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

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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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Festival Hot Seat: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

Actors Marc Antolin and Daisy Maywood give us an insight into The Flying Lovers of Vitebska new show from Kneehigh Theatre that traces the extraordinary lives of Marc and Bella Chagall. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Daisy
: The show is called The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. Fundamentally, it's a love story between Marc Chagall and his first wife Bella, their extraordinary lives and achievements and the turbulent period of history that they lived through.

Marc: The background to the love story are some of the most incredible moments of European history. I think this play is also about what it is to be an artist

Why should someone come and see your show?
Daisy:
It's a playful world of art, music and love that audiences can escape to for ninety minutes.

Marc: It’s also quite unique in the way that it marries music, drama and dance seamlessly.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Daisy: 
Emma (our director) and her then partner Daniel (our writer) saw one of Chagall's paintings and Daniel noticed that Emma looked like Bella. They then looked into their lives and love story and Daniel wrote the play for Emma.
 

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Marc: 
It’s always important to keep telling stories, this one is about two artists falling in love and the sacrifices one of them has to make in the relationship. The themes discussed also are so relevant today and I think there’s so much in this story that people can reflect and learn from.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Marc:
We’ve had so many people of different ages and cultures watch this show when we’ve performed it before and I’m always constantly surprised from what people take from it.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Marc:
I think people will come away from this show wanting to learn so much more about Marc Chagall and his work and will be surprised about how incredibly creative Bella was, but how she took a step back in order to let Marc pursue his work.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Daisy: I’m so thrilled to bring this show to Brighton festival because I love this place and knowing that I like Brighton and I like festivals, so I'm very excited to be a part of Brighton Festival.

Marc: I’m so thrilled to bring this show to Brighton festival because I love this place and knowing that Kneehigh have such a big following here, I’m excited for them to see this show.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Marc: Taking Flying Lovers of Vitebsk to Edinburgh last year was incredible, it was my first festival and I had the most amazing time. I can’t wait to see lots of different theatre, music, comedy and be inspired by people telling stories in their own unique way.

Daisy: I'm really hoping to catch Kaya from Ceyda Tanc's all-female dance company which puts a modern spin on traditional Turkish folk dance.

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

Festival Hot Seat: The Humours of Bandon

Margaret McAuliffe, writer and performer of The Humours of Bandon, talks to us about Riverdance, childhood hobbies and the competitive world of Irish Dance. 

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
The Humours of Bandon is a one-person coming of age comedy drama centered around the world of competitive Irish Dance.

How and where will the work be staged?
It’s on in the Brighthelm Centre at 7:30pm from 16th – 20th May. 

Why should someone come and see your show?
People should enjoy this show if they ever had a childhood passion that came to an end as adulthood beckoned, and they fancy a trip down memory lane. It will also *infotain* its audience on the competitive world of Irish Dance!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The inspiration came from my personal experience of competitive Irish Dancing. The idea formulated once I applied for the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2016 and realized the scene was prime for a dramatic telling of a coming-of-age story.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The moment you give up something you’ve dedicated many hours to, you feel a sort of void. I’ve heard from audiences the length and breadth of the country that this play resonates with them owing to their previous exploits in swimming, football, ballet, athletics and even junior paramedics! I think it’s important to remember the skills you might have pursued in your teenage years and the impact they had on your personal development, it’s nice to reflect on your journey.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
This play is for anyone that had a childhood/teenage passion. It’s also loved by the parents or teachers of said teenagers who recognize the role they played in that teenager’s life. It’s funny to look back on those moments that were fraught with tension and great drama with the benefit of hindsight, makes for a lot of laughs.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
People are going to be surprised by how interested they become in the competitive world of Irish Dancing (no, seriously) an arena that can showcase Olympic-level athleticism mixed with art, pageantry, stock characters, common tropes and niche knowledge.

Riverdance brought Irish Dancing to the world stage in 1994 but audiences have yet to see where this talent is honed, Irish Dancers develop their skill through competitions or ‘feiseanna’ and this play brings you behind the scenes at the most important event in the feis calendar.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
This will be my first year at the Brighton festival so am very excited to see what’s on offer. I played the Dublin Fringe Festival ‘16 and last year the four weeks of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Brighton is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and the fact that I get to perform there for the festival is very fortunate indeed.

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

Game Of Thrones and Band of Gold actors announced for The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

The tempestuous relationship between sex, anxiety and music comes to a head in a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito.

Arguably the most sought-after European opera and theatre director of his generation, Calixto Bieito will direct a quartet of actors: Cathy Tyson, Mairead McKinley, Miltos Yerolemou and Nick Harris, alongside the award-winning The Heath Quartet. Together the eight artists will blend to recreate the melody of melancholy.

Miltos Yerolemou’s credits span film, television and stage. Film credits include Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm/Disney), The Danish Girl (Working Title Films). Recent stage credits include The Fool in King Lear (Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Talawa Theatre and Royal Exchange Manchester); A Midsummer Night’s Dream international tour (Bristol Old Vic & Handspring Theatre), Great Expectations (Bristol Old Vic), he is also known for his role as Syrio Forel in Game Of Thrones (HBO).

BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated actress Cathy Tyson is best known for her role in the multi-award winning film Mona Lisa and classic ITV drama series Band of Gold. On stage, Cathy has played many leading ladies from Cleopatra to Lady Bracknell with other credits including Golden Girls (RSC), Talking Heads (Bolton Octagon) and The Taming Of The Shrew (Regents Park Open Air Theatre).

Mairead McKinley’s theatre credits include Filthy Business (Hampstead Theatre) and The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other, Translations and Cyrano De Bergerac (National Theatre). Nick Harris was recently in North by Northwest - a new production of the Hitchcock classic by Australian director Simon Phillips which opened at Theatre Royal Bath before transferring to the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto.

Known for his radical reinterpretations of classic operas and plays, Calixto Bieito turns to two maverick philosophers for inspiration for his latest work: The Burnout Society (2015) by the Korean-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han and The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), an essay by Robert Burton, one of the first to write about psychological disorders as a symptom of modern times. Music performed by The Heath Quartet will include Beethoven String Quartet No.15 in A Minor, Op. 132 and Ligetti String Quartet No. 2.

Calixto Bieito said: “The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety is like a symphonic poem for a quartet of musicians, and a quartet of voices. It will consider the human condition today, and where anxiety and depression stem from. The show will be about how the current times are affecting the quality of our lives as well as our fears, and I hope it will be both entertaining and enlightening.”

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

Festival Hot Seat: A House Repeated

A House Repeated is an interactive performance-game that combines the simplicity of bare-bones storytelling with the limitless possibilities of contemporary open-world computer games. We caught up with creator and performer Seth Kriebel to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
A House Repeated is part-show, part-game. The performers describe a place and the
audience tell us what they want to do next — go North, open the door, that sort of thing —
and then we describe the consequence of their choices… and the show unfolds from
there. In this show we’ll be exploring the Brighton Dome, as it undergoes its restoration…the audience gets to poke into the dark corners of its past, present and possible future —without leaving their seats!

How and where will the work be staged?
We’ll be in Brighton Dome during the first week of the Festival. As the show is all about the building, it’s great to be right there, in between the history and the construction as we explore and play with the fabric of the building and time.

Why should someone come and see your show?
We open the door to a world waiting to be explored. It’s not improv — it’s all there ready to be found — but it’s up to you to navigate. It’s very gentle and fun… it’s not a scary, put people-on-the-spot experience. We work together with the audience to uncover a Brighton Dome as it was, is and might become.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
It’s basically a live version of the old interactive-fiction computer games I played as a kid
in the early 80s, back before computer graphics, when it was just a glowing green line of text against a black background… so everything happens in your imagination. It’s somewhere between old fashioned storytelling and the most recent open-world computer games that give you the freedom to go anywhere and do anything you like.

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?
Anyone who likes storytelling, games, immersive theatre, the history of Brighton and the Dome… and the possibilities of finding out just what might be hiding behind that door…

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
How exciting it is to explore - and maybe even build - a world that exists only in the minds of you and your fellow audience members.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I love the buzz of the city in May! It’s great to see the mix of international companies and local artists — Brighton has such a vibrant creative community. And as a local parent myself, I think I’ve walked in the children’s parade every year since 2009…

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
I’m really looking forward to Elephant & Castle… And I loved Kneehigh’s Tristan and Yseult last year, so I can’t wait for The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. Also, everyone in our house is a big fan of John Finnemore, so we’ll be front row centre for his show!

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

Festival Hot Seat: Rear View

David Wheeler, artistic director of Halifax-based IOU theatre tells us about Rear View and working on the show with performance poets Jemima Foxtrot and Cecilia Knapp.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
The central idea is that the audience is lead around the town by a young woman visiting special places in her future life. We begin in an art class when she is in her sixties and we hear her thoughts as they are gradually taken over by her younger self. She then takes us out of the art class and onto IOU’s specially made open-top bus and we are taken on her journey. Everything in a sense is in the future, there is ambiguity about whether we are looking back or looking forward. An important part of the concept is that it is imagined and written from the perspective of a young women at the beginning of her adult life.

How and where will the work be staged?
Rear View starts on The Barge at Brighton Marina where the art class scene takes place and then the audience boards the Rear View bus for a journey around Brighton. Cecilia and Jemima have each written their own version of the show and the performances alternate between them, so as one group of audience board the bus, the next group begins the art class. The locations visited on the journey remain the same each time, but Cecilia’s and Jemima’s words were written independently by them and their performances are very different and personal to them.

Why should someone come and see your show?
The show presents an unusual and affecting premise for audiences to experience. The drawing class gently starts the process of looking and observing so that when the audience begins the bus journey around the town they are in a slightly altered state and more intimately connected to the woman’s character.  

Travelling through the real world listening to the words and soundscape through headphones, cocooned in a heightened sound world, creates a very immersive feeling. The small details of everyday life of people in the real world going about their daily business magically become integrated into the poetry of the words. The combination is quite moving and contemplative and at the same time it is an exhilarating experience travelling around on the very conspicuous backward-facing bus.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The words and poetry come from Cecilia’s and Jemima’s own experiences and imagination set in the context that we have created for them. IOU has always tried to make the experience for an audience surprising and unusual, putting on work in places where people don’t normally see theatre and often moving them around on mass between scenes. The bus is an obvious solution to all those years of complex logistics and risk assessments. But most of all, it is a vehicle that everyone wants to ride on!

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Because it is a story I think many of us are constantly having with ourselves already. We have an inner dialogue going on that tries to place us in time and place, thinking about what has just happened and what might happen next, planning and abandoning plans, being diverted and thinking, “is it that time already?” 

The show takes us along streets and roads that may have been here for hundreds of years, past buildings that have had generation after generation take possession. The show heightens our sense of how fleetingly we occupy these spaces and places, but the experience is life affirming and people often say how much it meant to them and how well it described their own life in the town.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
What surprises me each time I see the show is how beautifully the real world mixes with the imagined world that Cecilia’s and Jemima’s words create.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Brighton has always been a favourite festival for us and the first of many shows we performed here was TOWERS in 1977. Does anyone still have any photos?! Perhaps my favourite moment was in a night time show seeing Steve Gumbley walking out to sea wearing very large inflatable trousers, bobbing out to sea standing bolt upright like a fishing cork and disappearing into the darkness.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Gob Squad, Creation (Pictures for Dorian). I love their calm audacity; long may they reign!  

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

Interview: Jonathon Baker from The Arms of Sleep

In one of its most ambitious and magical productions to date, The Voice Project has created an epic 10-hour choral work to be performed overnight in the grounds of historic Firle Place. We talk to Jonathan Baker, co-director of The Voice Project with Sian Croose.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the amazing Arms of Sleep?
It's a 10-hour durational piece. The audience gets to experience an entire night in the company of singers, including a large choir, some soloists and instrumentalists. There will be lots of vignettes - individual film events and visual things - which happen through the night.

Where did the idea and inspiration for the show come from?
Well, we’ve had this idea over a long period of time really. I think The Arms of Sleep stemmed from the way in which sleep just seems very fascinating and mysterious. What we wanted to try and develop was an overnight piece that would allow the audience to go to bed, but at the same time, for them to experience extraordinary things.

We wanted to develop a piece about dreams which most people seem to be interested in to a certain extent. Most people are interested in the mystery of sleep, why we sleep– how we sleep– all those things. We hooked up with a real expert, who’s from Brighton actually – professor Annul Seth – at the University of Sussex. He’s the head of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness. We’ve been having quite a lot of conversations with him about various sleep cycles and how to in-train Alpha states and Betas states and things like that.

We’ve been concentrating on those elements. And there was one more element that became very important to us as we were developing the show. This was the idea of the ‘second sleep’: the segmented sleep pattern, which is what people used to do much more than they do now, and still do in lots of agrarian regions in the worlds.

They would wake up in the middle of the night and go around each other’s houses for food or beer or a chat – any kind of activity in the middle of the night. We thought that was quite fascinating. The history of that has largely been lost because it wasn’t a particularly urban act, it was quite a rural activity.

What was it that interested you about creating an overnight experience?
I think there’s something very beautiful about watching people sleep, I think that’s quite amazing. I think there is something very beautiful about watching people watching people sleep as well. So, the idea that the choir are amongst the audience in some ways or get to see the audience sleeping is really quite special, and very restful.

I think this goes back centuries and centuries when we used to sleep in large groups of people for safety. I think there’s something we’ve forgotten, I really think we have, we’ve become a lot more atomised and fragmented within our society.

Why did you decide to form a new community choir? What are the benefits of this approach?
Sian and I have been working together for a long, long time and I think we have a very particular approach. We want to work with un-auditioned choirs, we want to work with people who think they can sing, and people who think they possibly can’t. People with experience and people with no experience at all. That has always been very important to us.

What does it mean to you to be commissioned to be part of Brighton Festival?
It’s really exciting. Brighton Festival is amazing. It’s a cutting-edge festival in the world of Arts and culture worldwide. Its renowned. It’s extremely exciting to be a part of that, so we’re really pleased. Actually, it’s lovely to do a co-commission together with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. It’s so brilliant to see Artistic Organizations working together across the country, sharing things out and becoming more expansive, which I think is really important. 

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.
To find out more, watch our Spotlight film on the Arms of Sleep. 

Spotlight: Calixto Bieito: The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

In a co-commission with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Holland Festival, the Brighton Festival presents The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety.

In this exciting production, the tempestuous relationship between sex, anxiety and music is explored and examined by one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito.

Music and drama collide as the award-winning string powerhouse The Heath Quartet perform alongside an equally stunning quartet of actors to deliver an unmissable montage of melody and madness. These eight artists will take you on a journey through time to explore how our innermost thoughts battle with our artistic impulses.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video edited by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns for a second year with another exciting programme of free theatre, dance, music, art, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to conjure up a weekend of adventure for the people of their local areas.

Now, Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place following its wonderful success in 2017.This year will feature lots more exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.

Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Your Place returns for Brighton Festival 2018

Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free entertainment in Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre - is set to return for 2018 following last year’s inaugural programme.

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A resounding success, over 2000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, with participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest said of the thinking behind the initiative: “We thought it was important that as well as having this very exciting, cosmopolitan festival happening in the city centre, with all this buzz and hype and all this energy that gets built up from people seeing something, spilling out on to the street, it also represented the wider population of Brighton who maybe can’t afford to get in to the city centre. We wanted to bring a bit of what was happening in the Brighton Festival out to a bit more of Brighton.”

2017 highlights included workshops and performances from Kate Tempest, acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere, award-winning poetry slam champion Tommy Sissons, Appalachian folk artists Anna and Elizabeth and a new Brighton Festival commission from Three Score Dance and Ceyda Tanc Youth Dance company. Discover more about this year's Your Place:



Valerie Foucher, Hangleton Community Centre Manager and a member of the Steering Group said: “When we were told our premises had been chosen for Your Place it was fantastic news yet we were so far from imagining that it would be such a collaborative process. Bringing an entire weekend of workshops and performances with so many talented artists and a technical and front house back up of such high standard, not to mention having Kate Tempest perform her Let Them Eat Chaos album was so amazing we still haven’t fully recovered from it. Most importantly it has inspired us. Your Place has opened a door that we do not want to close again.”

Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre are currently looking for small-scale performances, workshops or exhibitions by local community groups, schools, youth groups and local artists living in Hangleton or East Brighton, as well as professional artists to be a part of Your Place 2018.

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre said: “Having amazing artists like Kate Tempest performing in community centres in the city created a fantastic buzz. We'll be building on what worked so well and are also introducing two new elements to Your Place in 2018. One is a co-commission between Brighton Festival and Brighton People's Theatre to put an artist in residence into community centres in East Brighton and Hangleton who will collaborate with local people to create a new performance for Your Place. The second is programming art made by the local community. We know there is a lot of creativity in Hangleton and East Brighton and we hope to hear from local choirs, school shows, youth music groups, knitting or crafting groups who would like to be part of the Your Place programme."

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Bringing Brighton Festival together each year is a great privilege, but it is vital to us that the Festival continues to reflect and involve the whole city. One of the key things about Your Place is that the communities have been really engaged in the overall planning and management of the project and it felt really important to be able to build on this work and the relationships we have developed again this year. Our hope is that this project will continue to expand and grow and become something that everyone looks forward to as part of Brighton Festival each year.”

Your Place 2018 will take place in Hangleton Community Centre and Hangleton Park (19-20 May 2018) and Manor Gym, basketball court and playing fields in East Brighton (26-27 May). 

If you would like to find out more about how to get involved in Your Place 2018 please visit our webpage

In photos: Week 2

Another amazing week of Brighton Festival 2017 has passed already! Check out these photos from some of the incredible events over the last week.

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Caitlin Mogridge and Lucy Brooks.

In photos: Week 1

The first week of Brighton Festival 2017 has come and gone! We've been really enjoying all the shows, events and happenings – here's a few pictures of what's been going on

Photos by Victor Frankowski and Adam Weatherley.

Andy Smith on writing and directing Summit

Andy Smith’s play Summit has its preview at Brighton Festival on 8 & 9 May. Here he gives an insight into the creative process.

Up to now, most of the theatre that I make has involved writing things for me to perform. I have always said that at some point I would like to write a work for other people, but I have never quite managed to find the opportunity to do it.

Then sometime in 2015 – influenced by a few things – an image appeared in my head of someone performing in sign, of someone just standing and performing a text in sign language. Someone doing something I don’t have the capacity to do.

In the same year someone wrote about how my work uses the space of the theatre as one of meeting. This chimed with conversations that I was having at the time about difference, difficulty, and diversity in the space of the theatre, as well as the wider world.

Soon enough these thoughts all started talking to each other, and they became the starting point for a new piece of work. Encouraged and supported by the team at Fuel, and after a week meeting and exploring how to work with in this way with a diverse group of people at HOME in Manchester (the most people I have ever worked with on an Andy Smith text), these ideas have become this play. With the help of Royal Conservatoire Scotland in Glasgow, some of the text is about to be translated from English into BSL and the piece will be performed integrating these different languages.

Summit is a new play that, in three different ways, tells the story of a meeting. A meeting that is held at a time of crisis. A meeting organised to deal with a potentially catastrophic event or set of events. It will preview on the 8th and 9th of May at The Brighton Festival and there will be three performers onstage – one signing, two speaking. The other delegates at this meeting are played or represented by the people who are sitting in the audience. For the first time ever for a piece of writing by me, this is where I will be.

Hope to see you there.

Summit will be at Brighton Festival on 8 and 9 May 2017. Andy Smith's The Preston Bill will also be at Brighton Festival on 10 May.

Interview: Lola Arias on Minefield

Ahead of the world premiere of Minefield, Argentinian artist Lola Arias tells us about working with veterans, the legacy of the Falklands war 33 years on, and the impact she hopes her work will have. 

For someone who knows nothing about the project, can you give us some context around Minefield - what the piece is about and how it developed and why you chose to explore the conflict?

In 2013 I did a project called After the War, and that’s when I started to work with veterans. I did a video installation in which Argentinian veterans reconstructed moments from the war in the places they work today. In the Falklands-Malvinas war there were a lot of conscripts, and these people are now completely different from the soldiers they used to be. For example, one was an opera-singer and another a sportsman, like a swimmer.

The gap between the men they used to be and the men they are now started to interest me a lot and I thought about continuing the project with British veterans. So, Minefield will be the first time a group of British veterans and a group of Argentinian veterans are reconstructing together their memories of the war and this will be rehearsed in Argentina and in England so we will be creating together a whole picture of what happened to them at that time and who they are now.

This project is all about memories, how they are still important for them today even if it’s 33 years later. How even if it was a war that lasted only two months, it’s still present every day for them.

You must have been six years old during the Falklands War - what were your personal memories of the conflict?

During the Falklands-Malvinas war, I was in my first year of primary school and we were asked to write a letter to the soldiers. I remember everyone was writing letters to the soldiers. They all started the same way: ‘to the unknown soldier’, then it was ‘I’m a student of such-and-such school and I’m wishing you the best for the war’, and so on.

When I started to work with the Argentinian veterans, they had kept these letters from the unknown students from all over the country. Some even contacted the people who wrote them. One guy told me that he met his wife, because she was a secondary school student who wrote him a letter saying ‘I wish you the best’ and after the war he got in contact with this woman. They met and they fell in love and have been married for 10 years.

So you never know what can come out from a letter from an unknown student to an unknown soldier.

You work often draws on many different genres and disciplines - what form will Minefield take and what can audiences expect to happen?

We’re still developing it, but it will be a project where people are telling their own stories in an informative way, but there will still probably be media and music. We are even thinking about having a band, with British and Argentinian veterans because some of them play instruments – one plays the drums and two of them play guitar. We thought that it could be really interesting to have them play together, so we’ll see what language they play in – English, Spanish or Spanglish.

What have you discovered about the various characteristics of the veterans so far? What are the similarities/differences?

It was surprising to see that English veterans were as affected as Argentinian veterans by the war. I had the impression that because most of the Argentinian veterans were conscripts – so they were only 18 and not really prepared to go to war, they only had a few months’ training – for them it was a totally traumatic experience.

But I thought that people who were well-trained and inside the military before going to war – it’s just one more mission in their life – but I realised that for British veterans this was also a traumatic experience and they all went through very hard moments and all of them have a story to tell.

Why is Minefield an important and relevant work for today's audiences? What do you hope the legacy of the work to be?

For Argentinians it’s a very present topic, it’s not something forgotten or lost in history, but for the British people it’s just one more war. I think it’s not so much about the relevance of this war in terms of in terms of the history. But it is in a way very interesting to reflect on how these people who were there even for two months are still affected today, 33 years later: they go through fear and pain and they were very marked by this experience. If you think about this happening to people that were only there for two months, you cannot imagine the consequences that are facing British soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and so on.

All of them are looking forward to this encounter. For people who were in a war 33 years ago, they don’t have the feeling that the other one is the enemy anymore, they just have the feeling that they’re just other veterans of the same war. They fell very connected, emotionally. I think it will be very moving to see them interacting and telling each other their stories.

Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction, what do you think about the meaning of 'truth' in the processes of truth and reconciliation, and what possibilities does theatre open up in addressing post conflict reconciliation?

I’m not doing this because of reconciliation. I don’t think they need that. For me it’s more about how people can build up a history together using their personal stories. I think that through their personal stories you will get a kind of whole picture of the war and what the consequences were for everyone. You’ll be able to reflect on the history of both countries and how politicians from both sides used the war for their own purposes.

Minefield will premiere at Brighton Festival as it celebrates its 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture. What does it mean for you to be part of Brighton Festival in this milestone year?

I’m very happy to be part of the celebration of a festival which is doing very challenging, wonderful work.

I remember being at Brighton Festival with My Life After in 2013 and people were emotional about it and very grateful afterwards. A lot of people came after the plays to talk to the performers and to me about the play and that was really beautiful.

I’m very proud to be a part of it. 

Book tickets for Minefield now. 

Festival Hot Seat ... Zvizdal

We catch up with Yves Degryse, Artistic Director of Berlin, who are bringing their ‘filmic portrait’ Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close) to Brighton Festival


Can you tell us what your show is about?

Over four years we have been filming near Chernobyl in the forbidden zone. Each time we went it was to meet two people, Petro and Nadia, a couple in their 80s, living in Zvizdal and who refused to be evacuated following the nuclear disaster. They have been living with no water or electricity and no means of communication with the outside world. Every time we went we took a plane and hoped they were still there. We spent time filming them in their everyday lives.

How and where will it be staged?

The audience will be seated in two tiers in front of a big screen, and underneath the screen will be three scale models of the couple’s house and grounds, depicting three seasons. There will be two cameras filming the models and these images will be interspersed in the film.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The French journalist Cathy Blisson, formerly a critic, but who moved into reportage, came into contact with Petro and Nadia and asked if we would be interested to collaborate with her, and we quickly decided to start the project.

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

The moment you enter the forbidden zone, you are entering a microcosm of human experience. It is a very extreme situation, but there are layers that you recognise, and as you spend time there the layers become more visible.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Our work can be complex but at the same time it appeals to a very broad audience.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

There will be surprises, relating to the concept of the piece, but the surprises you should not know beforehand.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

We have brought work to Brighton Festival before including Perhaps All The Dragons in 2014, and Lands End in 2012. What I really like about Brighton Festival is that I have the impression that the audiences are very eager to discover things. I think it’s connected with the way the Festival approaches the audience, not underestimating the audience.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I’m very happy that we will be part of that moment.

Book now for Zvizdal.


Stella: An Encounter with a Truly Remarkable Person.

'Most of all, I hope people are going to realise that even though she's dead 100 years, and even though she lived this unimaginable life in a very different culture, in fact Stella is asking herself the same questions that we are all asking ourselves' Neil Bartlett


Award-winning director, writer and performer Neil Bartlett OBE talks to Kathy Caton about his new show Stella, co-commissioned by and premiering at Brighton Festival.

The show is inspired by Ernest Boulton – one half of the infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella - and intimately examines his strange life and lonely death.

In this interview, Neil discusses how he first discovered Stella, her extraordinary history, and how his work both past and current examines her life and character.

This new teaser trailer features the actors Oscar Battingham and Richard Cant as the enigmatic flipsides of Stella, and gives a glimpse into their tumultuous lives. 


From our Spotlight video series, Neil discusses bringing Stella to the 50th Brighton Festival and what he hopes audiences are going to get out of the show. 


Stella is on at the Theatre Royal, Fri 27 & Sat 28 May. Book now.

Festival Hot Seat... Portraits in Motion

Volker Gerling spent over a decade touring Germany by foot, capturing the people that he met in his distinctive flipbook portraits. We caught up with him to find out about the development of his craft and his extraordinary show Portraits in Motion

Can you tell us what your show is about?

In the summer of 2002 I took an old wooden kitchen tray and made it into a simple hawker’s tray. It had room for six photographic flipbooks, which showed portraits of my friends, and I hung a sign on it saying “Please visit my traveling exhibition”.

I walked through Berlin, showing people my flipbook ‘movies’. I screwed an empty honey jar underneath the hawker’s tray so that visitors could pay a symbolic entrance fee.

For nearly a year I showed people my flipbook movies in Berlin. Then, I decided to become a journeyman – I wanted to find out how people all over the country would react to my flipbooks.

And I wanted to make some new flipbooks.

I was afraid that I would miss something if I travelled too quickly, so I decided to walk. In the summer of 2003 I walked from Berlin to Basel – a walk of 1,200 kilometres – and it was a great experience. So I decided to do it again.

Since then I have walked nearly every summer and in total I have walked some 3,500 kilometres, nearly all in Germany. On all of these walks my only source of money came from showing my flipbooks. Portraits in Motion is based on my long summer walks and the people I met on them.

Volker with his tray of flipbooks

How and where will it be staged?

I leaf through the flipbooks under a video camera that projects them onto a large screen, and I tell the stories about the people that are portrayed. The show is a reflection on the passing of time and what it means when people meet each other.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To see my protagonists come to life on screen in a way that you’ve probably never experienced before.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my fascination for human beings, faces, portrait photography, walking and storytelling.

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

Because every story that is told from the heart is important.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everybody who is able to see great things emerge from small things.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Nothing will prepare you for the intimacy of the flip books. There's something magical about these miniature glimpses into human souls.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It feels like a big honour for me to be part of the festival this year.

Book now for Portraits in Motion

Festival Hot Seat... Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal

Chilean company Silencio Blanco tells us more about the UK Premiere of their show Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal at Brighton Festival. 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Chiflón, The Silence of the Coal is the story of the mines, from the perspective of the people who worked them. A young miner is expelled from the coal pit where he works, and to keep working he has to accept a job in ‘El Chiflón del Diablo’, an infamously sinister mine. Silencio Blanco portrays the miners’ world through everyday situations and anonymous characters - also focusing on the role of women in these mining communities. 

How and where will it be staged?

Chiflón is going to be presented at the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, and it’s a simple collaboration between the puppets and their manipulators, who give life to the marionettes in a manner almost like a little dance between them. This is supplemented with simple scenery made with recycled materials like old wood, to show the simplicity of the work and the lifelike detail of every movement.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This play is unmissable, primarily for the visual language that’s used: marionettes constructed of newspaper and chopsticks, which, together with other day-to-day elements that have been recycled and re-purposed, give life to these bodies and to a fascinating and moving story.

Furthermore, despite us coming from far-away Chile - at the edge of Latin America - this language allows us to tell a completely universal story, focusing on the depths of these people, touching the very fibres of their being through everyday situations, just using movement and gesture.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

This play emerged from our intention to portray a particular job, a lost job, anonymous and lonely. That’s why we chose miners, inspired by Baldomero Lillo’s tale, Chiflón Del Diablo. Lillo is a brilliant Chilean author, naturalist, and witness of the world that he observes. He is considered to be the Chilean Emile Zola.

To develop the idea and the inspiration, we traveled to the town of Lota, in southern Chile, where we met mining families and ex-miners that today have no jobs. They told us their stories and experiences, their sadness, pains and dreams, and we realised that the miners’ history is a living treasure that we want to tell with our work.

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

Mainly because it’s a universal story.

It’s inspired by a town in Chile, but it cuts across all of humanity, because it talks about the human emotions of the workers faced with these conditions, and the role of the women and their uncertainty of not knowing if their men will come back from the mine or not.

Also because it talks about history - from the little stories of anonymous characters and the daily situations they face. It tells history from the perspective of the defeated, not the winners.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone aged 6 to 99.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The magic of the marionettes – how delicate and natural they are.

The illusion that can be produced through the marionettes is able to stir even the deepest emotion in the heart.

Have you visited Brighton before? What were/are your impressions of the city?

No we haven’t visited Brighton before, but we’re really excited to get to know the city and enjoy the festival. We don’t have any expectations – we just want have fun and enjoy it – but we hope people there will love and enjoy our work, which was prepared with a lot of love, care, attention to detail and, of course, hard work.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

We’re excited to be part of this huge festival and celebrate together the 50th anniversary. To us, it’s very important be part of this, because this is the first time that a Chilean company has participated in Brighton Festival, so it’s an honour to represent our country there – particularly with a very Chilean story, the story of the miners. It’s a privilege to present this work, and we are sure that everyone is going to enjoy it. We are bringing you a little piece of our history. 

Book now for Chiflón: The Silence of the Coal

Festival Hot Seat... The Last Resort

In the first of a new blog series we caught up with artists Tristan Shorr and Rachel Champion aka Art Of Disappearing to find out more about upcoming Brighton Festival commission The Last Resort

Can you tell us what your show is about?

The Last Resort takes a wry look at a rather bleak future. It throws out questions and ideas and possibilities. It’s an experience that should challenge imagination and thought.

How and where will it be staged?

Two participants at a time embark on a fictional tour of a forgotten resort. They move along the barren stretch of beach, imagining what might or might not have been, led by an immersive score.. The site is near the dock at Portslade which we chose for its bleakness and solitary position, the perfect environment for the imagination to be set loose!

Why should someone come and see your show?

If you enjoy dystopian ideas, beautiful barren landscapes and sci-fi whilst spending time in an imaginative experience then this is the show for you. With an original score, the chance to spend quality time with friend, family or stranger, and a shop to buy The Last Resort goodies...what more could you want!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The outdoor site in Portslade was a perfect fit for certain ideas we have been mulling over for a while. The opportunity to create a work for Brighton Festival gave us the chance to bring the idea to life in a very real and raw way.

How we make the work and what the work is about are intrinsically linked for us. Within the creation of imaginary realities and reinterpreted landscapes the work looks to inspire, challenge and feed the participants imagination and create a space for action rather than passivity.

The context is of a future where our imaginations and our ability to think for ourselves as individuals is placed in doubt. Our inspiration is in the making of a work that encourages both active listening and active participation from our audiences.

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

Its both exciting and depressing to think about the future...what will happen, what are we doing and what choices will be made….this work looks at one extreme possibility all wrapped up in the nicest possible experience. It’s important to think ahead…

The Last Resort is a work that hopefully you leave asking a few questions.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The nudist beach along the route might be an eye opener!

The show is unusual, in that it uses sound along with the participants imaginations to create an immersive world.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who holds a fascination with the future, enjoys being outdoors, loves listening to music in headphones, enjoys the challenge of spending time with a friend, a stranger or a family member and definitely anyone who wants to broaden and challenge their imagination.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

Rachel:

I was born locally and have lived near Brighton for the majority of my life. Brighton has always been a place of positive escapism for me, the live music, the great coffee shops and the Brighton Festival. I actually performed in Brighton Fringe with my school 27 years ago! Ouch! It’s always been there...long may it continue!

Tristan:

I think at a time where funding for the arts is dwindling and when challenging audiences and social passivity to the world around us is also taking a step back, it's hugely important that arts and cultural festivals like Brighton Festival exist. It is also important that places that support work and artists pushing the boundaries of the arts exist too and this is what the festival means to us both.

This isn't to say that we view ourselves as particularly radical in our approach, but we definitely appreciate the importance of Brighton Festival giving a place for us artists to call home!

Do you have a favourite festival moment?

It hasn’t happened yet!! The festival is always great, the city wakes up! Can’t ask for more than that! We’re going to be pretty busy this year with the show so it will be a very different experience… we might have to hear about it rather than join in!

Book now for the last remaining slots of The Last Resort.

The Brighton Commissions

For our milestone 50th Festival, we have commissioned more new works than ever before, including many by Brighton artists or about Brighton itself. Wildly different and each fascinating, the 'Brighton Commissions' below are presented as a tribute to our home and the talent within it.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
One of the Brighton Festival events people still talk about is the screening of Battleship Potemkin (2005) with Ed Hughes’s new score in the Hove Engineerium. When Ed and Brighton based filmmaker Lizzie Thynne proposed a Brighton homage to Walther Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, we grabbed the opportunity to celebrate Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, fun-filled glory.

Charles Linehan Company
Loved by dancers and dance audiences, Brighton-based choreographer Charles Linehan (The Fault Index/ The Clearing, 2011), brings us a contrasting double bill of new works including one with William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz). Described by The Guardian as ’one of our classiest choreographers’ Charles’s return to Brighton Festival in our 50th year feels especially appropriate. 

The Complete Deaths
Another match made in Brighton. Leading physical comedy company Spymonkey (Oedipussy, 2012 and Cooped, 2006) and award winning playwright and performer Tim Crouch (I, Caliban, 2003, I, Peaseblossom, 2004, I, Banquo, 2005, An Oak Tree 2006, I, Malvolio, 2010 and what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, 2014) come together to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. We’re holding onto our hats. 

Digging for Shakespeare
Marc Rees studied in Brighton with Liz Aggiss and has gone on to make wonderful work with communities and for specific sites, most notably with National Theatre Wales. He brought us the captivating story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps who was a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar in the 19th Century and an eccentric recluse. When Marc suggested making this piece on the Roedale allotments where Halliwell-Phillipps lived it was too beguiling an idea to pass up. 

Dr Blighty
One of the most affecting and complex stories of the Royal Pavilion Estate is its use as a military hospital for wounded Indian soldiers in World War I. As we work towards reunifying the Royal Pavilion Estate to bring collections, heritage and the arts together to create compelling new work for the Estate, the opportunity was ripe for Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and ourselves to work with British Asian performance company Nutkhut and with 14-18 NOW to commemorate this special chapter in Brighton’s history.

The Last Resort
Using binaural technology to create a shifting world of sound, Brighton-based artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr (who worked with Charlotte Spencer on Walking Stories, 2013), working as Art Of Disappearing, have created an immersive work set on Portslade beach that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies. 

Operation Black Antler
Two Brighton Festival Associate Companies come together in an exciting new collaboration. Blast Theory (Rider Spoke, 2008; Fixing Point 2013) are celebrated for their inventive use of technology and their thought-provoking subject matter. Hydrocracker have delighted and terrified audiences with Shakespeare á la Carte (2008), the uproarious The Erpingham Camp (2009), and the chilling production of Pinter plays The New World Order (2007 & 2011). Having these two companies working together has been on all our wish lists for a number of years. 

Stella
Veteran Brighton artist Neil Bartlett (Oliver Twist, 2004, The Maids, 2007; For Alfonso, 2011; What Can You Do?, 2012; Britten: The Canticles, 2013) is one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers and a generous friend of Brighton Festival. We’re honoured that Neil’s wonderful, intense and distilled new play, inspired by the life and death of Ernest Boulton, can open in Theatre Royal Brighton before going on to performances at London International Festival of Theatre and Holland Festival. 

Spotlight: The Complete Deaths

We cast a spotlight on some of our special commissions and co-commissions in our milestone 50th Brighton Festival. Tim Crouch and Toby Parks discuss their work The Complete Deaths

Another match made in Brighton. Leading physical comedy company Spymonkey (Oedipussy, 2012 and Cooped, 2006) and award winning playwright and performer Tim Crouch (I, Caliban, 2003, I, Peaseblossom, 2004, I, Banquo, 2005, An Oak Tree 2006, I, Malvolio, 2010 and what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, 2014) come together to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. We’re holding onto our hats.


Video by Echo Video