Reinventing circus for new generations and audiences at this year’s Brighton Festival


This year’s Brighton Festival hosts ground-breaking contemporary circus performances which push the boundaries of the art form to include new audiences and inspire future generations to take up circus skills.

Acrobats from Australia’s exhilarating Circa ensemble will stage the UK premiere of their mesmerising new show, Sacre at the Theatre Royal Brighton from 23-28 May. Considered the ‘rock stars of the circus world’, Circa’s stunning physical virtuosity consistently blurs the boundaries between movement, dance, theatre and circus.

Click here to see more from Circa 

In a highly dramatic production from Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz, Sacre explores human connection, sexual desire and our relationship with the divine. Set against a soundtrack of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and a stirring new composition from contemporary French composer Philipe Bachman, Sacre uses poetic tenderness, raw emotion and remarkable physical strength to draw audiences into a show full tension and dark humour. Liftschitz explains the aim of the show is to make the audience ‘sit for an hour and be too tense to draw breath’ and Sacre was hailed as ‘a performance of its generation’ by critics during a recent US tour.

Circa are at the forefront of the new wave of contemporary circus pioneers, using extreme physicality to create powerful and moving performances that draw in new audiences and new converts to the genre. Their on-going commitment to foster the next generation of ground-breaking circus artists has seen the company set up public circus programmes in their home town of Melbourne.

Echoing this approach to new possibilities in circus are the UK’s Extraordinary Bodies, who present their latest work Human at Brighton Dome on 25 May. Celebrating a decade of multi-disciplinary shows featuring D/deaf, disabled, and non-disabled artists, Extraordinary Bodies combine music, film, and theatre in a truly inclusive form of circus designed for every body. Their passion for embedding accessibility extends to using sign language interpretation, captioning and audio description throughout their productions.

Human emerged from the pandemic when the performers began sharing stories around the meaning and uncertainty of being human. Incorporating circus, live music and film this hopeful, intimate and funny performance relives childhood memories and life-changing moments via an innovative trapeze performance combining a wheelchair, floor work on hands and aerial dance duets. Live and recorded sound plays through silent disco headphones, creating an intimate relationship between performers and audience.

Click here to see more from Extraordinary Bodies

Earlier on 25 May, a performance entitled Till We Win will showcase the work Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists – their training performing arts company for disabled and non-disabled 16 to 30-year-olds to include young people who may traditionally have experienced barriers to participation in the arts. Till We Win is a joyous story about those who are often unheard making big changes to save the place they love, mixing anarchic theatre, circus, dance and original music.

Brighton Festival is celebrating a return to full-capacity audiences in 2022 with an extensive international programme of more than 150 events taking place across Sussex from 7-29 May. 

For the first time this year, Brighton Festival welcomes two Guest Co-Directors, Syrian architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni and Tristan Sharps, Artistic Director of Brighton-based theatre makers dreamthinkspeak. Marwa and Tristan have chosen the theme of Rebuilding as the inspiration for this year’s programme, exploring it from two different yet complementary perspectives. 


For full details of the Brighton Festival 2022 programme visit




Notes to Editors


Watch the Brighton Festival 2022 press launch here

The full press pack, including images, can be accessed here


For press enquiries or interview requests please contact:

Hayley Willis, Head of Communications[javascript protected email address]

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Key facts about Brighton Festival 2022

  • 150 events, exhibitions and installations from 7-29 May 2022
  • 124 events or installations will take place indoors across multiple venues
  • 36 events are free 
  • 10 events or digital projects will take place online
  • 26 events or installations will take place outdoors across multiple sites or locations
  • 101 performances with tickets £10 or less The Pay It Forward scheme will offer free ticket vouchers to community organisations


About Brighton Festival

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Taking place over three weeks in May, the Festival is a celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and community events in venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and East Sussex.

Since 2009, Brighton Festival has attracted inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme. The inaugural Guest Director was Anish Kapoor (2009) and has subsequently included prominent cultural figures such as Brian Eno (2010), Laurie Anderson (2016), Kae Tempest (2017), David Shrigley (2018), Rokia Traoré (2019) and Lemn Sissay MBE (2020/21).


About Marwa Al-Sabouni

Architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni is based in the Syrian city of Homs and was named in the BBC’s 100 Women list 2019. Her acclaimed book, The Battle for Home was chosen by The Guardian as one of the best architectural books of 2016. Her second book, Building for Hope, was published by Thames & Hudson in April 2021.


About Tristan Sharps

Tristan Sharps is Artistic Director of dreamthinkspeak, a multi-disciplinary company, renowned for their site-responsive performances. They create productions that interweave live performance with film and installations that are ambitious in scope and often take place in unusual architectural spaces including a former department store, disused factory, underground abattoir and abandoned office blocks. Previous acclaimed sold-out Brighton Festival performances include Before I Sleep (2010) and The Rest is Silence (2012).