Brighton Festival 2017Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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Alice O'Keefe's most anticipated Books and Debate events

Alice O’Keefe, our Books and Debate Programmer, shares her most anticipated events from three of the most exciting writers of this year's Brighton Festival.

For reader’s out there who haven’t discovered Petina Gappah yet, you are in for a treat – her event is going to be one of my highlights of this year’s festival. The short stories in her latest collection, Rotten Row, bring alive the experience of living in Zimbabwe under Mugabe – the craziness, the poverty, the lack of justice or redress, but most of all, the inventiveness and humanity of ordinary people. She is as funny and scathing about the ageing dictator as she is about the folly of the Western aid agencies – get a ticket and catch this very special writer while you can.

Another highlight is sure to be Hanif Kureishi, who will be looking back over his whole taboo-busting and boundary-breaking career in conversation with the broadcaster Mark Lawson. From his portrayal of a cross-cultural gay relationship in the film My Beautiful Laundrette, to his very early look at Islamic fundamentalism in his novel The Black Album, Kureishi has consistently proved himself to be one of Britain’s most provocative and insightful writers. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about these and his latest novel, The Nothing.

Finally, I’m looking forward to seeing Gary Younge, who is one of my very favourite writers on politics both in Britain and America. He will be talking about his shocking and brilliant book One More Day in the Death of America, and also more generally about race, guns and Trump. He is in Brighton on the special invitation of Kate Tempest, who is a big fan - and his event is essential for anyone who wants to understand the current state of the USA.

Read more about our Books and Debate programme

VIDEO: Boys Don't director Rosemary Harris on the making of the show

Boys Don't delivers insights into the male experience of growing up through funny, familiar and sometimes heartbreaking stories drawn from the real life experiences of its cast of spoken word performers and poets. Here director Rosemary Harris talks about the making of the show.



Boys Don't is at The Spire on Sunday 21 May, 2 & 4pm

Festival Hot Seat...The Hum

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

Can you tell us what your show is about?

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

How and where will the work be staged?

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

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

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat...This Bright Field

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


How and where will the work be staged?

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

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

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

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

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

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

Interview: Eddie Otchere

Best known for his photographs depicting hip hop culture since the 1990s, acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere will be creating The Bright Room, a community darkroom at Brighton Festival. We caught up with Eddie to find out more

Can you tell us about your involvement in Brighton Festival this year? How did it come about?

My involvement with the Brighton Festival came about when I finally met Kate Tempest in daylight hours, in Vauxhall for a shoot. We got into this amazing conversation about raving, life and love. She spoke about the Brighton Festival because she was just excited that was she able to do it. She had a vision for the Festival, about the community, about society, and we talked about that.

We left it there, but then I got into a conversation about making work for the Festival with the Festival Producer, Beth Burgess. I thought let’s do something active with an open-door policy, then people can come in and be a part of the art. Let’s create a darkroom, make it transparent and clear, and get people to come in to create images and stick them on the wall. It would be their gallery; like some kind of great socialist utopia. That was general feeling of it but as I’ve started to get more into Brighton, I realise it’s something Brighton might embrace in terms of people and art almost being the same thing, at the same time.

How did you first meet Kate Tempest? What interests you about working with her?

I first met Kate in a rave in Peckham. Her and her squad were celebrating a birthday party, I was with a guy called Gerald and I was photographing him and these rambunctious people, enjoying every moment of it. At the end of the night Kate comes up to me and asked me to thank Gerald for a great set. It was two in the morning and I was not focussing on what was going on, but when I went back to look over my photos from that night Kate’s drummer was in them and I realised I must have met her.

What interested me about working with her is that everything she does is loaded with a sense of motive. It’s more like love than anything else and you can’t help but feel empowered by that. The first time I ever heard her speak, in the Battersea Arts Centre, she did the poem ‘The God’s are in the Betting Shops’ and it blew my mind that words from the mouth of someone so young could be so perceptive, so poetic and yet so street. It was like, finally we have a Shakespeare, a Shakespeare meets Joan of Arc in the 21st century. Finally, we’re advanced enough to actually understand this level of humanity. We can allow ourselves to listen this person and gain power from this person so that we can go about our lives not feeling challenged or afraid. That person, in the back of my mind is always Kate Tempest.


You will also be taking part in Your Place at Hangleton and Whitehawk. Can you tell us what you’ll be doing for that and what attracted you to the initiative?

I went to Whitehawk and bumped into Lorraine Snow, the centre manager of the The Crew Club, a community centre there, and was inspired to record her story. I wanted to know about her life in the heart of a community. The same thing happened when I went to Hangleton, I caught the bus up there and went to their community centre and the door wasn’t locked so I just walked in. Some kids were doing circus practice and I was struck that it was a living centre, beautifully run, and the reach of the Brighton Festival should extend here to the outlying communities.

I want to give people some sense of what photography is in the traditional sense. To say, here’s a roll of film, I want you to shoot your Brighton and I want that to be on display in The Bright Room, so press that button and let the camera tell your story. With that came the idea of the contact sheet as being a photographic motif of narrative; that you can just shoot a roll of film and all those 36 shots are like 36 chapters in your day in Brighton, your story.

You have described your work as a type of ‘mass observation’. Can you tell us what you mean by the term and what interests you about that approach?

Mass observation was an idea I came across that happened in this country in the 1940’s. I think it was a team of photographers who went to the working class communities of the north and started photographing everything. The images are of peoples’ lives in situ just as they were; a slice of life. I felt that I wanted to experience that for myself in regards to East Sussex and the South Coast, just turn up and start photographing.

Even in the last two weeks we’ve been walking around Lewes, Alfriston and the villages outside of Brighton just to circumnavigate the environment and the lives people live. That means walking past a house and seeing a man in wellies, in a river, cutting water-cress. You start talking and that’s actually his life, that’s what he does when he gets up in the morning. Just to observe and to allow the people of Brighton to become a part of this mass observation. I understood this idea to record working-class life not as art but more as a sort of social document. But I’m now trying to make more about art, it’s mass observation as art.

What are you hoping people will take away from The Bright Room?

I’m hoping people will come into The Bright Room to walk away with a skill; to have learnt how to develop a roll of film and print an image. To have learnt how to just go out there, take pictures and have conversations with people. To have learnt how to see themselves and their work amongst other people’s work and see that we are all one. Did I really just say that? I’m just giving you my whole world outlook, sorry!

You are committed to traditional photography and the art of darkroom printing. Why do you prefer this method and what are the benefits of this photographic approach?

I love film photography because it’s a skill and it’s using your eyes in a way we don’t do anymore. With back-projected screens and photons coming out of telephones, things are being thrown at us; we’re not looking at reflected light we’re looking at emitted light. I think we still have to remember to look at things in reality. I want people to experience film photography so they can experience what’s actually there. You can only manipulate so much in film, you have to be honest.

I’m using 8 x 10 paper so each image is small enough to stick on your fridge and you don’t have stand back and look at it. And what a gift. It’s difficult in the world we live in but I still want people to put things on their wall. For when they open their eyes in the morning they see that image and it takes them forward. We are losing that engagement. As soon as you wake up in the morning you go straight to your phone.

How did you first get into photography?

My mum had a camera and I had a chance to play with that once or twice and my generation inherited records and cameras from their grandparents. You take a camera and you put a roll of film in to to see if it still works, you go out shooting and you capture things around you. I think the first photographs I took were of a pair of trainers, the most important thing I had ever bought! After that I went to college and that was it. The minute I got to the darkroom I knew I would love photography. It was not just taking pictures, it was the whole process of developing the picture, printing it and then showing it to someone you photographed and seeing them react.

It was only in 1993 when someone offered to buy a picture of mine that I realised that you can make money from photography and it built up from there. It allowed me to make prints, making prints meant I could do shows, doing shows meant I could understand what curating is and then I could reassign my understanding of art history and add these social spaces where people, art, music and food all interact and people’s minds could be changed. You walk into a show with one mindset and by the time you walk out from that experience you have a different mindset.

For me, the minute I look through the lens at someone you see how the light frames them and you start to look so deeply that you fall in love. It is a bit oversimplified but the image ends up capturing what I see when I am in love with someone. This happened with Kate, you can see it in the contact sheets. That emotive quality, you can’t beat the rush. There aren’t many jobs that give you that level of satisfaction.


You have photographed many of the icons of the Hip Hop scene. What interested you about the capturing the scene?

At the time I started it was an underground scene, very small but very influential and there were so many characters within it who had their own voice, their own manner, their own language; they were like super-beings to me. Whether it was Method Man, Coolio or any one you can think of in that scene, they were such characters. When you turn a camera on them, you feel like you fall in love with them but also you feel like you just captured a God of some kind in the height of their prowess. Hip hop is one of those things that is very empowering.

In England it was slightly different, we didn’t really have MC personalities – our MC’s were our DJ’s in a way. Someone like Fatboy Slim who has the same energy as a rapper except he isn’t lyrical, but when he gets behind the decks and he mixes tunes together he is genuinely having a moment and your in that moment with him. When I photographed Fatboy Slim his record was number one and he was on top of the world and I love it when artists are in that moment. You can’t help wanting to photograph that as you see it happen. I still get that buzz now.

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

I’m look forward to everything this Brighton Festival, it is so strong across the board. I am looking forward to being there and recording the performers, recording the people that come to see it, recording the parts of Brighton that the performances are happening in. Celebrating the fact that Brighton has a festival! Brighton is not England’s first, second or even third city, it is way down the league but its celebrations are bigger than anything else, maybe only second to Notting Hill Carnival in my head anyway! And unlike Notting Hill Carnival which was never supported by the council, it is beautiful because it is a combination of community and the organisers’ vision for Brighton, and Brighton’s vision for itself. It is such a powerful thing to see a city celebrate itself like that. I am looking forward to being able to record it on camera and let the world know that this is how a city gets down!

The Bright Room Workshops will take place from Tuesday 23 – Friday 26 May, 4 – 7pm, 114 Church Street. Works created will be on display in The Bright Room Gallery, Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 May, 11am – 11pm, 114 Church Street.

Festival Hot Seat...SPECTRA: CAST

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


Can you tell us what your show is about?

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

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

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

How and where will the work be staged?

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

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

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

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat...Rich Hall's Hoedown

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


Why should someone come and see your live show?

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

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

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the other inspirations for your comedy?

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat...One Hundred Homes

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


Can you tell us what your show is about?

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

How and where will the work be staged?

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

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

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat...FK Alexander

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


Can you tell us what your show is about?

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

How and where will the work be staged?

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

Why should someone come and see your show?

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

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

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

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

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

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

What sort of person is going to love this show?

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

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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