Thank you for being part of the story!
This year’s Brighton Festival was all about celebrating stories – exploring their ability to intrigue us, challenge assumptions and bond people together.
Whether you came to one show, or took part in events throughout the Festival, we’re so glad you could join us for another incredible year of talent, expression and artistic invention.
We’re so thankful to everyone who helped make this year so memorable, especially all our audiences, artists, participants, volunteers, sponsors, members, patrons and staff. A special thank you also to our 2019 Guest Director Rokia Traoré, who brought immeasurable time and talent curating this year's Brighton Festival edition.
We look forward to seeing you again next year! Save the dates: 2 - 24 May 2020
Video by Summer Dean, Savanna Gladstone and Jen O'Brien
Round-up: Audience Reactions
Wow – what a month we have had! We’ve enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2019, and we hope you had a blast too. Here's a quick look back at what audiences had to say...
“Flight was deeply moving, breathtakingly beautiful and utterly necessary work of storytelling. Everyone should see it to understand the real-life experience of young people fleeing war and oppression and seeking shelter in Europe. Good art should leave you questioning the world – Flight made me want to take immediate action”
A Child of Our Time
“An outstanding performance, full of intense emotion, context and meaning”
Rokia Traoré: Dream Mandé: Djata
"Captivating. Magical. She had the whole theatre spellbound and listening with complete focus. Beautiful. Thank you, Rokia."
Still I Rise
"Another refreshingly free from boring stereotypical gender roles. Hooray! A diverse and talented group of female performance who were skilful, graceful and powerful. I loved this show."
"Utterly absorbing, a calm and gentle story which gradually unwinds revealing more and more layers. The brilliant BERLIN create another very human, real world gem."
The Nature of Why
"It was mesmerising and aurally and visually beautiful. I felt so close to the performance and the performers. It felt intimate and personal.”
“A stunning and powerful portrayal of war, invasion and terror. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen on this subject”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“Fabulous performance! Brilliant cast, beautiful voices and some truly hilarious moments. Laughed till I cried”
“Absolutely amazing! Beautiful, poignant, funny and totally breathtaking! A dramatic showcase of human physicality, which was a joy to watch! The performers really looked like they were living their best lives!”
My Left Right Foot: The Musical
“Genuinely blown away by how good this show was. Hilarious performances from everyone, and so well written with some really thought-provoking ideas on inclusion”
To relive your Brighton Festival experience, look back at our videos here
Brighton Festival Live Streams: Incredible Events to Watch Wherever You Are
You can’t always make it to all the events you’d like to go to – but with Brighton Festival Live Stream we’ve got you covered.
In partnership with Greater Brighton Metropolitan College and their incredible staff and students, we stream some of our exciting events so you can watch them live from wherever you are, or later in your own time. Click on the ‘Get Notified’ button on the events you want to watch. Here’s a quick rundown…
Wed 15 May 7.30pm
Backbone explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance. A stripped-back, raw showcase of human ability and connection. With a powerful live soundtrack and beautiful lighting design.
Fri 17 May 8pm
Get some cooking inspiration from Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo. She’ll be discussing how her culture, heritage and loved ones have shaped her cooking.
Dream Mandé: Bamanan Djourou
Sat 18 May 8pm
Once again Rokia Traoré will be performing at Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall. Prepare to hear adaptations of traditional Bambara songs, popular French and international tunes as you’ve never heard them before.
Malian Dance Night
Mon 20 May 7.30pm
This is an evening of dance you will not want to miss. Enjoy a special presentation of three new dance pieces by Mali’s next generation of extraordinary choreographers.
Ariwo and Resonators
Wed 22 May 8pm
Take your ears on a musical adventure. You’ll be listening to rural west African heritage with the energy of the vibrant city of Bamako with a mix of other genres such as jazz, electronic and Cuban rhythms.
Thu 23 May 7.30pm
Chineke! bring their extraordinary energy and enthusiasm to this evening’s performance, taking us on a journey through the 1920s from New York to Weill’s Vienna.
Varhung: Heart to Heart
Fri 24 May 8pm
Experience Ancient Taiwanese culture traditions brought up to date by one of the Pacific Island’s premier indigenous dance-theatre companies Tijmur.
Sun 26 May 7.30pm
Celebrating male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS is a joyful and tender dance that hopes to unravel preconceptions and uncover the endless possibilities that can make up a man.
Malian musician and Brighton Festival Guest Director, Rokia Traoré shares her highly personal sixth album, Né So, an unmissable experience.
Highlights: Brighton Festival Opening Weekend
We had a wonderful opening weekend at Brighton Festival. Check out what we got up to...
Discover what is happening this weekend at Brighton Festival
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
Producer Picks | Young Literature
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.
Producer Picks | Dance, Theatre and Spoken Word
Brighton Festival Live: The Cult of Water
The Cult of Water will be live streamed from 7.30pm on Sat 5 May.
Join ‘masterful storyteller’ (Radio Times) Dr. David Bramwell for a candle-lit journey in search of the supernatural secrets of our waterways....
Aided by a witch, Jarvis Cocker, and magician-author Alan Moore, David Bramwell battles his own thalassophobia (the fear of ‘what lurks beneath’) to unearth little-known stories and myths that surround our rivers.
The River Don is the focal point for this psycho-geographical journey that blends music, animation and film with captivating monologue. You’ll also learn about Brighton’s lost River Wellsbourne in a post-show Q&A.
Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan Colleg
Brighton Festival Live: Brownton Abbey
Brownton Abbey will be live streamed from 8pm on Fri 25 May
With Big Freedia, Rachael Young, Ria Hartley, Malik Nashad Sharpe, Lasana Shabazz & DJ Sets from Sista Selecta
From the folks that brought Mykki Blanco to Brighton Festival 2017 comes Brownton Abbey - a new Afro-futurist collective that will take you to church!
For this pastoral performance party, celestial beings from queer dimensions will transform Brighton Dome into a kaleidoscopic off-world temple. Congregate with your fam, drench yourself in contemporary ritual, and get transcendental on the dance floor!
Headlining will be New Orleans ‘Queen of Bounce’ Big Freedia, who you’ll know from Beyonce’s Formation, her collaborations with Diplo and RuPaul, and her own Netflix series. Plus performance interventions throughout the evening by a heavenly constellation of Queer Artists of Colour.
Brighton Festival Live: Elephant and Castle
Elephant and Castle will be live streamed from Wed 23 May at 7.30pm
The first time my wife and I shared a bed I told her, ‘I want to get in a wardrobe and take you to Elephant and Castle.’ I was asleep. Do people tell the truth when they talk in their sleep? Could anyone be on the verge of admitting some dark desire, or telling the person beside them what they really think?
That’s the dangerous premise behind Elephant & Castle, the result of three years of Tom Adams’ recorded sleep-talk. With original songs performed live by Adams and Henley, this is a tender, funny and entirely unique gig theatre show about the joy and terror of talking in your sleep
Brighton Festival Live: Ezra Furman
Ezra Furman will be live streamed from Sat 26 May at 8pm
Plus support from Du Blonde & Honey Harper
‘The kind of performer that makes you feel like a teenager all over again’ The Guardian
Tears. Heartbreak. Unbridled joy. Ezra Furman is the real deal.
Fans of Chicago’s rock’n’roll hero will testify as to the electric energy of his live shows that teeter on the edge of hysteria.
His onstage presence, hook-laden garage-punk (think Jonathan Richman meets Spector-era Ramones meets the E Street Band), and confessional lyrics about sexuality, depression, faith and politics, have all earned him a legion of followers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Back with his newly re-christened band The Visions, and hot on the heels of the release of latest album Transangelic Exodus, this is a performer that must be seen to be believed.
Du Blonde, AKA Beth Jeans Houghton, is a multidisciplinary artist and musician, working with animation, illustration, sculpture, video editing, songwriting and music production.
Honey Harper is both an old and a new project. The songs were written in the past three years but they’ve been around for much longer. They resist temporality and eschew spatial specificity. Whether they were written on a lake in northern Ontario, a haunted hotel room in Atlanta, or in a car at 5AM in east London makes little difference as they all reside within. Honey Harper is intrinsically honest, pure, universal country.
Brighton Festival Live: The World of Moominvalley
The World of Moominvalley will be live streamed from Sunday 20 May at 3:00 PM.
The World of Moominvalley with Philip Ardagh & Daniel Hahn
Join award-winning children's author, Philip Ardagh, and Daniel Hahn as they introduce The World of Moominvalley. This beautiful new book is filled with illustrated maps and family trees, facts about Moomin behaviour and habits, all you could wish to know about each beloved character, the world in which they live and their creator Tove Jansson. A family event for Moomins fans young and old.
Over 60’s dance troupe recreates Pina Bausch's 1982 masterpiece – the NELKEN-Line - on Brighton's seafront
Three Score Dance, the Brighton-based contemporary dance company for over 60s, will re-create Pina Bausch’s masterpiece, The NELKEN-Line, with a team of around 200 volunteers along the Brighton beachfront this weekend (Saturday 19th May, 6.30pm) as part of Brighton Festival.
The legendary Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter sequence is from one of Pina Bausch’s best-known works, the 1982 piece Nelken, and features West End Blues by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five.
The Three Score Dance company will be joined in the participatory performance by around 200 people, many of whom attended workshops to learn the four iconic movements led by Three Score Artistic Director Jason Keenan-Smith
The aim is to create the most fabulous and colourful NELKEN-Line on Brighton seafront, becoming a part of an exciting world-wide project run by the Pina Bausch Foundation and ARTE which invites people to submit their own NELKEN-Line video to the Foundation’s website.
In France, Ireland, Chile, Cyprus, Spain and Germany, dance lovers of all ages – professionals and amateurs – have responded to the call and danced their own individual NELKEN-Line, with performance videos from around the world posted on the NELKEN-Line website. Three Score has already uploaded their own Company version, the film made by Company member Vincent with long term collaborator DOP Patrick Duval.
Three Score Dance Volunteer Management Group member Vicki Crowther says: “Being part of Three Score Dance means we are standing up for the older dancer and we’re looking forward to leading a glorious celebration of Pina Bausch with people from all walks of life as we dance The Nelken Line along the beach from the i360 to the peace statue on Saturday.”
The company is led by Rehearsal Director, Jason Keenan-Smith, with professional choreographers commissioned to create bespoke pieces for performance. As an associate Brighton Dome company, Three Score have a history of commissioned pieces 50th Brighton Festival celebration Tall Tales - a special reconstruction from memory of a series of performed paintings believed to have been presented at some time during the Festival’s history.
Brighton Festival Live: The Last Poets
The Last Poets will be live streamed from 7.30pm on Tue 15 May
Legendary Godfathers of hip hop and creators of influential albums - The Last Poets (1970) and This is Madness (1971) – The Last Poets fuse politically outspoken lyrics with inventive percussion in an electrifying celebration of 50 years of the power of words and music. The Last Poets are modern day griots, with withering attacks on everything from racists to government to the bourgeoisie, their spoken word albums preceded politically laced R&B projects such as Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and foreshadowed the work of hard-hitting rap groups such as Public Enemy.
Now in a rare appearance, Umar Bin Hassan, Abiodun Oyewole and Donn Babatunde - legendary Godfathers of hip hop - bring an electrifying celebration of 50 years of powerful words and music to Brighton Festival.
Brighton Festival Live: KAYA
Join us for an inside viewing of KAYA, a moving new performance that explores human experiences of displacement, drawing on the strength and resilience of those searching for belonging in a new community.
Ceyda Tanc is a Brighton-based choreographer creating dynamic dance influenced by her Turkish heritage and highlighting the intersection of modern Britain’s diverse cultures. With a unique movement vocabulary fusing traditional Turkish folk dance with contemporary styles, Ceyda’s work challenges gender stereotypes by utilising the virtuoso movements of male Turkish dancers for her all-female company, conveying striking shapes and an emotive and sensual energy.
Brighton Festival Live: The Boy, The Piano and The Beach
The Boy, The Piano and The Beach will be live streamed from 3pm on Mon 7 May
Slot Machine Theatre - The Boy, The Piano and The Beach
World premiere & Brighton Festival commission
A little boy is playing on the beach when, all of a sudden, he is magically transported to another world. His adventures through this enchanting land are packed full of extraordinary encounters with curious and mystical creatures. The question is: can the boy find his way back home?
This enchanting tale is told through puppetry, dance and light projections, all accompanied by stunning live music played on a grand piano. A sensory feast, the show will captivate children of six and upwards, who are welcome to stay and play after the performance to explore the dreamy world of the boy on the beach.
Brighton Festival Live: Cuckmere: A Portrait & Environmentalism
Cuckmere: A Portrait & Environmentalism will be live streamed from 7.30pm on Sat 5 May
Join us for a live screening of this powerful collaboration of film and live music.
Cuckmere: A Portrait
Ed Hughes -Composer
Cesca Eaton - Filmmaker
Score played live by The Orchestra of Sound and Light. For centuries the Cuckmere River has inspired artists, sheltered smugglers and preserved a host of rare wildlife as it charts a course through the evocative landscapes of southern England.
Filmmaker Cesca Eaton and composer/conductor Ed Hughes trace the changing moods of the Cuckmere, from its source in the High Weald to the sea at Cuckmere Haven.
Caroline Lucas discusses the future of the environmental movement with author Tony Juniper, whose new book, Rainforest, draws on his many years' experience as a frontline campaigner.
Spotlight on Contemporary Music at Brighton Festival: Part Two
From jazz to alt-rock to folk, we've got some epic gigs coming up this May. We shine a light on just a few of the many amazing contemporary music events at this year’s Festival.
Deerhoof + s t a r g a z e
Deerhoof, an american experimental rock group, was formed in San Francisco in 1994. In a career that has spanned nearly 25 years and showing no signs of letting up, these revered rockers seem to change course on every album they release, displaying breathtaking originality, and creating a genre all of their own.
In an exclusive performance from Brighton Festival, they will be collaborating with orchestral collective S t a r g a z e. In the first half, Deerhoof’s founding member and drummer Greg Saunier presents special compositions for individual musicians based on tracks from the seminal 1993 album In on the Kill Taler by post-hardcore band Fugazi. The second half sees Deerhoof perform songs from their extensive back catalogue, before members of S t a r g a z e rejoin the band onstage for a stunning finale. Take a look at ticket availability for Deerhoof.
Xylouris White is firmly rooted in the past and future. Playing Cretan music of original and traditional composition, the band consists of Georgios Xylouris on Cretan laouto and vocals and Jim White on drum kit. Xylouris is known and loved by Cretans and Greeks at home and abroad and has been playing professionally from age 12. Jim White is an Australian drummer known and loved throughout the world as the drummer of Dirty Three, Venom P Stinger and now Xylouris White. For the last four years these two men have been performing as Xylouris White, the culmination of 25 years of friendship forged through music and place. Now they’re back with their third album Mother, more elegant and thoughtful than its predecessors yet still retaining a palpable spirit of adventure. Take a look at ticket availability for Xylouris White.
This Is the Kit
This Is The Kit is the musical project of Kate Stables, one of the most thrilling voices in contemporary folk, and whoever joins her! In a special one-off event for Brighton Festival - Kate joins forces with multi-talented orchestral collective S t a r g a z e - one of today’s most adventurous ensembles. Retaining the intimacy of its well-loved predecessor 2015’s Bashed Out, This is the Kit and S t a r g a z e will perform a specially re-imagined version of Kate’s latest 2017 album Moonshine Freeze, the paris-based songwriter’s loosest, wildest music to date.Take a look at ticket availability for This is the Kit.
Played Twice: Miles Davis Kind of Blue and Electric Miles: Miles Davis through the ‘70s
If you haven’t been to east London’s joyous concept night Played Twice, now's your chance. The concept is simple: take a landmark album, listen to it all the way through, then hear a top-notch band reinterpret that same recording live on stage. And if this is your first time, they don’t come more masterly than Miles Davis’s pioneering jazz fusion . The band will be led by David Okumu of The Invisible and features Byron Wallen on trumpet. Take a look at ticket availability for Played Twice's performances.
Problem in Brighton
First there was a Problem in Toulouse, then there was a Problem in New York, and now that problem is coming to Brighton. Well, Hove actually. Problem in Brighton is an alt-rock/pop pantomime written and directed by Guest Director David Shrigley exclusively for Brighton Festival. Shrigley's artwork is brought to life by the Problem Band (led by Brighton musician Lee Baker) using instruments created from his illustrations. Take a look at ticket availability for Problem in Brighton.
Shrigley on Shrigley
Guest director David Shrigley talks us through his events at the Brighton Festival 2018.
Best known for his darkly humorous works that comment on the inconsequential, bizarre, and disquieting elements of daily life, the artist’s offbeat take is reflected in his own events at this years festival. There's Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by Shrigley himself, and Life Model II, a follow-up to the artist’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name which invites visitors to take part in a life drawing class with a sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman as the ‘model’. Shrigley will also be doing an also an illustrated talk billed as ‘containing numerous rambling anecdotes… not in the slightest bit boring’, and a screening of a documentary about his work titled A Shit Odyssey.
Head to our Whats On page to see the full programme
Video edited by Summer Dean
Five Brighton Festival Spoken Word artists to check out before May
Take some time out to enjoy some of the magnificent wordsmithery and acts you can expect at Brighton Festival this May...
The Last Poets
Energised by the civil rights movement, The Last Poets were formed in 1968. As latter day griots, they fused politically outspoken lyrics with inventive percussion. Their albums have influenced generations of hip-hop & soul artists.
Yomi Sode balances the line between Nigerian and British cultures, which can be humorous, loving, self-reflective and, at times, uncomfortable. Tackling immigration, identity and displacement, his new performance COAT is a humorous and moving response to the mistakes made by elders that leave the next generation uncertain of what is expected of them.
Travis Alabanza is a performance artist, theatre maker, poet and writer. In the last two years they have been noted by numerous publications as one of the most prominent emerging queer artistic voices, and also listed in OUT as an influential queer figure.
Hollie McNish’s poems have challenged stigmas around sex, breastfeeding and young motherhood, earning her a worldwide following. McNish will perform as part of Poets & Illustrators, a one-off event, that pairs some of the finest, freshest poets around with live illustrators.
Toby Thompson is a writer and performer of thoughts and feelings. His poetry displays his delight in life’s uncertainties and absurdities and his uniquely rhythmic and musical style is lyrical, beguiling, playful and poignant. In Brighton Festival, Toby Thompson boldly re-imagines Herman Hesse’s classic fairy-tale I Wish I Was A Mountain.
Spotlight: Cuckmere: A Portrait
Discover more about Cuckmere: A Portrait, a Brighton Festival Co-commission.
For centuries the Cuckmere River has inspired artists, sheltered smugglers and preserved a host of rare habitats and wildlife as it charts a course through some of the most evocative landscapes in southern England.
In a work of beauty and eloquence, the filmmaker Cesca Eaton and the composer/conductor Ed Hughes trace the changing moods of the Cuckmere river, from its source in the Sussex Downs to its dramatic twists and turns as it meanders to the sea at Cuckmere Haven. The score, specially composed by Ed Hughes, is played live by The Orchestra of Sound and Light in this world premiere.
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.
Spotlight: The Arms of Sleep
Discover more about The Arms of Sleep, a Brighton Festival Co-commission with Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
In one of its most ambitious and magical productions to date, The Voice Project takes us on an epic 10-hour immersive overnight experience of choral music, film and animation set in the beautiful grounds of historic stately home Firle Place.
Through dusk and darkness to dawn, drift and dream with The Voice Project Brighton Choir as you travel into the space of sleep.
Spotlight: Gob Squad: Creation (Pictures for Dorian)
Creation is the realm of gods and artists, who create beauty through sheer will and their own bare hands. But who decides what is beautiful?
British/German arts collective Gob Squad have performed all over the world for 25 years. Now middle-aged, they have no desire to exit the stage just yet. UK Premiere and Brighton Festival co-commission, Creation (Pictures for Dorian), is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray, who remains eternally youthful at a terrible cost to his soul.
There’s probably a little bit of Dorian in all of us. Joined onstage by older and younger local performers, Gob Squad peeps behind the vanity mirror to question beauty, morality and power - and ask why we so crave the eye of the beholder.