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

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Thank you for being part of the story!

This year’s Brighton Festival was all about celebrating stories – exploring their ability to intrigue us, challenge assumptions and bond people together.

Whether you came to one show, or took part in events throughout the Festival, we’re so glad you could join us for another incredible year of talent, expression and artistic invention.

We’re so thankful to everyone who helped make this year so memorable, especially all our audiences, artists, participants, volunteers, sponsors, members, patrons and staff. A special thank you also to our 2019 Guest Director Rokia Traoré, who brought immeasurable time and talent curating this year's Brighton Festival edition.

We look forward to seeing you again next year! Save the dates: 2 - 24 May 2020

Video by Summer Dean, Savanna Gladstone and Jen O'Brien

What's On: Must-see Events This Weekend at Brighton Festival

We’ve had an incredible few weeks at Brighton Festival. With a jam-packed closing weekend, here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening…


Cooped
Wed 22-Sun 26 May

As Spymonkey celebrate its 20th anniversary, don’t miss the opportunity to catch the show which made them an international comedy sensation. Cooped, a deliciously demented take on the pulp gothic romance – think Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther

Read our interview with Spymonkey to find out more


Silence

Wed 22-Sat 25 May

Poland’s Teatr Biuro Podrozy make their Brighton debut with this extraordinary large-scale spectacle, a moving insight into the lives of ordinary citizens trapped by war. Using light, sound and pyrotechnics to conjure the visceral reality of war.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Thu 23-Sat 25 May

Shakespeare’s magic-filled comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is performed in the open air by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Bring a chair or a rug to enjoy a glorious May’s evening watching one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. Experience this enchanting performance, overflowing with Elizabethan costumes, fairies, sprites, dukes, confused lovers and music and dance.

True Copy
Thu 23-Sun 16

Based on the true story of possibly the most successful art forger in the world, BERLIN uses its genre-curious style to expose the hypocrisy of the art world.


SESSION
Thu 23-Sun 26 may

Part gig, part social and part dance party, the show is led by an ensemble of young dances who move across hip hop, contemporary folk and Afrobeats – celebrating community, youth and belonging. Join us for a high-energy night of dance and live music!


Peter Sellars and Rokia Traoré
Fri 24 May

Join our Guest Director, Rokia Traoré and Peter Sellars as they explore our world through the lens of humanity, compassion and art. Warm and intimate, this is a conversation not to be missed.

New Daughters of Africa
Fri 24 May

In 1992, Margaret Busby edited what Carol Boyce Davis described as ‘one of the most significant assemblages of writers across the diaspora’, effectively collating oral and written work from women of African descent.. A quarter of a century later, Margaret Busby has edited New Daughters of Africa, with over 200 writers and a much greater focus on the contemporary. Experience the newest new daughters first hand as Margaret Busby introduces three exciting UK contributors - Candice Carty-Williams, Irenosen Okojie and Catherine Johnson.

Varhung: Heart to heart
Sat 25 May

Taiwanese Tjimur Dance Theatre presents a richly patterned performance that shows how the Paiwan people, not used to discussing private feelings, use artforms to bring them to the surface. Experience a deeply emotional and open-hearted performance.


Our Place – Hangleton Community Centre
Sat 25 May

For the third year running we’ve been working in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project, and the community steering committee to enable local residents to make their vision come to life. This year the communities have taken control of the event, bringing more free family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games, activities and workshops to Hangleton and East Brighton. View the full programme here.


A Jar of Pickles & a Pinch of Justice with Chinta Soundar
Sat 25 May

Chitra Soundar has collected and retold some ancient trickster tales from India in which young Prince Veera and his friend Suku get into a pickle or two. The king is away, and they have the power to run his kingdom! What will they do? Come and listen to Chitra bring these stories alive in Brighton.

Another Star to Steer By
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

Another Star to Steer By is a magical 45-minute play (for audiences of 6+) celebrating the special power of storytelling, using drama, humour, audience participation and singing.

Read our interview with writer Andrew McCaldon


BOYS
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

The PappyShow celebrates male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS gives us a window to share their experiences, their hopes, families and globe-spanning heritage.

Read our interview with The PappyShow to find out more about BOYS


Neneh Cherry + Celeste
Sat 25 May

Join iconic Swedish singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry for an evening as she shares her new album 'Broken Politics' along with Brighton native, Celeste.

Neneh Cherry at Brighton Festival

Acts of Care
Sat 25 May

Author of Distortion and Financial Times journalist Gautam Malkani joins author of Hold Michael Donkor at Brighton Festival this May. Discussing the 'Acts of Care' and their novels along with Naana Orleans-Amissah, a counsellor and literary enthusiast.

Safe
Sun 26 May

Derek Owusu, Mostly Lit podcast host and editor of SAFE: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space, is joined by Okechukwu Nzelu and Stephen Morrison-Burke as he leads a conversation that embraces family, mental health, the LGBT community and grime music.

A Child of our Time
Sun 26 May

This special concert is performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra alongside Brighton Festival Chorus and a cast of world-class soloists and promises a deeply emotional journey and particularly poignant end to our 2019 Festival programme.

Don’t miss out – it’s your last chance to check out Iron Men and Current Affairs

What's On: Must-see Events This Weekend at Brighton Festival

We’ve got an exciting weekend ahead! From free community events, classical music to theatre and dance – we’ve got it all. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening…

Flight
Sat 4-Thu 23 May

Flight brings you up close and intimate to this heart-breaking story in a unique, deeply individual experience. Seated in your own personal booth, you will watch the action unfold on images and models slowly moving in front of you, with speech and music conveyed through your own individual headphones.


My Left Right Foot: The Musical
Tue 14-Sat 18 May

After sell out success at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe, My Left Right Foot makes a visit to Brighton Festival. Irreverent, uplifting and provocative, it is a must-see for lovers of humorous musicals.


Backbone

Wed 14-Fri 17 May

The internationally renowned circus company, Gravity and Other Myths, takes the concept and perception of strength and (literally) tosses it into the air. In this ‘dazzling and warm hearted’ performance (The Independent), individual and collective resilience is tested as the company tumble, backflip and walk across each other’s heads – Backbone explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance.


Séancers

Thu 16-Fri 17 May

Join performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts  as he explores black identities through a piece that brings together movement, song, spoken word and a live score.

Learn more about Jaamil's inspiration behind the show 


Young Glyndebourne Young Artists

Fri 17 May

As part of Glyndebourne’s commitment to supporting the development of young singers, the international opera company works with Jerwood Arts to provide innovative training and performance opportunities for selected members of the acclaimed Glyndebourne Chorus. This special concert from this year’s Jerwood Young Artists features excerpts from across the operatic repertoire.

Chamber Music Will Ashon with Kevin Le Gendre
Fri 17 May

A conversation on a new biography of the Wu-Tang Clan’s iconic hip hop album with Will Ashon and music journalist Kevin Le Gendre

Brighton Festival Youth Choir Under the Moon
Fri 17 May

Inspired by the Museum of the Moon, our choir have assembled an eclectic songbook of moon music ranging from classical to jazz.


Museum of the Moon
Fri 17-Mon 20 May

Hanging in Queens Park, Museum of the Moon will offer a unique experience free for all. Whether you plan to explore the surface with your family, or enjoy a lunar picnic, don’t miss your chance to be beneath the moon.

Learn more about the inspiration behind Museum of the Moon

credit Ed Simmons and Visit Greenwich

Flavour Migrations
Fri 17 May

Masterchef winner, Shelina Permalloo joins us to discuss how heritage, family and travel has shaped her cooking

Songs of Longing and Exile
Fri 17 May

Award-winning early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins with remarkable Syrian oud performer Rihab Azar for a unique collaboration inspired by the challenges faced by today’s refugees and migrants.

Find out more about Stile Antico's creative process and inspiration 


Our Place – Manor Gym
Sat 18 May

In partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project and the community steering committee to create a community takeover. This year the communities are bringing FREE family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games, activities and workshops to East Brighton. View the full programme here.


Giraffes Can’t Dance 20th Anniversary Dance Party
Sat 18 May

Join illustrator Guy Park-rees, as we celebrate 30 years of the classical picture book Giraffes Can’t Dance. There will be drawing, reading and, of course dancing!

Bad Nana with Sophy Henn
Sat 18 May

Come and met the creator of Bad Nana, author and illustrators Sophy Henn. There will be laughs, live drawing and lots of opportunity to join in.

Nick Sharratt: The Cat and the King
Sat 18 May

Meet the hilarious heroes of Nick Sharratt’s first-ever chapter book, The Cat and the King. Nick will be telling all, and drawing lots of funny picture too!

Ghost Caribou
Sat 18 May

Thingumajig Theatre’s new night-time street act, giant illuminated creatures. As they gather a crowd, they clear a space to perform their otherworldly ceremony. Using music, song and shadow puppets, they tell stories of lost homes, impossible migrations and seeds of hope before continuing the journey into their hauntingly beautiful dreamworld of the night.


Little Green Pig AMPLIFIED
Sat 18 May

Young people from Brighton & Hove take to the stage with unique tales to tell, the performers inhabit public space and amplify their words as never before. AMPLIFIED is part TED Talk, part YouTube confessional, but ultimately a celebration of the human story.

Dream Mande: Bamanan Djourou
Sat 18 May

Our Guest Director, Rokia Traoré joins us again to present emerging Malian musicians with a new take on traditional music. Prepare to hear five musicians and six female singers, led by Rokia, deliver adaptations of traditional Bambara songs, popular Fresh and international tunes as you’ve never heard them before.


Groove Under the Sea
Sun 19 May

Structured around movement and adventure and played by professional jazz musicians, Groove Baby is not your average kiddie jam! Created by Cameron Reynolds as a special hybrid performance for 3 to 7 year-olds and their carers, it incorporates appropriately themed storytelling that engages kids.

Joseph Coelho
Sun 19 May

Join children's author and poet Joseph Coelho as he shares from two of his picture books: Luna Loves Library Day about a young girl's magical experience reading books in her local library with her father; and IF ALL THE WORLD WERE…, a story about a girl’s love for her storytelling grandfather. Joseph will also help you create a whole new poem!


Groove Into Space
Sun 19 May

Designed to give parents an opportunity to get out and see a top concert while entertaining the little ones, Groove Baby avoids dumbing down and instead focuses on making each themed live gig as fun, engaging and exciting as possible for children. 


Cerrie Burnell – The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth
Sun 19 May

Join former CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell as she presents her magical novel The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth. Cerrie will share her top storytelling tips, and inspire children to go on their own creative writing adventures.

Superhoe
Sun 19-Tue 21 May

Following its sold-out run in London, Superhoe comes to Brighton Festival. A one-woman show by Nicôle Lecky in collaboration with Royal Court Theatre and the first black-led theatre company Talawa Theatre Company.


The Storytelling Army – Worthing
Sun 19 May

Join people from all walks of life in an intimate setting overlooking the beach to enjoy a simple meal together and listen to stories surrounding the theme of food and flavours that people have experienced; stories of where they come from; places they have been; or the places they dream to taste.

Find out more about The Storytelling Army and what they do 


Writing Big Themes for Small People
Sun 19 May

Writers who have taken on these themes – Sita Brahmachari, Joseph Coelho and Alan Durant – discuss with author Giles Paley Phillips why they did, the way children have responded and how stories and poems can help them and their grown-ups through difficult times.

Ruby Wax
Sun 19 May

Writer, comedian and mental health activist Ruby Wax takes a look at How To Be Human in an increasingly automated world. In this follow-up to her sell-out shows Sane New World and Frazzled, Wax is joined by a monk, Gelong Thubten and a neuroscientist Ash Ranpura who help us understand the mind and how our brains make us, well, us. 

If you fancy exploring art across the city- don’t forget that Distorted Constellations, Iron Men and Current Affairs are on all festival-long!



Highlights: Brighton Festival Opening Weekend

We had a wonderful opening weekend at Brighton Festival. Check out what we got up to...

Discover what is happening this weekend at Brighton Festival 

The History of Brighton Festival from 1814–1967 by Phillip Morgan

Long-standing employee of Brighton Festival, Phillip Morgan presented a special talk on our history at our Taster Day earlier this month. Phillip shares ten interesting facts about the Festival...


1. The first ever Brighton Festival was held in 1814, the festival took place on the Prince Regent’s birthday at the Level and was very different to the Festival we know today. The event was a free, but ticketed, dinner that guests were required to bring their own cutlery to and be cleanly apparelled for.

2. The dinner that was served at the first Brighton Festival was with the true old English fare of roast beef and plum-pudding, garnished with a suitable number of hogsheads filled with ale and brown stout.

3. There were 7,930 attendees at the first ever festival, they were seated at sixty-five double rows of tables, adapted for the one hundred and twenty-two guests at each.

4. One notable attendee of the festival was Phoebe Hessel who was the oldest person there at ninety-nine years old! Phoebe is known for having had disguised herself as a man to serve in the British Army, she lived to the age of 108 and there is now a monument to her in St Nicholas churchyard!

5. The day ended with a well-attended show at the theatre, where God Save the King verse and chorus made up part of the performances.


6. In 1869 the Brighton Festival that we know today began to take shape. Austrian pianist, composer and promoter Mr Kuhe gave a series of fifteen grand orchestra concerts at the Grand Theatre, then in 1870 the shows were moved to the Dome and named as the Brighton Festival.

7. Unfortunately, by 1883 the festival was to be terminated as Kuhe was unable to make a profit off the shows, however he continued to produce individual concerts in Brighton.

8. Fifteen years later in 1908 Joseph Sainton was appointed as the musical director of a new municipal orchestra that consisted of forty permanent players. The Brighton Corporation decided to establish a festival once the new orchestra was created and it ran until 1914, being one of the very few British festivals to continue after the outbreak of war.

9. The last of Sainton’s festivals in 1914, included a commission by composer Hubert Parry, a symphonic poem entitled From Death into Life.


10. The Brighton Festival was reopened in 1967, the opening of the Festival featured Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius. which had also opened the 1909 Festival when the concert had been hugely popular, causing excited queues of patrons to gather right down to the promenade, hundreds of which had to be turned away. The Brighton Gazette said of the concert: “It seemed the realisation of a musical apocalypse the rendering in music of the vision of St John the Divine. It is hard in mere words to justify such a statement but there were many, for all that one knows a majority, in that great audience who for once felt themselves carried out of themselves by some influence which transported them far above the confines of this earth.”

Find out more about Phillip Morgan’s fondest memories of Brighton Festival or learn more about our history 

Must-See Events at Brighton Festival’s Opening Weekend

At last, Brighton Festival is just around the corner! With a jam-packed opening weekend – here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening...

Saturday 4 May

Né So

By now you should be aware of our incredible festival guest director Rokia Traoré, but if you are not, here’s a brief rundown: Rokia is a world-famous Malian musician, known for her incredible range and innovation, as well as her ability to transcend borders with her musical ability. This year, Brighton Festival is honoured to welcome Rokia into the creative cockpit to curate and weave her culture and style into every event. Rokia will be opening the Festival with Né So – it is sure to be a transcendent experience, and a chance to get up close with the star of the Festival – and a star in her own right. 


Children’s Parade

As always, the beloved Children’s Parade will be kicking off Brighton Festival with a dazzling display of energy and creativity.

This year, the theme of the parade is Folk Tales from Around the World, led by Same Sky. Taking over the streets of Brighton will be folk tales from Africa, Europe, the Artic, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Open to everyone, come and join in the fun!


Pitch Perfect

Join Brighton & Hove Music & Arts for an afternoon with the city’s best young musicals talent performing at some of the city’s best locations. Free for all, just follow the trail! 


Current Affairs
Thu 18 Apr-Mon 27 May

Taking over Fabrica’s Regency chapel, the Incredibly beautiful, yet politically charged, Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey’s large-scale Afrogallonism pieces are constructed using discarded 20-25 litre yellow jarry cans. The use of these cans touches on global issues of plastic waste, but also explores his personal and political narratives rooted in histories of colonialism, trader and migration. 


Writers at Risk Gallery
Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

A rare exhibition of just a handful of the 700-900 authors around the world that risk persecution, exile, imprisonment and even murder just by writing their truth.


Iron Men
Sat 4- Sun 26 May

Fotatala King Massassy’s artistic mission is to shine a light on the extraordinary talent and strength of working-class citizens engaged in everyday activities. His photographs are an intriguing mixture of spontaneity and staged composition, each taken with the intention of prompting curiosity from the spectator. This exhibition, titled Iron Men, focuses on Bamako’s iron workers, showcasing the amazing feats they perform daily, without recognition, and giving them a new brand as true ‘magicians of metal’. 


Distorted Constellations
Sat 4 - Sun 19 May

Distorted Constellations is an exhibition that uses sound, projections and holograms to immerse the audience in the imagined landscape of the artist’s brain. The work is inspired by Ebizie’s rare neurological disorder Visual Snow, which causes visual distortions such as flickering dots, auras and glowing lines. The audience will experience a mythical version of how Ebizie sees the world, entering an alternate Afrofuturist (a black perspective on the politics and culture of science fiction and technology) reality, inspired by research into the neuroscience of perception and drawing on rituals of African origin.


Sunday 5 May

Creative Writing Workshop with Miriam Halamy

Do you have a story inside, waiting to spill out? Here to coax the words from the tip of your pen is acclaimed young person’s author Miriam Halahmy. Using two of her popular novels as a guide, she will lead you through a one-hour workshop, encouraging budding writers to consider the world from an alternate perspective, ask themselves some tough questions, and hopefully be inspired to write new stories. 


30 Years of Mr Bongo

30 Years of Mr Bongo celebrates the wonderful history of Mr Bongo with a unique line-up: The Skints, Jungle Brown, Hollie Cook plus UK jazz favourites Moses Boyd Exodus in the main room; and in our foyer, two legendary UK turntablists, Mr Thing & DJ Format, plus Huw Bowles, spinning all night long. . You may want to clear your Monday morning, as your Sunday night with Mr Bongo is bound to keep you dancing late into the night.

Mr Bongo at Brighton Festival
Flight
Sat 4 - Thu 23 May

‘Extraordinary, paradoxical, an epic in miniature.’ – The Observer.

In the unusual form of a miniature diorama, audiences are invited to immerse themselves in a modern tale of two orphaned brothers on an epic journey in search of safety and belonging. With a set of headphones over your ears, and within the secluded comfort of your own personal booth, you are freed from distraction, able to focus totally on the heart-wrenching story thanks to the beguiling creative design from Jamie Harrison, the magic effects and illusions designer from the sold-out stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.    

Read our interview with Artistic Director Candice Edmunds 

Flight by Vox Motus at Brighton Festival
Ensemble Correspondances

For a high brow cultural experience, we implore you to consider the brilliant musical stylings of Sébastien Daucé and Ensemble Correspondances, a group of vocalists and instrumentalists who have put together an astounding score of music to emulate what one might have heard in the court of French King Louis XIII. Without leaving your plush seat in the spectacular venue of Glyndebourne Opera House, you can travel back to the 1600’s, buffeted on the waves of a glorious repertoire provided by a group of highly talented musicians. 

Read our interview with Sébastien Daucé to find out more 


Some Small Isle

Together with poet-musician Roger Robinson and publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove, Zena Edwards and Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff discuss how Black people document their histories and how they respond to injustice as artists – whether beautifully or brutally.


Dream Horse

A true story about a bartender-turned-racehorse-breeder, who abandoned her life in pursuit of a far-fetched dream. Janet Vokes, the star of Dream Horse, the autobiographical story of one woman’s amazing success in the face of adversity, will be in conversation with author Colin Grant to discuss her new book. 


Want to hear more about what’s happening at Brighton Festival? Sign up to our mailing list, or follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter to keep up-to-date. 

Mali in Bloom: Brighton Festival’s branding for 2019

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Johnson Banks' Brighton Festival branding here

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

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


Video by Echo Video

Brighton Festival Introduction

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


Video by Echo Video

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beth Burgess, Executive Producer, Brighton Festival said:

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

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

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


INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director Rokia Traoré

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

5 facts about Rokia Traoré

She knows the theatre world well

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

She’s performed alongside the likes of Paul McCartney

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

She’s an activist and humanitarian

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

She’s been a judge at Cannes

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

She has a varied roster of collaborators

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

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

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

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

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

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

On his involvement in the project David Shrigley says:

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

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

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

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

Discover more about Snailspace and Martlets Hospice.

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

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

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.

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.’

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.'

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

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

The making of... Brighton Festival 2015 trailer

By Leonora Lonsdale of Hoi Poilloi

One day I received a call from Pete Shuttleworth, a Producer who I had long wanted to work with, saying he had a job for me. It was for the Brighton Festival and the brief was to try and create a visual piece to accompany Ali Smith’s vision for this year’s festival. Ali had written about how she wanted this year’s festival to focus on the meeting places between the art forms, on what happened when the borders between them opened up and melted. 

I was fascinated how Ali in her own work, particularly ‘Artful’, jumps forms, time and perspective constantly. One minute you are present day observing something, and within the same sentence you are examining a memory one year-old. She references with relish James Williamson’s short “The Big Swallow” where a man essentially eats the camera and the viewer. These references, playful and obsessed with the permeable screen, were what gave me the idea of how to bring Ali’s ideas to the screen. It seemed a little mad, and a bit ambitious, but we thought we’d try and show many different art forms, and navigate seamlessly between them using the transitions as the “meeting place” and the opportunity to blend perspective. 

We had some fantastic people come together to make this film. The aerialists from Starfiz who you see whirling on the sphere up in the air have been working together since the age of 8 years old. I would have loved to include more of their work, it was spellbinding to watch. We had an incredible actress and ballerina, Azzurra Caccetta who braved the elements to come and dance and mime on Devil’s Dyke in Brighton. British skydiving champions, FreeFly Euphoria, gave us their footage to use. Tanya, our producer, plays the violin having studied in a Russian conservatory as a teenager.

Little Lily came in as the little girl at the end and was a total natural. And then the team at Brighton Dome helped us put together all the difficult projections and rigging. It was a huge effort, particularly from Alex our wonderful editor who did all the VFX shots and Xavi our fantastic DP. It’s definitely a surreal little film that could not have been made without the support of many wonderful collaborators. We hope you enjoy.


Spreading our Wings with Brighton Festival 2015 Branding

As we swoop headfirst into another jam-packed year of festival goodness we thought we’d tell you a bit more about Brighton Festival 2015’s avian branding.

You may have noticed our yellow, big bird, but there’s no hint of Sesame Street about it. Working with our Guest Director Ali Smith and agency Johnson Banks to create this striking, bespoke identity has been a lot of fun.

Drawing inspiration from Ali’s words and this year’s theme has led us to our final design. See Ali Smith’s welcome for the full introduction to the concepts behind this Festival’s programming, which include Art & Nature, Crossing Places and Taking Liberty.

Our designer’s Johnson Banks spoke of their inspiration and direction, ‘This year’s image was inspired by guest director Ali Smith’s words and thoughts on her themes for the festival. She says ‘Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird’, and talks specifically about swifts as they migrate to the UK in May. This fits perfectly with the time of year the festival takes place.

We felt swifts were also a great analogy for the artists coming together from all over the world to perform at the festival. So we imagined how Brighton could look from a swift's perspective. As it flies overhead it casts a yellow shadow of the city itself on the ground. The swift graphic is designed with flexibility in mind, to ‘fly' over various parts of Brighton from the sea, to its parks, to the lanes and streets. For the principal image, we enjoyed the harsh contrast of the swift’s vibrant colour against the stark concrete street, perhaps symbolising the diversity of the festival itself.’

Here’s a little insight into the design process...


So now you know - why not take inspiration and enjoy the view at this year’s Brighton Festival? See the full and fantastic line-up here.

Brighton Festival 2015 announces full programme of events

Clear your diaries in May as England’s largest mixed arts festival returns with award-winning author Ali Smith as its Guest Director

Brighton Festival – under the watchful eye of award-winning author Ali Smith as this year’s Guest Director – has announced its full programme of events.

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists; from a rare UK visit by 86-year-old legendary film maker and artist Agnès Varda to rising stars Kate Tempest, George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

With three central themes at its heart - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - this year’s Brighton Festival challenges visitors to look again, featuring an eye-opening array of artists and performers with the power to deliver the world we think we know to us re-seen, renewed, with a visionary twist in the tale.

Ali Smith says: “It's tremendously exciting to have been asked to help programme the 2015 Brighton Festival. I'm delighted and honoured – what a gift, to be asked to do this, imagine – the biggest international multi-arts spectacular in England. I've always loved Brighton's sense of fun and friendliness, its vibrant open-mindedness, the way it opens to sky, the way the rest of Europe is so close it's almost visible. It's a city that's always known how to live on the edge, a place full of endless energy, argument, possibilities, light. No matter the wildness or mildness of the weather, no matter the zigzag of zeitgeist elsewhere north or south of it, Brighton is always itself, and always uniquely welcoming.”

Posing questions about whether life imitates art or art imitates life, Art and Nature is explored in a host of events including an exclusive nightingale walk, with Mercury-nominated folk singer Sam Lee; an immersive multi-screen film installation of Marcus Coates’ entitled Dawn Chorus, featuring singers who uncannily recreate birdsong and bird movement; a discussion of the urgent conservation issues that face us today with celebrated author and bird enthusiast Margaret Atwood and her partner and fellow writer Graeme Gibson; and Fleeting, an outdoor spectacular over the West Pier by And Now, in which hundreds of individual points of fire create shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

Central to the programme is the notion of Crossing Places - where poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance – from works that defy categorisation such as The Measure of All Things, a new live cinema performance by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green to Claudia Molitor’s part installation part performance Vast White Stillness in the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel. In Being Both, acclaimed mezzo soprano Alice Coote, English Concert’s Harry Bicket and Susannah Waters stage a theatrical journey into the heart of Handel’s sublime vocal music, which, in a nod to Smith’s own prize-winning work How to Be Both, explores and challenges the experience and perception of gender.

Set against the backdrop of the General Election, Liberty, equality and freedom is celebrated in all its shapes in an astonishing cutting-edge line-up of artists, performers, thinkers and commentators - all contemporary game changers in their chosen forms. These include Liberty Director and author Shami Chakrabati who hosts an evening in celebration of the Human Rights Act featuring a dazzling collection of writers and performers such as Billy Bragg, Neil Bartlett, Rachel Holmes and Jackie Kay; Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson who brings the European premiere of his highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York; award-winning Pakistani/British author Kamila Shamsie; celebrated Russian-American journalist, author and activist Masha Gessen, Turkish writer Elif Shafak and Turner Prize nominated artist Nathan Coley, whose new commission Portraits of Dissension explore ideas of unrest, edge and shift, space and occupation.

Other highlights include Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy accompanied by a one-off live performance of its seductive score by Cat’s Eyes - the collaborative project of The Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan and Italian-Canadian singer and composer Rachel Zeffira; a series of screenings and accompanying talks by prominent female directors including Joanna Hogg, Carol Morley and the legendary Agnès Varda who will also create a special installation at Brighton University Gallery for the duration of the Festival; 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; the UK premiere of Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, a theatrical ode to the life - and afterlife – of Lucia Joyce, the adored daughter of James Joyce created by legendary New York theatre ensemble Mabou Mines; 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; and Laurie Anderson: All the Animals, a specially curated performance by one of America’s most daring creative pioneers.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Ali Smith, as Guest Director this year, has been a wonderful inspiration to us all in programming the festival. In her writing, Ali is renowned for pushing form and working with her has taught us to think differently about how we programme and the work that we bring. She has also brought an incredible range of artists to the festival who are responding to the world in a particular way, both people she knows well, and also people she has loved for many years and perhaps longed for an opportunity to work with - from Agnès Varda to Elif Shafak, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood and Mabou Mines - the list is long and extensive and I think thrilling. I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience another exciting and innovative month of events in May.”

The annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 2 to 24 May 2015. Brighton Festival 2015 features 396 performances taking place across 150 events including 42 exclusives, premieres and commissions.

Honours and awards for Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director

Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director receives New Years Honour and is named winner of the novel category in the 2014 Costa Book Awards.

We’re only six days into the New Year, but Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director Ali Smith is already making headlines.

On Wednesday 30 December 2014 it was announced that the Scottish writer was to be made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire – or CBE – in the New Years Honours list for her distinguished and innovative contribution to literature.

As if to underline this contribution, last night Ali Smith was announced as the winner of the Costa Novel award for How to be both.

“I’m completely amazed to have won the category – and really delighted. The category shortlist was such a very good one, I felt lucky enough just to be on that. I can’t quite believe it.” – Ali Smith

The novel will now join the winners of the other four categories – the Costa First Novel award (won by Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing), the Costa Poetry award (won by Jonathan Edwards’s My Family and Other Superheroes), the Costa Biography award (won by Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk and the Children’s Book award (won by Kate Saunders’ Five Children on the Western Front) – in competing for the Costa Book of the Year award.

The overall winner will be decided by a panel of judges chaired by the author Robert Harris and announced on Tuesday 27 January 2015.

Brighton Children’s Parade 2015 theme announced

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Same Sky are delighted to announce that the theme for the 2015 Children’s Parade is ‘taking flight’.

Supported by local businesses Class of their Own and Riverford, the annual parade marks the start of Brighton Festival – three weeks of unrivalled live performance and art installations across the city and beyond – and is attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they have specifically designed and made for the event.

The parade – which takes place on Saturday 2 May 2015 – also sees thousands of spectators take to Brighton’s streets to cheer on those taking part.

Each year the parade celebrates a different imaginative theme. Previous years have seen participants dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet and Brighton street names to books, mermaids and even slices of cake. This year’s event will ask those involved to explore the idea of taking flight – be that flights of fancy, the flight of birds, the process of flying or the act of leaping into the unknown.

Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: 

‘Taking flight symbolises the many imaginative leaps and creative flights of fancy that teachers, parents and children invest in the Children’s Parade each year. This year we will be exploring everything from Pegasus to phantom jets and sparrows to spaceships.’

‘Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, the leading section will represent the huge variety of bird life that exist on our planet, while subsequent sections will represent flying machines, flight, fantasy and fable and Bugs, bees and butterflies.’

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky, the Children’s Parade has delighted participants and spectators for over 25 years and officially launches Brighton Festival - England’s largest multi-arts festival - on the first Saturday in May.

Following last year’s inaugural partnership, the organisers will once again join forces with Brighton & Hove Music & Arts - the music education hub whose key mission is to enhance and further develop music education across the city. This year they will be working with young people to create Brighton’s first Balkan Brass Band which will feature in the parade.

Peter Chivers, Head of Brighton & Hove Music and Arts, Brighton & Hove City Council says: ‘The annual Children’s Parade is one of the highlights in our cultural calendar and a celebration of the creative talents of children across the city. This year’s Parade is set to be another triumph and SoundCity is delighted to be creating an exciting new music project for 2015.

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the event, with creative teams instructing teaching staff how to teach dance and parade chants, run free masterclasses, help develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky says: Same Sky is delighted to continue its long partnership with Brighton Festival and with all the schools who have come to trust our artistic and management skills as we work together to deliver an annual celebration which announces the beginning of the Festival.’

The event will be sponsored in 2015 by Class of Their Own - who return for a second year as sponsors of the event – and Riverford Organic Farms.

Class of their Own’s Tanya Petherick and Sam Thomson says: ‘We are continuing our support is it is such a fantastic community event and further develops our links with children, parents and local schools. We look forward to seeing you on the day.’

Stephen Spears from Riverford Organic Farms says: ‘We at Riverford Organic Farms are supporting the wonderful Children’s Parade this year. Riverford delivers organic fruit, veg, dairy, deli and meat to your door. Through this sponsorship we hope to promote the benefits of delicious, pesticide and chemical free produce to families across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.’

Brighton Festival announces award-winning author Ali Smith as Guest Director for 2015

Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England - is delighted to announce that the 2015 Guest Director is award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of Smith’s winning of the Goldsmiths Prize 2014 - a new literary award for boldly original fiction that sets out to recognise work that opens up new possibilities for the novel form - for her latest novel How to be Both which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014.

Recently described as an ‘heir to Virginia Woolf’, Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form – fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful. Her latest novel is her most experimental and idiosyncratic yet; borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it is a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions.

Smith’s numerous other acclaimed novels, short story and essay collections include The Accidental (shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange Prize), Hotel World (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize) and There but for the.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has a rich history of pushing boundaries. In its inaugural year the 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 for artists and audiences, Brighton Festival is known for commissioning and producing an ambitious programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere. It has been widely recognised for presenting exciting site specific work, thought provoking debate and newly commissioned works.

The seventh Guest Director of Brighton Festival, Ali Smith takes on the mantle from 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) and choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014) in shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

On her role and her thinking behind Brighton Festival 2015 Ali Smith says:

“Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird. Migrating birds are born naturally equipped with maps that even new-born birds know how to follow, maps of landscapes with no borders. Birds with nothing but the urge to flock together, get there, be here now. Imagine the borders between the artforms. Imagine them opened, crossed, melted, made invisible, so that poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance meets thought meets sculptural meets rhythm meets fiction meets the natural world. I'm a fan of the unexpected connection, the crossing places between the art forms, the place where they meet, open to each other and fuse into something more.
The word festival comes from the place where the word for feast crosses into the word for joyful, happy, honouring, celebratory. The word Brighton, in the month of May: that means festival.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “We are delighted to have welcomed Ali Smith on board as Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2015. Her contribution brings a new focus for us, at the same time as continuing the tradition of prominent artistic figures who have brought their particular knowledge and experience of the arts to the programme. At once deeply playful and deeply serious, Ali Smith brings a sensibility which perfectly mirrors the ambition of Brighton Festival – a willingness to take imaginative risks, defy genres, push boundaries and celebrate a love of art in all its infinite forms and varieties. I am certain that Ali Smith will bring a very special element to next year’s Festival and I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience it in May.”

The annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 2 to 24 May 2015. Full programme details including events in which Ali Smith will be participating will be available at the launch on Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Brighton Festival 2015: 2-24 May 2015
Programme Launch: Wed 18 February 2015
Ticket Office: 01273 709709
Twitter: @brightfest


Download the Press Release (Word doc)


Notes to editors:

About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established annual mixed arts Festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and in 2013 achieved a new record audience reach of 468,000

• Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 18 February 2015

• 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 and choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014.

• 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 Ali Smith

• Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge

• Her first book, Free Love, won the Saltire First Book Award

• Hotel World (2001) was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize in 2001 and won the Encore Award, the East England Arts Award of the Year and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 2002

• The Accidental (2005) won the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize

• How to be both (2014) was named winner of The Goldsmiths Prize and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

• Ali Smith’s numerous other acclaimed novels, short story and essay collections including Like (1997); Other Stories and Other Stories (1999); The Whole Story and Other Stories (2003); Girl Meets Boy (2007); The First Person and Other Stories (2008); There But For The (2011) and Artful (2012)

Brighton Festival announces award-winning author Ali Smith as Guest Director for 2015

Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England - is delighted to announce that the 2015 Guest Director is award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of Smith’s winning of the Goldsmiths Prize 2014 - a new literary award for boldly original fiction that sets out to recognise work that opens up new possibilities for the novel form - and her nomination for the Costa Book Award for her latest novel How to be Both which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014.

Recently described as an ‘heir to Virginia Woolf’, Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form – fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful. Her latest novel is her most experimental and idiosyncratic yet; borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it is a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions.

Smith’s numerous other acclaimed novels, short story and essay collections include The Accidental (shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange Prize), Hotel World (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize) and There but for the.

On her role and her thinking behind Brighton Festival 2015, Ali Smith says:

'I'm a fan of the unexpected connection, the crossing places between the art forms, the place where they meet, open to each other and fuse into something more. The word festival comes from the place where the word for feast crosses into the word for joyful, happy, honouring, celebratory. The word Brighton, in the month of May: that means festival.'

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has a rich history of pushing boundaries. In its inaugural year the 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 for artists and audiences, Brighton Festival is known for commissioning and producing an ambitious programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere. It has been widely recognised for presenting exciting site specific work, thought provoking debate and newly commissioned works.

The seventh Guest Director of Brighton Festival, Ali Smith takes on the mantle from 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) and choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014) in shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

Ali Smith continues: “Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird. Migrating birds are born naturally equipped with maps that even new-born birds know how to follow, maps of landscapes with no borders. Birds with nothing but the urge to flock together, get there, be here now. Imagine the borders between the artforms. Imagine them opened, crossed, melted, made invisible, so that poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance meets thought meets sculptural meets rhythm meets fiction meets the natural world. 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: 'We are delighted to have welcomed Ali Smith on board as Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2015. Her contribution brings a new focus for us, at the same time as continuing the tradition of prominent artistic figures who have brought their particular knowledge and experience of the arts to the programme. At once deeply playful and deeply serious, Ali Smith brings a sensibility which perfectly mirrors the ambition of Brighton Festival – a willingness to take imaginative risks, defy genres, push boundaries and celebrate a love of art in all its infinite forms and varieties. I am certain that Ali Smith will bring a very special element to next year’s Festival and I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience it in May.'

The annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 2 to 24 May 2015. Full programme details including events in which she will be participating will be available online on Wed 18 Feb 2015.

‘Visionary’ Brighton Festival 2014 comes to a close

Brighton Festival 2014 - with critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter at the helm as Guest Director - came to a close this week. Described as ‘visionary’ by the Daily Telegraph, the wide-ranging programme of quality performance, visual arts, literature and debate from international, national and home-grown companies and artists has been acclaimed by audiences, artists and critics alike, with attendance across the Festival exceeding 81% of capacity.

With Hofesh Shechter as Guest Director, this year’s Brighton Festival programme was truly genre defying; and featured the highest number of premieres and commissions to date, including the world premieres of Vanishing Point’s Tomorrow and Lost Dog & Lucy Kirkwood’s dance piece Like Rabbits, alongside UK premieres of international theatre company Berlin’s multi-media work Perhaps All the Dragons and contemporary circus from Feria Musica in Sinué

Opus No.7 by acclaimed Russian theatre director Dmitry Krymov - which also had its UK premiere at the Festival - received 4 stars across the board from all the major broadsheet critics. Matt Trueman, writing in the Daily Telegraph, described the work as ‘visionary stuff, utterly singular’; Lyn Gardner in the Guardian said it was ‘unbearably poignant’, ‘visually stunning’ and ‘more like alchemy than theatre’; Dominic Maxwell in The Times praised the work for being ‘merry and macabre in a memorable mix’; while Maxie Szalwinski, in the Sunday Times referred to the piece’s ‘almost paranormal intensity’ and William McEvoy in The Stage described it as ‘unforgettable’.

One of the Festival’s biggest hits was William Forsythe’s interactive choreographic installation Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same time, no.2 in Circus Street Market with more than 12 500 visitors dancing in the piece during the three week period. Visitors described it as ‘amazing’, ‘hypnotic’ and ‘better than brilliant’, popular social networking site Instagram spread word about the installation to 32million international followers via its weekly ‘ArtThursday’ blog and a video documenting its installation attracted 60 000 views.

The 80th birthday of legendary composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle was celebrated with a series of events, headlined by a revival of his 1969 Brighton Festival commission Down by the Greenwood Side. Set in a disused brewery depot in Lewes, this unique production continued the Festival’s tradition of pioneering site-specific and immersive performances in unusual locations.

Other Brighton Festival 2014 exclusives included a new visual arts co-commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE titled The British Library, which has now been extended until 22 June due to popular demand, Tangled Feet’s immersive, free outdoor performance One Million and much more.

Brighton Festival also played host to an eclectic mix of names across contemporary music; from iconic country music singer Emmylou Harris to a rare live performance from Cat Power and a tour de force performance from Peaches in her one woman rendition of Peaches Christ Superstar – of which Caroline Sullivan in the Guardian wrote simply ‘what a woman. What a show.’

The books and debate strand of the programme boasted a number of high-profile events included a sell-out lecture by best-selling author and designer David McCandless, conversations with Irvine Welsh, Jeremy Deller, Viv Albertine alongside discussions and talks about maths, migration and dementia.

Events for all the family this year included a UK premieres of Tanzfuchs Produktion’s dance extravaganza Munch! for the under 4s and Enhanced Dance to Disguised Music; Belgian choreographer Thomas Hauert’s first piece for young people accompanied by a prepared piano soundtrack by John Cage. Meanwhile, on film the Cinema of Childhood (throughout May) - curated by Mark Cousins - looked at the depiction of children in cinema.

In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2014 saw 13 shows - including six Brighton Festival exclusives like Wim Vandekeybus in conversation with Hofesh Shechter and a debate on immigration chaired by Simon Fanshawe - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival 2014 also saw the launch of a new initiative Collidescope. Designed for artists and creators to intensively engage with the Brighton Festival programme, the scheme offered seven artists who have been making work for at least five years the opportunity for peer-to-peer creative development, with the goal of potentially creating new marriages of minds for future explorations.

As Guest Director, Hofesh Shechter followed 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) and poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013) in shaping the Brighton Festival programme. Resident in Brighton throughout the month, Hofesh was actively engaged in the programme – attending countless events and appearing in many, including leading in-conversations with Williiam Forsythe, Wim Vandekeybus and Yinka Shinbare. He also challenged audiences to respond to the world’s ugly injustices in the Brighton Festival co-commission Sun which “came home” to Brighton after touring globally.

This year’s Brighton Festival featured 448 performances and 147 events in 34 venues across the city. In total there were 37 premieres, exclusives and co-commissions and 26 free events. 

In Pictures: Brighton Festival 2014 Launch

On Tue 25 Feb we were delighted to launch Brighton Festival 2014. The full and fantastic Brighton Festival programme was released and Members' and Supporters joined us to get Brighton Festival off  to a smashing start. Here are a few photos to give you a flavour of the night and the fun that is yet to come this May. 

Brighton Festival Brochure 2014

The Brighton Festival 2014 brochure

Andrew Comben Brighton Festival

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival introduces Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter

Hedley Swain Arts Council Brighton Festival

Hedley Swaine, Area Director South East at Arts Council England takes to the stage


Members and Supporters enjoying the new Brighton Festival brochure

Brighton Festival Launch

The Launch in full swing

Guests were treated to a spectacular flash-mob by Guest Director Hofesh Shechter and his eponymous company Hofesh Shechter Company. 

Hofesh Shechter Company Brighton Festival

Hofesh Shechter Company Brighton Festival

Launch 3

All photos by Victor Frankowski

Hofesh Shechter's Sun Photos & Reviews

We’re more than a little excited about the arrival of Hofesh Shechter’s Sun here next May. The show has garnered a lot of press since making its international debut in Melbourne and subsequently making its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells, London. We’ve been keeping up with the reviews to see what we can expect when it concludes its first world tour at the opening weekend of Brighton Festival 2014.

Recognised as one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary artists, Shechter is renowned for creating raw, physical live contemporary dance pieces set to his own, highly-charged, atmospheric musical scores and from what we’ve seen and read, you won’t be disappointed.

‘It's like ballet gone feral’ The Guardian

'Hofesh Shechter's latest work points fingers at the world's ugly injustice in a skewed, sometimes nightmarish, way. His movement has a primal, hypnotic power' London Evening Standard


Hofesh on Sun in the Metro:

‘Some people come and hope it’s Political Mother 2, I know that. However, other people will hope for something new. That’s what I’m interested in. The experience of Sun will be very different but you can sense that it’s my work – I want the work to reach out to people. I want it to connect.’


'Although just 75 minutes straight through, it would take a week to list every one of Sun’s vignettes in detail – there are dozens, each one, thanks to razor-sharp sound- and lighting-cues, cutting with Hitchcockian speed and brio to the next.' The Telegraph

Hofesh's eponymous company is a Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival resident company, and the brand new work Sun – co-commissioned by Brighton Festival – will open our three week arts extravaganza on Sat 3 May 2014 when it comes ‘home’ at the conclusion of its first world tour. In an interview with the Metro Hofesh spoke about his Guest Directorship of Brighton Festival 2014

‘The opportunity to bring works from dance to music to theatre, to be able to create an event, that’s really exciting. The work that inspires me is the work that asks you to commit yourself to it – and when you do that, you get something back. There has to be an honesty about it.’



Brighton Festival announces choreographer Hofesh Shechter as Guest Director 2014

Critically-acclaimed choreographer, musician, composer and performer will shape Brighton Festival 2014’s programme of events

Renowned for creating raw, physical live contemporary dance pieces set to his own, highly-charged, atmospheric musical scores, Hofesh Shechter is seen as one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary artists. His eponymous Company are a Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival resident company, and their brand new work Sun – co-commissioned by Brighton Festival – will open the three week arts extravaganza on Sat 3 May when it comes ‘home’ at the conclusion of its first world tour. 

Hofesh Shechter said, ’Brighton has a magic to it that no one can explain. Finding a place where one can develop and grow artistically is a delicate thing, an important thing. Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival have been an inspiring, energising and encouraging place for my company and me in the last 5 years. We’ve enjoyed the buzz, the lightness, energy, and the unexplainable essence of Brighton. We have resided in its cultural heart - Brighton Dome, and the pulsating artistic heart of the Dome is the annual Festival. I'm so excited and honoured to have been invited to lead on this inspiring event and I feel a rush of excitement about the ideas I can contribute. To be asked to lead this amazing event in 2014, to be asked to inspire, energise, encourage... well, delighted, is just a boring word.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Festival said, ‘We’re very pleased that Hofesh Shechter is our Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2014. As the artistic director of our resident company Hofesh Shechter Company, it has been exciting for us and our audiences to experience first-hand his ascent to becoming a major force on the international contemporary dance scene. Hofesh’s instinctive understanding of Brighton and our Festival has been a great starting point for our planning, and I feel it’s particularly pertinent that he steps into the role in 2014 following a highly successful five years of working together. Hofesh’s appointment as Guest Director continues a trend set by his predecessors – his work and creative vision contains that rare quality and sense of adventure that sparks the imaginations of a much wider audience beyond his own discipline. With such an eclectic artist at the helm, Brighton Festival 2014 is set to be a very exciting one indeed.

Hofesh Shechter’s appointment as Guest Director is the culmination of a five year relationship between the choreographer and the organisation. Fresh from being named the first resident company at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival in 2008, Hofesh Shechter Company’s dramatic Brighton Dome Concert Hall debut In your rooms / Uprising was followed by back-to-back world premières of two specially-commissioned works; The Art of Not Looking Back (Brighton Festival 2009) and Political Mother (Brighton Festival 2010). In 2009, Brighton Festival also commissioned Hofesh’s Bangers and Mash; a youth community project featuring over 100 young dancers and musicians, and in 2013 Brighton Festival commissioned Nomad Land; a collaborative dance and film project that explored the energy and complexity of male relationships. Brighton Dome has also played host to evenings of brand-new work choreographed and presented by Hofesh Shechter Company dancers called In Good Company and, following its international success, the return of Political Mother to the venue in 2012.

Brighton Festival - an annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events - will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 3 to 25 May 2014. 

Learn more about our new Guest Director Hofesh Shechter. Watch the trailer for Sun, which has been  described as 'utterly disarming… delightfully eclectic' DanceTabs. Read the full review here.


Brighton Festival gets wordy on BBC Radio 4

Listen again to Guest Director Michael Rosen as he explores the German language on ‘Word of Mouth’ with some of our Brighton Festival guests.

This week our Guest Director Michael Rosen delved into the world of words in a unique Festival themed programme, chatting to Festival guests including Rachel Mars, star of ‘It’s the way you tell them’ and Valentijn Dhaenens who looks at speech making in SkAgen’s ‘Big Mouth’. You can also hear Michael in conversation with Judith Kerr.

Michael adds, "As a child, I was surrounded by people talking about words and language, my parents and brother spoke several languages. What's more the house always seemed to be full of people telling stories and jokes, many of which turned on some word-play or other.

I've been writing poems and stories since I was sixteen and if that doesn't sensitise you to how language is used then nothing will. So with all that, to present Word of Mouth feels like being at home. I love it."

Listen again here.

There are still plenty of wordy events to explore during the rest of Brighton Festival for all ages.

Happy Birthday Michael Rosen

The author and poet celebrates with Brighton Festival 

Today was another fun filled morning at Brighton Festival full of a great range of events across our sun filled city but there was one very special occasion to celebrate in the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange– that was the 67th birthday of our Guest Director Michael Rosen which takes place on Tuesday.

After a sold out performance of ‘Bear Hunt and Chocolate Cake’ and another ever popular performance of ‘Big Book of Bad Things’ some of the best cake bakers in Brighton – Jan Hansen and Martha Sheppard of Catwalk Cakes, Bond Street– presented a Michael with a ‘bear hunt’ cake complete with chocolate teddy bears, sugar figures and lashings of chocolate icing.

The audience of children and mums and dads then sang a loud and cheerful round of ‘Happy Birthday’ to the birthday guest as the bakers took to the stage to surprise Michael with the delicious treat.

Michael joked, “Thank you! Twenty eight again?!”

Michael’s actual birthday is on Tuesday. Why don’t you send him a birthday tweet on his special day @michaelroseyes

You can get your own special cake by emaling info@catwalkcakes.co.uk for more details or visiting them in Bond Street, Brighton. 

One City, One Book

Today is World Book Day!

What better way to celebrate than with the launch of the first ever Young City Reads project as part of Brighton Festival 2013.

Brought to us by Collected Works CIC, the organisation behind Brighton & Hove’s annual citywide reading festival City Reads, Young City Reads offers children across Brighton & Hove the experience of reading and exploring a book as a part of a community.

The book in question is the classic children’s adventure story, Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner’s which has been specially chosen by Brighton Festival 2013 Guest Director, Michael Rosen.

‘Emil and the Detectives flowers with inventiveness, excitement, humour, originality and tension. I think it’s wonderful that a whole city is going to read the book at the same time. I think this will build up a great sense of everyone exploring the book together.’ Michael Rosen

Young City Reads will be engaging the young people of Brighton until the 24th May through a host of special events, workshops and performances that will allow children to discuss, debate and creatively engage with one of Michael Rosens’s favourite books with the hope of inspiring a new generation of story lovers.

For more information about the project and how to get involved, visit cityreads.co.uk

The making of ‘Bear Hunt’

This year we decided to do something different to raise awareness of Brighton Festival, and with a Guest Director like Michael Rosen what better way to kick things off by making a film based on one of his most iconic poems? 

Brave Brighton-based filmmakers Fat Sand Productions took on the challenge of helping us in our mission and tracked down Michael Rosen himself, friends of the Festival, members of the public and even some of our own team to each read a line of We’re Going On A Bear Hunt each in an iconic setting in across the city.

One of the filmmakers, Sarita Tam, commented, "I remember being in primary school, sitting on the floor watching my Year 3 teacher read this poem aloud to us, actions and all. But what I didn’t remember was quite how long the poem is: 99 lines to be precise! From the onset, we knew it was a rather large mountain to climb for a sleepy January, but we wanted to burn off the Christmas calories!"

Over a 16 day period and working through some very snowy conditions and late into the nights, the Fat Sand team managed to film a varied bunch of people including Michael Rosen, the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, our local BBC news crew, lawyers, engineers, journalists, artists, surfers, students, builders, councilors, ice-cream men, artists, choirs, chefs and even a dog named Archie; who all valiantly read a line of ‘Bear Hunt’ to camera.

Fat Sand ventured into the depths of Brighton Dome and then onto the roof, into the sea, onto the pier, up to Preston Manor and even over to visit some school children in the Book Nook in Hove during the filming.

Each of our brave participants read one or two lines from the poem, which Fat Sand cleverly edited together for a full, and rather interesting, recital of the poem. We were proud to show the film at our launch events on Wed 27 Feb, but you can watch it online here.

See more of what Fat Sand Productions get up to by visiting fatsandproductions.com or follow them @fatsand