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

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David Shrigley on Brighton Festival 2018

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


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

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

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

What have been your highlights?

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

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

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

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

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

What was it like to appear at Your place?

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

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

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

What makes Brighton Festival special in your opinion?

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

5 things you didn’t know about Brighton Festival Chorus

We caught up with Brighton Festival Classical Programmer and long standing member of the Brighton Festival Chorus, Gill Kay to find out more about the prestigious choir...

  1. Brighton Festival Chorus was formed to sing in Brighton Festival in 1968, the second Brighton Festival ever. At the time there was a Hungarian musician who was working at the old Gardner Centre at the University of Sussex. He was quite well known as a chorus master, a man named Laszlo Heltay.

    The festival approached Lazlo and asked whether he would form a chorus especially for the Brighton festival next year, as they wanted to put on a piece by William Walton as part of the programme. He agreed and auditioned a whole load of people and formed the BFC. He trained them to sing, and for their first ever concert in 1968 they sang William Walton’s Belshazzar's Feast. William Walton was still alive at this point, so he himself conducted. It was such a success, and the chorus were so brilliant under Lazlo’s directorship, that since then, Brighton festival chorus has performed at every single Brighton festival since.

    Rehearsing Bach B Minor Mass with Karl Richter which appeared in the Argus on 16 April 1970

    Arguably Lazlo himself is the reason why BFC became so popular in the first place. He still ran the chorus when I first joined in about 1985 and he absolutely terrified me, he was terrifying, but he was brilliant. He would do things like move people around mid-rehearsal. When he did, it would sound like a completely different section. He just had a brilliant ear. He understood how to fine tune the big choral sound that over 100 singers can create.

  2. Brighton Festival Choir is very traditional in terms of its sound, and are brilliant at traditional British repertoire. The other thing that I think the BFC is excellent at is singing incredibly quietly. It really is the most exciting thing when one moment you’re listening to a 140-person strong wall of sound sing as loudly as they can, and the other to 140 people singing incredibly quietly. It’s pure magic. There is a certain quality that 140 people singing quietly has. It’s something other than just the volume, it creates a presence in the room, in the sound… It’s quite hard to explain

  3. In 2006, we performed Tavener’s three-hour long The Veil of the Temple with no interval. We took all the seats out of the Brighton Dome Concert Hall and had staging in the middle. It’s the most complicated score! Tavener has got specific parts for different areas of the concert hall. So, we had singers stationed at a north point, a south, west and east, and then on the central bit there was an 8-foot Tibetan horn on it, alongside temple bowls and a duk duk.

    At the end of this piece – bearing in mind that this had already gone on for three hours nonstop – Tavener writes that another 500 singers to enter from all doors in the auditorium and come in and join for the last twenty minutes in a kind of Persian chant. We managed to get a whole load of choirs to join, about another 300 singers. At the end everyone just walked off singing this chant and disappeared into the bar. The audience were clapping and clapping. Tavener himself was there, and he walked on stage and the applause went on for about 15 or 20 minutes, it was phenomenal.

  4. We performed the War Requiem on Saturday 12 May as part of Brighton Festival. It is a requiem Mass, with some traditional Latin singing interspersed with Wilfred Owen war poetry. We wanted to make our version of the War Requiem quite unique by combining a French orchestra and a British orchestra and our chorus and the two soloists. We performed the War Requiem across Northern France in the last 25 years quite a few times, so in a way, this relationship that the chorus has got with northern France is really quite special.

     The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

  5. We'll be performing Belshazzar's Feast on Sun 27 May at 7.30pm. It's a particularly special one because not only is it is the 50th anniversary of the BFC, but it is also the 50th anniversary of that song. We have even booked the same Orchestra - The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - who played with us in 1958! We want to emphasise where BFC started, and celebrate where we are today. 

Festival Hot Seat: Tangomotan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Theatre, Circus and Dance

As we head inexorably towards the start of the 2018 Festival, Sally Cowling, Associate Producer of the Brighton Festival, shares a final few picks of performances that just shouldn’t be missed…



Blaas
I absolutely guarantee that you won’t have experienced anything like this before. I was blown away by this (pretty literally: ‘blaas’ means ‘blow’ in Dutch) when I saw it in Amsterdam eighteen months ago. Made by Dutch choreographer Boukje Schweigman, it’s choreography but not as you know it-not least because you don’t see the dancer who is performing for you! Instead you meet unearthly creatures that might or might not be sentient, that might or might not be friendly, that might or might not be reflecting your mood back at you… I can’t tell you much about the experience of this show without spoiling it for you but suffice to say that it is beautiful, immersive, playful and all-enveloping, a complete 360-degree sensory experience that leaves you reeling, but in the best, most exhilarating and, dare-I-say-it, spiritual sense. It’s one of those ‘only-in-the-Festival delights, so do go and experience it-it has a limited capacity so grab a ticket while you can!



The Humours of Bandon
For those of you who saw the fantastic, heart-rending piece of theatre, ‘Silent’ by Pat Kinevane a few festivals ago, you will have already experienced the brilliance of Fishamble, Ireland’s foremost new writing company. The Humours of Bandon also comes from the Fishamble stable and is also a brilliant one-person show, but the similarities very firmly stop there. This is written and performed by Margaret McAuliffe, a past Irish dance champion as well as a great writer and this is her story of thoroughly unhealthy competition amidst the wonders of Irish dance. It is a gorgeous, life-affirming, and wryly hilarious look at teenage obsession, whilst also being a tour-de-force of a performance with Margaret performing a multitude of characters whilst treating us to some exceptionally splendid dancing. This will simply make you feel better to watch; frankly it should probably be on prescription for mild springtime blues, because it’s a veritable tonic of a show. Neither experimental nor hard-hitting, just absolutely joyous.


Creation (Letters to Dorian)
For those of you who’ve previously come across the British/German collective, Gob Squad, you have probably already bought your ticket to see this most innovative, funny and experimental of companies. For everybody else, I encourage you to connect with this endlessly inventive company who this time around are working with local Brighton artists.

Reluctantly, occasionally defeatedly, but mostly defiantly middle-aged, the Gob Squad are exploring beauty and youth and art; what constitutes beauty, is it simply youth? What constitutes art, and does it have to be truthful? Do we, the audience change it just by watching? Incorporating their own and their guest performers’ lived experiences-including the brutally enviable experiences of ridiculously gorgeous young people positively flaunting their peachy, unblemished perfection- and moving between performance and live-edited filming, Gob Squad endlessly play with our perceptions and self-awareness in this frank, thought-provoking and funny examination of quite how much of our souls we would sell for eternal youth or at least for the appearance of it….

Our programme has lots of other amazing performances to explore including The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Creation (Pictures for Dorian) and KAYA.

Our local supporters' favourite Brighton Festival memories

We asked some of our local supporters for their favourite Brighton Festival memories. Here are their best bits.


Cactus Worldwide
The eclectic and interesting international film productions offered every year. They have always provided us with the chance to reflect on life and emotions from very different perspectives and cultures.
Maria Ansede - Cactus Worldwide

Cin Cin
Main favourite memory is the wind almost blowing the roof off the Roundabout Theatre on Regency Square back in 2015!
David Toscana - Cin Cin


Donatello
Many years ago, Donatello and Pinocchio sponsored The Rose Tattoo with Julie Walters and every evening before the performance she would come to eat with us and we were very proud to have her as a customer.
Sue Addis - Donatello

British Airways i360
The Children’s Parade for me is the moment that the city kicks into full festival spirit. It’s amazing to see so much creativity from our local school kids. I can’t wait to see what they make of this year’s theme!
Marie King - British Airways i360


Okinami
We always remember the Children’s Parade which passes right by our restaurant and bar with the best view from our balcony. It always marks the beginning of summer and brings the sunshine with it, along with a whole month of buzzing street life.
Mike Dodd – Okinami


You can find generous offers from all of these companies and more on our Local Discounts page


Festival regular and former Guest Director Hofesh Schecter brings bold new work to Brighton Festival 2018

We caught up with internationally celebrated choreographer Hofesh Shechter to discuss his latest work, Grand Finale, a bold new piece featuring 10 dancers and six musicians. 

As concisely as possible, can you describe Grand Finale?
Grand Finale is a work for ten dancers and six musicians, with a beautiful set made by Tom Scott, and beautiful lighting design made by Tom Visler. It’s very hard to describe, but the work is a very multi-layered piece that has a lot of music, a lot of movement, a lot of different layers and elements to it. In general terms, it deals with that feeling of something coming to an end, and with how maybe people deal with that feeling on a personal level.

Where did the idea and inspiration for the piece come from?
The idea and inspiration for Grand Finale, like always when I make work, comes from around me and inside me. I look at the things that interest me or bother me or excite me or are bubbling inside me; questions and feelings; and ideas and playfulness... I bring those ideas to the studio, explore them with the dancers. The inspiration is from a very immediate reality around and inside me

Grand Finale has been described as ‘a vision of a world in freefall’. What drew you to this theme at this particular moment? Are you commenting on our current contemporary landscape?

I think what drew me to deal with that particular feeling of a lack of control or something coming to an end, is that feeling that I think a lot of people have at the moment that things in the world are getting out of hand, and out of control. Whether that’s true or not, whether things are actually falling apart or whether it’s just part of a cycle of panic I don’t know. I wanted to try revealing that layer of confusion around that feeling

How and where will the piece be staged?
The piece will be staged in the Brighton Dome.

This will be the final performance of Grand Finale following a successful tour. Has the piece changed or developed during the touring process?
Throughout our tour of Grand Finale, which has been a very long one, we’ve tweaked the work all time, we keep on trying to make it better. Whenever I have spare studio time I try to make some adjustments, editing, corrections and so on. We are constantly working on the piece.

Grand Finale
is a very complex piece, we could work on it for ten years and still not completely finish it. However, the heart is there, and the focus is good, but the feeling that it could be more focused and become more powerful and more concise is still there too!

What do you hope audiences will take away from the piece?
We’re bringing the work to Brighton where we’ve performed many times. The Brighton audience is very familiar with my work, and I think it’s quite close their heart. I hope that people really connect to Grand Finale.

Some people could come out of the performance and say something like “ah, there’s no hope”, and some people could come out and say, “wow that’s really invigorating", and that there’s something about human spirit, the fighting human spirit that is “really inspiring”. So obviously I’ll be happy if people experience that very powerful feeling, but I’m fine if people feel despair as well. Despair is an important step towards hope, you know? An important step towards doing something, so I’m fine with either! One way or another, it’s nice when people have a response to your work.

You have a long history with Brighton Festival as Associate company and then as Guest Director in 2014. What does it mean to you to be back at Brighton Festival for this commission?
We’ve been associate company at the Brighton Dome, and I was Guest Festival Director a few years back, so Brighton is a very special place to us. Like I said before, I feel quite close with the audience there – a lot of people have reached out to me – who I don’t know personally, but that atmosphere, that feeling that we are coming home, that we are coming back after a long tour of work is very special. It’s always very special to be in Brighton and I’m sure it’s going to be a very energetic and buzzy performance – so I’m really looking forward to it. 

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival 26 Letters

26 Letters is our annual celebration of children's books, which this year has just as many pictures as words! Hilary Cooke, Creative Learning Producer of the Brighton Festival, shares some of her top picks.


Pongwiffy v Magenta Sharp
Live drawing is one of my favourite things and author Kaye Umansky is accompanied by not one, but two of her illustrators at this event! Ashley King has created the witty images for Kaye’s new Witch for a Week series and Katy Riddell has illustrated the new editions of the much loved Pongwiffy books. The first of this series was published in 1987 and they are now reaching a new generation of young readers. (Katy, incidentally, is a second generation illustrator as she is the daughter of former Children’s Laureate and Brighton resident, Chris Riddell). With Kaye’s warm humour, spellbinding story telling and Ashley and Katy’s competitive drawing skills, this promises to be a wonderful witchy event. (Plus, audience dressing up is encouraged which is always a good thing).


Peter Bunzl
Peter Bunzl’s books, Cogheart and Moonlocket are set in an imaginary Victorian world where the smoky sky is filled with the transport du jour, the airship. Featuring intrepid Lily, her friend Robert and Malkin the mechanical fox, the books are thrilling adventures with extraordinary originality. I’m looking forward to hearing about Peter’s background as a film maker and animator, and finding out how this has influenced his work. I believe that Malkin, the clockwork fox was influenced by Star Wars’ R2D2 and CP30 so I’m curious to discover how futuristic space movies inspired his unique Victorian steampunk world.

The Funny World of Alex Milway & Gary Northfield
There will be more live drawing in Alex Milway and Gary Northfield’s event (can you tell I’m a fan?) but with a more comic book style. These two author illustrators are also great friends which leads to a fantastic on stage rapport. Both Alex and Gary have taken part in our Adopt an Author scheme, (in fact Alex is an Adopted Author again this year), and any class who had the good fortune to adopt either of them will know how inspiring they are as well as being really, really good fun.


Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson needs little introduction! It is a pleasure to welcome her back to Brighton Festival to hear about her brand new book, Rose Rivers as well as her many other titles. She always attracts a wide age range with her new readers and her devoted twentysomething fans. Jacqueline‘s events are a masterclass in simplicity; when she sits on stage before a concert hall audience it feels as if she’s chatting to you one to one over a cup of tea. She has such a natural, relaxed way of speaking about her books and is both honest and unpatronizing when describing her often hard-hitting subject matter.


Tales from Moominvalley
I love the work of Tove Jansson (for adults and children), and it will be such a pleasure to hear author and Moomin afficianado Philip Ardagh talk about his beautiful book Tales from Mominvalley. He will be in conversation with writer, translator and, (most importantly), fellow Moomin fan, Danel Hahn. The book is a real labour of love and has immense detail about all things Moomin. There is nothing else quite like the Moomin stories in children’s literature – peopled (Moomined?) with eccentric, strange and delightful characters. Because of their enduring appeal. I’m expecting to see quite as many adults as children at this event, keen for a deep dive into Moominvalley.

Festival Hot Seat: MEDEA, Written in Rage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Medea ticket availability.

Spotlight on Contemporary Music at Brighton Festival: Part One

From Jungle to John Surman, we've got some epic gigs to go to this May. We shine a light on just a few of the many amazing contemporary music events at this year’s Festival. 

Jungle


Jungle were one of 2014's most explosive newcomers, with their joyous funk pop seducing crowds across the globe. After releasing their massive break-out single Busy Earning, London-based soul/funk outfit Jungle flew right onto the radar in 2014 with this instant classic. Their joyous menagerie of past and future styles immediately put these hardworking musicians on ‘band to watch’ lists worldwide and sent their debut self-titled album into charts worldwide (eventually going Gold in the UK). Formed in 2013 by childhood friends J and T, they have expanded to a powerhouse seven-piece band to perform the music live, creating a spectacular on-stage effect.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Mon 7 May, 7.00pm. Book now on the event page. 

John Surman


Chris Jones, reviewing for the BBC, has called John Surman “one of the foremost innovators when it comes to defining the saxophone's place in modern music” and The Times said of him: “In his ability to blend some of the methods and textures of modern jazz with a wholly English sensibility, Surman is a true original.”

John Douglas Surman is an English jazz saxophone, bass clarinet, and synthesizer player, and composer of free jazz and modal jazz, often using themes from folk music. He has composed and performed music for dance performances and film soundtracks, and worked with a huge variety of musicians.
St George's Church, Thu 10 May, 8.00pm. Book now on the event page. 

Nakhane


Despite being a relative newcomer to the global music stage, Nakhane is an LGBTQ trailblazer with a powerful voice. One of South Africa’s most exciting talents as an award-winning singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, he is a truly unique voice in modern pop. Listen to his beautiful rendition of You Will Not Die from his album of the same name above.
St George's Church, Sat 19 May, 2.30pm. Book now on the event page

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita


Between two world class virtuosos, comes a  meeting of harp and kora. Leading classical harpist Catrin Finch and inspired kora player Seckou Keita combine forces to explore the traditions of Wales and Senegal. Both nations share a centuries old bardic-griot tradition of intricate oral history expressed through music, song and verse. The harp and the kora, instruments from the same family, occupy a vital place in these rich cultures. Catrin and Seckou dig deep into Manding and Celtic roots whilst adding a fresh sound of their own. They will be performing music from their long-awaited second album Soar, inspired by the migration of the osprey.
St George's Church, Sat 26 May, 2.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

Les Amazones d’Afrique

West Africa's first all-female super group has formed in the fight against violence towards women. This incredible collective of female stars are singing out against gender inequality over a soundtrack of funk, blues and dub. Inspired by the formidable warriors of Dahomey, Les Amazones d’Afrique elegantly combine the Mandingo tradition with the power of today’s African megacities. The women of Les Amazones d'Afrique have decided to use music as their weapon in an attempt to address the mentalities that continue to perpetuate disempowerment.

This collective features some of the greatest Malian musicians of the moment: Mamani Keita, Rokia Koné, Mariam Doumbia, Awa Singho and Mariam Koné. Between them they have years of charitable work supporting other women, alongside personal struggles of illness and disability that have been overcome.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Thu 24 May, 7.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

For more information on the many other amazing performances including Amanda PalmerXylouris White and Lankum, see the full Contemporary Music Programme. You can discover more about the great gigs coming up this May in the second part of our Brighton Festival Music blog.

Festival Hot Seat: Snigel and Friends

Join Snigel (leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch) the inquisitive snail in their cozy home underneath the leaf canopy; a colourful and sensory world, designed by Laura Hook, where Snigel's insect friends come to visit. We talked to co-creators Caroline Bowditch and Laura Hook about this inviting new work for children.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Snigel and Friends is an interactive sensory world for babies and their adults to explore. Snigel is an inquisitive snail who plays, dances, sings and makes music with their insect friends.

How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be performed at the Brighton Dome Founders Room. Babies and their adults join the cast in the undergrowth, sitting on mats and cushions under a magical leafy canopy.

Why should someone come and see your show?
There are very few shows that made specifically for babies this young. We worked with our ‘baby board’ to make sure we created the best possible environment for little ones to engage in the colours and live music of the undergrowth while interacting with the characters and the props.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The presence of visibly disabled performers in performance work targeted at young audiences is incredibly rare. Caroline has been working with Imaginate on the Weren’t You Expecting Me Project, taking a closer look at the impact, if any, that this may have on disabled and non-disabled children, particularly looking at the effect on aspirations, self-esteem and overall perceptions of disability. Snigel and Friends was created to address the lack of this kind of work for young people.

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

Laura has created a set that is built in proportion to Caroline, which also means all the action happens at perfect baby height. The leafy canopy creates a magical world that allows the audience to relax in the undergrowth.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
It’s not necessarily the story that’s important, but more the overall experience. It’s an exercise in mindfulness and diversity that allows a positive theatre experience for parents and their wee ones.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Babies who like bright colours, soothing sounds and making friends with slippery snails, singing cicadas, buzzing bees and beautiful butterflies.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
That not only are babies welcome in the show, but they are free to wriggle around, make noise, be fed and interact with each other and the performers. At the end of the performance everyone is invited to come on stage to meet the characters and play with the props.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
This is the first time any of us from the company will be performing as part of Brighton Festival. The programme looks amazing and it’s so exciting to be part of it.

We are also excited to be performing with Brighton resident, dancer Welly O’Brien at the performances on 25th May and then can't wait to watch her perform in the outdoor piece ‘Dedicated to…’ - part of Weekend Without Walls - that Laura, Zac and myself made for Candoco Dance Company earlier this year.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The programme looks amazing and it’s so exciting to be part of it. We’re very much hoping we can be part of the party that is Brownton Abbey. Would also love to be in Andy Hamilton’s audience.

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

Our Sponsors' Top Picks for Brighton Festival 2018

We asked a few of our sponsors what they were most excited about for Brighton Festival 2018. Here are their top picks.

Abi Radford from Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
Not as many as I would like! There is always so much choice so it is hard to pick what I want to see. I always try to choose an event that is different to anything I have ever seen before!

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?Well, naturally I’m going to say The Arms of Sleep that Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings are supporting! But, in honesty I think this will be a lovely event and we’re so delighted how well it fits with our brand. Although this may sound cliché, I really have tried to pick 2 more – but there is just too much choice. There really is something for everyone and I honestly don’t think I could narrow it down to 3!

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
Everyone that works at Best of Brighton is a true Brightonian and we love to get involved in as many local events as possible. The Brighton Festival is a fantastic showcase for our city and it is something that we are very proud and excited to be a part of!

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Gary Miller from GM Building 
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
This year I have booked to attend 13 events, but I expect I may well catch a few more like the Your Place event in East Brighton, which was great last year.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Yes I do go to events throughout the year, mostly music events, I am a big fan of the Spectrum gigs organised by Brighton Dome, where for £6.00 you get to see up to 4 up and coming local bands performing (I do also like getting my money’s worth)

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?
Difficult question, this one as there is, as usual, quite a wide variety of events on. So I am hoping, that as yet, I don’t know what my favourite will be. I am however looking forward to the events at the Brighthelm centre (Wot no fish, Elephant and Castle, and The Humours of Brandon et al) Kneehigh’s production of Tristan & Yseult was excellent last year so I am looking forward to The Flying Lovers Of Vitebsk. The list goes on, best advice is take a chance, and even if what you see is maybe not what you expected, chances are you will remember it long after that meal out or night down the Pub.

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Victoria King from Griffith Smith LLP
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
Being a corporate sponsor means we get to attend the festival launch event. This is a great opportunity to hear from the Guest Director, learn about some of the events in the calendar and speak to others at the launch. The brochure is then read several times and key events highlighted!! As a firm we send the brochure to all staff members with a link to the website and encourage people to attend something different from the programme!

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Brighton Festival is always the highlight of the year for me but I do regularly attend music gigs at Brighton Dome – the intimacy and range of artists is a massive positive.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?The children’s Parade feels like the start of Summer – a great way to kick off the festival period! It is such a popular event and brings together the whole community. The Arms of Sleep stood out when reading the programme and from the launch event – such an unusual event with a brilliant concept and definitely intriguing. The String Quartet's Guide to Sex and Anxiety is another event that stood out from the launch event – I always try to go to something that is slightly outside of my comfort zone, but the write up to this really resonated with me and I am excited to attend!

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
As a firm supporting such a historic and important part of the city feels right. Our history dates back to 1881 and with our recent rebrand, our strap line resonates with our partnership of Brighton Dome & Festival; Modern Practice. Traditional Values.

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Matt Briel from Lulu.com 
Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
For Lulu, being involved with the Peacock Poetry Prize, as part of the Brighton Festival, is a great opportunity to encourage a younger generation of writers. We believe there’s always a place for poetry in the broader community, outside of the tight-knit artist circles and indie bookstores. Poetry is often the first form of creative written expression for kids, offering a safe space to express their feelings. And this year’s Poetry theme of 'Hard Work' is perfect for motivating true expression in the current emotional, environmental, and political climate.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?

  • Adopt an author
  • The Journey to Publication
  • Young City Reads

As a company that is passionate about story telling we believe that any event that supports sharing and promotion of written and verbal storytelling, and the encouragement of those storytellers whatever their age, is to be applauded and supported.

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CEO Ian McAulay from Southern Water 
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
I attend as many as I can, I try and choose things that will broaden my perspective

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Yes, we are fortunate to have so much cultural activity in Brighton. I really enjoy living in such a vibrant and creative city and Brighton dome is an iconic building with a rich history which is always a pleasure to visit.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?Southern Water is supporting A Weekend without Walls in Easthill Park and Brighton seafront this year so this event is definitely one of my top picks. We are excited to be supporting the artists who will be transforming these spaces and meeting our community and inviting them to join the conversation with us about our future plans to ensure the resilience of water and waste water services in the South East. Its going to be an event packed with captivating performers, story tellers, dance and new experiences to explore. Look forward to seeing you all there!

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
Brighton Festival is a moment every year when Brighton & Hove becomes a hive of art, music, culture and celebration in a way which seems to magnify the essence of the year round city. I’m delighted that Southern Water is supporting it this year and we’re proud to be part of such an amazing event.

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Tara Clifford from Travelbag
What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?We are very excited to be sponsoring Attractor, which of course has to be our first pick!

As a travel company we have always held Australia close to our hearts with our Travel Experts tailor-making holidays to Australia for over 30 years. Attractor is the UK premiere of an enthralling contemporary performance by Australian dance luminaries that is based on the cultural traditions of remote Java.

We are also looking forward to Rear View (we love the idea of a “moving adventure”) and the Arms of Sleep.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
We are supporting Brighton Dome & Festival as it is an integral part of the Brighton community and culture. At Travelbag we encourage everyone to discover different cultures and embrace new perspectives - this is true of both travelling to explore a new destination and visiting cultural events such as Brighton Dome & Festival.

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Hugh Jones from University of Brighton 
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
Anywhere from five to twenty depending on the programme.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Yes!

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?

  • Amanda Palmer – A legendary part of the global alternative cabaret scene.
  • Ceyda Tanq – Fabulous home grown talent crossing the boundaries between contemporary and traditional folk dance.
  • Penguins – One of the best stories in the world

Also highly recommend seeing Michael Rosen and Viv Albertine.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
It is a cultural hub of the years arts activities in Brighton

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Laura McDermott from Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Sussex
How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?
May is a busy month! I usually see something every single day. I'm not a typical audience member, though, as seeing lots of art is part of my job. I love the energy in the city during festival time, and all the chance encounters with friends, colleagues and artists from all over the world. As soon as the festival programme launches I start planning - carrying the brochure everywhere and marking pages. Then it's a question of making a schedule - fitting it all together in space and time…

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?
Yes - I am a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round. It been interesting seeing the concert hall being used in different ways but I'm excited for when the Corn Exchange and Studio re-open following their refurbishment.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?

  • The Last Poets, What an incredible, rare chance to see these legendary spoken word artists - whose work (emerging from Harlem in 1968, as part of the Civil Rights Movement) laid the foundations for the emergence of hip-hop.
  • Brownton Abbey (with Big Freedia)I've seen Big Freedia perform before and it was one of the best gigs of my entire life - a frenzy of dancing and twerking. Under the skilful curatorial The Marlborough and Brighton Festival, this event will bring politics to the dancefloor, in a joyful, Afro-futurist rave.
  • Gob Squad - Creation (Picture for Dorian) Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts has co-commissioned this work with Brighton Festival, LIFT and international partners. Inspired by Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray it's going to involve six local performers and Gob Squad, considering ageing, beauty and what drives our desire to be looked at. Gob Squad are one of my favourite companies - they are sharp, political, playful and irreverent - don't miss this UK Premiere!

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?
The University of Sussex has supported the arts for over 50 years. Brighton Festival is one of the biggest arts events in the national culture calendar, so sponsorship is a perfect fit.

For more information on our full programme, see our whats on page, or our page on sponsorship. 

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Spoken Word performances to enjoy this May

Assistant Producer, Rob Jones, highlights his top picks of poetry and performance at this year's Brighton Festival. 

Poets & Illustrators, with With Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore, Toby Campion & Theresa Lola. Illustrations by Jess Wilson & Cressida Djambov
These poets make beautiful powerful work which speaks to the heart in a really human way. All four are completely different and totally wonderful, and all four have agreed to join us in an experiment to respond to the theme “hard work” - responding to a past book of Guest Director David Shrigley - to create something new for the night. This promises to be a fantastic evening of original poetry, with stunning visuals. It’s a really strong line up, and we are super excited to see them all in action together on the night: there will be poetic fireworks.


COAT - Yomi Sode.
Yomi is an incredible spoken word artist who I have been aware of for a while. His first full theatre piece COAT is a show of warmth and heart. It's a coming of age story which questions what it means to be part of the diaspora, and how that influences your identity and adolescence, and explores the often complex relationships that evolve when a child becomes a parent. If that isn’t enough, Yomi cooks a stew on stage throughout the piece, filling the auditorium with a beautiful scent of tomato stew whilst telling you his story and performing as multiple characters. So much is happening in this work and you are completely pulled in and embraced by the world. Yomi crafts with his cooking and with his stories. Come!


Travis Alabanza - Before I Step Outside (You Love Me).
I read Travis’s book and was completely arrested by its honesty and urgency. This work is speaking to people about the hopes, fears and difficulties of moving through society as an outsider. Collaborating with animator Daniel Braithwaite-Shirley, Travis is creating a special one off visual poem which tells the story of what it’s like to be a trans person of colour in society now. For me this work says so much about where we are at as a society, but also tells us where we need to be. Travis is brilliant and this work will change you.


Brownton Abbey
This has been a labour of love for the past year. Working with Tarik Elmoutawakil from the Marlborough to create a performance party unlike any other – with exceptional commissioned performances from some of the best performers in the UK. It's an afrofuturist-inspired club night headlined by the one and only Big Freedia. This will be unlike anything you have experienced before at Brighton Dome – come for a great party, amazing set design and fun performance interventions, making the perfect combination for a night out at the end of the Festival. You won't want to miss it.


Woodland
When I first experienced this piece, I was completely blown away by it's simplicity. Meditating on your own mortality, alone, in the woods sounds pretty full-on, but there is something very sobering and poetic about the way its delivered. This is a perfect piece for Brighton Festival, taking you outside and reminding you of your relationship with nature. Woodland is one of the standout audio experiences I have come across, and I am really excited to have it in Brighton. It’s a really different and a totally worthwhile experience. I wish I could do it every six months!

Explore our full range of amazing spoken word or outdoor performances.

Festival Hot Seat: Last Dance: The Wave Epoch

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: I Wish I Was A Mountain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Family events to enjoy this May

Looking for events to take the kids to this Brighton Festival? Pippa Smith, Children's and Family Programmer shares a couple of her top performance picks for families. 


Penguins
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, two penguins in New York Zoo adopted an egg and hatched a chick...but Roy and Silo are both boys. After their keeper spotted them trying to hatch a stone, he gave them a discarded egg to adopt. Roy and Silo loved their chick very much and taught it to dive and swim. 

I saw this exquisite piece of dance-theatre in Birmingham. Despite travelling there and back from Brighton in one day, I came home grinning with delight! I am so proud to be bringing it to Brighton Festival. This really is a show for anyone who loves dance, and dance which tells a story. It has enough colour and laughter to entertain any child.


Snigel and Friends
If you look closely at the picture of Snigel and Friends (0 - 12) in your brochure, you'll notice the parents gently restraining their babies in the background. Babies are drawn to Caroline Bowditch (Snigel) and her company of insect friends like teens to a rock stage! The stage is deliberately low so that the artists are within touching distance of the non-walking audience. The audience are free to spend the performance crawling alongside the actors, sharing the colour and costumes, the discoveries and the delights. Borrow a baby and be there!


Apples
I discovered Apples (1.5 -3 years) at a Theatre Festival in Belgium. Casier and Dies are a couple from Netherlands and their work has never been seen in England before. Enter a cosy yurt to discover an unusual apple tree. The show is as much about the functioning of extraordinary and unexpected kitchen equipment, as it is about the dance theatre performance of these two charming cooks. You will see apples cut from their tree, smell them cooking and see the delicious puree squirt into miniature bottles, carried by a moving truck.

For more information on our range of amazing performances for kids, see our full Family programme.

You can also view or download our Family Events flyer here

Festival Hot Seat: Adam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Classical Music

There's something to suit everyone's tastes in this year's eclectic Classical music programme. Gill Kay, classical programmer and long standing member of the Brighton Festival Choir picks out four of her favourites. 


Chopin’s Piano
Chopin’s Piano
is the premiere of a project devised by Paul Kildea. Chopin spent some time in Majorca recovering from illness. During this time, he composed his Preludes. The piano that he composed on also started quite a journey of its own. This instrument's story is simply extraordinary and is brilliantly brought to life by expert Paul Kildea alongside exceptional pianist Cedric Thibergien. The Royal Pavilion is such a special venue and being able to listen to chamber music in the Music Room is always a treat. We hope you will be able to join us as we create our own ’salon’ to take you on this unique journey.…..


Belshazzar’s Feast
Belshazzar’s Feast
really is a musical feast and if you like drama this is the concert for you! The music is loud, exciting, jazzy, dramatic and one of the most amazing pieces to see performed live. The piece requires so many players and singers I'm really not sure how we're going to fit everyone onto the Dome stage! In addition to the huge orchestra and chorus, there are two extra brass bands which will be positioned in the circle. Hopefully they'll give the audience a real ‘surround’ sound experience. When everyone is singing and playing together the sheer volume actually shakes the building. It’s such a great ‘story’ piece and perfect for Brighton Festival Chorus to celebrate their 50th birthday year.


Lunchtime Series
This series is always one of my personal favourites in the festival. It’s the moment that we get a chance to showcase young performers that we have found throughout the year. These artists come from music competitions and conservatoires. Some are still at college, and others are in the first year or so of their professional lives, but that’s what makes each year so exciting and different! This year we have a really unique mix featuring, in particular, lots of female performers and composers. This year is our most eclectic series to date, including an early music group from France, two string quartets - one from the Chineke orchestra and another from the BBC New Generation Artists Scheme - as well as two award winning solo pianists! I cannot think of a better was to spend a lunch hour!.


Tangomotan
Continuing on with our concerts in All Saints, and further developing our relationship with French artists, this year’s ‘left field ‘ concert comes from players based in Lyon. This group, made up of violin, piano, accordion and bass, create a traditional sound reminiscent of a small smokey Parisian basements with Gauloises, Pernod and groups of friends gathered round tables. Pretty much exactly how it was when I first heard them! This is one not to be missed……

For more information on the many other amazing performances including Vox LuminisBrighton Youth Orchestra and a performance of Britten's War Requiem, see the full Classical Music programme.

Festival Hot Seat: COAT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: LEXICON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Hot Seat: Penguins

Choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra tells us more about Penguins, a delightful show about the changing nature of family, based on a true story that touched hearts worldwide. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Penguins is a show about families, the importance of love, and of being true to oneself. We tell the true story of two penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo - Roy and Silo - who were very good friends. They did everything together! They ate together, danced together and swam together, and then they became a couple. When they saw all the other penguins sitting around their nests looking after their eggs, Roy and Silo discovered they had no egg themselves. They found a rock and decided to sit on it, but of course, after much waiting, nothing happened. The zookeeper, who had been watching them, decided to give them a discarded egg and then... it hatched into a lovely baby penguin, Tango! 

How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be staged at the Sallis Benney Theatre. We also have an incredible, magical set designed by Sabine Dargent that will transport audiences from the theatre into a very cool and futuristic penguin enclosure.


Why should someone come and see your show?
Penguins is a fun and endearing show - but above all, it is a very important show because of the story it tells. It is full of comedy, magic and three very unique penguins.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The director, Paul MacEneaney's, initial inspiration was the 2004 article in the New York Times about Roy and Silo. In the early stages of creating Penguins, I had to do a lot of research. I watched many documentaries, read a lot about penguin behaviour, and I even spent some time with real penguins at Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre! I discovered some incredible facts about penguins. For example, once a penguin meets his or her partner, they compose a song together which is unique to them, and is what they to use to call each other. I think that is very beautiful.


Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think it’s a very important story to tell because what it says is that all families are different, and that’s ok. Some families have a mum and a dad, some have two dads, some have two mums, some are made up of friends and relatives, but what really matters is that kids are loved and looked after. It also encourages you to be true to yourself, and to dance to your own tune. I think it’s very important to share this with children, and even more important to remind parents and adult friends about it.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
I can’t give away too much about this but…Paul MacEneaney is a great magician as well as a theatre director, so you can expect real magic throughout! There is some great dancing as well from three very likeable penguins and their cute zookeeper, and the score ranges from New York jazz to waltzes. For a small scale production, there’s a lot packed in this egg!

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
This is actually my first time at Brighton Festival, so I am very excited to be here! As a choreographer, I’ve always seen the festival as one of the international hot spots for dance and theatre. Many of the choreographers I admire the most have presented work in the festival, so I’m very honoured. I am in love with the city of Brighton too, as I’ve created work here before with Fringe, so I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic time.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
It’s such a great and varied programme that this is a very tricky question! I am very intrigued by Gob Squad’s Creation (Pictures for Dorian); Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk looks deliciously dramatic; I’ve always loved Amanda Palmer and I think that my highlight will be Adam, by National Theatre of Scotland. The festival has so much to offer for everyone, that I’m really considering relocating for the month! 

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

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Theatre, Circus and Dance

Sally Cowling, Associate Producer of the Brighton Festival, shares a couple of her top performance picks.

The pieces I’ve picked out of our enormous programme of performances are all works that I think are phenomenal, virtuosic and unlike almost anything else out there in the world, either because of their subject matter or because of their form. I’m not sure you would find any other festival that could encompass such a variety of beautiful, challenging and extraordinary work and I really hope that the Brighton audience enjoys each of these pieces as much as I did.

Fauna at Brighton Festival

“Attenborough in Leotards” A.K.A Fauna
My dark secret as a programmer is that I’m not always entirely besotted with circus; I might admire the incredible skills on display but not feel much of an emotional connection. But when skill and narrative come together I think circus can be extraordinary.

I saw Fauna (the name of both company and show) in Edinburgh last year and fell in love with it. It sits somewhere between circus-these are performers who’ve worked with some of the best companies in the world (Sept Doigts, Gravity and Other Myths, No Fit State etc)-and contemporary dance, with a brilliant live guitar soundtrack. The performers explore and play with the similarities between humans and animals, conjuring up apes and lizards, peacocks and spiders in courtship rituals, playful competition and fights.

Attenborough-accurate, we watch animal behaviours that are also very recognisably human and, as a result, very funny. It’s also sexy in an entirely family-friendly way, fast-paced and, let’s not forget, extremely skilled, including some particularly lovely trapeze work. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it.


Adam
To my mind, the best of theatre feels absolutely of the moment- talking about, and inviting empathy with, a set of experiences that feel entirely contemporary and urgent. Adam is one such piece of theatre, a story about a transgender man that is by turns moving, disturbing and positively inspirational. It is also performed by the person whose story is being told, Adam Kashmiry, appearing for the first-time on a professional stage. We are witnesses to the brave choices he has made and (spoiler alert!) we are part of the happy ending.

It's an eye-opening journey through the trials of his Egyptian childhood to the frankly horrific experiences with petty bureaucracy and casual bigotry on his arrival in Glasgow. As an exercise in raising awareness amongst the cis-gendered of the commonplace indignities that the trans-gendered have to endure, it's very effective, made all the more powerful by the striking lack of self-pity in evidence. It’s very cleverly staged with a second, female, actor playing Adam's alter ego (as well as mother, friend, wife etc), illuminating the competing push-and-pull of his gender identity and forcibly bringing home his isolating sense of dislocation.

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, this is shot full of humour and humanity throughout and one comes away feeling inspired and uplifted. There is a gorgeous end moment - which I won’t spoil for you - where I for one was resorting to my hankie whilst also giving a standing ovation. Tissues at the ready…


XFRMR
The Tesla coil is an extraordinary thing to behold-huge and more than slightly scary, with crackling arcs of electricity exploding from it, exuding the smell of ozone and making the hairs on the back of your neck quite literally stand up. It’s a mechanical embodiment of the forces of nature, a creator of raw electricity, a reminder of danger, a transmitter of lightening, and it’s entirely hypnotic. When I watched this performance, the whole audience was transfixed.

This is both installation and live concert with composer Robbie Thomson creating a score by manipulating the voltage coming from the Tesla coil and adding it to his own soundscape, which is part techno, part industrial, part the sound of space weather! This is so odd and special and primal and exhilarating, I think it’s unmissable.


Attractor
This is an absolutely brilliant contemporary dance experience, created by two Australian choreographers at the peak of their powers. Watching it, I loved the spiky angularity of some of the choreography and the ritualistic, folkloric quality of other sections. I suspect that if you are a fan of Wayne McGregor or of Hofesh Shechter, you will be similarly entranced, while recognising Attractor’s uniqueness. The company of (fantastic) dancers are involved in the choreographic equivalent of call-and-response with the Indonesian duo, Senyawa, whose clubby, trance-y, mesmeric music powers the piece.

It’s like watching the most exciting, ecstatic religious ritual and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of work where more energy and intensity is coming off the stage! It’s joyful abandonment and raw physicality in dance form and the last 15 minutes bring the professional company and volunteer audience members together in a completely wonderful blurring of the lines between dancers and non-dancers. I am practically allergic to the notion of audience participation but even I felt envious of the sheer glee and beauty in evidence up there on the stage. So, if you have the chance, join up to join in!

For more information on the many other amazing performances including The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Creation (Pictures for Dorian) KAYAsee our full programme.

Spymonkey joins cast for David Shrigley’s new alt/pop pantomime Problem in Brighton

Spymonkey’s Stephan Kreiss will join Scottish actor Pauline Knowles in the world premiere of Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt-rock/pop pantomime written and directed by Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley which will be performed at The Old Market (10-12 May 2018).

A member of the anarchic Brighton-based troupe since 2000, described as ‘four seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns' (Time Magazine), Kreiss has performed in all of Spymonkey’s productions to date including Stiff, Cooped (Brighton Festival 2006), Zumanity, Bless, Moby Dick, Oedipussy (Brighton Festival 2008) and hit Brighton Festival 2016 commission The Complete Deaths.

On being cast in the show, Stephan Kreiss says: ‘When David Shrigley and Brighton Festival asked me to come and play a one-stringed electric guitar in Mr Shrigley’s show ‘Problem in Brighton’ I thought, ah excellent, hopefully it will be a G-string. After laughing a lot at my pretty funny joke I then informed Herr Shrigley that despite my abilities as an air-guitarist, I am not the most musical of all the Spymonkeys and he would be much better to employ Toby Park, who can do all that poncey music stuff. But Herr Shrigley insisted on using me. I am here in Brighton today to meet him, he is probably already regretting his decision. But it will be too late. My G-string awaits the caress of my artful fingers.

This will be the second time that Pauline Knowles has worked with Shrigley, having previously appeared in his 2011 opera Pass the Spoon, featuring TV chefs June Spoon and Philip Fork, a manic-depressive egg and a host of other surreal characters.

A follow-on from previous incarnations of the work - Problem in Toulouse and Problem in New York - Problem in Brighton promises to be a brash mix of live music, theatre, storytelling and visual art. Kreiss and Knowles will be accompanied by the Problem Band, led by Brighton musician Lee Baker, using instruments created from Shrigley’s illustrations - all of which have one string and the frets in the wrong place.

Of the content of the show, David Shrigley says: “The music will be very interesting. The performers will perform very well (it is part of their contract). The venue will be clean and tidy. Beer will be available to purchase. Latecomers will be admitted (unless the show has already finished).

See the Problem in Brighton event page for more information.

Festival Hot Seat: Blaas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Film events to enjoy this May

Film programmer and co-director of CineCity film festival, Tim Brown, picks his favourite film screenings this May. 


As the double bill was once a staple of cinema-going, it felt appropriate for our season of British cinema classics from the turbulent year of 1968, for these titles to be paired with another film. By screening them alongside a film from another era, we could also scratch the surface of how films influence or inspire and are in turn influenced by other titles.


BLOOD OF A POET and PERFORMANCE
I’m really looking forward to this double bill; they might have played together somewhere many moons ago but I’ve never seen them back to back like this. Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet was a big influence on Donald Cammell who co-directed Performance with Nic Roeg. Shot in 1968 just as the decade of peace and love was turning into something far darker, it was shelved and then re-edited before it was eventually released in 1970. So it really does mark the end of that particular era. With the theme of identity to the fore, it’s also a radical one-off, simultaneously of its time and yet completely out of step with the rest of British Cinema. It’s also so rare to get the opportunity to see either film on the big screen - and at my favourite cinema, the Duke of York’s – and both on 35mm too!
Duke of York’s Sun 6 May 1pm




IF…. and ZERO DE CONDUITE
Probably the best known British film from ‘68, Lindsay Anderson’s If …. is another Sunday afternoon big screen treat. It was Malcolm McDowell’s first major role and he is quite brilliant as the schoolboy getting his revenge on the British establishment. I also really like the film’s switching between colour and black and white which apparently was more a budgetary necessity than anything else. It’s an anarchist double bill as its paired with Jean Vigo’s poetic Zero de Conduite which heavily influenced Anderson’s film. Vigo is best known for L’Atalante, the only feature length work he completed before he died in 1934 aged just 29.
Duke of York’s Sun 13 May 1pm



WITCHFINDER GENERAL and A FIELD IN ENGLAND
An English Civil War double bill, Brighton’s own Ben Wheatley’s eerily beautiful A Field in England paired with Michael Reeves’ disturbing Witchfinder General. Like Jean Vigo, director Michael Reeves died tragically young, aged 24, just a few months after this film was released. He would undoubtedly have gone on to be one of the key directors in British Cinema.
Sun 20 May 1pm Duke’s at Komedia

For more information on the many other amazing performances including Lose your Head, A Shit Odyssey and Cuckmere: A Portrait, see our full Visual Arts and Film programme.

Festival Hot Seat: KAYA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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