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

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Grime, art and science collide to re-imagine culture for Brighton Festival

Last Dance: The Wave Epoch is a unique collaboration between grime DJ and producer Elijah, musician GAIKA and visual artists Haroon Mirza and Jack Jelfs that imagines what culture will be like in 2000 years time.

Devised and created at the world’s largest scientific experiment – the Large Hadron Collider at CERN – the immersive club experience imagines a scenario where the collider has been rediscovered by a future civilisation and turned into a ceremonial site, similar to Stonehenge.

Elijah, whose label, Butterz, has made him a leading name in grime, has been Artistic Director at Lighthouse developing the Last Dance programme for the past year. Last Dance is a series of events that look at the changing nature of club culture, of which The Wave Epoch is the great crescendo.

Elijah says: Last Dance: The Wave Epoch [is] a club experience with a deeper layer, full of sound, music, and colour. The ecosystem of club culture is breaking down. Clubs are shutting down; music ownership is going over to streaming services. Because of that, the spaces where young musicians and artists collaborate are changing.

“I’ve been playing in clubs all over the world for ten years, and I’ve seen culture changing right in front of me. Technology plays a big part of that change – camera phones have now become a big part of a club experience – images and video are part of the dance floor. So, social platforms like Instagram, Instagram stories and Snapchat become an immediate contact to a different audience. Whatever new technology comes in, people won’t stop gathering together for a shared experience. Last Dance: The Wave Epoch is a physical manifestation of all these ideas.”

Collaborating on Last Dance: The Wave Epoch are internationally acclaimed visual artists Haroon Mirza and Jack Jelfs who are renowned for creating immersive environments by connecting light, sound, music, video, text and performance and building on a mutual fascination with media, time and transmission. GAIKA is an artist and musician whose expansive, experimental sound blends the sonic textures of the streets, influenced by Brixton, Jamaica and Grenada.

Also performing at Last Dance: The Wave Epoch are two Brighton based DJ collectives: all-female DJ collective Shook, who specialise in Jersey club, footwork, hip-hop and trap, and Off-Peak, an underground club night run by a collective of artists and producers specialising in grime, dubstep and UK garage.

For more information visit lighthouse.org.uk, or the event page on the Brighton Festival website.

First glimpse of Brighton Festival 2018: David Shrigley’s Life Model II opens this weekend

The first glimpse of Brighton Festival 2018 is to be unveiled at Fabrica this weekend, with David Shrigley’s interactive installation, Life Model II, launching on Saturday 14 April.

Transforming Fabrica into a classroom, Life Model II plays on the age-old tradition of life drawing classes by replacing the live model with a caricatured robotic sculpture of a (blinking) nine-foot-tall woman. Visitors are invited to sit, observe and draw the model using materials provided, with the resulting artworks displayed as part of the exhibition.

David Shrigley says: ‘Life Model II is an artwork that begets other artwork. There’s the three-dimensional work of the life model - a sculpture of somebody trying to stand still (which is a good thing to make a sculpture of when you think about it). And there’s the two-dimensional work which is made by the visitors to the exhibition. It’s a piece about drawing, it’s a piece about everybody being included, about participating and making an exhibition yourself.’

Life Model II is a follow-up to the original Life Model, David Shrigley’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name. The first iteration of Life Model featured a giant sculpture of a naked man blinking and urinating into a bucket, which visitors were invited to draw and then exhibit. Reviewing the work in the Observer, Laura Cumming said: “It admits all-comers, and makes a Turner prize exhibitor of each and every one; and in their joint works the boy comes alive.” 

David Shrigley explains: ‘I showed the original incarnation of the work in the Turner prize show, because I thought that people see the arts, and visual art in particular, as being elitist and inaccessible. I suppose that’s what the piece is about, that art is for everybody, and that making art is also for everybody as well. It’s a therapeutic thing, it’s something that can make you happy. For some reason, in terms of our education, the majority of us are dissuaded from making art. When we go into adulthood we stop making it when we’re about 10-years-old because we think we’re not good at a drawing, but I guess I’m a person who has built a career around not demonstrating many craft skills. Life Model for me is some kind of redress, and there’s something positive and joyful in that redress.’

Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley is best known for his illustrations that satirically comment on everyday life. His animations, which accompany the installation, are a natural extension of these, bringing to life their quick-witted narratives. David Shrigley is the first visual artist to take on the role of Guest Director since the inaugural Guest Director, Anish Kapoor in 2009.

Shrigley’s offbeat take is reflected the Festivals’ eclectic programme spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate, including Brighton Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by David Shrigley himself and featuring Spymonkey’s Stephan Kreiss and Scottish actor Pauline Knowles. (Problem in Brighton, Thu 10- Fri 11 May, Sat 12 May, 2pm & 7:30pm, The Old Market). David Shrigley is also presenting an illustrated talk about his work, containing numerous rambling anecdotes. It will not be in the slightest bit boring: he has signed a written agreement to this effect, signed in his own blood. (David Shrigley: Illustrated talk, Wed 23 May, 8pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall)

In 2011, David Shrigley wrote the libretto to a sort-of opera called Pass the Spoon, which played to sell-out theatres in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. Two unknown video artists documented its creation from page to stage, lovingly crafting 160 hours of footage into David Shrigley: A Shit Odyssey, which will receive its UK Premiere on Mon 21 May at Duke of York’s Picturehouse.

Festival Hotseat: XFRMR

We caught up with Robbie Thomson, artist and thearte maker to talk about XFRMR, an installation that explores the possibilities of the Tesla Coil as an instrument.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
XFRMR is a live audio-visual performance which explores the creative possibilities of the Tesla Coil as a musical instrument in its own right. The technology is based on Nikola Tesla's 1891 design which was originally developed for long range power transmission. In the show, I synthesise waveforms that manipulate the high voltage discharges from the coil to create live musical tones which is set against an underlying electronic score.

The composition itself moves between soundscapes inspired by the sounds of space weather and percussive sections rooted in industrial music and techno.

How and where will the work be staged?
In XFRMR the Tesla Coil takes centre stage, it's housed in a large steel Faraday cage that shields the 250,000 Volt arcs of plasma and the electromagnetic fields that the coil produces. The show is driven along by dynamic lighting effects and audio-reactive projections which are mapped onto the setup. The performances at Brighton Festival are taking place in The Spire.

Why should someone come and see your show?
It's a chance to experience raw electricity first hand, the Tesla Coil is a visceral phenomenon to be up-close to, and you might even smell the ozone being created from the sparks.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
I was interested in high voltage devices and so was drawn to using the Tesla coil on a visual level and from a historical perspective before I was really aware of it's musical potential. The direct correlation of the sonic and visual elements and the real physicality of the coil as an electro-acoustic instrument (the air ionising to create sound and light) made it ideal to use in an artistic context.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The ways in which technology is being used to synthesise natural phenomena relates to so many aspects of where the frontier of science is at today. The boundaries between synthetic and natural worlds are constantly being tested (whether that be in artificial intelligence or nanotechnology) so it's interesting to consider the nature of electricity and invisible wavelengths within this context, as it is something that we usually either ignore or take for granted.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Audiences for XFRMR have been really varied in the past; I've played in clubs where the emphasis has been on dancing and in seated theatres where people have tuned in more to the nuances of the sound. I think there's something there for anyone with an interest in electronic music and technology but also for people who are more visually orientated and want to experience a dramatic display of electricity.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
I think people will be surprised by how musical the Tesla Coil can be, you can make it really expressive and create quite delicate timbres as well as distorted tones and harsh percussive stabs.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The Wave Epoch sounds like a really interesting project; it'd also be wicked to see Deerhoof again.

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

Festival Hot Seat: SHUT DOWN

Charlotte Vincent, choreographer and director of Brighton-based company Vincent Dance Theatre, tells us about her newest piece SHUT DOWN, a brother work to last Festival's VIRGIN TERRITORY.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
It’s not exactly a show! It’s a full-length production, in film installation form, that explores the pressures, contradictions and confusions of being a man today, filtered through my eyes as a female choreographer / director.

How and where will the work be staged?
SHUT DOWN film installation, shot and edited by VDT’s brilliant cinematographer Bosie Vincent, plays across six screens at ONCA Gallery, throughout the festival. This complex, humorous and visually layered production is accompanied by short works made by young men working with VDT and Audio Active as part of Mankind’s Room To Rant programme (LINK) and at The Connected Hub (LINK).  Reflecting on modern masculinity using charcoal drawing, stills photography and spoken word, Young People’s work will also be shared on Vincent Dance Theatre’s Youtube Youth Channel from May onwards.


Why should someone come and see your production?
It’s funny, sensitive and moving and relevant for us all – particularly as we see the ‘crisis of masculinity’ continuing to gather momentum all around us with the #metoo and #timesup campaigns.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
SHUT DOWN is the brother piece to VDT’s VIRGIN TERRITORY, which appeared at ONCA in the 2017 Brighton Festival and is currently on tour throughout the UK. These two partner pieces - full-length stage productions that become widely shared full-length film installations - consider the society that we have created for young people, in particular examining the impact of growing up within a gender divisive world where social media presents very real crises of confidence, online dangers and a degree of self-loathing.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The themes we consider in both works are around the influence of pornography on our kids and how they treat each other, the pressures to be masculine and feminine when we know there is a spectrum of experience, the challenge to mental health that a body obsessed society incites and issues around absent parents, home and belonging that everyone can relate to.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
Although the piece is about perceptions of masculinity and pressures on boys and men to behave a particular way, it’s relevant for anyone interested in dance, theatre and film or gender politics. The choreography is influenced by partnering, street dance and ensemble work, and there is some passionate spoken word performed by 15-year-old Eben ‘Flo from local music organisation AudioActive – a charity that supports young urban artists - in the past including Rag ‘n’ Bone Man (who is now their Patron) and Rizzle Kicks.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? 
I’ve presented work in the last three Brighton Festivals, since moving my company to Brighton from Sheffield. As an Associate Company of Brighton Dome this is how it should be – the festival is a great platform for any artist’s work and I love the way work that crosses political boundaries and challenges expected forms can be seen by such a diverse audience. Last year we had 1000 people pass through ONCA over two weeks seeing dance theatre as part of VIRGIN TERRITORY multiscreen film installation. These are audience figures that are hard to gather live on tour in one venue, so the digital model is working for us to get my choreographic work seen by non-dance attenders, film enthusiasts, general public and visual artists. 

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

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.

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

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns to the Brighton Festival with another exciting programme of free theatre, art, dance, music, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to create a vibrant weekend of arts and activities for their local communities.

Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place for a second year following its wonderful success in 2017. Expect new and 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

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.

Volunteer call-out: For the Birds

Take part in an immersive night time adventure where sound and light take flight!

Brighton Festival is taking to the Sussex woodland to create an enchanting journey for our guests to explore a world of sound and vision across May.

We are inviting volunteers to be part of our friendly front of house team for this mesmerising event.

Every Wed - Sun throughout May we are looking for a team of helpers between 8pm-12.30am to welcome and guide our customers throughout this magical experience. If you can volunteer an evening or several over May we'd be delighted to hear from you at festival.rota@brightondome.org. Please let us know what dates you are able to be involved. 

To take part there is a training session and preview on Fri 5 May 7pm-11.30pm, which we would invite you to attend in order to take part for the rest of the Festival. 

More on For the Birds...

As night falls, gather family and friends to embark on an enchanting journey into the Sussex woodland. Against a canvas of darkness and the sound of wind in the trees, you will follow a magical trail of beautiful and ingenious installations of light, sound and moving sculpture inspired by the world of birds.

Whether it’s the iconic robin, the chip-thieving gull, or blackbirds baked in a pie, we have an enduring connection with these special creatures. For the Birds will get you thinking about the mystery and beauty of the avian world - and why it should be protected.

Artist and producer Jony Easterby has brought together some of the most dynamic sound and lighting artists in the UK to create this unforgettable Brighton Festival outdoor experience.




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

Brighton Festival celebrates the city's memories with new oral history app

'Jimi Hendrix signed my tambourine and I had to run for my life...'

A free interactive oral history app unfolding the ordinary personal stories of young love, loss and rebellion in the 1940s, 50s and 60s is launching during May as part of Brighton Festival 2016.

The Giddy app, from Brighton arts collective The Nimbus Group and funded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, takes users on an alternative walking tour of the city, punctuated by GPS triggered personal histories straight from the mouths of the people who lived them.

From a chance meeting with Jimi Hendrix in the back of a beaten up MG and tales of daytime runaways who never got caught, to stories about sneaking into strip bars and dancing til dawn with the Teddy boys, Giddy offers a view of life in the postwar years that is conspicuously absent from the history books.

All of the content – the stories, photographs, app design – has been gathered and created by teenaged pupils of Brighton’s Longhill School, with the support of a team of archive specialists, oral history interviewers and photographers.

‘Every generation of young people thinks they are the first to experience the intense highs, lows and giddy adventures of the teenage years,’ says Carina Westling of The Nimbus Group. 

‘We wanted to use digital technology to create something that celebrates the stuff of life that unites us as humans, reveals our individuality but also highlights universal themes associated with youth that span the generations,’ she says.

‘Oral history offers a perspective of the past that stands outside the received wisdom of the history books. Our intention for Giddy is to bring history to life in such a way that the young (or not so young) people who hear these stories will never look at older people in quite the same way again.’

Giddy is available for iOS and Android smartphones from May, sign up for a notification of the app’s release at www.giddybrighton.com.

An accompanying online archive and exhibition featuring portraits and archive images gathered during the making of the app will launch at University of Brighton's on 7 May 2016, which will be open to the public till the end of the Festival on 29 May.

Brighton Festival 2016 branding: Fifty years on the edge

What’s black and white and read all over? The 50th Brighton Festival brochure…

Working to create our striking monochrome 50th identity has been a lot of fun. Here’s what designers Johnson Banks said about their inspiration and direction,

‘This year Brighton Festival asked us to create a special identity to celebrate their fiftieth year. It really was a gift for us, that their current F logo could become the initial letter for 'FIFTY' in a one-off logotype.

The festival has always celebrated the experimental, unusual and cutting edge in the arts, wanting to disrupt the quotidian. So the 'FIFTY' marque began from there - avoiding the traditional, and sitting on the edge, literally and figuratively. The vertical type, chevrons and diagonal cut letters add to the dislocated effect. This year's line 'Fifty years on the edge' developed from the same starting point.

Laurie Anderson, the Guest Director for 2016, herself an experimental performance artist, is a perfect fit with the festival ethos for their golden year.’ 

The design process in progress:


Spotlight: Brighton: Symphony of a City

Discover more from Lizzie Thynne and Ed Hughes, as they discuss 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.

See more Spotlight films, where we cast a spotlight on some of our special commissions and co-commissions in our milestone 50th Brighton Festival.

Video by Catalina Balan with Neil Whitehead

caravan 2016 programme announced

caravan, a partnership between Farnham Maltings and Brighton Festival presents a three-day biennial curated showcase of the best new theatre from across England to an international audience of festival organisers and programmers. This press release announces its 2016 programme.

  • caravan 2016 will take place on 15-17 May 2016 as part of the 50th Brighton Festival, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in May
  •  The showcase offers opportunities for England based artists and companies and international commissioners, presenters, festival programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working, share ambitions, reach new audiences and develop new ideas.
  •  In 2016, caravan will be offering opportunities for twelve artists and companies to showcase full performances of their work, while another six will have the chance to pitch to delegates.
  •  Eight of the performances within the showcase will be open to the public to attend, as part of the Brighton Festival programme.

caravan 2016 follows the success of the showcases in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 building on the ambition of previous years. The showcase aims to strengthen international networks and expand the range of opportunities for performing artists and companies based in England to work abroad.

The 2016 programme will be presenting a selection of the best new English performance, selected by a curatorial group drawn from some of the country’s leading directors and producers. The 2016 curatorial group included Andrew Jones, Fiona Baxter, Gavin Stride, Gabriella Triantafyllis, Jo Verrent, Lorne Campbell, Orla Flanagan and Sally Cowling.

2016 artists
Full performances


Eric MacLennan – A Voyage Around My Bedroom

An interactive journey, in a bedroom, in a glass box, in a field with audience input shaping the narrative

Christopher Brett Bailey – This is how we die
A highly verbose collage of spoken word and storytelling: tales of paranoia, young love and ultra-violence

Lost Dog – Paradise Lost (Lies unopened beside me)
Inspired by Milton, a re-telling of the story of the beginning of everything using words, music and dance

Greg Wohead – Comeback Special
Jam sessions and dance numbers combine in a re-enactment of Elvis Presley's 1968 Comeback Special

Jo Bannon – Alba
Influenced by her albinism, Jo Bannon blends light, proximity, movement and sound into a visual poem

Still House – Of Riders and Running Horses
A stirring and visceral new dance event created as a communal animation of urban spaces

Dickie Beau - Blackouts: Twilight of the Idols
Drag fabulist Dickie Beau conjures the spirits of celebrated Hollywood icons in a bewitching adventure

Sue MacLaine Company - Can I Start Again Please
A play exploring our capacity to process traumatic experiences and language’s ability to represent it

Spymonkey – The Complete Deaths
All 72 onstage deaths of Shakespeare’s plays are performed in 90 minutes

Andy Field – Lookout
A site-sensitive one-on-one encounter between one adult audience member and one child performer

Selina Thompson - Dark and Lovely
A solo piece exploring Black identity, inspired by the cultural and social debate surrounding Black hair

Emma Frankland - Rituals for Change
A performance creating a series of rituals to explore gender transition and the fluid notion of change

Pitches


Brian Lobel, 24 Italian Songs and Arias
Catherine Ireton, The Salon Project (working title)
Action Hero, RV project Europe (working title)
The Other Way Works, Agent in a Box
Sleepdogs, Steady State
Sheila Ghelani, Elemental

Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings & co-director of caravan, says:
We had over 200 proposals from every part of the country suggesting that there is a real appetite amongst theatre makers to connect internationally. I think the programme suggests that we have a vibrant, ambitious theatre community keen to find new ways of reaching new audiences”.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, says:
We are really looking forward to collaborating again with Farnham Maltings, to present the best of new English performance for the fifth biennial caravan showcase as part of our 50th Brighton Festival celebrations. The showcase has grown substantially since it was launched in 2008, and now encompasses a selection of the most dynamic and innovative theatre and performance from around England. It has become a leading showcase and touchstone for international promoters and programmers to experience a diverse range of new work by our most innovative artists who are prime candidates at this stage in their careers to tour internationally”.

Ends


Notes to Editors:

caravan is delivered by Farnham Maltings and Brighton Festival. It is funded by Arts Council England and British Council.

Farnham Maltings is a creative organisation based in Farnham, Surrey which works with artists and communities across South East England to encourage the greatest number of people to make, see and enjoy the best art possible.Brighton Festival commissions and produces an ambitious programme of local, national and international work across music, theatre, dance, visual art, outdoor performance, literature and debates.

Brighton Festival will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 7 to 29 May 2016.

Full details of caravan 2016 curatorial group:
Andrew Jones, Senior Programme Manager for Drama & Dance – British Council
Fiona Baxter, Deputy Director, Arts – Farnham Maltings
Gabriella Triantafyllis, General Manager –bios, Greece
Gavin Stride, Director – Farnham Maltings
Jo Verrent, Senior Producer – Unlimited
Lorne Campbell, Artistic Director – Northern Stage
Orla Flanagan, Theatre Producer – Brighton Dome & Festival
Sally Cowling, Associate Producer – Brighton Dome & Festival

Key commission revealed as 50th Brighton Festival takes shape

The Complete Deaths – performed by physical comedy company Spymonkey and directed by Tim Crouch – is the first show revealed as part of the 50th Brighton Festival programme.

A Brighton Festival commission, the world premiere is a partnership between two Brighton-based artistic powerhouses 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.

There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus. They range from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra; from Pyramus and Thisbe to young Macduff. There are countless stabbings, plenty of severed heads, some poisonings, two mobbings and a smothering. Enorbarbus just sits in a ditch and dies from grief. And then there’s the pie that Titus serves the Queen of the Goths.

Spymonkey will perform them all - sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically. The four ‘seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns' (Time Magazine) will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them.

The Complete Deaths is directed by Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), designed by Spymonkey regular Lucy Bradridge and presented by Spymonkey in co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate.

Spymonkey is the UK's leading physical comedy company, based in Brighton and comprising a core creative ensemble of five lead artists: artistic directors Toby Park, Petra Massey and Aitor Basauri, and associate artists Stephan Kreiss and designer Lucy Bradridge. They’ve been making sublimely hilarious and deeply ridiculous theatre since 1998. Recent Brighton Festival appearances include Oedipussy (2012) and Cooped (2006)

Tim Crouch is a multi-award winning playwright and performer living in Brighton. His work has played in theatres and at festivals around the world. His four award-winning solo Shakespeare plays I, Caliban. I, Peaseblossom, I, Banquo and I, Malvolio were commissioned by Brighton Festival. 

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is a three week celebration of music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate and family events has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. 

Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world.

The 50th Brighton Festival takes place from 7-29 May 2016.

Listings information:


The Complete Deaths by Spymonkey & Tim Crouch
World Premiere.
Commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Wed 11 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, 2.30pm
Theatre Royal Brighton
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare (75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus). From the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. And then there’s the pie that Titus serves his guests. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, always hysterically. These ‘seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns’ (Time Magazine) will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them. Directed by Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), The Complete Deaths is a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  

-ENDS-


For further enquiries, please contact:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press and PR – emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org I 01273 260803
Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838
Ticket Office - 01273 709709 | www.brightonfestival.org

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NOTES TO EDITORS:


About Brighton Festival –

• Brighton Festival is an annual mixed arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May, with an average audience reach of 150,000

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013, choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014 and award-winning author Ali Smith in 2015..

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established mixed arts Festival and a major milestone in the international cultural calendar

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round. It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives and inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.

• The first Brighton Festival in 1967 controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival manages a year round programme of arts at Brighton Dome – a three space, Grade 1 listed building made up of the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre - and produces the annual Brighton Festival in May. 

• It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives, and to inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival are a registered arts charity

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival are working with the Royal Pavilion & Museums on a joint masterplan to realize a future vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate. For updates and news please visit www.brightondome.org or contact 

Brighton Festival 2015 soars to a close

Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-wining author Ali Smith at the helm as Guest Director - came to a soaring conclusion this weekend.

Over the three-week Festival - the biggest and most established in England - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions were explored in a thrilling selection of events which spanned music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate featuring artists and performers the world over from Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha to the newly Palme d’Or honoured filmmaker Agnès Varda.

Three central themes - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - provided a fascinating jumping off point to explore some of the key ideas and issues of the moment as well as a memorable visual image of a swift in flight which proved a fitting and popular emblem for the 2015 Festival.

The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest of its kind in Europe. Supported by regional businesses Class of their Own, Gatwick Airport and Riverford, the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event. Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, costumes included bird life in all its forms as well as flying machines, creatures from fantasy and fable, bugs, bees and butterflies.


The Children's Parade. Photo by Jordan Hughes

During the ensuing 23 days it wasn’t just the kids who took flight – with more reviews praising the artistic excellence of this year’s programme than ever. One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Stage and the artsdesk amongst others described them as “exemplary”, “extraordinary”, “profound” and “faultlessly directed”. This was swiftly followed by the top accolade going to violinist Isabelle Faust’s amazing feat of solo virtuosity, Paine’s Plough’s poignant exploration of love and relationships in Lungs and Nina Conti’s extraordinary tour de force of improvised comedy amongst others.


Fleeting on Brighton Beach. Photo by Chris Bethall

At just under 400 performances across 150 events, including 34 that were entirely free to the public, Brighton Festival 2015 featured the highest number of exclusives, premieres and commissions to date including a sizeable proportion of events that cannot - and could not - be experienced anywhere else outside of Brighton Festival, from Sam Lee’s intimate Nightingale Walks on the Downs to Laurie Anderson’s one-off concert All the Animals and Festival finale Fleeting, the spectacular installation over the West Pier by And Now in which hundreds of individual points of fire created shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2015 saw a plethora of shows - including high profile events such as physical theatre show The Spalding Suite which takes as its subject the UK's basketball sub-culture and Jess Thom’s inspiring and uplifting exploration of her experience of living with Tourette’s, Backstage in Biscuit Land - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival also reached out beyond the centre more than ever before, working with Without Walls to present a number of family-friendly performances in Saltdean and Woodingdean for the first time as well as the enthralling 451 at Preston Barracks and playful Ear Trumpet in Queen’s Park. This was complemented by a fantastic response to community driven events such as a new children’s birdwatching trail which was generously embraced by the business community, and the return of the Guest Director’s Guests, the Peacock Poetry Prize and the Young City Reads schemes.


Backstage in Biscuit Land. Photo by Victor Frankowski

Other Festival highlights included a one off live screening of Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy; the English premiere of Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland’s The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a homage to one of Scotland's most likeable, most individual and most unexpected 20th century figures; a new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing; and the UK premiere of The Forgotten / L’Oublié(e), the directorial debut of Raphaëlle Boitel, one of the most remarkable performers on the European visual and physical theatre scene.

Brighton Festival 2015 featured 396 performances across 150 events including 45 exclusives, premieres and commissions and 34 free events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “From the 5 stars across-the-board success of Richard Nelson’s extraordinary Apple Family Plays to the headline-grabbing performance of Kate Tempest and a very special personal appearance by newly Palme D’Or honoured Agnes Varda - this year really has been a Festival to remember. Ali Smith, as Guest Director, has been an absolute pleasure to work with and a wonderful inspiration to us all. Her remarkable sense of possibility, wonder, imagination and excitement at anything that she encounters has been evident every step of the way, from her invaluable input during the programming process to her lively and engaging presence throughout the month. The Festival’s continued ability to not only bring such an eclectic range of artists onto one bill but to make it a resounding success, is testament to the extraordinary support we have from funders, sponsors and from audiences themselves. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year. I cannot wait to lift the lid on what surprises we have in store for the city and beyond.”

The Tallest Tortillas, to the World’s Largest Timewarp - we investigate Brighton's world record attempts

The Measure of All Things, coming to Brighton Festival on Sat 23 and Sun 24 May, is an innovative ‘live documentary’, created by Academy Award-nominated film-maker Sam Green. The multi-disciplinary performance incorporates film, a live soundtrack from yMusic, and live narration from Green. This format allows him freedom from the restrictions of film, combined with the energy of a live audience, in an unparalleled production which promises to push the boundaries of the documentary genre. 


The Measure of All Things by Sam Green from The Kitchen on Vimeo.

Loosely inspired by the Guinness Book of World Records, the film weaves together portraits of record-breaking people, places and things: from the tallest man on earth, to the oldest living thing. Green tells Extended Play “in my mind, it’s a piece about time and fate and weird things we’re compelled to do — things we don’t even understand why we’re compelled to do them”. World Record Breakers form the basis for a poignant exploration of what Green calls the oddness and ‘inexplicable nature of being alive’.

In the spirit of The Measure of All Things, we decided to delve into Brighton’s very own collection of World Records (and attempts), from the wonderful to the wacky. Here are some of our favourites:

  • The Official UK Rocky Horror Fan Club danced their way to victory as the most people dancing the Time Warp in costume on Brighton Beach in 2009. 1635 people took part, but were outdone in 2010 by 8239 time warp-ers at the Annual Halloween Carnival in Hollywood. Watch the Brighton Time Warpers...


  • Heroic Brighton resident Dan Lawson holds the World Record for treadmill running, managing 226 kilometers in 7 days – the equivalent of 20 marathons! Keeping occupied by watching films, and fuelling himself on rice, veggie burgers and poppadums with mango chutney, he ran across the finish line in 2009 and remains unbeaten.
  • The Wold Record for the most people crammed in a Mini is 27, and was achieved by Dani and the mini-skirts at the London to Brighton Mini Run in 2014. See how it's done...



  • Brighton’s beloved Volks Railway holds the record for the First Public Electric Railway Still in Operation - it set off on its maiden voyage in 1883.
  • The tallest stack of tortillas was created in Jubilee Square in 2010 – standing at an impressive 58 cm (1 ft 10 in)
  • Karl-Heinz Hille from Germany is the holder of the World Record for most wins at the World Beard and Moustache Championships. Helping him make history was his title of Best Imperial Partial Beard at the 2007 Championships in Brighton.
  • In 2012 over 300 people gathered in an unofficial record attempt to bring together as many people dressed as Kate Bush re-enacting the dance to the iconic Wuthering Heights music video. Here is the final result...

Book now for The Measure of All Things


Sources:

More on Sam Green Extended Play 
Timewarp record Timewarp.org 
Treadmill record - The Argus 
Mini record Guinness World Records 
Volks Railway Guinness Book of Records
Tallest stack of Tortillas Guinness World Records
Beard Championship Record Guinness World Records
Spooning Record Virtual Festivals 

Agnès Varda is first woman to receive honorary Palme D’Or at Cannes

Agnès Varda – who made a very special personal appearance at Brighton Festival 2015 – is to receive an honorary Palme D’Or at Cannes this year in recognition of her career.

The legendary French filmmaker and artist, whose incredible body of work is celebrated at Brighton Festival this year with a new art installation called Beaches, Beaches at University of Brighton Gallery, a series of screenings of a selection of her films, and a special lecture at Duke of York’s, will be the first woman ever selected for the distinction.

Varda joins the ranks of only three other directors — Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Bernardo Bertolucci —in being recognised in this way for the global impact of their body of work.

Already the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award by the European Film Academy for her outstanding body of work, Varda - now 86 - has created some of the most interesting female protagonists in 20th-century cinema.

Audiences can visit her Brighton Festival gallery installation ‘Beaches, Beaches’ at University of Brighton Gallery until 24 May 2015. Comprised of images and videos related to French beaches, the installation references, in Varda’s words:

 “memories of an old photograph, a puzzled image of a young man on the beach, colourful plastic objects such as flip flops and rubber rings and all through the lovely sound of the sea border.”

The free installation runs from Saturday 2 May to Sunday 24 May, open daily from 10am – 5pm (and 10am – 8pm on Thursdays) at University of Brighton Gallery. Click here for more information.

Varda’s work is often connected to the French New Wave, and her early films were clear precedents for the stylistic tendencies which the New Wave directors delineated. However, her work remains particular to her own unique perspective on the world, resisting the paradigms of movements in art and film.

The themes and issues in her films focus on time and people, the collective unconscious, and social taboos. Her work is also distinct from the French New Wave for its crossing of genres, as she is known as much for her documentaries and short films as for her feature-length dramas. Not limiting herself to France, her films have been shot in a variety of locations, including the USA, Cuba and Iran.

Brighton Festival performance takes visitors into maze of tunnels under Old Ship Hotel

Ticket holders for Brighton Festival event Vast White Stillness will get a sneak peak into a unique Brighton space as the performance takes them deep underground into the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel.

Reality, imagination and memory blur in the intriguing new work which has been created by Brighton composer Claudia Molitor and director Dan Ayling. Part installation, part performance, Vast White Stillness combines music, image and theatre to create an immersive journey through the nuances of memory - the fleeting glance, the not-quite-heard, the half-remembered - that colour a lifetime.

The piece has its roots in Claudia’s personal experience of a trans-national upbringing - she grew up in the Bavarian Alps and now lives in the South of England – and how that has affected her experience of identity and memory: ”The idea of being from one place only, having only one nation that you would call home, seems quite an odd idea to me. There is always this sense of longing for the other, no matter where you are - a sense of home sickness - that you will always have because you are multiple. I don’t mean this in a negative way; it is, in fact, a sense of freedom from being bound to a particular national identity.”

One of the intentions of Vast White Stillness is for audiences to have as unmediated an experience as possible and relate what they hear and see to their own experiences and memories. On using the space Claudia said: “I had no idea the spaces under the hotel existed until Laura Ducceschi, from Brighton Festival, suggested them and took us there. We fell in love with their potential straight away. You never quite know how a space is going to inflect your work and how in turn your work might colour the space. So a sound that appears lovely in one situation - say some trickling water in a forest brook - could sound quite ominous and frightening in a dark cellar. And, as with all live work, each performance depends very much on the audience attending”

Vast White Stillness is at The Old Ship Cellars from 8-10 May 2015. Returns only

In Photos: Brighton Festival Week One

Our 49th Festival with Ali Smith at the helm has been a joy so far. We've had heaps of fun and with a plethora of great theatre, circus, dance, music, classical, outdoor, family, books and debates and visual art and film events still  to come the fun is nowhere near over yet!

Take a look back over our first week of Brighton Festival 2015 right here...

The past week has flown by and lots of exciting events have happened so far at Brighton Festival 2015 and there's still so much more to come! Check out what’s up next at: https://brightonfestival.org/whats_on/

Posted by Brighton Festival on Friday, 8 May 2015

Photos: Brighton Festival 2015 Opening Weekend

This weekend Brighton Festival began and we had smashing time! Here are some photos that showcase the festivities and it's nowhere near over yet, as there are lots more exciting events to come - see our What’s On page for full details

Brighton Festival 2015 kicked off with a bang this weekend, with an exciting programme of events .

Posted by Brighton Festival on Monday, 4 May 2015

Video: Emily Gravett illustrates The Imaginary Girl from The Imaginary

Take a moment and watch the award-winning Emily Gravett illustrate The Imaginary Girl from A.F. Harrold's The Imaginary in this beautiful time lapse video.

You can meet the creators of this frightening, captivating and funny tale at Brighton Festival on Sat 9 May. Find out more about this event 26 Letters event.


Marcus Coates talks birds, shamanism, intoxicated animals and Brighton Festival with the Artsdesk

Marcus Coates brings his work Dawn Chorus to Fabrica this year. This immersive piece uses unique digital methods to explore the relationship between birdsong and the human voice, drawing out similarities between the behaviour of birds and humans. Recently, he spoke with Thomas H Green for The Arts Desk about his influences and works, past and present.

‘Coates tendency towards the bizarre and comic mask a deeply held desire to explore humankind’s understanding of nature and the world around.’

Find out more about the artist himself and his work in an enlightening interview with The Arts Desk.

‘Birds are particularly interesting because their lives mirror our own. They build homes, they have very complex ways of communicating vocally, a lot of their culture is similar to ours. Birdsong is a very interesting parallel because even the form of their song - repetition, endurance, musicality - is reflected in how we use music and language in song. We can see so much of ourselves in what birds are doing.'

Read the full interview






Photos: Brighton Festival Street Art by Sinna One

Brighton based artist and illustrator Sinna One has been busy creating some brilliant Brighton Festival pieces and transforming these utilitarian boxes around town. Featured in a number of books and exhibitions, Sinna One’s work ranges across a wide spectrum and includes large-scale murals, live paint display for events, festival sculptures, illustration and more.

Spray painted around our fair city, there are plenty to see. Take a look at the photos below to see how these wonderful beasts take form…






Video: Squarepusher - Most Valid Reason

Producer, bass virtuoso, composer and sound artist, Squarepusher aka Tom Jenkinson has constantly strived to push the boundaries and limits of music, drawing on influences as broad as drum and bass, acid house, jazz and electroacoustic music - with pretty incredible results. Watch him now in this new video performing Most Valid Reason via VICE Japan or - even better - experience Squarepusher live in action on Fri 8 May at Brighton Dome.

Back with eagerly anticipated new material, Squarepusher brings his all-new live show to Brighton Festival 2015. Jenkinson Told BBC 6Music,

‘It’ll be very fast, very experimental, it’ll be an evening of extremity… the music I’m writing is born to be heard at a very high volume on stage, accompanied by a visually slamming presentation.'


And we can't wait...