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

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Five Minutes with Founder & CEO of Selective Asia Nick Pulley

Selective Asia is an award-winning tour operator, offering thoughtfully crafted holidays in Asia. They’ve been travelling to Asia for decades and have shared their passion by taking clients there for the past 13 years. Based in the heart of the North Laine in Brighton, they admit that this remarkable city makes returning home from these journeys just a little bit easier and they’re thrilled to be sponsoring the Brighton Festival for the first time.


Firstly, describe the festival in three words:

Dynamic, innovative and vibrant.Constant fun…can I have fourth and a fifth?

What are you looking forward to, and what has been your stand-out performance so far in this year’s festival?

I’m looking forward to seeing Seeta Patel’s Not Today’s Yesterday, as well as the amazing Taiwanese Varhung: Heart to Heart, which we’re sponsoring. I really enjoyed Backbone. The performance was absolutely breathtaking from start to finish!

What impact do you think the festival has for the people here and for you?

I love the vibrancy that the festival brings to our city. We are well and truly spoilt during May with the sheer variety of incredible performances that we get to witness, not to mention the free shows and exhibitions which really bring the arts to the whole community.

In your first-year sponsoring Brighton Festival you’ve created a guide to Brighton’s best independent Asian restaurants. What inspired this?

Each of us has dishes which are particularly close to our hearts, from steaming bowls of pho that bring back memories of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, to fragrant curries that contain all the spice and heat of an evening on the backwaters of Kerala. Although we’re an international business, Brighton is central to our DNA, so we wanted to do something to promote and raise awareness of Asian restaurants in the city. We wanted to tap into our natural traveller’s curiosity and throw a spotlight on the unwritten stories of the chefs raising the bar of Asian-inspired dining in Brighton.


What can we expect to see in the guide?

We’ve chosen seven of our stand-out favourite Asian restaurants, whose food we know intimately and are inspired by the fascinating stories we’ve heard from the restauranteurs. From Tuntun’s, an authentic café celebrating Bangladeshi dishes to Lucky Khao who champion northern Thai food, the Selective Bites guide gives readers a taste of what they can expect, plus some extraordinary tales from the head chefs and owners behind our favourite restaurants. There’s also plenty of top tips for travelling throughout Asia! You can pick up a copy at the Brighton Dome, Festival ticket office or at each of the featured restaurants, or alternatively download an e-guide from our website. It was a lot of fun to create and we’ve been receiving great feedback from the Brighton public who have been busy discovering new flavours throughout the festival!

Brighton Festival is proud to support artists from around the world and we’re particularly excited to welcome Tijmur Dance Theatre from Taiwan this year. We’re delighted to partner with Selective Asia to help showcase the incredible range of Asian food the city has to offer our residents. Be sure to pick up a free copy of Selective Bites in Brighton Dome! 

Five Minutes with Nick Evans: Managing Partner of Griffith Smith Solicitors

We met with Nick Evans, managing partner of Griffith Smith Solicitors, one of Brighton Festival's longtime sponsors, to discuss what he finds special about the Festival. Nick and his team are keen to support local artists, as he explains below.

Firstly, describe the festival in three words:

Random. Creative. Freedom!

What are you looking forward to?

My top tip this year is Neneh Cherry, she's a must see! I saw her last year in the film Stockholm My Love - music and poetry in one. Brilliant. Also, take time to catch a lunchtime concert. There’s plenty of choice in this year’s festival and a great way to get out of the office for an hour.

Neneh Cherry

What impact do you think the Festival has for the people here and for you?

The streets come alive during the Festival. There is a great sense of freedom around and you can take the time to discover wonderful, random new things. I also love the Artists Open Houses, an unmissable part of the festive season.

What are your highlights from the past?

Seeing Courtney Pine at the Brighton Dome was a key highlight for me. He’s one of our finest jazz musicians. Some early deranged nonsense from Spymonkey was great fun too!

Spymonkey's 'Cooped'

For more information about Griffith Smith Solicitors, visit their website. Interested in becoming a sponsor? See our Support Us page.

Lydia Wilkins: How to make Events Accessible and Autism-Friendly

Recently we spoke to Lydia Wilkins, a journalist and occasional blog writer who was diagnosed with autism just before her sixteenth birthday. Hearing from Lydia about the various changes events organisations could implement to make their performances more accessible to those with invisible disabilities, like Autism, mental health issues, and physical handicaps, was enlightening. Lydia feels strongly about the progression events organisations need to be making to accommodate those with disabilities. Here are her thoughts on the changes that should be implemented to allow equal access for everyone:

'Two months shy of my sixteenth birthday I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome - now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. To me it was simply just a label - literally nothing had changed - it was just another word to describe myself.

Even though that was just over four years ago, at times I still find attending events a bit of a struggle sometimes. I love attending concerts - Queen and Adam Lambert anyone? - as well as plays; I regularly review exhibitions and other artistic shows. I love going to “In conversation with..” events, often talking to my favourite writers during or after.

But noise can be an issue for me, as I lack a filter for it. For this reason, I looked at the adjustments venues could make for people with invisible disabilities, such as myself and others. 

Relax The Atmosphere

Sometimes venues can have a very regimented atmosphere; you have to be in one place, you can’t move, and sometimes social expectations are not necessarily obvious. (I was once tutted at, because I made a dash for the loos mid-performance, thinking I was going to be sick.) The more you try not to rattle your delicious confectionary, the louder it seems to be.

The regimented atmosphere could be more relaxed - or at least the expectations made more obvious. Brighton Festival offers relaxed performances - meaning that there’s an open-door policy, a ‘safe space’ available, changes made to lighting, and visual stories are available. 

If you’re attending a performance, be kind in your criticism; someone may be perceived as misbehaving, but they may not necessarily be behaving like that deliberately. This might actually be their means of coping with an overwhelming experience.

Another Star To Steer By (One of our Relaxed Performance shows)

(Above: Another Star to Steer By offers a Relaxed Performance)

Cover All Ages

Autism does not stop at eighteen. It does not stop at twenty-one, either. As I’ve grown older, I have seen more adjustments be made, such as at cinemas; the only thing is, typically they cover only up to a certain age.

As an adult, I quite like the cinema - but sometimes, there aren’t Autism-friendly screenings for a film I wish to see. But they are for a CGI animation for people under the age of eighteen.

If you have a variety of performances for various ages, make sure accessibility is available for all of them. While it’s amazing that accessible performances and events are becoming more commonplace, accessibility needs to be for everyone. 

Normalise Anything Tactile

Sometimes aides are used while at a performance; I quite liked having a purse in my bag that changed colour, thanks to the sequins on it (you swiped your hands up and down). Many case studies show that when autistic people have various aides with them while going out - such as fiddle pencils, fidget spinners or dice, particular toys, etc. they feel more comfortable.

Normalising people bringing these aides (or even providing them) could be really useful; some may feel they’re being stared at, such as if they’re stimming. Brighton Festival offers Touch Tours, which allow for ‘tactile introductions to the set, costumes, props, instruments - and even some of the actors or musicians - before or after the show.’

A Midsummer Night's Dream (One of our Touch Tours performances)

(Above: A Midsummer Night's Dream offers Touch Tours before the performance)

Make Print Dyslexia Friendly

I have a friend who has Dyslexia; at times they struggle, simply because the type may not necessarily be clear enough. If you produce materials such as tickets, menus, programmes, why not make them Dyslexia-friendly?

Have A Safe Space

Safe spaces could be useful for many people with a variety with invisible disabilities; for me, noise can be incredibly overwhelming.

Lets try something; wherever you are reading this, what can you hear? Within a reasonable distance, you may hear a keyboard tapping (if you’re at work), a murmur of voices, possibly a phone ringing. Now, open that wider; can you hear the chairs scraping, voices in the room, the birds outside singing? This is all the while being aware of the change in flickering lights, the doors opening and closing, the shuffling of people moving about.

While at theatres, or concerts, there is so much noise; I lack a filter for it. It’s difficult to deal with, and once it gets to a certain point, it can lead to a meltdown. I would love it, personally, if venues had a ‘safe space’ - somewhere which is quiet, away from the hubbub, just for me to calm down. 

Distorted Constellations (Features an 'antesensory chamber' designed for neurodivergent people)

(Above: Distorted Constellations features an 'antesensory chamber' designed for neurodivergent people to have a calm place of retreat)

Train Staff To Be More Aware

At times I have thought that staff could have better awareness of invisible disabilities; to give an example, at times when someone has found out I am Autistic, they automatically raise their voice. They become loud and patronising while talking to me – neither of which are helpful or necessary adjustments.

Why not allow someone with an invisible disability to be involved with the training? 

To find out more about access at Brighton Festival visit our Access Page.
Read more from Lydia on her blog Mademoisellewomen.com

Five Minutes With Abi Radford: Marketing Coordinator of Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings

We spoke to Abi Radford, Marketing Coordinator with sponsor Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings to find out her thoughts about the Festival and what it represents.

Firstly, how would you describe Brighton Festival in three words?

Exciting. Inspiring. Fun!

What are you looking forward to seeing this year?

I’m excited about Backbone, not only to see what these talented performers can do, but also because of the live soundtrack and lighting design. I’m also looking forward to Flight, which I imagine will be quite moving.

What impact do you think the Festival has for visitors and for you?

The buzz that the Festival brings to Brighton during May is electric! I feel it myself and so does everyone I speak to about it. We have a lot of visitors who stay in our properties throughout the Festival because they are attending events. They are amazed at the choice and variety and always say they will be back again next year.

Find out more about Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings visit their website. Interested in becoming a Brighton Festival sponsor? See our Support Us page

Five Minutes: Stile Antico: Songs of Longing and Exile

Award-winning early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins with remarkable Syrian oud performer Rihab Azar for a unique collaboration inspired by the challenges faced by today’s refugees and migrants. We learn more about the creative process and inspiration behind Songs of Longing and Exile

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The programme focuses on the theme of exile and displacement. We have used 16th century music to create a new work of art by adding texts based on first-hand accounts by contemporary migrants. These will be interspersed with music from Syrian-born Oud player Rihab Azar. The programme will be accompanied by projections and specially designed lighting, to give a unique and immersive experience, culminating in a work written specially for Stile Antico and Rihab Azar by the legendary composer Giles Swayne.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This show will be a unique fusion of old and new music, a conversation between Eastern and Western cultures, exploring one of the most urgent issues of our times.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

We were researching a programme of a capella 16th century music on the theme of exile. John Dowland was famous for his expressive and ‘melancholy’ music, and spent much of his life in exile from his homeland. We opened that programme with the first of his seven Lacrimae pavans, the famous song ‘Flow my tears’. It got us wondering about the possibility of adding texts to the other six pieces in Dowland’s collection and that lead us to the poet Peter Oswald. He created some extraordinary lyrics using first-hand accounts of modern-day migrants. We were keen to intersperse the Dowland works with music from the Middle-East and were thrilled to be able to collaborate with virtuoso Oud player Rihab Azar.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Lovers of music of all types, people interested in issues around migration, anyone with a social conscience!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I think people will be surprised by the beauty and emotion of Dowland’s music, the way old music and new lyrics can work together whilst also challenging each other, and the virtuosity and expressiveness of Rihab Azar’s Oud playing!

Watch our interview with Gill Kay to learn more about our classical music programme 

Five Minutes with Laura McDermott: Creative Director for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Sussex

'Founded in 1961, the University of Sussex has a rich heritage in creating and supporting the arts. We are a major sponsor of Brighton Festival, and have a programming partnership. We have co-commissioned performances, and each year we work together to select a programme of events to be hosted at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA).'

Firstly, how would you describe Brighton Festival in three words?

Effervescent. Communal. Discovery.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I am genuinely excited about all three performances that we are hosting at ACCA:  Séancers from Jaamil Olawale Kosoko; Superhoe, a collaboration between Talawa Theatre Company and Royal Court Theatre; and Belgian company, Berlin is bringing the UK Premiere of True Copy about the real-life art forger, Geert Jan Jansen.

Nicôle Lecky in Superhoe

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko performs Séancers

Elsewhere, I can’t wait to see Session on the Brighton seafront. It’s a high- energy dance piece to live Afrobeats, performed by a group of young women. I’m also looking forward to My Left Right Foot: The Musical at the beautiful Theatre Royal, and I am so excited to see Neneh Cherry. She is on fire right now and her new album is amazing.

SESSION performed by Still House and Empire Sounds

What impact do you think the Festival has for visitors, Brighton residents and for you?

There is so much energy in the city in May. Everyone comes out to play and to explore, enjoying the longer days and the sunshine. People are more adventurous and willing to try new things. It’s an incredibly social time. Brighton Festival has always stood for internationalism and experimentation. It brings artists from all over the world to be here in dialogue with our city and residents.

Interested in becoming a Brighton Festival sponsor? See our Support Us page. To learn more about University of Sussex and their longstanding partnership with Brighton Festival, see their sponsor page.

Five Minutes with Gravity & Other Myths: Backbone

We snatched five minutes with internationally renowned circus company, Gravity and Other Myths (GOM) to find out more about the folks that tumble, flip and literally walk across each other's heads in Backbone - their newest, most dazzling show ever. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Backbone is GOM’s second international touring work. It premiered as part of the 2017 Adelaide Festival and since then, it has taken the world by storm! The work examines human connection and strength in all its forms; physical, emotional, collective and individual.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Not only is Backbone filled with dynamic, exciting, high level group acrobatics but it touches audiences, young and old in a deeper way. GOM’s work has always focused on group dynamic’s, trust and camaraderie and Backbone is no different. The connection the artists on stage hold is engaging and infectious.


Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Strength, of all kinds, is inherent in acrobatics so we found it an interesting topic to deconstruct and explore using physicality and acrobatics.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

GOM creates work for everyone to enjoy so no matter how old you are, if you have seen countless circus shows or none at all, this show will be for you!

What will surprise people about this show?

The satisfying and beautiful amalgamation of ground-breaking acrobatics, detailed design and production and real humans performing onstage, being themselves.

Five Minutes with: Candice Edmunds - Flight

This May, Scottish theatre company Vox Motus bring critically-acclaimed production Flight to Brighton Festival.

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

We chat to Artistic Director, Candice Edmunds to find out more… 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Flight is based on the novel Hinterland by Caroline Brothers. It tells the story of two young brothers travelling alone, on foot, from Afghanistan to London. Their journey is an odyssey: a tale of ever-changing fortunes that is in turns life affirming and horrifically brutal. It is a tale of love, brotherhood, the remarkable resilience of those fleeing turmoil, and the power of imagination.


Flight
is a unique audience experience. Audience members sit in individual booths as a series of 200 handmade diorama revolve before their eyes. The story and soundtrack unfold through a pair of headphones.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Flight is rewarding on so many levels. The story is current, relevant and heart-wrenching. The ‘staging’ and design are completely unique. The experience is individual and immersive. We have been delighted time and again by those who came to engage with the ‘form’ and lost themselves completely in the story, and those who came to hear the story and were blown away by the design and the audience experience.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Initially we were inspired by Caroline’s novel ‘Hinterland’, and what (in 2011, when it was published) felt like the ‘under-the-radar’ story of unaccompanied refugee minors. Over the years that we developed Flight the narrative around refugees and asylum seekers in the UK became increasingly divisive and agenda-driven. We wanted to find a storytelling form that would bring this back to the truly personal: just you (the audience) and the brothers journeying together. Our world in miniature was born out of desire to create a one-to-one experience that played with form, challenged us as artists, and enriched the story and themes. We wanted to make something that was full of imagination that honoured the bravery and resilience of children who flee their homes in search of a safe haven.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Because of the mix of forms/disciplines, Flight appeals to both theatre audiences and those who would be more inclined to engage with visual art/digital art/cinema. The sound design and sound-track are also exceptional in their own right and open the experience up to music audiences. It is a brilliant show for teenagers, and we can provide some excellent resources for teachers to encourage class discussions around the subject matter.

What will surprise people about this show?

We have found that audiences have been completely floored by the emotional impact of the story. They come because they have heard of this wildly original carousel of diorama, and don’t expect a series of 3-D models to be so emotionally devastating.

Buy tickets to Flight or discover more theatre events happening this May 

Five Minutes with Jaamil Olawale Kosoko: Séancers

Performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko conjures themes of paranormal activity, loss and resurrection as he explores black identities through his work. In his new show Séancers, Kosoko draws on his own experiences, including the deaths of family members, as well as inspiration from other art forms in a piece that brings together movement, song, spoken word and a live score from Bessie award-winning composer Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste. We sat down with Jaamil to learn more...


Firstly, can you introduce us  to your show and tell us what  it is about? 
Séancers is a work that considers alternative ways in  which we hold space for loss. And essentially how we  fill the space of loss.

Why should someone come  and see your show?  
To learn how loss can possibly generate new pathways to understanding the self, others, and the  process of the world. Holding space for mourning and  grief while also creating space for celebration in the  presences of community feels important in this moment.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?  

My previous piece #negrophobia was described as a  kind of séance as I toured it throughout Europe over  the past couple years. It felt like a natural  progression to lean more into themes of paranormal  activity, loss, and resurrection as it relates to Black  identities. Black conceptual technologies such as  ‘fugivity’, ‘afro-pessimism’, and ‘intersectionality’  (Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw) have given me a deeper intellectual framework to ground the ideas and  metaphors that are situated inside my new work,  Séancers. Lastly, the work has literally become a way  for me to stay in close relationship to my dead family.  I’m the only living member of my immediate family.  Have a listen to an interview I recently did ​here​.

 What sort of person is going to love this show?

I am consistently surprised with the people who seem to really connect with the show. Queer/trans communities, older people, academics, students, black folks, poets, visual artists.

What will surprise people about this show?

Imagery and poetic metaphor, some fun costumes, kisses.

Find out more about Séancers and book your tickets today. 

Five Minutes with Flexer & Sandiland: Curiouser

Curiouser is a wild journey deep down into subterranean caves, through leafy forests and high up into the starry night sky. Adults become little and children become great in this interactive imaginary world of ever changing proportions. For a peek behind the curtain of this exciting and innovative show, join us for a quick five minute chat with creators Yael Flexer and Nic Sandiland. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Yes, it's a show for children and their adults which takes them on a colourful escapade of curiosity and wonder. The intimate audience of up to 30 people are guided by two friendly dance-performers delving into magical caves, exploring leafy forests, and soaring through starry night skies. Along the way they meet playful characters, loosely inspired by the children's classic Alice in Wonderland.

Curiouser is an international collaboration of dance & digital media between local artists Flexer & Sandiland and the Norwegian company Dybwikdans - both renowned for their intimate immersive works for young audiences. It’s an interactive performance where you can choose to sit back and watch or get involved.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s a great space to be with your children, coming into an immersive projection environment sitting on velvet cushions, watching professional dancers up close as well as observing your own child at play. Fantastic music composition that is suitable for adults and children completes the magical experience.

It’s also a great space to be in as a child, lively and calm at different points with lots of surprising creatures and digital elements. Children are taken seriously in this event, they interact with the performers, they are asked many questions, and these sometimes define what path the show will take.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The show is loosely inspired by how Alice in Wonderland plays with size and scale - the possibility of imagining that you can be both big and small, animal or human. We are interested in the exchange between adults (parents and carers) and their children, as well as how although one might be younger and the other older, they are both there for each other and support one another in different ways. We are also interested in making immersive work where the body and senses are primary in experiencing and understanding the show (rather than necessarily following a narrative structure). We have done this before with adult shows and it seemed the perfect mode for making work for children. Finally, as parents who normally make shows for adult audiences, we wanted to make something that are kids could also enjoy and to create through their eyes.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

A 3 to 6-year-old that either enjoys getting involved and dancing, or a child who prefers to take it all in by watching and who might be drawn by the digital elements.

Also parents, grandparents and carers who want to have a moment to share and just ‘be’ with their children, escaping into an other-worldly place, either getting involved or simply sitting back on cushions and observing the show or their own child at play.

What will surprise people about this show?

Some unexpected animated creatures, tape measures and mysterious bowls! Also, the fact that the children’s choices can sometimes dictate the path of the show.

To secure your place on this eclectic adventure, check out our Curiouser event page!

Five Minutes with Season Butler: The New Dystopians

What does a new dystopia look like? Two hugely-anticipated debut novels – Cygnet by Season Butler and The Farm by Joanne Ramos – give us a glimpse of what unsettling futures might await us in an age of easy travel and endlessly accessible technology. Brighton Festival welcomes both authors for an in-depth discussion about the future in the one-time-only event The New Dystopians. We had a chat with Season Butler about what audiences can expect. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

I will be talking about my debut novel, Cygnet, a coming-of-age story grounded in some of the most urgent issues of contemporary life including climate change, addiction, precarious work and housing, and radical approaches for life-making for people with marginalised identities.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Many people feel that the present is edging on (or has already tipped into) a dystopian moment. I hope that my novel gives voice to the anxieties and redemptive potential of the contemporary moment.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Years ago I was listening to a Radio 4 programme about people whose homes are threatened by coastal erosion and the lack of political and infrastructural support around this heart-breaking issue. It struck me as a really apt metaphor for the alienation people feel from the promises of security people invest in, only to find the lives they worked to build, along with the literal ground beneath them, falling away. I was also inspired by theorist Lauren Berlant’s writings, particularly Cruel Optimism and the idea of the “situation tragedy” as well as Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Coming of Age.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Lovers of new literary fiction; anyone concerned about the real lived experience of climate change and those who want to make radical social changes to prevent its worst effects; people coming-of-age into adulthood or coming-of-old-age; social justice activists; lovers of Black women’s fiction and writing by people from marginalised communities.

What will surprise people about this show?

While many of my early readers perceive Cygnet to be based in a dystopian near-future, it is actually based in the very recent past.

Five Minutes with Sheila Hill: Eye to Eye

Writer and theatre-maker Sheila Hill was intrigued to find herself craving music during her pregnancy in 1998. That experience, and the rollercoaster of the first seven years of her son’s life, became the foundation for Eye to Eye: an extraordinary musical collaboration about motherhood.


Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Eye to Eye is an autobiographical chorus-based work about motherhood and childhood – based on two real-time voices, mine and my son’s, spanning seven years from mid-pregnancy, to the start of school, and a little beyond. The text is an edit of my notes and writing from that time, set to music by Howard Skempton with jazz interludes by Byron Wallen.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To see an interesting new performance work. To see the combination of two polar opposite music worlds. To see one of our most dazzling soloists and performers: Melanie Pappenheim. To see a chorus of mothers and children – a lovely thing in itself. To reflect on and connect with a work about the most primal of relationships.


Eye to Eye's chorus of local women and children rehearse at Glyndebourne

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Being pregnant, and finding, weirdly, that I was craving music.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I hope everyone. High end music, arts and performance audiences. Followers of new work. Music-lovers. Local people. Friends and families of the singers.

What will surprise people about this show?

It’s about all of us. ‘You know, everybody in the world used to be a child, or is a child.’

Eye to Eye takes place Sat 11 May, 7.30pm and Sun 12 May, 2.30pm at Brighton Dome Concert Hall. Book tickets for this very special event here.

Discover more Contemporary Music events happening at Brighton Festival this May.

Five Minutes with Takashi Kikuchi: The Nature of Why

Merging dance and live music into an epic performance, The Nature of Why brims with emotion and physical beauty. Commissioned by Unlimited, the show features a cinematic live-score from Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, an ensemble of musicians from The British Paraorchestra and four extraordinary dancers.

Taking inspiration from the unconventional curiosity of Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman, the show explores his search for meaning in the world around us through nine distinct and emotive movements. 

Viola player Takashi Kikuchi came by to tell us even more… 


Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The Nature of Why is a collaboration of music and dance that has been created by Will Gregory, a leading British contemporary composer. Most of the performers in the show have some form of disability and are members of the British Paraorchestra.

Although the music is of a classical style, the atmosphere that it creates is different to a traditional classical concert as both the musicians and the dancers move around the stage and encourage the audience to do the same. The whole performance is carried out alongside a series of questions and answers, which always lead to a further question - “why” - representing our common sense of curiosity.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It is a completely different type of performance. The music, dance and emotion that come with it are shared between the musicians, dancers and audience leaving you energised and with your senses stimulated.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Will Gregory took his inspiration from Richard Feynman, the Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist. He also took inspiration from the musicians and dancers taking part over several workshops where they were asked to try out a number of musical patterns in collaboration with particular dance movements. In the workshops they were also asked to offer their own input and provide ways of supporting each other, some of which were related to their disabilities.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I believe that those who enjoy a beat, feeling the harmony of musicians and exploring something new will love this show, whether they want to join in and dance or just stand back and absorb the atmosphere.

What will surprise people about this show?

How the individual performances of both the musicians and dancers come together in one large ensemble.

Five Minutes with: Andrew McCaldon: Another Star to Steer By

Another Star to Steer By is a brand new live show celebrating the power of storytelling for children 6+ and their family.  Ahead of the premiere, we chat to writer Andrew McCaldon to find out more about the show... 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

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

As 12-year-old Maya prepares to leave her home and travel to a new part of the country, she is looked after by her estranged and eccentric Auntie, known as ‘Oh-My’. Maya is angry and nervous about leaving her friends and the world she knows behind. Oh-My begins telling Maya stories from around the world about adventures at sea. At first Maya refuses to listen but she gradually gets drawn in to Oh-My’s wonderful folktales. She and Oh-My form a new friendship and Maya discovers that every journey is the start of a new adventure. What will happen in the next chapter of Maya’s story? That’s up to her to decide.  

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because it’s a piece of theatre that will transport you all around the world and deep under the sea on many different adventures. And because you’ll get to sing, let your imagination take flight, and become part in the adventures yourself.  

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I wanted to write a piece of work about folktales from around the world and discover how they can help us in our lives. The two characters in the play live by the sea in Brighton and so I thought tales about the sea would be interesting to explore. 

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Any child (over the ages of 6) and accompanying adults who love hearing stories and want to discover where the very first stories came from, who the Blue Men of the Minch are, and how to escape Jormungand, the Norse sea serpent. 

Our exciting storytelling show for primary children (6+) and their adults can come to you! Our paper boat will sail into your School, Library, Community Centre or Church Hall and our actors will present a 45-minute show just for you and your community. Become a Brighton Festival promoter – just get in touch and tell us you would like the show at your place and we will help you make it happen! The show is available 20 – 24 May with performances in the morning and afternoon to suit your timetable. Please contact: paperboat@brightonfestival.org 

Discover more Young Brighton Festival events 

Five Minutes with: Soumik Datta - King of Ghosts

King of Ghosts is an atmospheric soundscape for two films from early India by sarod star Soumik Datta and City of London Sinfonia.

In the first half of this double bill, Around India with a Movie Camera presents some of the earliest surviving footage from India, then Oscar-winning director Satyajit Ray’s cult and off-beat film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne will be projected on a large screen. A reimagined live cinematic score (King of Ghosts) accompanies the screening, featuring the haunting sounds of Soumik's sarod, Cormac Byrne’s Irish folk rhythms and City of London Sinfonia.

We spoke to virtuoso sarod player Soumik Datta ahead of the show.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Vintage Indian cinema, a world class orchestra and a Sarod player to link them all: King of Ghosts is a powerhouse cine-concert bridging the worlds of film and music, India and Britain, past and present. Where else will you find such elements uniting to uplift, challenge and entertain?

In an unprecedented collaboration, Shakespeare’s Globe, BFI, City of London Sinfonia and Soumik Datta Arts unite to showcase an extraordinary multi-arts presentation in two halves. In the first half, Soumik Datta performs his specially commissioned score for sarod, piano and bodhran to the BFI film Around India with a Movie Camera, showcasing some of India’s earliest footage. In the second half, he is joined on stage by City of London Sinfonia to play his reimagined score for Satyajit Ray’s cult classic Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (which marks its 50th year in 2019).

Why should someone come and see your show?

Our cine-concert show immerses the viewer in visuals and sounds from rural and ancient India, factual and fictional characters that will fascinate children and adults alike. Connecting film and music in the most special way, this is a real treat for all music and film lovers.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

My mum is a film maker and singer and in many ways, my first inspiration. She opened my eyes to the links between sound and visuals and the powerful human emotions that lie between. I wanted to pay tribute to that and bring audiences a new kind of show, bridging India and Britain, cinema and live music and instruments from across the world. The elements of this show may seem farfetched, but they are the very ingredients of my identity as a Londoner, a desi boy and as an artist.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

If you like music and cinema, you’re going to love this show! It will transport you through rural India, introduce you to kings and queens, Gandhi, wizards, soldiers and two village heroes bringing you face to face with a mighty, strapping band that will break your perception of what is Western and Indian music.

What will surprise people about this show?

Showcasing some of the earliest ever footage of colonial India accompanied live by energetic live music, this double bill show will move you, make you laugh and question your understanding of what it means to be British today.

King of Ghosts takes place at Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Wed 8 May, 7.30pm.

Interview: Pippa Smith and Sarah Parsons

Pippa Smith is the Festival children’s events producer and in 1987 she co-founded Same Sky, a community arts organisation that still works alongside Brighton Festival to produce the Children’s Parade 30 years later. We sat down with Pippa and Sarah Parsons, Same Sky’s project manager, to learn more about the labour of love put in by so many Brighton & Hove residents to create this magical event.

This year, Same Sky is celebrating its 30th anniversary, how has the organisation changed over that time?

Sarah: The scale of the events has definitely grown over the last 30 years. Burning The Clocks and the Children’s Parade continue to become more and more popular.

How did Same Sky get involved with organising the Children’s Parade?

Pippa: When I first came to Brighton, I created Same Sky with my colleague Chris Bailey. At that time there was an embryonic version of the Children’s Parade, started by festival director Gavin Henderson. Only a few schools were involved, and the route was a short distance from Brighton train station to Pavilion Gardens. Same Sky took over running the Parade after that; we introduced a theme each year and began working with schools to create the sculptures and costumes. Ever since then the Parade has kept growing, with more schools wanting to participate. We now have around 5,000 students and teachers taking part, so it’s certainly a dazzling sight to behold.

What was the inspiration for Same Sky?

Pippa: I used to work for the Arts Council in London and one of my clients was the Notting Hill Carnival. It was such a new area that I asked if I could work with the organisers of the Carnival for a few days to learn more. During my time with them, I found out how the Carnival was structured and discovered that essentially much of the Carnival is a big parade. Later on I brought the same structure to Same Sky, who in turn brought it to the Children’s Parade.

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

The Parade seems to run seamlessly. How is it organised behind the scenes?

Pippa: There’s an initial meet-up for the participating schools, around 120 teachers from 63 schools come along and we reveal the Parade’s theme. The schools are then divided up by their area in the city, and we give them a more specific subject. This year’s theme is folk tales from around the world. With the help of artists from Same Sky, the teachers are then able to begin developing their ideas for sculptures and costumes. Afterwards, they return to their schools to discuss it with their colleagues and finalise the project. Once everyone has their ideas settled, we invite them to attend a ‘Mas Camp’, which stands for masquerade camp. This is a concept inspired by Notting Hill Carnival – a full day of teachers making and working on their creations.

Sarah: When the teachers go back to their schools, we send a lead artist (or section leader as we call them) out to oversee the schools in a specific area. Each school will have an allocated leader to monitor their progress and if they need some help they’ll assign an artist to give them an extra push.

Pippa: Some teachers fit the construction and decoration of their costumes into the curriculum and during lessons, other times students come in and work on the pieces with parents and teachers in their free time. It can be a slow process but gradually the pieces come together.

Is it a process that both adults and children can enjoy collaborating on equally?

Pippa: Absolutely! Each school has their own method of adult-child involvement, sometimes we get highly professional sculptures and then some structures are like children’s handprints that look like they’ve been made by the whole class. Overall, the children are proud of their school’s efforts, no matter how abstract. As an added incentive for the adults to give it their best shot is our ‘golden ticket system’. We’ll have a group of secret judges at the Parade who will hand out golden tickets to the ‘best makes’, meaning their creation will go on display in the Brighton Dome foyer throughout the Festival.

Sarah: The heart of the parade is each and every teacher and group leader’s involvement. They put in so much time, effort and passion to enable their children to enjoy participating in the event each year, it’s really impressive.

What’s your favourite part of the Parade?

Pippa: The moment it starts. The tension is so incredible. It’s that build up, those few minutes until we are given the all clear to move, it’s a real buzz. It delights everyone who takes part or comes to watch from the streets around the city. The Parade officially marks the start of three weeks of the Brighton Festival and even though the Parade is the starting point there’s so much more to see and do with lots of family friendly events.

Sarah: It’s an exciting build up and when it finally arrives it never disappoints. It’s such a joyful event to be part of and a fabulous start to the Festival.

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

Why should people come to see this year’s Parade?

Pippa: I think folk tales from around the world is a really lovely theme because some makes will be instantly recognisable, such as The Little Mermaid and Jack and The Beanstalk, whilst others will be new to the spectators. Same Sky will be giving out a leaflet with each school’s chosen folk tale so onlookers will be able to spot the names as the Parade goes by and can learn about which country the tale originated from.

Sarah: By pouring such a huge amount of time and love into their sculptures, the final makes can be truly remarkable and amazing pieces of street sculpture and theatre. It’s worth the trip to see it in person.

Pippa: One of the best things about the Parade having been around for the last 30 years is that every local child has probably taken part in it. Parents who now have children in the Parade will have been through the same wonderful experience and it has such a strong emotional attachment for people who grew up in and around Brighton. There’s nothing more charming than overhearing people saying, ‘yeah, I was in that when I was at school.’ ‘What were you?’ ‘I was a tomato.’

The Children’s Parade begins at 10.30am on Sat 4 May, starting from Kensington Street to Madeira Drive, free and open to everyone.

Thanks to our supporters: Southern WaterUniversity of Brighton and Yeomans Toyota.

Here's a glimpse of behind the scenes of the Children's Parade

Behind the scenes at this year’s Children’s Parade

We’re giving you a glimpse behind the scenes of Brighton Festival’s marvellous and entirely free Children’s Parade. Thousands of teachers, parents and students are working tirelessly to create the incredible sculptures and costumes that will take to the streets of Brighton to mark the start of the Festival on Saturday 4 May.

Moulescoomb Primary School gave us special permission to visit them as they prepare to be the lead school in the Parade with the West African folk tale, The Hunterman and the Crocodile, written and illustrated by author Baba Wagué Diakité. The characters take turns being captive and captor in a humorous story that teaches the importance of living in harmony with nature. 

Read our interview with Pippa Smith and Sarah Parsons to learn more about the Children's Parade 

Five Minutes with Marcus Farnsworth

In the hypnotic performance titled Lines from a Wanderer, internationally acclaimed baritone Marcus Farnsworth and pianist Libby Burgess perform a collection of songs that explore places, journeys and wanderings. Marcus spoke with us about what audiences can expect from the piece.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

It’s a recital that explores songs about travel, including a new song cycle that was written for me by John Casken.

Why would someone come and see your show?

It’s packed with beautiful music, new and old, and it would be a great introduction for anyone new to the world of song.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The programme is based around the cycle that John Casken wrote for me. All the songs chosen are on the theme of 'wandering' or travel.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who loves poetry, beautiful music or intimate concerts.

What will surprise people about this show?

How accessible John’s music is. For anyone who is wary of new music, this cycle is really lyrical. Also, the texts he has chosen are stunning – poems by Hardy, Keats and Browning, to mention a few. 

For more information about dates, tickets, and more, see our event page Lines from a Wanderer.

Producer Picks | Young Literature

Learn more about the Young Literature events taking place this year, from our Young Literature producer, Hilary Cook. 

Find out more or book tickets 
Read our interview with Ella Burns Director of Little Green Pig


Five Minutes with Moses Boyd: Mr Bongo

30 Years of Mr Bongo is the highly anticipated multi-cultural musical event, three decades in the making. With a range of sounds including Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul, Reggae from some of the world's most well-loved DJ's, this is one event that any music-lover won't want to miss. To find out a bit more about what we can expect, we spoke to drummer, composer and producer Moses Boyd.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what its about? 

My name is Moses Boyd and I’m the leader of the Exodus. Exodus is my journey in sound, sounds I’ve been crafting and perfecting over the years.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because the music will transport you from your current reality into unknown dimensions.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

From my heroes Wayne Shorter, Duke Ellington, Wiley, The Outkast, as well as all the sounds and communities I’ve been around.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Hopefully those that were there during the rave scene years. Also lovers of deep groove and jazz.

What will surprise people about this show?

I have some new young talent in my band, so lots of new energy, a new musical set up and new music. 

Get your tickets for 30 Years of Mr Bongo now to see Moses Boyd and more

Chineke! / Philharmonia Orchestra / Brighton Festival Chorus

Our Classical Music Producer, Gill Kay discusses two shows coming to Brighton this May featuring Chineke!Philharmonia Orchestra and Brighton Festival Chorus.

Five Minutes with The PappyShow: BOYS

We sit down with the lads from The Pappy Show to discuss their show BOYS - a unique celebration of male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England. Unscripted with each story uniquely told in every performance, BOYS is a joyful and tender dance that hopes to unravel preconceptions and uncover the endless possibilities that can make up a man!

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

In an era where toxic masculinity is the dominant narrative of the male experience, BOYS explores and celebrates diverse experiences of manhood centred on the stories of nine men of colour growing up in London; their ancestry, their present lives and their hopes for the future.

The way we move, the way we talk, the way we think… we want to show you the things about BOYS that you never get to see!

It’s a joyful, fascinating and socially revelatory look at what it means to be a man in 2019, subverting the myths and stereotypes of the masculine experience: particularly young men of colour. It combines this with beautiful, playful, movement-driven visual theatre, powerful and humorous direct storytelling, and joyous interactive play.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s a celebration – there’s lots of happiness and joy. It adds to the discussion on masculinity, particularly in young men of colour. We hope people will take away questions on what it means to be a man, and their relationships with the other men in their lives.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone! The show is aimed at all people!

Get your tickets for BOYS by visiting the event page!

Five Minutes with Graham Luckhurst: Mr Bongo

Three decades in the making, featuring Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul and Reggae sounds from some of the world's most well-loved DJ's, 30 Years of Mr Bongo is one event that any music-lover won't want to miss. To find out a bit more about what we can expect, we spoke to Graham Luckhurst, director of operations at Mr Bongo

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The show celebrates 30 years of Mr Bongo – the record label, record shop and a huge passion for eclectic, unexpected music from around the world.

Why should someone come and see your show?

They would be very hard pushed this line up anywhere else in the world, especially at that ticket price ;)

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Myself and David at Mr Bongo were talking to Lucy Monkman (Brighton Festival) and formed the idea, then worked with Danni (Brighton Festival) to develop it. It represents past, present and future aspects of Mr Bongo across hip hop reggae dub jazz DJ’ing and a love of records.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

It has both specialist and broad appeal. The line up as a whole feels like a mini festival, especially given that it is on May Bank Holiday Sunday. Each band will have its own appeal but there is significant crossover between The Skints and Hollie Cook for the reggae/dub/punk-heads, and between Moses Boyd and Jungle Brown for the new UK music and jazz heads. DJ Format and Mr Thing very rarely play on the same bill let alone all night together. So we would be hitting the new younger UK Jazz demographic with Moses Boyd, and both 18-25 and 35+/6Music demographics for The Skints, Jungle Brown, Hollie Cook, Mr Thing and DJ Format. Alongside this, Huw Bowles obviously represents the Mr Bongo hip hop shop legacy.

What will surprise people about this show?

This line up is a real bargain for the ticket price. It’s a mini festival line up for a standard price and it will be a brilliant celebration of music in general.

To snatch your ticket for this bargain event, visit our Mr Bongo page!

Five Minutes with Dan Canham: SESSION

SESSION is an explosive outdoor gathering of dance, and live music, Dan Canham has brought together the domineering troupes Still House, Steppaz Performing Arts Academy and Afrobeats to create an exhilarating, adrenaline-fuelled event that you won't want to miss. In between practices, we grabbed Dan for a quick interview to tell us more. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

SESSION is a dance event featuring 23 young competitive street dancers from Tottenham’s Steppaz and a live afrobeats band, Empire Sounds. It’s a proper celebration of dance, live music, extraordinary people performing, and of us all being together to witness it.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because they want a good night out. Because they like live music and dance and feeling alive.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It came from a residency in Tottenham via the invitation of LIFT festival, and from meeting amazing people already doing great things in Tottenham.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone with a beating heart.

What will surprise people about this show?

The quality of the dancers (spoiler alert).

SESSION is an outdoor pay-what-you-can event, taking place from Thu 23 May to Sun 26 May.

With thanks to Brighton University and British Airways i360 for supporting this production

Five Minutes with Ultima Vez: TrapTown

TrapTown takes you to a parallel universe, free from defined time and space. Conflicts from the early days and curious strange catastrophes dominate the relationships between the people. The necessity and apparent possibility of emancipation rise to the surface. We discuss the inspiration behind the show with Ultima Vez.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Young, old, fan of dance, theatre or movies? TrapTown is a mixture of different arts melting together in a mythological history.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

From the old myths and the stories of today.

Wim Vandekeybus’ fascination for the universal nature of the age-old myths was already demonstrated in Blush (2002) and Oedipus/bêt noir (2011). For TrapTown, he returns to the limitless and obscure cosmos of the ancient souls, using dance, film, text and music to conceive a new mythology.


What will surprise people about this show?

Dance and film sequences create a seamless live experience. Pieter De Buysser writes the text. The soundtrack is composed by Trixie Whitley and Phoenician Drive and forms the background to an avalanche of images. The architect duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh signed for the design of the scenography. All together they take the audience to oracles, catharsis and euphoria.

Discover more about TrapTown and book tickets