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.
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.
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!