traverse a journey.”

Kate says“There’s a site-specific piece of theatre, kind of environmental music installation art, by this incredible duo from Australia. It’s called Five Short Blasts which is the signal that you give when you are in a sea-way, that means ‘I’m confused about your intention and I’m nervous that we are going to collide’. This is the premise of this sound art piece and I’m really excited about bringing that to Brighton.”

Where? Shoreham Harbour

When? Saturday 6 – Sunday 28 May, around high tide (every day except 8, 9, 15 – 17, 24 & 25 May)

Let Them Eat Chaos: Rearranged

Kate Tempest, photo credit Eddie Otchere

Who? Guest Director Kate Tempest with Mica Levi & Orchestrate

What? Hip-hop inspired storytelling meets cinematic orchestration as Kate Tempest teams up with musician and composer Mica Levi and ensemble Orchestrate, to perform Kate’s full album, Let Them Eat Chaos reworked for strings.

The critics say“Kate Tempest’s refusal to recognise genre boundaries – her material nimbly regenerates itself into performance poetry, rap-style narratives against a backdrop of electronic music, a novel – might appear at odds with the consistency of her concerns.” – Alex Clark, The Guardian

Kate says“It’s a kind of reinterpretation of Let Them Eat Chaos for strings, composed by Mica Levi who is an incredible artist and a friend which is really exciting! I can just feel the shape of the piece changing and what’s going to happen to my voice against the resonance of those strings is really exciting.

Where? Brighton Dome Concert Hall

When? Let Them Eat Chaos: Thursday 11 May, 7,30pm

If you like this, you will also like… A film screening of the critically acclaimed Under the Skin, accompanied by a live orchestral performance conducted by Mica Levi of her ethereal soundtrack, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Sunday 7 May, 8pm

The Odyssey

The Odyssey at Brighton Festival 2017

Who? Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton

What? Leading storytellers Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton tell the gripping story of the Odysseus’ ten-year journey from Troy, an epic adventure story punctuated with moments of insight, humour and horror.

The critics say'The nation's most celebrated storytelling duo in a performance that is serious, moving and vital' Times

Kate says… “There’s a guy called Daniel Morden, who’s from Wales and he’s a storyteller – he knows the whole Odyssey back to front in his head, and he can tell it to you while you’re sitting there, it will feel like a blockbuster movie. He’s incredible, I’m really excited about what he’s going to bring!”

Where? Sallis Benney Theatre

When? Saturday 13 May, 6pm

Your Place

your place

Who? Community steering groups from Whitehawk and Hangleton, with Kate Tempest

What? A diverse and exciting programme of music, dance, theatre and spoken word events in the Hangleton and Whitehawk communities, created with and for the community, this one is for everyone to enjoy.

They say… “The community has been really hands on engaged form start to finish in the overall planning and management of the project [...] I think the arts and creativity are important to everyone, I think everyone is creative but not everyone gets the opportunity to express that creativity. The arts help us figure out what it means to be human.” - Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of the Brighton People’s Theatre

Kate says…We’ve got this really cool initiative called Your Place – which is probably the thing I’m most excited about. We have developed two community hubs, one in Whitehawk, one in Hangleton, in community centres there and we’ll be programming events going on for two weekends across the Festival. There will be performances from Brighton Festival artists, also participatory events and workshops. Everything is free - completely free - programmed in conjunction and consultation with people that run some of the community programmes out of those community centres.”

Where? Hangleton & Whitehawk

When? Hangleton: Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 May, Whitehawk: Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May

Ocean Wisdom and High Focus Records

Ocean Wisdom, The Four Owls & Jam Baxter

Who? High Focus Records presents Ocean Wisdom, The Four Owls and Jam Baxter

What? Resurrecting the legacy of UK hip-hop, label High Focus Records offers up three acts from their impressive family of artists. Meteoric riser, Ocean Wisdom, Fliptrix led collective The Four Owls, and outlandish lyricist, Jam Baxter.

They critics say… “Ocean Wisdom’s Chaos 93 is vital work in a maturing genre by a young talent, which should be as gripping a listen for those who know they’ll love it, as it is necessary for those who think they won’t.” – Tariq Goddard, The Quietus

Kate says… “There’s a rapper called Ocean Wisdom, a rapper called Jam Baxter and a group called Four Owls who are going do an event as a part of a High Focus showcase. High Focus are a record label championing extremely delicate, powerful and playful lyricism in the UK.”

Where? Brighton Dome Concert Hall

When? Friday 21 May, 7.30pm

Lyrix Organix


Who? Poet, musician and visual artist Kojey Radical & UnFold platform featuring Toby Thompson, Solomon OB, Laurie Ogden & London String Collective

What? Exploring what it means ‘to be human’, acclaimed platform, Unfold, with the next young stars of spoken work meets the extraordinary lyricism of 24 year-old artist, Kojey Radical in this double headliner collection of live performances threaded together by London String Collective

The critics say… “One of the most innovative and exciting presentations of the spoken word I have experienced” - Dean Atta, poet and winner of the London Poetry Award

Kate says… “There’s a real emphasis on storytelling, on lyricism which is something that is really close to my heart. We’ve got a load of poets that we’ve programmed and storytellers and lyricists from across the board. When you immerse yourselves in narratives that are overtly narratives like storytelling, or cinema or theatre or dance, it can help you tune in to spotting the narratives that are more carefully hidden.”

Where? The Spire

When? Tuesday 23 May, 7.30pm

If you like this, you will also like… Voted the best poetry night in the UK by The Times, Bang Said the Gun’s unique brand of stand-up poetry is an energetic blend of the freshest talent, described by Kate as ‘mud wrestling with words’, The Spire, Saturday 20 May, 8pm

Laurie Anderson on...

… Brighton Festival 2016’s theme of ‘home and place’:

‘I’m really happy to be part of Brighton Festival this year. I love the theme, maybe because I’m a working musician and often on the road, the idea of home is pretty appealing. It’s also a great idea for a festival, trying to find out who and where you are. It’s a pretty amazing collection of work. See you there!’

… Brighton Festival 2016 exclusive performance Song as a Place:

‘We’ll be doing a lot of new things in the Festival, one is a collaboration with Nik Bärtsch and Eivind Aarset. They are incredible musicians and we’ve played together once before. It’s going to be like a song conversation. Imagine walking through a piece of music with people you really like and we get to play it and kind of think about it and talk about it at the same time… it’s going to be a blast.’

… Brighton Festival 2016 exclusive performance Slideshow:

‘This is about an attempt to describe several places I’ve been in my life and what they might have in common. This is a brand new piece so I can’t tell you that much about it, it’s going to be a surprise to me too!’

… her unique concert for dogs making its UK premiere:

‘I’m so curious who is going to show up. We’ll be playing things that are kind of in their range - although they hear very well across the spectrum - so we’re going to see what happens.

… on the Brighton Festival 2016 screening of her critically acclaimed film Heart of a Dog:

‘It’s full of stories about how you make a story. It’s nominally a film about me and my dog, but really it’s not… it’s about love and language, I guess. I hope you like it.’

… on what Brighton Festival 2016 audiences can expect of her works:

‘I like to make a really big, fun, interesting playing field and not predict what people are going to get from of it. It’s so different for each person. I’m often really surprised when people tell me what they’ve got from my work, and then I think “that’s really interesting and brilliant… but that had really nothing to do with the work I was doing”. It’s your interpretation, so I guess that’s what I hope… that people use it to go places themselves.’

… the UK premiere of Lou Reed’s Drones project:

‘We’re going to be doing a really exiting installation plus sort of ‘improv site’, let’s say. It’s based on Lou Reed’s feedback work - he worked with guitars and the incredible harmonics and sound structures that happen when you use feedback. His guitar tech, Stewart Hurwood will be doing it with Lou’s guitars and Lou’s amps… so it’s kind of as close to Lou’s music as we can get these days. It’s a very hypnotic, beautiful sound, I think you are really going to like it. We’re inviting musicians to come and do improvisations with it as well - that is really fun - so I hope you get a chance to come by and play. You could improvise any way you want really, you could come and do some drawings or pottery… I guess… bit messy!’

… on being Guest Director of Brighton Festival in May:

‘Brighton Festival is so big and sprawling and exciting and there’s so many different things going on - it really has a kind of celebratory, crazy, art party feel to it. I also love the chance to meet other artists and hang out with them. It’s a free for all so I’m really looking forward to it.’

The 50th Brighton Festival launches with Laurie Anderson as Guest Director

The full programme for the 50th Brighton Festival (7-29 May 2016) - the largest and most established curated annual multi-arts festival in England - was unveiled today with experimental artist and musician Laurie Anderson as Guest Director.

Renowned for her inventive use of technology, Anderson is one of America’s most daring creative pioneers. In roles as varied as artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, vocalist and instrumentalist, she has been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed. Anderson takes the helm as Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture by exploring the theme of ‘home and place’ across its 2016 programme.

Taking inspiration from Anderson’s multidisciplinary career as well as the original intentions of Brighton Festival to celebrate the new and the avant-garde, the eclectic programme - which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate - features work from some of the most innovative national and international artists. It includes 54 commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres such as two exclusive performances from ‘folktronica’ pioneer Beth Orton, choreographer and dancer Akram Khan’s new full-length production Until The Lions; and the world premiere of a global collaborative work by Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing.

Anderson’s own events include the UK premiere of her unique Music for Dogs, a concert specially designed for the canine ear; a screening of her acclaimed new film Heart of a Dog, described by Anderson herself as: “full of stories about how you make a story . . . nominally a film about me and my dog but really it’s not, it’s about love and language”; an exclusive new performance monologue about place and places called Slideshow; and a freewheeling walk through sonic spaces with fellow musician-composers, pianist Nik Bärtsch and guitarist Eivind Aarset.

Many of Anderson’s interests, passions and achievements are also explored including the UK premiere of Lou Reed Drones, an installation of her late husband’s guitars and amps in feedback mode which she describes as “kind of as close to Lou’s music as we can get these days”; a special screening of critically acclaimed Sans Soleil (Sunless) - an elegiac masterpiece by her favourite director Chris Marker; and a series of events that explore innovation and technology in the arts, including Complicite /Simon Burney’s acclaimed The Encounter and Brighton-based Art of Disappearing’s outdoor adventure The Last Resort.

With the theme of ‘home’ at the heart of the programme, Brighton Festival 2016 will celebrate its relationship with the unique, energetic and creative city of Brighton, its artists, its characters, its sense of place and spirit whilst also considering universal issues and ideas around home, our communities and places of safety. Highlights include a new work from Argentinian artist Lola Arias developed with and performed by veterans of the Falklands conflict; experimental composer and musician Yuval Avital’s potent and thought-provoking new work, Fuga Perpetua, which reflects on the situation of refugees; and the UK premiere of Berlin’s Zvizdal, a filmic portrait of an elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude in the region affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The rich diversity of home-grown artists and companies are celebrated in a series of special commissions that include two works marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death: The Complete Deaths, a re-enactment of every onstage death from Brighton-based artistic powerhouses Spymonkey and Tim Crouch, and Digging for Shakespeare by Marc Rees, a site-specific homage to 19th Century Brighton eccentric and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps; Stella, a theatrical love letter to one half of the infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella by playwright Neil Bartlett; and the world premiere of Blast Theory & Hydrocracker’s immersive undercover police drama Operation Black Antler.

Other city-inspired highlights include a specially commissioned film Brighton: Symphony of a City, screened to a new score performed by Orchestra of Sound and Light, and the entire Royal Pavilion Estate playing host to Dr Blighty; an ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience which highlights the untold story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during World War One. Kicking off with the Children’s Parade - the largest of its kind in Europe – Brighton Festival 2016 will also see a record number of community-focussed events throughout the programme including the annual City Reads and Young City Reads produced in partnership with Collected Works and Future Gazers which asks school pupils to imagine the world in 50 years’ time.

2016 also sees Brighton Festival work with Guardian Live in a special partnership to deliver the Books and Debate programme with a series of events including Yanis Varoufakis, Lionel Shriver, Marlon James and Mark Haddon. It will also see the return of caravan (15-17 May 2016), a three-day biennial curated industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which this year features eight performances open to the public. 

Laurie Anderson says: "I'm so happy to be serving as Guest Director of Brighton Festival in its historic 50th year. I've been part of the Festival several times and it is so big and sprawling and exciting and there’s so many different things going on - it really has a kind of celebratory, crazy, art party feel to it. And I love the theme of home and place. It is especially relevant with so many people in the world on the move now looking, like all of us, for a place we can belong. Maybe because I’m a working musician and often on the road, the idea of home is pretty appealing to me. It’s also a great idea for a festival - trying to find out who and where you are. See you there!” 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “It’s very special for us to be marking the 50th Brighton Festival with Laurie Anderson as Guest Director. Every year since 1967 some of the greatest artists, performers and thinkers have come together with some of the most open-minded and enthusiastic audiences anywhere for a festival whose home is one of the most artistically rich and geographically blessed places in the country. Laurie is well-known and well-loved by the city and has been has been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed. Alongside the startling international and newly commissioned work that we’re bringing, she has been particularly enthusiastic about finding ways in which the festival can invite the participation of the whole community – time and again throughout the programme we see opportunities to get involved to explore our own creativity and to celebrate, together, this wonderful festival in its 50th year.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “It is very fitting that the theme for Brighton Festival’s 50th programme is ‘home and place’. The Festival, and more widely arts and culture in general, have long been synonymous with Brighton. Collectively they deliver inspiring performances and exhibitions for local communities, attract people from far and wide to drive cultural tourism and make a strong contribution to the local economy. This success is built on strong partnerships across the city, including Brighton & Hove City Council, and is a great example of collaborative investment and working that others can learn from. Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s forthcoming capital project will help to build on the success to date, ensuring Brighton remains one of England’s cultural leading lights.”

The eighth Guest Director of Brighton Festival, Laurie Anderson follows in the footsteps of visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012), poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013), choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014) and award-winning author Ali Smith (2015) in shaping the three week programme of cultural events. 

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Its original intentions as set out by the first Director Sir Ian Hunter were: “to stimulate townsfolk and visitors into taking a new look at the arts and to give them the opportunity to assess developments in the field of culture where the serious and the apparently flippant ride side by side”. The inaugural programme included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, a ‘Kinetic labyrinth’ on the West pier, and a site specific project which attempted to ‘change the colour of the sea’ alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere.

-Ends-


For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press & PR - emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260 803
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NOTES TO EDITORS:


About Brighton Festival –

• Brighton Festival is an annual mixed arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May, with an average audience reach of 150,000

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013, choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014 and award-winning author Ali Smith in 2015..

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established mixed arts Festival and a major milestone in the international cultural calendar

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round. It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives and inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.

• The first Brighton Festival in 1967 controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival manages a year round programme of arts at Brighton Dome – a three space, Grade 1 listed building made up of the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre - and produces the annual Brighton Festival in May. 

Click here to view the PDF 

Laurie Anderson photo © Tom Oldham

Welcome from Laurie Anderson

'I'm so happy to be serving as Guest Director of Brighton Festival in its historic 50th year. 

'Our theme of home and place is especially relevant with so many people in the world on the move now looking, like all of us, for a place we can belong. I've been part of the Festival several times and it was exciting to watch the city become the heart of so much art. I'm looking forward to being part of it this year.'

Brighton Festival 2016 Listing Highlights

Contemporary music


Laurie Anderson: Music for Dogs

UK Premiere
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm
‘Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog?’ Laurie Anderson mused while waiting backstage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. True to form, Anderson made her outlandish dream come true: first at the Sydney Opera House, and again in New York’s Times Square in January, making headlines the world over. The 20-minute piece has been specifically designed for the canine ear, including higher pitches audible only to them, as well as other sounds for humans to enjoy.

Laurie Anderson, Nik Bärtsch & Eivind Aarset: Song Conversation, Song as a Place.
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Tue 17 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Laurie Anderson is joined by fellow musician-composers, Zurich-based pianist Nik Bärtsch and one of Norway’s most in-demand guitarists, Eivind Aarset, for a freewheeling walk through sonic spaces. These master improvisers will take on the idea of space in songs, while dissecting song structure, melody, lyrics, inspiration, dedication, and improvisation. 

Laurie Anderson, Slideshow
World Premiere

Brighton Festival Exclusive
Wed 18 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
In the second of two exclusive performances for Brighton Festival, Laurie Anderson presents Slideshow, a specially created performance monologue about place and places, described by Anderson herself as a “collection of adventure stories about love, cities, diners, Mars, how we see, living by rivers, Dollywood, my home town and many other places along the way.”

Yuval Avital & Ensemble Meitar, Fuga Perpetua
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Fri 20 May, 8pm., Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Fuga Perpetua - musical terms meaning ‘always running’ - reflects on the situation of refugees compelled always to move on. In this potent and thought-provoking new work, Yuval Avital, a unique voice in the contemporary and experimental scene, creates an immersive environment using a combination of music, sound recordings, visual projections and movement. With contemporary music group Ensemble Meitar. Produced by Magà Global Arts, Ensemble Meitar &Third Ear. Supported by Arts Council England.

Haçienda Classical: House and club classics
Fri 20 May, 9pm
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
The DJs who shaped the Haçienda sound, Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, will perform a continuous set of house and club classics alongside the Manchester Camerata Orchestra and special guests. Taking the euphoria of the legendary club nights to a whole new level, Haçienda Classical is a unique meeting of styles.

Beth Orton
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts
Beth Orton returns to the UK for two shows at Brighton Festival premiering highly anticipated new material exploring her electronic roots. Orton has been one of the country’s most unique and beguiling voices in contemporary music for the past two decades - from debut LP Trailer Park in which she pioneered the synthesis of electronic beats and acoustic song writing to her follow-up Central Reservation which brought international acclaim and a BRIT award. These one-off shows will feature new material performed live for the first time.

Floating Points Live
Sun 29 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Dance music trailblazer Sam Shephard – otherwise known as Floating Points – is renowned for his ambitious, forward-thinking DJ sets around the world. His debut album Elaenia draws upon classical, jazz, electronic music, soul and even Brazilian popular music. At times delicate and intense, with moments of utter stillness, it provides the bridge between his rapturous dance music and his classical roots. Performing with a full live band, don’t miss what promises to be a remarkable live performance from one of electronic music’s most perceptive new artists.

Visual Art


Gillian Wearing: A Room With Your Views

Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, World premiere
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 10am – 5pm (Thu 10am –8pm), University of Brighton Gallery
Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing – the invited artist for HOUSE 2016 - will present Your Views, a global collaborative work which captures a snapshot of 'views' from windows across the world. Wearing’s work examines our public personas and private lives, describing her working method as ‘editing life’. Drawing on fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality TV and theatrical techniques, she explores how we present ourselves to the world, as well as her involvement with extensive self-portraiture. Co-commissioned with HOUSE 2016.

Ron Haselden: Luminary
Co-produced by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 12pm – 7pm, Fabrica
A series of beautiful LED light-drawings at locations across the city by respected British artist Ron Haselden that range in scale from the monumental, presented as a walk-through installation at Fabrica, to the intimate, shining out from homes in several of the city’s neighbourhoods. Stemming from Haselden’s love of drawings produced by the ‘untutored hand’, sketches by young children and older people have provided the inspiration for Luminary, scaled up with LED ropelight, to amplify their spontaneous, uninhibited style. Co-produced by Fabrica and Brighton Festival in partnership with MSL Projects, Hastings.

Lou Reed Drones
UK Premiere
Fri 13 – Tue 17 May, 12pm – 5pm. The Spire
A visceral, emotional and spiritual experience, Lou Reed Drones is an installation of Lou Reed’s guitars and amps in feedback mode: 24 strings set in motion from the push of magnetically driven cones; 360 partial harmonics colliding against each other. Introducing gain and sculpting sonic frequencies, a feedback loop is created with each guitar and its respective amplifier. Their overlapping harmonic structures produce pseudo-acoustic notes in which a beating sensation is then set in motion. 

Film


No Home Movie

(2015, Belgium/France, cert. U), Directed by Chantal Akerman
Sun 8 May, 1.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
The final film of the great Belgian film-maker Chantal Akerman is a moving memoir of her mother’s last months. Confined to her Brussels apartment, Natalia’s harrowing past as an Auschwitz survivor and her chronic anxiety, greatly influenced Akerman’s art. This special preview screening ahead of the film’s UK release is a tribute to one of the most original and influential figures in feminist cinema, who died last year.

Heart of a Dog
Plus Q&A with Laurie Anderson
(2015, USA), Directed by Laurie Anderson
Tue 10 May, 9pm. Duke of York's Picturehouse
Visually rich and poetic, Laurie Anderson's Oscar nominated Heart of a Dog sees her reflect on love, language and death - inspired by the affection she had for pet Rat Terrier, Lolabelle, who died in 2011. Essayistic in style, and constructed like a collage of original musical compositions, contemporary footage, narration, animation and 8mm home movies, it deftly flits between the serious and the playful, the funny and heartfelt.

Sans Soleil (Sunless)
(1982, France, cert. 15), Directed by Chris Marker
Sun 15 May, 1.30pm., Duke of York's Picturehouse
This elegiac masterpiece by Laurie Anderson's favourite director Chris Marker is a poetic documentary tour of Tokyo, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland and San Francisco. Sans Soleil is a hugely influential essay film in which the spoken word and haunting visuals conjure the disorientation of a world traveller, journeying through cultures, secret rituals and confusions of time.

The Human Face
(1990, UK, cert. 12A), Directed by Nichola Bruce.
Sun 22 May, 4.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
Nominated for a BAFTA, The Human Face is a documentary made for the BBC series Arena. Laurie Anderson presents, narrating an examination of mankind’s obsession with its own image, looking at the use of heads and the human face in art and sculpture, and at the prejudices applied every day based solely on a person’s appearance.

THEATRE


Blast Theory & Hydrocracker: Operation Black Antler
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8, Tues 10 - Sat 14, Tues 17 - Sat 21, Tues 24 - Sat 28. Every 15 minutes from 6pm - 9pm (timed entry allocated on booking).
For 40 years British police officers have been operating undercover inside protest groups, ‘deep swimming’ by forming relationships and even having children with their targets. This ground-breaking piece of immersive theatre by Blast Theory and Hydrocracker will give audiences a chance to go undercover for the night in a thrilling and unforgettable walk in someone else’s shoes. Visit the safehouse to meet your police handler and build up your identity, choose your cover story and meet the rest of the team then head out to the gig to use your new skills.
Commissioned by Brighton Festival and Ideas Test. In partnership with Dramatic Resources. 

Spymonkey & Tim Crouch: The Complete Deaths
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Wed 11 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Theatre Royal Brighton
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus - from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, always hysterically. Directed by Tim Crouch, The Complete Deaths is a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Presented by Spymonkey in a co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate Northampton. 

Berlin (Antwerp): Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close)
UK Premiere.
Mon 23 – Wed 25 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Co-produced by Brighton Festival.
26 April 1986, Pripyat, Ukraine. A nuclear reactor explodes and some 90 towns and villages are evacuated. But one couple, Pétro and Nadia, refuse to leave. Without running water, electricity, telephone or mail, they hold on indestructibly in the infected zone for 30 years. Berlin returns to Brighton Festival with a filmic portrait of one elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude. Featuring interviews with Pétro and Nadia filmed between 2011 and 2016, Zvizdal tells a poignant story of survival. Co-produced with Brighton Festival; Het Zuidelijk Toneel, Tilburg; PACT Zollverein, Essen; Dublin Theatre Festival; Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels; BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen; and CENTQUATRE, Paris.

Neil Bartlett: Stella
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Theatre Royal Brighton.
A new work written and directed by one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers. Inspired by the strange life and lonely death of Ernest Boulton – also known as one half of the now-infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella – this new work from Neil Bartlett is an intense and deeply personal meditation on what it means to keep your nerve as the lights go out. It's about being old, about being young, and about what it means to really be yourself. A co-commission by LIFT, Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.

Lola Arias (Buenos Aires): Minefield
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 28 May, 8pm. Sun 29 May, 2pm & 7pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Argentinian writer and director Lola Arias returns to Brighton Festival with the world premiere of her new work about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict. Merging film, re-enactment and documentary theatre, Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction to give a fascinating insight into how and what people remember, and how war continues to cast a long shadow over the lives of its protagonists. Co-commissioned by LIFT Festival, Royal Court Theatre, Brighton Festival, Le Quai Angers and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.

OUTDOOR


Art of Disappearing: The Last Resort
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May (no performances Mon & Tue), Wed – Fri, 2pm – 8pm, Sat & Sun, 11am – 9pm
Amidst a barren landscape, a neon light stands bleak and stark. Welcome to The Last Resort. For those brave enough to return to this long deserted resort, beauty, science fiction and history merge to create a unique outdoor experience. Using binaural technology to create a constantly shifting world of sound, artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr have created an exciting immersive work that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies.

Marc Rees: Digging for Shakespeare
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, Sat 21 & Sun 22 May, 10.30am & 2.30pm. Roedale Allotments.
Meet James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, 19th century joker and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar who lived on the outskirts of Brighton. There in his 'rustic wigwam' (a series of conjoined sheds), he obsessively curated a huge hoard of Shakespearean rarities. Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, director Marc Rees has devised a unique promenade performance through Roedale Allotments, close to the site of this eccentric recluse's former home. 


Nutkhut: Dr Blighty
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Tue 24 – Sat 28 May, 2pm – 10pm. Royal Pavilion Gardens.
Between 1914 and 1916, over 2000 Indian soldiers wounded on the Western Front were brought to a temporary hospital housed in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate. In a major new collaboration with Nutkhut and a creative team that includes designer Tom Piper (Tower of London Poppies), Dr Blighty recalls this unexpected episode in Brighton’s history. Bringing the experiences of the soldiers - inspired by letters they sent home - and the locals who came to care for them, the Royal Pavilion Gardens will host a dreamlike environment of immersive installations, soundscapes and theatrical interludes, alongside concerts featuring Philharmonia Orchestra with Kala Ramnath, Debashish Bhattacharya and Gurdain Rayatt within Brighton Dome. A Nutkhut Production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival and Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

BOOKS AND DEBATE
Presented in partnership with Guardian Live


Guardian Book Club: Howard Jacobson
Sun 8 May, 5pm. Sallis Benney Theatre
Perhaps the leading observer of Jewishness in modern Britain, Howard Jacobson examines Shakespeare’s most controversial character in his new novel, Shylock is My Name. Including a shocking twist on Shylock’s infamous demand for a pound of flesh, the novel examines contemporary questions of Jewish identity and the relationship between fathers and daughters. Join him for a discussion with Guardian Book Club host John Mullan about the novel and the endlessly fascinating play that inspired it.

Yanis Varoufakis
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
In his new book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis assesses the history of the European monetary union. A passionate campaigner against austerity, Varoufakis argues that it is a fundamental threat to Europe and to the global economy. He also shows that the origins of the Eurozone crisis lie not with governments or the banks but in its founding structure. He will talk to Channel 4 economics editor and Guardian columnist Paul Mason about the current crisis and present his case for economic reform.

Lionel Shriver
Wed 11 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Orange Prize-winning writer Lionel Shriver talks about her new novel, The Mandibles – a dark, witty and frightening dystopia about a nation in decline. Set during a fiscal crisis in near-future America, the book follows three generations of a family as they cope with the loss of their fortune and learn how to survive as America’s economy spirals into dysfunction.

The Guardian Newsroom: The EU Referendum
Thu 26 May, 7pm. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts
David Cameron's promised referendum on the UK's membership of the EU could be called as early as June 2016. As both the EU exit and pro-Europe campaigns gather momentum, Britain faces profound questions about its future. Business leaders claim that withdrawal would lead to economic calamity, while others on the left and the right argue the case for Britain to govern itself. Join a panel of Guardian writers, including Brighton Festival Chair Polly Toynbee, to analyse and discuss both sides of the debate.

Marlon James
Thu 26 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Studio Theatre.
Join us for an evening with 2015 Man Booker prize winner, Marlon James. A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional account of an attempt to assassinate Bob Marley in 1976, a novel described by the New York Times as a ‘Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come…sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex’. Spanning three decades, the novel uses multiple voices - CIA agents, drug dealers, ghosts, beauty queens - to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.

DANCE AND CIRCUS


Charles Linehan Company: Double bill
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Charles Linehan returns to Brighton Festival with a contrasting double bill of new works. My Mother’s Tears mines the personal history of William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz) performing classical ballet mime from The Royal Ballet repertoire with unpredictable consequences. In A Quarter Plus Green ideas of transformation are applied to movement, light and sound in a unique new setting at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, Dance4, South East Dance, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and Tanztendenz, Munich.

The Ricochet Project (New Mexico): Smoke and Mirrors
Mon 9 & Tue 10 May, 8pm.
Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Circus as you’ve never seen it before: audacious and thought-provoking, technically brilliant and profound. The Ricochet Project is pushing the boundaries of contemporary circus using poetic acrobatics, contemporary dance, contortion and high flying feats to explore the human condition. Revealing the inner workings of the mind and our search to find a place of realness and connecting in an enduring culture of illusion, Smoke and Mirrors is a mesmerising and intimate two-hander for grown-ups.

Nederlands Dans Theater 2
Fri 13 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Nederlands Dans Theater is one of the world's most celebrated dance companies, wowing audiences with their unique brand of breath-taking dance, awe-inspiring skill and passionate creativity. Artistically directed by award-winning choreographer Paul Lightfoot, NDT2 presents 18 international dancers aged 18-23. For their long awaited return to Brighton Festival, they bring a vibrant mixed programme including works by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, Edward Clug, Hans van Manen and the international hit Cacti by Associate Choreographer Alexander Ekman. Presented in partnership with Dance Consortium.

Akram Khan Company: Until the Lions
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Thu 26 & Fri 27 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
One of the most respected figures in the dance world, Akram Khan returns to Brighton Festival with his new, full-length production Until the Lions - his most arresting work to date. Khan is joined by two of his company dancers alongside four musicians providing haunting vocals and soundscape. Together they give a breath-taking performance in this partial adaptation of poet Karthika Naïr’s original reworking of the epic Mahabharata, bautifully combining the classical Indian dance form kathak with contemporary dance. Initiated by the 360° Network of round artistic venues across the world and produced during residency at Sadler's Wells London and Curve Leicester. 

CLASSICAL


London Symphony Orchestra
Sat 7 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
A rare opportunity to hear the LSO outside of London, this unique opening concert reflects the Festival’s strong classical tradition over the past 50 years with some of the most remarkably talented performers of today. One of the most brilliant pianists of our time (Leif Ove Andsnes) basks in the lyrical genius of Mozart (Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor K466). Bruckner’s Third Symphony (Symphony No. 3 in D minor) with its grand and majestic orchestration is directed here by the LSO’s Principal Guest Conductor. 

La Nuova Musica: Dido and Aeneas
Sun 8 May, 7.30pm, Theatre Royal Brighton
Ann Murray DBE, one of the great singers of her generation, brings her magisterial artistry to the role of Dido. She is joined by Benjamin Appl, who is fast establishing a major career; and La Nuova Musica, noted for its rigorous yet sparkling approach to the Baroque repertory embellished here by Zack Winokur's evocative dancers. One of the first operas in English, Dido and Aeneas is a tale of love and loss, as Dido, Queen of Carthage, is abandoned by the Trojan prince Aeneas and dies overwhelmed by grief.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Wed 11 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, glory has inspired a remarkable fusion of silent film and live music by filmmaker Lizzie Thynne and composer Ed Hughes. Drawing on such precedents as Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, this new film depicts a day in the life of the city, darting back and forth through time to encompass archive film of the lost glories and contemporary events that have defined Brighton’s profile as the UK’s most vibrant location. This kaleidoscope of local identity is accompanied by a sumptuous symphonic score performed live by Orchestra of Sound and Light. 

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Brighton Festival Chorus: The Dream of Gerontius
Sun 22 May, 7pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Lush orchestration, massed forces and profound subject matter: The Dream of Gerontius is an overwhelming musical experience. This is the kind of music that Brighton Festival Chorus was created to perform, and which is woven into the identity of the renowned CBSO, whose very first performance in 1920 was conducted by Elgar. A truly stellar cast (Alice Coote: mezzo-soprano, Robert Murray: tenor, Matthew Rose: bass), led by the eminent British conductor Edward Gardner, luxuriates in music of rare power and eloquence that etches the vision of the journey of a pious man’s soul from his deathbed to his judgment before God.

CHILDREN AND FAMILY


Globe Theatre on Tour: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May, 6pm, Thu 26, Sat 28 & Sun 29 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Open Air Theatre.
Hidden identities, cross-dressing and subterfuge crisscross in a tale of love, friendship, betrayal and reconciliation. This riotous new production hurls Shakespeare’s anarchic comedy into the 21st century, in the perfect setting of Brighton Open Air Theatre. Remember to bring a picnic and dress for the weather.

A Weekend Without Walls
Sat 14 May, 12 – 5pm. Easthill Park, Portslade, Sun 15 May, 12 – 5pm. East Brighton Park, Whitehawk
Get ready for a weekend of fun and adventures as Easthill Park and East Brighton Park host five extraordinary new performances: Les Enfants Terribles’ Dr Latitude and his team of misguided misfits in The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory, NOWish's Le Cheval Solitaire, Miss High Leg Kick's Audition Project and H.O.H. by Far From the Norm. Bring a picnic and all the family.

26 LETTERS


Michael Morpurgo
Wed 11 May, 6pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo is spellbinding company, a master storyteller who has created some of the most brilliant children’s books of recent years. Join him as he talks about his work, which includes War Horse, Private Peaceful and Why the Whales Came, and hear all about his latest book, An Eagle in the Snow, the extraordinary story of the man who could have stopped World War Two before it even began.

Chris Riddell Children's Laureate in residence
Winner of two Kate Greenaway medals for illustration, Brighton’s own Chris Riddell (The Edge Chronicles, Goth Girl) joins 26 Letters for no less than three events: Ask the Laureate (Sat 14 May), 6pm. Sallis Benney Theatre, Poems and Pictures Live (Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Sallis Benney Theatre) and Picture Book Masterclass (Sun 22 May, 10am. Brighton Dome Founders Room.

Young City Reads 2016
Thu 19 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Brighton & Hove’s Big Read for young people returns. This year young story-lovers are invited to read and discuss Hamish and the World Stoppers by Danny Wallace. For the Young City Reads Big Event, the award-winning author and presenter, together with the book’s illustrator Jamie Littler, will take centre stage for a live, interactive schools event to talk about their book and tell us more about Hamish, Alice and some disgusting creatures called ‘The Terribles’, who might come from outer space — or maybe France…

Notes to Editors:


About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and 2016 marks a landmark in its history with the 50th Brighton Festival.

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme.

• For nearly 30 years Brighton Festival has opened with the Children’s Parade, which includes participants from schools and community groups and bands across the city. One of the most spectacular community events in the UK with up to 4,000 participants and an audience of around 10,000, this year the Children’s Parade, devised and delivered by Same Sky, will be themed around Brighton Celebrates in response to Brighton Festival’s milestone year.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round

Brighton Festival 2016 Listing Highlights

Contemporary music


Laurie Anderson: Music for DogsUK Premiere
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm
‘Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog?’ Laurie Anderson mused while waiting backstage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. True to form, Anderson made her outlandish dream come true: first at the Sydney Opera House, and again in New York’s Times Square in January, making headlines the world over. The 20-minute piece has been specifically designed for the canine ear, including higher pitches audible only to them, as well as other sounds for humans to enjoy.

Laurie Anderson, Nik Bärtsch & Eivind Aarset: Song Conversation, Song as a Place.
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Tue 17 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Laurie Anderson is joined by fellow musician-composers, Zurich-based pianist Nik Bärtsch and one of Norway’s most in-demand guitarists, Eivind Aarset, for a freewheeling walk through sonic spaces. These master improvisers will take on the idea of space in songs, while dissecting song structure, melody, lyrics, inspiration, dedication, and improvisation. 

Laurie Anderson, Slideshow
World Premiere

Brighton Festival Exclusive
Wed 18 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
In the second of two exclusive performances for Brighton Festival, Laurie Anderson presents Slideshow, a specially created performance monologue about place and places, described by Anderson herself as a “collection of adventure stories about love, cities, diners, Mars, how we see, living by rivers, Dollywood, my home town and many other places along the way.”

Yuval Avital & Ensemble Meitar, Fuga Perpetua
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Fri 20 May, 8pm., Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Fuga Perpetua - musical terms meaning ‘always running’ - reflects on the situation of refugees compelled always to move on. In this potent and thought-provoking new work, Yuval Avital, a unique voice in the contemporary and experimental scene, creates an immersive environment using a combination of music, sound recordings, visual projections and movement. With contemporary music group Ensemble Meitar. Produced by Magà Global Arts, Ensemble Meitar &Third Ear. Supported by Arts Council England.

Haçienda Classical: House and club classics
Fri 20 May, 9pm
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
The DJs who shaped the Haçienda sound, Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, will perform a continuous set of house and club classics alongside the Manchester Camerata Orchestra and special guests. Taking the euphoria of the legendary club nights to a whole new level, Haçienda Classical is a unique meeting of styles.

Beth Orton
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts
Beth Orton returns to the UK for two shows at Brighton Festival premiering highly anticipated new material exploring her electronic roots. Orton has been one of the country’s most unique and beguiling voices in contemporary music for the past two decades - from debut LP Trailer Park in which she pioneered the synthesis of electronic beats and acoustic song writing to her follow-up Central Reservation which brought international acclaim and a BRIT award. These one-off shows will feature new material performed live for the first time.

Floating Points Live
Sun 29 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Dance music trailblazer Sam Shephard – otherwise known as Floating Points – is renowned for his ambitious, forward-thinking DJ sets around the world. His debut album Elaenia draws upon classical, jazz, electronic music, soul and even Brazilian popular music. At times delicate and intense, with moments of utter stillness, it provides the bridge between his rapturous dance music and his classical roots. Performing with a full live band, don’t miss what promises to be a remarkable live performance from one of electronic music’s most perceptive new artists.

Visual Art


Gillian Wearing: A Room With Your Views
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, World premiere
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 10am – 5pm (Thu 10am –8pm), University of Brighton Gallery
Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing – the invited artist for HOUSE 2016 - will present Your Views, a global collaborative work which captures a snapshot of 'views' from windows across the world. Wearing’s work examines our public personas and private lives, describing her working method as ‘editing life’. Drawing on fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality TV and theatrical techniques, she explores how we present ourselves to the world, as well as her involvement with extensive self-portraiture. Co-commissioned with HOUSE 2016.

Ron Haselden: Luminary
Co-produced by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 12pm – 7pm, Fabrica
A series of beautiful LED light-drawings at locations across the city by respected British artist Ron Haselden that range in scale from the monumental, presented as a walk-through installation at Fabrica, to the intimate, shining out from homes in several of the city’s neighbourhoods. Stemming from Haselden’s love of drawings produced by the ‘untutored hand’, sketches by young children and older people have provided the inspiration for Luminary, scaled up with LED ropelight, to amplify their spontaneous, uninhibited style. Co-produced by Fabrica and Brighton Festival in partnership with MSL Projects, Hastings.

Lou Reed Drones
UK Premiere
Fri 13 – Tue 17 May, 12pm – 5pm. The Spire
A visceral, emotional and spiritual experience, Lou Reed Drones is an installation of Lou Reed’s guitars and amps in feedback mode: 24 strings set in motion from the push of magnetically driven cones; 360 partial harmonics colliding against each other. Introducing gain and sculpting sonic frequencies, a feedback loop is created with each guitar and its respective amplifier. Their overlapping harmonic structures produce pseudo-acoustic notes in which a beating sensation is then set in motion. 

Film


No Home Movie

(2015, Belgium/France, cert. U), Directed by Chantal Akerman
Sun 8 May, 1.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
The final film of the great Belgian film-maker Chantal Akerman is a moving memoir of her mother’s last months. Confined to her Brussels apartment, Natalia’s harrowing past as an Auschwitz survivor and her chronic anxiety, greatly influenced Akerman’s art. This special preview screening ahead of the film’s UK release is a tribute to one of the most original and influential figures in feminist cinema, who died last year.

Heart of a Dog
Plus Q&A with Laurie Anderson
(2015, USA), Directed by Laurie Anderson
Tue 10 May, 9pm. Duke of York's Picturehouse
Visually rich and poetic, Laurie Anderson's Oscar nominated Heart of a Dog sees her reflect on love, language and death - inspired by the affection she had for pet Rat Terrier, Lolabelle, who died in 2011. Essayistic in style, and constructed like a collage of original musical compositions, contemporary footage, narration, animation and 8mm home movies, it deftly flits between the serious and the playful, the funny and heartfelt.

Sans Soleil (Sunless)
(1982, France, cert. 15), Directed by Chris Marker
Sun 15 May, 1.30pm., Duke of York's Picturehouse
This elegiac masterpiece by Laurie Anderson's favourite director Chris Marker is a poetic documentary tour of Tokyo, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland and San Francisco. Sans Soleil is a hugely influential essay film in which the spoken word and haunting visuals conjure the disorientation of a world traveller, journeying through cultures, secret rituals and confusions of time.

The Human Face
(1990, UK, cert. 12A), Directed by Nichola Bruce.
Sun 22 May, 4.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
Nominated for a BAFTA, The Human Face is a documentary made for the BBC series Arena. Laurie Anderson presents, narrating an examination of mankind’s obsession with its own image, looking at the use of heads and the human face in art and sculpture, and at the prejudices applied every day based solely on a person’s appearance.

THEATRE


Blast Theory & Hydrocracker: Operation Black Antler
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8, Tues 10 - Sat 14, Tues 17 - Sat 21, Tues 24 - Sat 28. Every 15 minutes from 6pm - 9pm (timed entry allocated on booking).
For 40 years British police officers have been operating undercover inside protest groups, ‘deep swimming’ by forming relationships and even having children with their targets. This ground-breaking piece of immersive theatre by Blast Theory and Hydrocracker will give audiences a chance to go undercover for the night in a thrilling and unforgettable walk in someone else’s shoes. Visit the safehouse to meet your police handler and build up your identity, choose your cover story and meet the rest of the team then head out to the gig to use your new skills.
Commissioned by Brighton Festival and Ideas Test. In partnership with Dramatic Resources. 

Spymonkey & Tim Crouch: The Complete Deaths
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Wed 11 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Theatre Royal Brighton
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus - from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, always hysterically. Directed by Tim Crouch, The Complete Deaths is a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Presented by Spymonkey in a co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate Northampton. 

Berlin (Antwerp): Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close)
UK Premiere.
Mon 23 – Wed 25 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Co-produced by Brighton Festival.
26 April 1986, Pripyat, Ukraine. A nuclear reactor explodes and some 90 towns and villages are evacuated. But one couple, Pétro and Nadia, refuse to leave. Without running water, electricity, telephone or mail, they hold on indestructibly in the infected zone for 30 years. Berlin returns to Brighton Festival with a filmic portrait of one elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude. Featuring interviews with Pétro and Nadia filmed between 2011 and 2016, Zvizdal tells a poignant story of survival. Co-produced with Brighton Festival; Het Zuidelijk Toneel, Tilburg; PACT Zollverein, Essen; Dublin Theatre Festival; Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels; BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen; and CENTQUATRE, Paris.

Neil Bartlett: Stella
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Theatre Royal Brighton.
A new work written and directed by one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers. Inspired by the strange life and lonely death of Ernest Boulton – also known as one half of the now-infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella – this new work from Neil Bartlett is an intense and deeply personal meditation on what it means to keep your nerve as the lights go out. It's about being old, about being young, and about what it means to really be yourself. A co-commission by LIFT, Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.

Lola Arias (Buenos Aires): Minefield
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 28 May, 8pm. Sun 29 May, 2pm & 7pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Argentinian writer and director Lola Arias returns to Brighton Festival with the world premiere of her new work about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict. Merging film, re-enactment and documentary theatre, Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction to give a fascinating insight into how and what people remember, and how war continues to cast a long shadow over the lives of its protagonists. Co-commissioned by LIFT Festival, Royal Court Theatre, Brighton Festival, Le Quai Angers and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.

OUTDOOR


Art of Disappearing: The Last Resort
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May (no performances Mon & Tue), Wed – Fri, 2pm – 8pm, Sat & Sun, 11am – 9pm
Amidst a barren landscape, a neon light stands bleak and stark. Welcome to The Last Resort. For those brave enough to return to this long deserted resort, beauty, science fiction and history merge to create a unique outdoor experience. Using binaural technology to create a constantly shifting world of sound, artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr have created an exciting immersive work that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies.

Marc Rees: Digging for Shakespeare
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, Sat 21 & Sun 22 May, 10.30am & 2.30pm. Roedale Allotments.
Meet James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, 19th century joker and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar who lived on the outskirts of Brighton. There in his 'rustic wigwam' (a series of conjoined sheds), he obsessively curated a huge hoard of Shakespearean rarities. Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, director Marc Rees has devised a unique promenade performance through Roedale Allotments, close to the site of this eccentric recluse's former home. 


Nutkhut: Dr Blighty
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Tue 24 – Sat 28 May, 2pm – 10pm. Royal Pavilion Gardens.
Between 1914 and 1916, over 2000 Indian soldiers wounded on the Western Front were brought to a temporary hospital housed in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate. In a major new collaboration with Nutkhut and a creative team that includes designer Tom Piper (Tower of London Poppies), Dr Blighty recalls this unexpected episode in Brighton’s history. Bringing the experiences of the soldiers - inspired by letters they sent home - and the locals who came to care for them, the Royal Pavilion Gardens will host a dreamlike environment of immersive installations, soundscapes and theatrical interludes, alongside concerts featuring Philharmonia Orchestra with Kala Ramnath, Debashish Bhattacharya and Gurdain Rayatt within Brighton Dome. A Nutkhut Production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival and Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

BOOKS AND DEBATE
Presented in partnership with Guardian Live


Guardian Book Club: Howard Jacobson
Sun 8 May, 5pm. Sallis Benney Theatre
Perhaps the leading observer of Jewishness in modern Britain, Howard Jacobson examines Shakespeare’s most controversial character in his new novel, Shylock is My Name. Including a shocking twist on Shylock’s infamous demand for a pound of flesh, the novel examines contemporary questions of Jewish identity and the relationship between fathers and daughters. Join him for a discussion with Guardian Book Club host John Mullan about the novel and the endlessly fascinating play that inspired it.

Yanis Varoufakis
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
In his new book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis assesses the history of the European monetary union. A passionate campaigner against austerity, Varoufakis argues that it is a fundamental threat to Europe and to the global economy. He also shows that the origins of the Eurozone crisis lie not with governments or the banks but in its founding structure. He will talk to Channel 4 economics editor and Guardian columnist Paul Mason about the current crisis and present his case for economic reform.

Lionel Shriver
Wed 11 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Orange Prize-winning writer Lionel Shriver talks about her new novel, The Mandibles – a dark, witty and frightening dystopia about a nation in decline. Set during a fiscal crisis in near-future America, the book follows three generations of a family as they cope with the loss of their fortune and learn how to survive as America’s economy spirals into dysfunction.

The Guardian Newsroom: The EU Referendum
Thu 26 May, 7pm. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts
David Cameron's promised referendum on the UK's membership of the EU could be called as early as June 2016. As both the EU exit and pro-Europe campaigns gather momentum, Britain faces profound questions about its future. Business leaders claim that withdrawal would lead to economic calamity, while others on the left and the right argue the case for Britain to govern itself. Join a panel of Guardian writers, including Brighton Festival Chair Polly Toynbee, to analyse and discuss both sides of the debate.

Marlon James
Thu 26 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Studio Theatre.
Join us for an evening with 2015 Man Booker prize winner, Marlon James. A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional account of an attempt to assassinate Bob Marley in 1976, a novel described by the New York Times as a ‘Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come…sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex’. Spanning three decades, the novel uses multiple voices - CIA agents, drug dealers, ghosts, beauty queens - to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.

DANCE AND CIRCUS


Charles Linehan Company: Double bill
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Charles Linehan returns to Brighton Festival with a contrasting double bill of new works. My Mother’s Tears mines the personal history of William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz) performing classical ballet mime from The Royal Ballet repertoire with unpredictable consequences. In A Quarter Plus Green ideas of transformation are applied to movement, light and sound in a unique new setting at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, Dance4, South East Dance, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and Tanztendenz, Munich.

The Ricochet Project (New Mexico): Smoke and Mirrors
Mon 9 & Tue 10 May, 8pm.
Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Circus as you’ve never seen it before: audacious and thought-provoking, technically brilliant and profound. The Ricochet Project is pushing the boundaries of contemporary circus using poetic acrobatics, contemporary dance, contortion and high flying feats to explore the human condition. Revealing the inner workings of the mind and our search to find a place of realness and connecting in an enduring culture of illusion, Smoke and Mirrors is a mesmerising and intimate two-hander for grown-ups.

Nederlands Dans Theater 2
Fri 13 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Nederlands Dans Theater is one of the world's most celebrated dance companies, wowing audiences with their unique brand of breath-taking dance, awe-inspiring skill and passionate creativity. Artistically directed by award-winning choreographer Paul Lightfoot, NDT2 presents 18 international dancers aged 18-23. For their long awaited return to Brighton Festival, they bring a vibrant mixed programme including works by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, Edward Clug, Hans van Manen and the international hit Cacti by Associate Choreographer Alexander Ekman. Presented in partnership with Dance Consortium.

Akram Khan Company: Until the Lions
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Thu 26 & Fri 27 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
One of the most respected figures in the dance world, Akram Khan returns to Brighton Festival with his new, full-length production Until the Lions - his most arresting work to date. Khan is joined by two of his company dancers alongside four musicians providing haunting vocals and soundscape. Together they give a breath-taking performance in this partial adaptation of poet Karthika Naïr’s original reworking of the epic Mahabharata, bautifully combining the classical Indian dance form kathak with contemporary dance. Initiated by the 360° Network of round artistic venues across the world and produced during residency at Sadler's Wells London and Curve Leicester. 

CLASSICAL


London Symphony Orchestra
Sat 7 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
A rare opportunity to hear the LSO outside of London, this unique opening concert reflects the Festival’s strong classical tradition over the past 50 years with some of the most remarkably talented performers of today. One of the most brilliant pianists of our time (Leif Ove Andsnes) basks in the lyrical genius of Mozart (Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor K466). Bruckner’s Third Symphony (Symphony No. 3 in D minor) with its grand and majestic orchestration is directed here by the LSO’s Principal Guest Conductor. 

La Nuova Musica: Dido and Aeneas
Sun 8 May, 7.30pm, Theatre Royal Brighton
Ann Murray DBE, one of the great singers of her generation, brings her magisterial artistry to the role of Dido. She is joined by Benjamin Appl, who is fast establishing a major career; and La Nuova Musica, noted for its rigorous yet sparkling approach to the Baroque repertory embellished here by Zack Winokur's evocative dancers. One of the first operas in English, Dido and Aeneas is a tale of love and loss, as Dido, Queen of Carthage, is abandoned by the Trojan prince Aeneas and dies overwhelmed by grief.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Wed 11 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, glory has inspired a remarkable fusion of silent film and live music by filmmaker Lizzie Thynne and composer Ed Hughes. Drawing on such precedents as Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, this new film depicts a day in the life of the city, darting back and forth through time to encompass archive film of the lost glories and contemporary events that have defined Brighton’s profile as the UK’s most vibrant location. This kaleidoscope of local identity is accompanied by a sumptuous symphonic score performed live by Orchestra of Sound and Light. 

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Brighton Festival Chorus: The Dream of Gerontius
Sun 22 May, 7pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Lush orchestration, massed forces and profound subject matter: The Dream of Gerontius is an overwhelming musical experience. This is the kind of music that Brighton Festival Chorus was created to perform, and which is woven into the identity of the renowned CBSO, whose very first performance in 1920 was conducted by Elgar. A truly stellar cast (Alice Coote: mezzo-soprano, Robert Murray: tenor, Matthew Rose: bass), led by the eminent British conductor Edward Gardner, luxuriates in music of rare power and eloquence that etches the vision of the journey of a pious man’s soul from his deathbed to his judgment before God.

CHILDREN AND FAMILY


Globe Theatre on Tour: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May, 6pm, Thu 26, Sat 28 & Sun 29 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Open Air Theatre.
Hidden identities, cross-dressing and subterfuge crisscross in a tale of love, friendship, betrayal and reconciliation. This riotous new production hurls Shakespeare’s anarchic comedy into the 21st century, in the perfect setting of Brighton Open Air Theatre. Remember to bring a picnic and dress for the weather.

A Weekend Without Walls
Sat 14 May, 12 – 5pm. Easthill Park, Portslade, Sun 15 May, 12 – 5pm. East Brighton Park, Whitehawk
Get ready for a weekend of fun and adventures as Easthill Park and East Brighton Park host five extraordinary new performances: Les Enfants Terribles’ Dr Latitude and his team of misguided misfits in The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory, NOWish's Le Cheval Solitaire, Miss High Leg Kick's Audition Project and H.O.H. by Far From the Norm. Bring a picnic and all the family.

26 LETTERS


Michael Morpurgo
Wed 11 May, 6pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo is spellbinding company, a master storyteller who has created some of the most brilliant children’s books of recent years. Join him as he talks about his work, which includes War Horse, Private Peaceful and Why the Whales Came, and hear all about his latest book, An Eagle in the Snow, the extraordinary story of the man who could have stopped World War Two before it even began.

Chris Riddell Children's Laureate in residence
Winner of two Kate Greenaway medals for illustration, Brighton’s own Chris Riddell (The Edge Chronicles, Goth Girl) joins 26 Letters for no less than three events: Ask the Laureate (Sat 14 May), 6pm. Sallis Benney Theatre, Poems and Pictures Live (Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Sallis Benney Theatre) and Picture Book Masterclass (Sun 22 May, 10am. Brighton Dome Founders Room.

Young City Reads 2016
Thu 19 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Brighton & Hove’s Big Read for young people returns. This year young story-lovers are invited to read and discuss Hamish and the World Stoppers by Danny Wallace. For the Young City Reads Big Event, the award-winning author and presenter, together with the book’s illustrator Jamie Littler, will take centre stage for a live, interactive schools event to talk about their book and tell us more about Hamish, Alice and some disgusting creatures called ‘The Terribles’, who might come from outer space — or maybe France…

Notes to Editors:


About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and 2016 marks a landmark in its history with the 50th Brighton Festival.

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme.

• For nearly 30 years Brighton Festival has opened with the Children’s Parade, which includes participants from schools and community groups and bands across the city. One of the most spectacular community events in the UK with up to 4,000 participants and an audience of around 10,000, this year the Children’s Parade, devised and delivered by Same Sky, will be themed around Brighton Celebrates in response to Brighton Festival’s milestone year.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round

caravan 2016 programme announced

caravan, a partnership between Farnham Maltings and Brighton Festival presents a three-day biennial curated showcase of the best new theatre from across England to an international audience of festival organisers and programmers. This press release announces its 2016 programme.

  • caravan 2016 will take place on 15-17 May 2016 as part of the 50th Brighton Festival, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in May
  •  The showcase offers opportunities for England based artists and companies and international commissioners, presenters, festival programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working, share ambitions, reach new audiences and develop new ideas.
  •  In 2016, caravan will be offering opportunities for twelve artists and companies to showcase full performances of their work, while another six will have the chance to pitch to delegates.
  •  Eight of the performances within the showcase will be open to the public to attend, as part of the Brighton Festival programme.

caravan 2016 follows the success of the showcases in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 building on the ambition of previous years. The showcase aims to strengthen international networks and expand the range of opportunities for performing artists and companies based in England to work abroad.

The 2016 programme will be presenting a selection of the best new English performance, selected by a curatorial group drawn from some of the country’s leading directors and producers. The 2016 curatorial group included Andrew Jones, Fiona Baxter, Gavin Stride, Gabriella Triantafyllis, Jo Verrent, Lorne Campbell, Orla Flanagan and Sally Cowling.

2016 artists
Full performances


Eric MacLennan – A Voyage Around My Bedroom

An interactive journey, in a bedroom, in a glass box, in a field with audience input shaping the narrative

Christopher Brett Bailey – This is how we die
A highly verbose collage of spoken word and storytelling: tales of paranoia, young love and ultra-violence

Lost Dog – Paradise Lost (Lies unopened beside me)
Inspired by Milton, a re-telling of the story of the beginning of everything using words, music and dance

Greg Wohead – Comeback Special
Jam sessions and dance numbers combine in a re-enactment of Elvis Presley's 1968 Comeback Special

Jo Bannon – Alba
Influenced by her albinism, Jo Bannon blends light, proximity, movement and sound into a visual poem

Still House – Of Riders and Running Horses
A stirring and visceral new dance event created as a communal animation of urban spaces

Dickie Beau - Blackouts: Twilight of the Idols
Drag fabulist Dickie Beau conjures the spirits of celebrated Hollywood icons in a bewitching adventure

Sue MacLaine Company - Can I Start Again Please
A play exploring our capacity to process traumatic experiences and language’s ability to represent it

Spymonkey – The Complete Deaths
All 72 onstage deaths of Shakespeare’s plays are performed in 90 minutes

Andy Field – Lookout
A site-sensitive one-on-one encounter between one adult audience member and one child performer

Selina Thompson - Dark and Lovely
A solo piece exploring Black identity, inspired by the cultural and social debate surrounding Black hair

Emma Frankland - Rituals for Change
A performance creating a series of rituals to explore gender transition and the fluid notion of change

Pitches


Brian Lobel, 24 Italian Songs and Arias
Catherine Ireton, The Salon Project (working title)
Action Hero, RV project Europe (working title)
The Other Way Works, Agent in a Box
Sleepdogs, Steady State
Sheila Ghelani, Elemental

Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings & co-director of caravan, says:
We had over 200 proposals from every part of the country suggesting that there is a real appetite amongst theatre makers to connect internationally. I think the programme suggests that we have a vibrant, ambitious theatre community keen to find new ways of reaching new audiences”.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, says:
We are really looking forward to collaborating again with Farnham Maltings, to present the best of new English performance for the fifth biennial caravan showcase as part of our 50th Brighton Festival celebrations. The showcase has grown substantially since it was launched in 2008, and now encompasses a selection of the most dynamic and innovative theatre and performance from around England. It has become a leading showcase and touchstone for international promoters and programmers to experience a diverse range of new work by our most innovative artists who are prime candidates at this stage in their careers to tour internationally”.

Ends


Notes to Editors:

caravan is delivered by Farnham Maltings and Brighton Festival. It is funded by Arts Council England and British Council.

Farnham Maltings is a creative organisation based in Farnham, Surrey which works with artists and communities across South East England to encourage the greatest number of people to make, see and enjoy the best art possible.Brighton Festival commissions and produces an ambitious programme of local, national and international work across music, theatre, dance, visual art, outdoor performance, literature and debates.

Brighton Festival will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 7 to 29 May 2016.

Full details of caravan 2016 curatorial group:
Andrew Jones, Senior Programme Manager for Drama & Dance – British Council
Fiona Baxter, Deputy Director, Arts – Farnham Maltings
Gabriella Triantafyllis, General Manager –bios, Greece
Gavin Stride, Director – Farnham Maltings
Jo Verrent, Senior Producer – Unlimited
Lorne Campbell, Artistic Director – Northern Stage
Orla Flanagan, Theatre Producer – Brighton Dome & Festival
Sally Cowling, Associate Producer – Brighton Dome & Festival

Pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson announced as Guest Director for 50th Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the Guest Director for 2016 is the pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson. Anderson will take the helm as Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year, celebrates its unique, energetic and creative city, and reflects on the nature of home. 

Renowned for her inventive use of technology - from her 1981 hit O Superman to her appointment as NASA’s first artist-in-residence - Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most daring creative pioneers. Her eclectic, multidisciplinary career has spanned the worlds of art, theatre and experimental music and has seen her create works as a writer, director, visual artist and vocalist. Most recently Anderson has garnered acclaim for her first feature film in almost 30 years - Heart of a Dog - which reflects on the deaths of her husband Lou Reed, her mother, her beloved dog, and such diverse subjects as family memories, surveillance and Buddhist teachings. 

A long-time supporter of Brighton Festival, Anderson is well-known and well-loved by the city following successful appearances such as Delusion (BF2011) and All the Animals (BF2015). An inspiration to audiences and artists alike, she has been described by Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith as: “the performance artist, singer, musician, artist of our lifetime I think - a great, great figure of liberty and liberation of the arts”.

Laurie Anderson says: "I'm so happy to be serving as Guest Director of Brighton Festival in its historic 50th year. Our theme of home and place is especially relevant with so many people in the world on the move now looking, like all of us, for a place we can belong. I've been part of the Festival several times and it was exciting to watch the city become the heart of so much art. I'm looking forward to being part of it this year."

The 50th Brighton Festival - which will take place from 7-29 May 2016 - will feature new works from Laurie Anderson alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies. Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 17 February but some of the key commissions that can be revealed now include The Complete Deaths, a partnership between two Brighton-based artistic powerhouses - Tim Crouch and Spymonkey - to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death; Memory is a Minefield, a new work from Argentinian artist Lola Arias developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the Falklands conflict; Stella, a theatrical love letter to one half of the infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella by Neil Bartlett; and Until the Lions, a brand new full-length production from award-winning choreographer and dancer Akram Khan

Alongside the pieces announced at this stage, Brighton Festival 2016 will feature a major new commission in partnership with 14-18 NOW - whose nationwide programme of arts experiences seeks to connect people with the First World War - as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations (full details of which will be announced on 20 January 2016). Brighton Festival 2016 will also see a Books and Debate programme delivered in a special partnership with Guardian Live, as well as the return of caravan (15-17 May 2016), a three-day biennial curated industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which this year features eight performances which will be open to the public. 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “We are thrilled and honoured to announce such a major international figure as Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2016. In our 50th year, it feels right to reflect on the original intentions of the Festival which from the start were about celebrating international culture, the new and the avant-garde. Laurie Anderson has been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed – indeed, she’s been a part of the Festival’s journey in past years with some very special commissions and appearances in the city. She continues to break new ground in her own work and through collaborations with some of the most promising artists of the future, and we are looking forward to celebrating all this in what we hope will be a very special 50th Brighton Festival in May.”

The eighth Guest Director of Brighton Festival, Laurie Anderson follows in the footsteps of visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012), poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013), choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014) and award-winning author Ali Smith (2015) in shaping the three week programme of cultural events. 

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world. 

Full programme details will be announced on 17 February 2016. Events for 2016 which can be revealed now are:

Memory is a Minefield by Lola Arias
Brighton Festival co-commission, World Premiere

Argentinian writer, director and songwriter Lola Arias returns to Brighton Festival following her acclaimed Brighton Festival 2013 UK premiere of My Life After with a new work about the Falklands Islands /Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the conflict. In a production that is political, playful and highly personal, Arias brings together soldiers who fought on opposite sides, giving them an opportunity to share with us and each other their first hand experiences on a battlefield 8000 miles from London. Merging film, re-enactment and documentary theatre Memory is a Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction to give a fascinating insight into how and what people remember, and how war continues to cast a long shadow over the lives of its protagonists. Memory is a Minefield will premiere at Brighton Festival and is co-produced by LIFT Festival, Royal Court Theatre, Brighton Festival, Le Quai Angers and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm. 

The Complete Deaths, performed by Spymonkey & directed by Tim Crouch
Brighton Festival commission, World premiere

There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus - ranging from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. There are countless stabbings, plenty of severed heads, some poisonings, two mobbings and a smothering. Leading Brighton-based physical theatre company Spymonkey will perform them all - sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically. Directed by Brighton-based multi-award winning playwright and performer Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb) - The Complete Deaths will be a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Presented by Spymonkey in a co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate Northampton. 

Until The Lions by Akram Khan Company
Brighton Festival co-commission

A brand new, full-length production from award-winning choreographer and dancer Akram Khan. In this partial adaptation of poet Karthika Naïr’s book Until the Lions, an original reworking of the epic Mahabharata, Khan uses kathak and contemporary dance to tell the tale of Amba, a princess abducted on her wedding day and stripped of her honour, who invokes the gods to seek revenge. 

Bringing together some of the original team from his acclaimed solo DESH, Khan will explore the notion and the physical expression of gender. Until the Lions is set to be one of Khan’s most startling and spectacular works to date, in which he will perform alongside two of his company dancers and four musicians.

Stella by Neil Bartlett
Brighton Festival co-commission. World premiere

A new work written and directed by one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers. Inspired by the strange life and lonely death of Ernest Boulton – also known as one half of the now-infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella – Stella is an intense and deeply personal meditation on what it means to keep your nerve as the lights go out. It's about being old, about being young, and about what it means to really be yourself. A theatrical love-letter to a truly remarkable person, Stella is a co-commission by LIFT, Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.

-ENDS-

For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press and PR - emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260 803
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NOTES TO EDITORS:

 About Brighton Festival:

  • · Brighton Festival is England’s largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and 2016 marks a landmark in its history with the 50th Brighton Festival.
  • · Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 17 February 2016.
  • · Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme.
  • · Since 1985 Brighton Festival has opened with the Children’s Parade, which includes participants from schools and community groups and bands across the city. One of the most spectacular community events in the UK with up to 4,000 participants and an audience of around 10,000, this year the Children’s Parade, devised and delivered by Same Sky, will be themed around Brighton Celebrates in response to Brighton Festival’s milestone year.
  • · Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.
  • · Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.
  • · Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round

About Laurie Anderson:

  • · Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most renowned – and daring – creative pioneers. Known primarily for her multimedia presentations, she has cast herself in roles as varied as visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, electronics whiz, vocalist, and instrumentalist.
  • · O Superman launched Anderson’s recording career in 1980, rising to number two on the British pop charts and subsequently appearing on Big Science, the first of her seven albums on the Warner Brothers label. Other record releases include Mister Heartbreak, United States Live, Strange Angels, Bright Red, and the soundtrack to her feature film Home of the Brave. A deluxe box set of her Warner Brothers output, Talk Normal, was released in the autumn of 2000 on Rhino/Warner Archives. In 2001, Anderson released her first record for Nonesuch Records, entitled Life on a String, which was followed by Live in New York, recorded at Town Hall in New York City in September 2001, and released in May 2002.
  • · Anderson has toured the United States and internationally numerous times with shows ranging from simple spoken word performances to elaborate multimedia events. Major works include United States I-V (1983), Empty Places (1990), The Nerve Bible (1995), and Songs and Stories for Moby Dick, a multimedia stage performance based on the novel by Herman Melville. Songs and Stories for Moby Dick toured internationally throughout 1999 and 2000. In the autumn of 2001, Anderson toured the United States and Europe with a band, performing music from Life on a String. She has also presented many solo works, including Happiness, which premiered in 2001 and toured internationally through Spring 2003.
  • · Anderson has published six books. Text from Anderson’s solo performances appears in the book Extreme Exposure, edited by Jo Bonney. Anderson has also written the entry for New York for the Encyclopedia Britannica and in 2006, Edition 7L published Anderson’s book of dream drawings entitled “Night Life”.
  • · Laurie Anderson’s visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe. In 2003, The Musée Art Contemporain of Lyon in France produced a touring retrospective of her work, entitled The Record of the Time: Sound in the Work of Laurie Anderson. This retrospective included installation, audio, instruments, video and art objects and spans Anderson’s career from the 1970's to her most current works. It continued to tour internationally from 2003 to 2005. As a visual artist, Anderson is represented by the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York where her exhibition, The Waters Reglitterized, opened in September 2005. In 2008, the Museum of Modern Art acquired her “Self-Playing Violin” which was featured in the “Making Music” exhibition in autumn 2008.
  • · As a composer, Anderson has contributed music to films by Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme; dance pieces by Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Molissa Fenley, and a score for Robert LePage’s theater production, Far Side of the Moon. She has created pieces for National Public Radio, The BBC, and Expo ‘92 in Seville. In 1997 she curated the two-week Meltdown Festival at Royal Festival Hall in London. Her most recent orchestra work Songs for Amelia Earhart. premiered at Carnegie Hall in February 2000 performed by the American Composers Orchestra and later toured Europe with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. The piece was performed as part of the Groningen Festival honoring Laurie Anderson in autumn 2008 with the Noord Nederlands Orkest.
  • · Recognized worldwide as a groundbreaking leader in the use of technology in the arts, Anderson collaborated with Interval Research Corporation, a research and development laboratory founded by Paul Allen and David Liddle, in the exploration of new creative tools, including the Talking Stick. She created the introduction sequence for the first segment of the PBS special Art 21, a series about Art in the 21st century. Her awards include the 2001 Tenco Prize for Songwriting in San Remo, Italy and the 2001 Deutsche Schallplatten prize for Life On A String as well as grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She recently collaborated with Bran Ferren of Applied Minds, Inc to create an artwork that was displayed in “The Third Mind” exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in Winter 2009.
  • · In 2002, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA which culminated in her 2004 touring solo performance “The End of the Moon”. Recent projects include a series of audio-visual installations and a high definition film, “Hidden Inside Mountains”, created for World Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan.
  • · In 2007 she received the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for her outstanding contribution to the arts. In 2008 she completed a two-year worldwide tour of her performance piece, “Homeland”, which was released as an album on Nonesuch Records in June, 2010.
  • · Anderson’s solo performance “Delusion” debuted at the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad in February, 2010 and toured internationally throughout 2011. In 2010 a retrospective of her visual and installation work opened in Sao Paulo, Brazil and later traveled to Rio de Janeiro.
  • · In 2011 her exhibition of all new work titled “Forty-Nine Days In the Bardo” opened at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia.   That same year she was awarded with the Pratt Institute’s Honorary Legends Award.  
  • · In January of 2012 Anderson was the artist-in-residence at the High Performance Rodeo in Calgary, Alberta where she developed her latest solo performance titled “Dirtday!”  Her exhibition “Boat” curated by Vito Schnabel opened in May of 2012. 
  • · She has recently finished residencies at both CAP in UCLA in Los Angeles and EMPAC in Troy New York.
  • · In 2015 her film Heart of a Dog was chosen as an official selection of the 2015 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals and her exhibition Habeas Corpus opened at the Park Avenue Armory to wide critical acclaim.  Anderson lives in New York City.

About Guardian Live

  • · Guardian Live is the Guardian's programme of events that offer readers the chance to hear first-hand from people in the news and from those who create the arts and culture we admire. Readers can meet the people behind the Guardian - journalists, columnists and editors - as well as watch and join the debates that shape stories. For more information on the programme, visit theguardian.com/guardianlive  

About caravan

  • · caravan is a three-day biennial curated showcase of the best new theatre from across England to an international audience of festival organisers and programmers.
  • · caravan 2016 will take place from 15-17 May 2016 as part of Brighton Festival.
  • · The showcase offers opportunities for England based artists and companies and international commissioners, presenters, festival programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working, share ambitions, reach new audiences and develop new ideas.
  • · In 2016, caravan will be offering opportunities for twelve artists and companies to showcase full performances of their work, while another six will have the chance to pitch to delegates.
  • · caravan is delivered by Farnham Maltings and Brighton Festival. It is funded by Arts Council England and British Council. www.caravanshowcase.org.uk 

Download the PDF here


Key commission revealed as 50th Brighton Festival takes shape

The Complete Deaths – performed by physical comedy company Spymonkey and directed by Tim Crouch – is the first show revealed as part of the 50th Brighton Festival programme.

A Brighton Festival commission, the world premiere is a partnership between two Brighton-based artistic powerhouses to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus. They range from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra; from Pyramus and Thisbe to young Macduff. There are countless stabbings, plenty of severed heads, some poisonings, two mobbings and a smothering. Enorbarbus just sits in a ditch and dies from grief. And then there’s the pie that Titus serves the Queen of the Goths.

Spymonkey will perform them all - sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically. The four ‘seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns' (Time Magazine) will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them.

The Complete Deaths is directed by Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), designed by Spymonkey regular Lucy Bradridge and presented by Spymonkey in co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate.

Spymonkey is the UK's leading physical comedy company, based in Brighton and comprising a core creative ensemble of five lead artists: artistic directors Toby Park, Petra Massey and Aitor Basauri, and associate artists Stephan Kreiss and designer Lucy Bradridge. They’ve been making sublimely hilarious and deeply ridiculous theatre since 1998. Recent Brighton Festival appearances include Oedipussy (2012) and Cooped (2006)

Tim Crouch is a multi-award winning playwright and performer living in Brighton. His work has played in theatres and at festivals around the world. His four award-winning solo Shakespeare plays I, Caliban. I, Peaseblossom, I, Banquo and I, Malvolio were commissioned by Brighton Festival. 

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is a three week celebration of music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate and family events has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. 

Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world.

The 50th Brighton Festival takes place from 7-29 May 2016.

Listings information:


The Complete Deaths by Spymonkey & Tim Crouch
World Premiere.
Commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Wed 11 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, 2.30pm
Theatre Royal Brighton
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare (75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus). From the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. And then there’s the pie that Titus serves his guests. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, always hysterically. These ‘seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns’ (Time Magazine) will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them. Directed by Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), The Complete Deaths is a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  

-ENDS-


For further enquiries, please contact:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press and PR – emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org I 01273 260803
Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838
Ticket Office - 01273 709709 | www.brightonfestival.org

Follow us on Twitter - www.twitter.com/brightfest (@brightfest)
Join our Facebook fan site - www.facebook.com/brightonfestival

NOTES TO EDITORS:


About Brighton Festival –

• Brighton Festival is an annual mixed arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May, with an average audience reach of 150,000

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013, choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014 and award-winning author Ali Smith in 2015..

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established mixed arts Festival and a major milestone in the international cultural calendar

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round. It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives and inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.

• The first Brighton Festival in 1967 controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival manages a year round programme of arts at Brighton Dome – a three space, Grade 1 listed building made up of the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre - and produces the annual Brighton Festival in May. 

• It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives, and to inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival are a registered arts charity

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival are working with the Royal Pavilion & Museums on a joint masterplan to realize a future vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate. For updates and news please visit www.brightondome.org or contact 

Brighton Festival 2015 soars to a close

Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-wining author Ali Smith at the helm as Guest Director - came to a soaring conclusion this weekend.

Over the three-week Festival - the biggest and most established in England - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions were explored in a thrilling selection of events which spanned music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate featuring artists and performers the world over from Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha to the newly Palme d’Or honoured filmmaker Agnès Varda.

Three central themes - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - provided a fascinating jumping off point to explore some of the key ideas and issues of the moment as well as a memorable visual image of a swift in flight which proved a fitting and popular emblem for the 2015 Festival.

The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest of its kind in Europe. Supported by regional businesses Class of their Own, Gatwick Airport and Riverford, the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event. Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, costumes included bird life in all its forms as well as flying machines, creatures from fantasy and fable, bugs, bees and butterflies.


The Children's Parade. Photo by Jordan Hughes

During the ensuing 23 days it wasn’t just the kids who took flight – with more reviews praising the artistic excellence of this year’s programme than ever. One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Stage and the artsdesk amongst others described them as “exemplary”, “extraordinary”, “profound” and “faultlessly directed”. This was swiftly followed by the top accolade going to violinist Isabelle Faust’s amazing feat of solo virtuosity, Paine’s Plough’s poignant exploration of love and relationships in Lungs and Nina Conti’s extraordinary tour de force of improvised comedy amongst others.


Fleeting on Brighton Beach. Photo by Chris Bethall

At just under 400 performances across 150 events, including 34 that were entirely free to the public, Brighton Festival 2015 featured the highest number of exclusives, premieres and commissions to date including a sizeable proportion of events that cannot - and could not - be experienced anywhere else outside of Brighton Festival, from Sam Lee’s intimate Nightingale Walks on the Downs to Laurie Anderson’s one-off concert All the Animals and Festival finale Fleeting, the spectacular installation over the West Pier by And Now in which hundreds of individual points of fire created shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2015 saw a plethora of shows - including high profile events such as physical theatre show The Spalding Suite which takes as its subject the UK's basketball sub-culture and Jess Thom’s inspiring and uplifting exploration of her experience of living with Tourette’s, Backstage in Biscuit Land - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival also reached out beyond the centre more than ever before, working with Without Walls to present a number of family-friendly performances in Saltdean and Woodingdean for the first time as well as the enthralling 451 at Preston Barracks and playful Ear Trumpet in Queen’s Park. This was complemented by a fantastic response to community driven events such as a new children’s birdwatching trail which was generously embraced by the business community, and the return of the Guest Director’s Guests, the Peacock Poetry Prize and the Young City Reads schemes.


Backstage in Biscuit Land. Photo by Victor Frankowski

Other Festival highlights included a one off live screening of Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy; the English premiere of Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland’s The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a homage to one of Scotland's most likeable, most individual and most unexpected 20th century figures; a new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing; and the UK premiere of The Forgotten / L’Oublié(e), the directorial debut of Raphaëlle Boitel, one of the most remarkable performers on the European visual and physical theatre scene.

Brighton Festival 2015 featured 396 performances across 150 events including 45 exclusives, premieres and commissions and 34 free events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “From the 5 stars across-the-board success of Richard Nelson’s extraordinary Apple Family Plays to the headline-grabbing performance of Kate Tempest and a very special personal appearance by newly Palme D’Or honoured Agnes Varda - this year really has been a Festival to remember. Ali Smith, as Guest Director, has been an absolute pleasure to work with and a wonderful inspiration to us all. Her remarkable sense of possibility, wonder, imagination and excitement at anything that she encounters has been evident every step of the way, from her invaluable input during the programming process to her lively and engaging presence throughout the month. The Festival’s continued ability to not only bring such an eclectic range of artists onto one bill but to make it a resounding success, is testament to the extraordinary support we have from funders, sponsors and from audiences themselves. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year. I cannot wait to lift the lid on what surprises we have in store for the city and beyond.”

Director Susannah Waters on Being Both...

Being Both is an original production commissioned by Brighton Festival, directed by Susannah Waters and starring renowned mezzo-soprano Alice Coote. Inspired by Handel’s ‘bravura, amazing, profound’ arias and his ‘incredible compassion for human foibles’, Being Both curates the richest moments from Handel’s repertoire, in order to explore the complexities of gender in a modern context.

The production brings together vocals from Alice Coote, the world-class English Concert Orchestra led by Harry Bicket, and visual references from Ali Smith’s book How to be Both in a beautiful and thought-provoking meditation on what it is to be male, female and everything in-between.

We chatted to Susannah about the complexities of gender, her love affair with Handel, and how the orchestra in Being Both will be part of the action.

Susannah Waters on…

…The role of gender in Being Both

“Really, what we’re doing is trying to explore the whole hugely complex subject of gender and the world as it is today and how we’re affected by our own sense of gender: how masculine or feminine we feel we are and if that is a bit of a mismatch with how we’re meant to be, or how our job asks us to be. Also, very much thinking about how an audience sitting in a theatre is affected by gender: by someone’s costume, or the way they look and if someone costumed like a man is singing those words. If someone who has the appearance of a woman is singing those exact same words, they’re very different and they have very different connotations, even if it’s the exact same text.”

…Handel

“All the music is by Handel which is, of course, the best starting point in the world. I keep saying to Alice that there are some arias that are almost unbreakable in terms of the director screwing them up, or anyone screwing them up. They’re like Shakespeare: there are some pieces in the world that you can do almost nothing bad to, because they are infinitely playable and so full of richness. So we’ve got quite a lot of those really bravura, amazing, profound arias in the piece. Harry Bicket was saying yesterday, it’s kind of the greatest hits of Handel that we’ve collected. It’s really, actually, the pieces that Alice and I really wanted to explore and she wanted to sing.

He’s much above in terms of humanity, and understands everyone’s weaknesses and strengths and courage. For me, that fluidity is in his music; that compassion. He was very much a theatre maker. Like Shakespeare, he would nab a bit of music from that thing he’d written twenty years ago, and put it in this bit. A lot of the pieces were very piecemeal: recycling bits of music, recycling bits of ballet and sticking it here, and turning that into an aria. You never feel that it’s just kind of, lazy un-thought through music. He was very much a man of the theatre. He felt happiest in that theatrical milieu, in the middle of all those people that create an opera.”

…On working with Harry Bicket and the English Concert Orchestra

“I’m such a fan of this orchestra. I’ve gone to see them in concert, doing concert performances of operas. The last time I saw them, doing Alcina at the Barbican, it was an amazing line-up of singers, but I spent a lot of my time watching the orchestra, because they are so engaged when they play. Sometimes you go and see orchestra concerts and the orchestra look a bit jaded, they look a bit kind of ‘another show’. The English Concert Orchestra are just in their bodies, they’re so with the music, so in our show they’re very much onstage. I’m bringing forward some of the soloists to the forestage to be part of the action with Alice. I really wanted them to be an equal part of the visual show, so they are very much there on stage. They’re just fantastic, for me they’re my favourite Baroque orchestra around – just amazing players.”

Book now for Being Both

In Photos: Brighton Festival Week One

Our 49th Festival with Ali Smith at the helm has been a joy so far. We've had heaps of fun and with a plethora of great theatre, circus, dance, music, classical, outdoor, family, books and debates and visual art and film events still  to come the fun is nowhere near over yet!

Take a look back over our first week of Brighton Festival 2015 right here...

The past week has flown by and lots of exciting events have happened so far at Brighton Festival 2015 and there's still so much more to come! Check out what’s up next at: https://brightonfestival.org/whats_on/

Posted by Brighton Festival on Friday, 8 May 2015

Photos: Brighton Festival 2015 Opening Weekend

This weekend Brighton Festival began and we had smashing time! Here are some photos that showcase the festivities and it's nowhere near over yet, as there are lots more exciting events to come - see our What’s On page for full details

Brighton Festival 2015 kicked off with a bang this weekend, with an exciting programme of events .

Posted by Brighton Festival on Monday, 4 May 2015