THE Turner Prize-nominated visual artist David Shrigley is embarking on “a voyage of discovery” as the guest director of this year’s Brighton Festival, the largest annual curated multi-arts festival in England

The Macclesfield-born artist, who lives in Brighton, is known for his darkly humorous works that comment on the absurd, inconsequential, and disquieting elements of daily life and his “offbeat take” is reflected in a programme spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate.

He says, “I’m very excited about this year’s line-up – not only for the things that I have selected but also for the things I have only read about. One of the best things about the festival for me is that it can be a voyage of discovery.”

The programme, which includes Brighton Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a new alt rock/pop pantomime written and directed by Mr Shrigley, was launched as the artist was unveiled as guest director.

Brighton Festival chief executive Andrew Comben says, “Like Brighton Festival, David Shrigley’s work is for everyone. Both powerful and funny, his work manages to speak to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he is also a great advocate for the arts helping our health and wellbeing.

“We are thrilled that David is bringing his distinctive take to the festival and the city he has now made his home.”

Brighton Festival is a cultural highlight of the year in Brighton and nationally, says Hedley Swain, of Arts Council England, adding, “It presents a programme of work that is accessible, imaginative, exciting and inspiring, engaging audiences from across the city and beyond; a programme that we are pleased to support.

“David Shrigley has a wonderfully dark and offbeat take on life and I really look forward to seeing his influence on this year’s festival. Art and culture make a huge contribution to Brighton’s success and its reputation for excellence. With its international reach and fantastic programme, which spans a wide range of art-forms, Brighton Festival is a significant part of what makes Brighton such a great place to live, work and visit.”

The programme includes Life Model II, a follow-up to Mr Shrigley’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’. Alongside it are 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. Mr Shrigley’s trademark wit is also evident in his brochure cover design, featuring a hammer and a bent nail and bearing the tagline ‘Strive for Excellence’.

Other events close to the artist’s heart include an exclusive collaboration between orchestral collective Stargaze and one of his favourite bands, Deerhoof; an exhibition by San-Francisco-based artist and trucker Brett Goodroad; and a double bill from his friend Malcolm Middleton, one half of Arab Strap, and Scottish musician Iain Shaw, whose quirky folk song-smithery has turned Shrigley’s poems into incisive songs on albums like Awesome and Listening to Slayer.

The programme includes a live durational reading of Camus’s seminal The Myth of Sisyphus, and appearances from award-winning comedian Bridget Christie and genderqueer rock’n’roll hero Ezra Furman.

Brighton Festival 2018 features a host of commissions and co-commissions from a wide range of national and international artists including: Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; Grand Finale by Hofesh Shechter, the festival’s guest director in 2014, a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall; The Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience from The Voice Project in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like night of music stories, sound and images; Cuckmere: A Portrait, a filmic homage to the changing moods of the Cuckmere river accompanied by a live score; and Creation (Pictures for Dorian), a new piece inspired by Oscar Wilde’s iconic character Dorian Gray from acclaimed British/German arts collective Gob Squad.

Circus and dance make a significant appearance in the programme via an extended visit from internationally renowned NoFit State circus, who present their new production Lexicon; a collaboration from Australia’s dance luminaries Dancenorth, Lucy Guerin Inc and Gideon Obarzanek and Indonesian music duo Senyawa, Attractor; Brighton Festival commission KAYA from the Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc’s all-female company, which fuses traditional Turkish folk dance with contemporary style; an award-winning debut by one of the most exciting new companies on the contemporary circus scene, Fauna; and a collaboration between Netherlands-based theatre-maker Boukje Schweigman, visual artist Cocky Eek and performer Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti in Blaas (Blow), a weird but wonderful ballet of abstract configurations.

The contemporary music and spoken word programme is wide-ranging: A Change is Gonna Come is a collaboration between soul, jazz and rap artists Carleen Anderson, Nikki Yeoh and Speech Debelle, exploring the power of the protest song, while West Africa’s first all-female super group Les Amazones d’Afrique was formed in the fight against violence towards women. Brownton Abbey is a new Afrofuturist collective headlined by New Orleans ‘Queen of Bounce’ Big Freedia, best known for her appearance on Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ track and collaborations with Diplo and RuPaul, while Brighton Festival commission Travis Alabanza: Before I Step Outside (You Love Me) is an evening of Black trans poetics with one of the UK’s leading trans voices.  Performances from cult favourite Amanda Palmer, This is the Kit and Jungle also feature.

Alongside the return of caravan, a three-day biennial curated industry showcase of the best new theatre from across England, which is open to the public for the first time this year, theatre highlights include National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam, the true story of a young trans man and his journey to reconciliation, directed by award-winning theatre director Cora Bissett; and Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Emma Rice’s acclaimed ode to Marc and Bella Chagall.

Other highlights include appearances from Lemn Sissay, Michael Rosen, Rose Tremain, Iain Sinclair, Bridget Christie, Brett Anderson, Viv Albertine, Tim Key and Shami Chakrabarti; an exhibition from controversial artist duo Gilbert & George, and a touring mobile installation from multi-award winning contemporary designer Morag Myerscough; two special classical concerts to mark the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival Choir, Britten’s War Requiem and Belshazzar’s Feast, and performances from Vox Luminis and Cédric Tiberghien.

As ever Brighton Festival will kick off with the Children’s Parade – the largest event of its kind in Europe – produced by Same Sky. Other family events include Snigel and Friends from leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch’s company; the world premiere of I Wish I Was a Mountain, a re-imagined version of Herman Hesse’s classic fairytale – from writer, performer and former Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion Toby Thompson; and the UK premiere of Apples, a wordless and charming feast for the senses.

Brighton Festival 2018 also continues its emphasis on programming work in the community with the return of Your Place – two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Your Place joins regular free, participatory events such as City Reads and Young City Reads; and Without Walls, two afternoons of free arts in the parks.

There is also a return of last year’s initiative encouraging audiences to Pay-It-Forward by donating £5 on top of their ticket price to be match-funded by Brighton Festival to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity.

Brighton Festival 2018 takes place from May 5-27. Phone 01273 709709 or visit brightonfestival.org.

 

Here’s a taster of events at Brighton Festival 2018:

GUEST DIRECTOR

David Shrigley: Life Model II

Co-produced by Brighton Festival

Saturday-Sunday April 14-May 27, FABRICA, 40 Duke Street, Brighton

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

David Shrigley: Problem in Brighton

A Brighton Festival commission written and directed by David Shrigley

Thursday-Saturday May 10-12, 2pm & 7:30pm, The Old Market, 11a Upper Market Street, Hove

Problem in Brighton is an alt-rock/pop pantomime starring award-winning actors Pauline Knowles and Gavin Mitchell who previously worked with Shrigley on his ‘opera’ Pass The Spoon in 2011. This Brighton Festival commission, written and directed by David Shrigley, and with music from Brighton-based artist and musician Lee Baker, will require ear plugs and an open mind.

Craig Melvin with David Shrigley, Matt Haig & Jess Kidd: The Big Book Group

Saturday May 19, 8pm, Brighton & Hove High School, Montpelier Road, Brighton

Craig Melvin hosts the show for book-lovers, with local author Matt Haig talking about his books How to Stop Time and the bestselling Reasons to Stay Alive; Festival Guest Director David Shrigley discussing his life in books; and Jess Kidd as our ‘Star Author on a Reasonably Priced Sofa’. All this plus the Big Book Group quiz, a chance to help plot a novel and live music too.

David Shrigley: A Shit Odyssey (2018, UK, cert tbc)

UK Premiere

Monday May 21, 9pm, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Preston Circus, Brighton

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 this feature length documentary.

David Shrigley: Illustrated talk

Brighton Festival Exclusive

Wednesday May 23, 8pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall

David Shrigley will present an illustrated talk about his work. It will contain numerous rambling anecdotes, but it will not be in the slightest bit boring: he has signed a written agreement to this effect, signed in his own blood.

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

Deerhoof Stargaze

World Premiere & Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival

Wed 9 May, 8pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

This exclusive performance begins with a collaboration with orchestral collective Stargaze. 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 Taker by post-hardcore band Fugazi. The second half sees Deerhoof perform songs from their extensive back catalogue, before members of Stargaze rejoin the band onstage for a stunning finale.

Carleen Anderson, Nikki Yeoh & Speech Debelle: A Change is Gonna Come

Tuesday May 22, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

On stage together for the first time, vocalist Carleen Anderson, virtuoso pianist Nikki Yeoh, and Mercury Music Prize-winning rapper Speech Debelle will perform unique interpretations of iconic songs from the Civil Rights movement such as Mississippi God Damn, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and many more. This special concert also features powerful new compositions by Anderson and Yeoh highlighting the ongoing fight for equal human rights.

Malcolm Middleton Iain Shaw

Thursday May 24, 8pm, St George’s Church, 93 St George’s Road, Brighton

The Scottish singer-songwriter who came to prominence as one half of Arab Strap is now on his seventh solo album. Invited to perform by his friend David Shrigley, Malcolm Middleton will preview new songs and revisit older work. Joining Malcolm on the bill is Iain Shaw, a Glasgow musician whose quirky folk song-smithery has turned Shrigley’s poems into incisive songs on albums like Awesome and Listening to Slayer.

Les Amazones d’Afrique

Thursday May 24, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

West Africa’s first all-female super group has formed in the fight against violence towards women, featuring some of the greatest Malian musicians of the moment: Mamani Keïta, Rokia Koné, Mariam Doumbia (one half of Amadou & Mariam), Awa Sangho and Mariam Koné. Inspired by the formidable warriors of Dahomey, Les Amazones d’Afrique elegantly combine the Mandingo tradition with the power of today’s African megacities.

Ezra Furman

Support by Du Blonde

Saturday May 26, 8pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

Chicago’s genderqueer rock’n’roll hero, Ezra Furman’s onstage presence, hook-laden garage-punk 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.

VISUAL ART

Gilbert & George: ARTIST ROOMS

Saturday April 28-Sunday September 2, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 12A Pavilion Parade, Brighton

Gilbert & George are a Turner Prize-winning artist partnership, who have worked and shared their lives together for 50 years. ‘Art for all’ is the belief that underpins Gilbert & George’s art, and their playful and ambiguous works on display, drawn from the ARTIST ROOMS collection, explore themes essential to humanity and contemporary society. Unafraid to shock, some may find the explicit nature of some of their imagery challenging.

Belonging: Morag Myerscough

Brighton Festival co-commission

Saturday May 5-Sunday October 14, Tuesday-Sunday, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Lodge Hill Lane, Ditchling

Multi-award winning contemporary designer Morag Myerscough will create her first ever mobile installation, inspired by the seminal 1960s work of LA artist Corita Kent: a bright, bold, touring bandstand programmed in conjunction with communities across Sussex, inviting them to reflect on the concept of ‘belonging’by making banners to adorn its crown and programming a diverse range of local performers to use it as a stage. Launching at the Children’s Parade, it will tour to ‘Your Place’venues in Brighton and onwards throughout Sussex. Co-commissioned by Ditchling Museum of Art Craft and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival.

Brett Goodroad

UK Premiere

Wednesday-Sunday May 9-27, 11am – 5pm, Phoenix Gallery, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Brighton

Artist and trucker Brett Goodroad grew up in Montana and currently lives near Ocean Beach in San Francisco. He makes his paintings in his backyard – much of the content of which mimics nature. Goodroad has exhibited in New York and San Francisco and has received awards from Headlands Center for the Arts, the Millay Colony and Kala Art Institute. He drives big rigs through the Southwest delivering organic vegetables, has driven combines through the bread basket on harvest crews and has wrangled buffalo in the Gallatin Valley.

Robbie Thomson: XFRMR

A Cryptic commission for Sonica in association with Cove Park

Wednesday-Sunday May 16-20, 7.30pm & 9.30pm, The Spire, St Mark’s Chapel, Eastern Road, Brighton

Visual artist Robbie Thomson harnesses the power of the Tesla coil, the 19th century invention that first let us see electricity dance. A pulsing soundtrack reminiscent of afrobeat and ambient electronica – created via laptop and synthesiser – strikes visuals from the Tesla coil, shooting sensational sonic and visual fireworks flaring through the Faraday cage that contains it.

CLASSICAL

Cuckmere: A Portrait & Environmentalism 2.0

World Premiere & Brighton Festival Commission

Saturday May 5, 7.30pm, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Gardner Centre Road, Falmer, Brighton

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. Following this, Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party and MP for Brighton Pavilion, discusses the future of the environmental movement with the author Tony Juniper.

The Voice Project: The Arms of Sleep

A Brighton Festival Co-commission with Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Friday-Sunday May 11-14, overnight from 9.30pm to 8am, Firle Place Riding School, 1 Stable Cottages, West Firle, Lewes

In one of its most ambitious and magical productions to date, The Voice Project takes you on an epic 10-hour immersive experience of choral music, film and animation set in the beautiful grounds of historic stately home Firle Place. On arrival, guests will each be given a bed before spending the night surrounded by sound and shadows, poised between sleep and wakefulness as the choir performs music specially commissioned from leading composers Helen Chadwick, Orlando Gough and Jonathan Baker.

Main picture, top: David Shrigley/picture: Victor Frankowski

Above: Life Model II by David Shrigley

Below: David Shrigley’s design for the cover of the Brighton Festival 2018 brochure

Above: Deerhoof/picture: Shervin Lainez

Below: a work by Brett Goodroad/picture: John Janca

Above: Bridget Christie/picture: Rich Hardcastle

Below: Ezra Furman

Above: Calixto Bieito

Below: Grand Finale by Hofesh Shechter

Above: The Arms of Sleep by The Voice Project

Below: Cuckmere: A Portrait

Above: Creation (Pictures for Dorian) by Gob Squad

Below: NoFit State circus

Above: Attractor/picture: Gus Kemp

Below: Fauna/picture: Einar Kling-Odencrants

Above: Carleen Anderson/picture: Hassan Hajjaj

Below: Les Amazones d’Afrique

Above: Big Freedia

Below: Travis Alabanza

Above: Amanda Palmer/picture: Martin Ollman

Below: Adam/picture: Andy Bell

Above: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk/picture: Steve Tanner

Below: Lemn Sissay

Above: Michael Rosen/picture: Dave Stelfox

Below: Rose Tremain/picture: Dave Kirkham

Above: Brett Anderson

Below: Viv Albertine

Above: Shami Chakrabarti/picture: Roddy Paine

Below: Rachel Cusk

Above: Robert Peston/picture: Alan Davidson

Below: Jacqueline Wilson/picture: James Jordan

Britten Sinfonia, Orchestre de Picardie & The BFC: War Requiem

Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union

Saturday May 12, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

In a unique and poignant British–French collaboration, the Brighton Festival Chorus joins Britten Sinfonia and Orchestre de Picardie, who are based in Amiens in the heart of what was the Western Front. Drawing on the poetry of Wilfred Owen alongside the traditional words of the Requiem Mass, Britten’s War Requiem is both an eloquent tribute to the fallen of the Great War and a heartfelt plea for peace. This performance of a searing masterpiece also marks the centenary of the end of World War One. Featuring soloists Ian Bostridge, Gerald Finley and Claire Booth, the massed ranks of choral singers and instrumentalists promises an evening of unforgettable power.

Brighton Festival Choir: Belshazzar’s Feast

Brighton Festival Chorus and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Sunday May 27, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

Fifty years ago, Brighton Festival Chorus was launched with a performance of Walton’s epic cantata Belshazzar’s Feast. Now they are established as one of the finest symphony choruses in the UK and an indispensable part of the Festival. Just as in its 1968 debut, the Chorus is joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for this historic commemorative concert. With the leading British baritone James Rutherford as soloist, this is a landmark performance for the Chorus.

THEATRE

National Theatre of Scotland: Adam

Wednesday-Saturday May 9-12, Wednesday-Friday 8pm, Saturday 7pm, Theatre Royal Brighton, New Road, Brighton

If you are born in a country where being yourself can get you killed, exile is your only choice. Adam is the remarkable true story of a young transgender man having to make that choice and begin his journey. From Egypt to Scotland, this powerful, award-winning production charts Adam’s fight across borders and genders to find a place to call home. A remarkable multimedia production, Adam features a stunning score composed by Olivier award-winner Jocelyn Pook (Eyes Wide Shut, Gangs of New York) sung by a virtual choir of trans and non-binary individuals from around the world.

Kneehigh: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

Wednesday-Saturday 9-12, Wednesday-Friday 8pm, Saturday 2.30pm & 8pm, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Gardner Centre Road, Falmer, Brighton

Meet Marc Chagall and his wife Bella: the flying lovers of Vitebsk! Partners in life and in art, Marc and Bella are immortalised as the picture of romance. But whilst on canvas they flew, in life they walked through some of the most devastating times in history. Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk traces the lives of the 20th century’s most influential Jewish artist and his wife as they navigate the Pogroms, the Russian Revolution, and each other.

caravan

May 13-15, various locations

caravan is a biennial showcase that introduces England’s brightest independent theatre artists to festival organisers and programmers from around the world. This year’s programme includes Cloudscapes from Gobbledegook Theatre, an outdoor auditorium made for cloud-gazing with; Third Angel & SBC Theatre’s unique map-making performance-installation that considers the push and pull factors of global migration, Journeys; Joan of Arc, performed by drag king champion Lucy Jane Parkinson in Joan from Milk Presents; and Ursula Martinez building a real wall between herself and the audience throughout Free Admission.

caravan is delivered by Farnham Maltings in partnership with Brighton Festival and supported by Arts Council England and British Council.

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

Brighton Festival Commission

Wednesday and Thursday May 23 and 24, 7.30pm, Theatre Royal Brighton, New Road, Brighton

The tempestuous relationship between music, anxiety and sex comes to a head in his remarkable new production from Calixto Bieito, one of Europe’s most exciting theatre-makers. Known for his radical interpretation of classic operas, the Spanish director has been compared to Pedro Almodovar for his singular style. Music and drama collide as the award-winning string powerhouse The Heath Quartet performs alongside a quartet of actors to deliver an unmissable montage of melody and madness. Presented by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, in association with BD&BF and Holland Festival

Gob Squad: Creation (Pictures for Dorian)

UK premiere and Brighton Festival co-commission

Wednesday-Sunday May 23-27, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Gardner Centre Road, Falmer, Brighton

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. In a production inspired by Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Gob Squad (joined onstage by older and younger performers) peeps behind the vanity mirror to question beauty, morality and power – and ask why we so crave the eye of the beholder.

DANCE

Hofesh Shechter: Grand Finale

Brighton Festival co-commission

Saturday and Sunday May 5 and 6, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

This latest work from internationally-celebrated choreographer (and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director) Hofesh Shechter is a spectacularly bold and ambitious new piece featuring ten dancers. Designed by Tom Scutt with lighting by Tom Visser, Grand Finale is at once comic, bleak and beautiful, evoking a world at odds with itself, full of anarchic energy and violent comedy. Filtering this irrepressible spirit, Shechter creates a vision of a world in freefall, part gig, part dance, part theatre and wholly original.

Produced by Hofesh Shechter Company and commissioned by Georgia Rosengarten. Commissioning partners are Sadler’s Wells, Théâtre de la Ville-Paris / La Villette-Paris and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival

Ceyda Tanc Dance: KAYA

Brighton Festival commission

Monday May 14, 8pm, Theatre Royal Brighton, New Road, Brighton

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.

Schweigman&: Blaas (Blow)

UK Premiere

Thursday-Sunday May 17-20, Moulsecoomb Leisure Centre, Moulsecoomb Way, Brighton

Netherlands-based theatre-maker Boukje Schweigman collaborates with visual artist Cocky Eek and performer Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti to create Blaas (Blow), a weird but wonderful ballet of abstract configurations. What at first looks like inconspicuous piles of white fabric, slowly becomes a swaying, dancing being, moving between performer and audience alike. Playing with the boundaries of physical space, this wordless piece of visual theatre creates a mysterious and disorientating world for the spectator – offering a new perspective on everyday reality.

Attractor

Friday May 19, 5pm & 8.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

Australia’s dance luminaries Dancenorth, Lucy Guerin Inc and Gideon Obarzanek collaborate with Indonesian music duo Senyawa to create a visceral tour de force where sound and movement drive each other into heightened states. Succumb to the ecstatic power of music and dance and immerse yourself in a transcendent contemporary ritual.

Combining Indonesian folk and heavy metal, the music performed live on stage builds to a frenetic pitch that propels the dancers into wild, hypnotic abandonment. The all-consuming climax dissolves the demarcation between performer and spectator in an exhilarating shared experience.

CIRCUS

NoFit State Circus: LEXICON

Thursday-Monday May 3-14, Hove Lawns, Kingsway, Hove

Internationally renowned company NoFit State Circus present their dazzling new production Lexicon – a daring, seductive and utterly contemporary take on the circus experience. Drawing inspiration from history, heritage and traditions, this show digs into the underground of memory and celebrates the past, present and future of this much-loved artform. NoFit State Circus have been performing for over thirty years and today are the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company.

Fauna

Wednesday-Saturday May 16-19, Theatre Royal Brighton, New Road, Brighton

Performed by Daniel Cave-Walker, Rhiannon Cave-Walker, Enni-Maria Lymi, Matt Pasquet & Imogen Huzel

Winner of Best Circus awards at both Edinburgh and Adelaide Fringe Festivals 2017, Fauna is sexy, sinuous, and full of animal magnetism. Five young and entrancing performers take to the floor, transforming their bodies into spiders, lemurs, tree frogs and birds of paradise – acting out the rituals of courtship, cunning, and the simple pleasure of play to an irresistible soundtrack of live guitar. This is an exploration of the animal kingdom as you’ve never seen it before, in the award-winning debut by one of the most exciting new companies on the contemporary circus scene.

Supported by Arts Council England through the National Lottery, and City of Stockholm Arts Funding

OUTDOOR

Madeleine Flynn & Tim Humphrey: Pivot

Saturday-Sunday May 5-27, Beach level by the i360, Lower Kings Road, Brighton

The artists who brought you the watery installation Gauge (2015) and the sonic sea journey Five Short Blasts (2017) are back at Brighton Festival – this time with semi-intelligent talking seesaws. Equipped with built-in voice communicators with a mind of their own, this chattering apparatus will poke, probe, question and counsel you as you seesaw your way to equilibrium.

Nick Steur: A Piece of 2 – Balancing Human-sized Rocks

UK Premiere

Saturday-Monday May 5-7, Beach level by the i360, Lower Kings Road, Brighton

In this compulsive installation, the Dutch performance artist Nick Steur embarks on a constantly changing quest for equilibrium in defiance of gravity, finding new ways of balancing the rocks before destroying the delicate balance and searching for a new, different stability.

Three Score Dance: Dance the NELKEN-line

Saturday May 19, 6pm gather for final rehearsal, performance starts 6:30, Brighton seafront

Brighton Festival and Three Score Dance invite you to join the iconic promenade Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter from visionary choreographer Pina Bausch’s 1982 masterpiece, NELKEN. Our workshops will teach you the four gestures of The Nelken-Line, set to Louis Armstrong’s West End Blues. Part of a global project run by the Pina Bausch Foundation and ARTE, our aim is to create the most fabulous and colourful NELKEN- Line on Brighton seafront.

Weekend Without Walls

Saturday May 26, 12-5pm Easthill Park, Portslade Village, and Sunday May 27, 12-5pm Beach level by the i360, Lower Kings Road, Brighton

A weekend of new outdoor performances spanning art forms including dance, theatre, circus and acrobatics, puppetry, installations, walk-about processions, digital technology and family friendly shows ranging from the intimate to the larger-than-life. Without Walls shows to premiere at Brighton Festival are Modern Warrior by Rosie Kay Dance Company, a group dance and martial arts stand-off from the company that won Best Independent Dance Company in 2015 by the National Dance Awards and is nominated again for 2018; and Bicycle Boy by Helen Eastman Production, a bicycle powered musical for children aged 6 – 10 and their families.

POETRY AND SPOKEN WORD

Lemn Sissay MBE: Gold from the Stone

Plus Support

Sunday May 13, 7.30pm, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Gardner Centre Road, Falmer, Brighton

Lemn Sissay’s life story is nothing less than incredible. At 17, he wrote his first book of poetry, which he sold to the miners and millworkers of Wigan. He has since become one of the nation’s best-loved voices, performing for thousands at the 2012 Olympics, and having his poems painted on walls and etched in stone. Lemn will read poems from his latest anthology, amongst other choices.

Travis Alabanza: Before I Step Outside (You Love Me)

Plus Support. Brighton Festival Commission

Saturday May 26, 8pm, St George’s Church,  93 St George’s Rd, Brighton

An evening of Black trans poetics with one of the UK’s leading trans voices. Combining spoken word with soundscapes, projections and animation in collaboration with Daniel Brathwaite-Shirley, Travis presents a feature performance from their acclaimed debut book. Through diary entries, images, poems and essays, Travis reveals their experience as a trans person navigating public spaces: being on the street, being on public transport, being harassed, stared at, and surviving.

Poets & Illustrators With Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore, Toby Campion & Theresa Lola

World Premiere & Brighton Festival Commission

Saturday May 26, 8pm, St George’s Church,  93 St George’s Rd, Brighton

Some of the finest poets around are paired with live illustrators for a sharp, straight-talking night of poetry, projection and experimental art exploring the theme ‘hard work’. Hollie McNish is joined by Leicester boy and National Slam champion Toby Campion, and two female powerhouses: writer and columnist Bridget Minamore, and 2017 Hammer & Tongue champion, Theresa Lola. Illustrators Cressida Djambov and Jess Wilson will illuminate their work with vibrant colours, quirky expression and a healthy dose of eccentricity.

FILM

Kronos Quartet with Sam Green and Trio da Kali

Sunday May 20, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

In A Thousand Thoughts, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Green questions how music can change the world – combining archival footage and filmed interviews with Philip Glass, Terry Riley and more, with live narration and music from the quartet. The quartet will then be joined by Mali’s young Griot supergroup Trio da Kali, following their exquisite collaboration on album Ladilikan in 2017. A reminder of Kronos Quartet’s spirit of continuous exploration: it’s another reason to be cheerful that they have been making music for 40 years.

Double bills

A series of double bills in which classics of British Cinema from 1968 are paired with a film from another era that shares its radical spirit:

Sunday May 6, 1pm, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Preston Circus, Brighton

The Blood of a Poet (Le Sang d’un Poète) (1932, France, cert. PG)

Dir: Jean Cocteau. With Elizabeth Lee Miller & Enrique Rivero

Performance (1970, UK, cert. 18)

Dirs: Nicolas Roeg & Donald Cammell. With James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Michele Breton

Sunday May 13, 1pm, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Preston Circus, Brighton

Zéro de Conduite (1933, France, cert. PG)

Dir: Jean Vigo

If… (UK, 1968, cert. 15)

Dir: Lindsay Anderson

Sunday May 20, 1pm, Duke’s at Komedia

Witchfinder General (1968, UK, cert. 15)

Dir: Michael Reeves. With Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Rupert Davies

A Field in England (2013, UK, cert. 15)

Dir: Ben Wheatley. With Julian Barratt, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith

BOOKS AND DEBATE

The Myth of Sisyphus – a Reading

Monday May 7, all day from 11am-5.30pm, Grand Central, Surrey Street, Brighton

‘One must imagine Sisyphus happy’ concludes Albert Camus in his great essay on the man who strived for no purpose. In a feat of endurance all of its own, join actor and writer Simon Butteriss for this live reading of one of the great philosophical arguments of the 20th Century.

City Reads 2018: Rose Tremain

Sunday May 14, 4.30pm, Sallis Benney Theatre, 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton

City Reads, Brighton and Hove’s BIG READ, returns to Brighton Festival with an award-winning novel, from one of Britain’s literary heavyweights. Join Rose Tremain (CBE) live in conversation with Nicolette Jones for an intimate celebration of her 1992 classic Sacred Ground and re-discover this hugely relevant work told with skill and compassion.

Michael Rosen in conversation with Mark Lawson

Thursday May 17, 8pm, Brighton & Hove High School, Montpelier Road, Brighton

Michael Rosen – much-loved children’s author, education activist and a former Festival Guest Director – talks to Mark Lawson about his early life in the North London suburbs, as recalled in his recent memoir So They Call You Pisher! Michael’s parents were communists and he grew up dreaming of a socialist revolution, before a trip to East Germany kick-started his own journey of radical self-discovery.

Brett Anderson: Coal Black Mornings

Sunday May 20, 7.30pm, Theatre Royal Brighton, New Road, Brighton

As lead singer of Suede, Brett Anderson helped to shape British culture in the 1990s, but in his memoir, Coal Black Mornings, he recalls an upbringing that couldn’t have been further from rock star glamour in 1970s Hayward’s Heath raised on “Salad Cream and milky tea and cheap meat.” He talks to the journalist Alexis Petridis about the impact of a very English kind of poverty, and the background that gave rise to one of Britain’s most influential bands.

Viv Albertine: To Throw Away Unopened

Tuesday May 22, 8pm, Brighton & Hove High School, Montpelier Road, Brighton

Following Viv Albertine’s hit memoir Clothes, Music, Boys, about life in the punk band The Slits, her new memoir To Throw Away Unopened probes deeper into her past. Part radical reinvention of the memoir form, part feminist manifesto, part domestic noir, part polemic on motherhood; Viv talks to Erica Wagner about the family conflicts that propelled her towards the uncompromising world of punk.

FAMILY

Children’s Parade

Saturday May 5, from 10.30am, Kensington Street to Madeira Drive, Brighton

Join our annual tradition of bringing the streets of Brighton alive with an irresistible tide of joyous sound, colour and celebration. More than 5,000 children from 80 schools will be tackling this year’s theme of Paintings, taking your favourite works by artists around the world off the canvas and into their own enchantingly inventive interpretations.

Casier & Dies (Netherlands): Apples

UK Premiere

Saturday-Sunday May 12-13, The Spire, St Mark’s Chapel, Eastern Road, Brighton

Enter a cosy yurt to discover an unusual apple tree. All kinds of wacky tools come together to create a delicious apple sauce. Wordless and charming, join us for a sublime feast for the senses that’ll leave you taking a second look at the ordinary things in life. Age 1-5

Caroline Bowditch Company: Snigel & Friends

Fri 25, Sat 26 & Sun 27 May, 11am, 1pm & 3.15pm, Founders Room, Brighton Dome Cafe-Bar, Church Street, Brighton

Join Snigel (leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch) the inquisitive snail, in their cozy home underneath the leaf canopy: a colourful and sensory world, designed by Laura Hook, where Snigel’s insect friends come to visit. They dance, play, sing and make music in the undergrowth while uncovering secret treasures. An inviting new work for children aged 0-12 months and their adult. Age 0-5 months

Toby Thompson: I Wish I Was a Mountain

World premiere & Brighton Festival co-commission

Saturday and Sunday May 26 and 27, 11am, 2pm & 5pm, Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton

Writer, performer and former Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion Toby Thompson uses rhyme, live music, and just a smattering of metaphysical philosophy to boldly reimagine Herman Hesse’s classic fairytale for children and adults alike. Age 7

26 LETTERS

Jacqueline Wilson

Sunday May 13, 11am, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

Join Britain’s best-loved children’s author, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, to hear all about her latest book, Rose Rivers, and to re-visit her best loved characters such as Hetty Feather and Tracy Beaker. Age 7

Young City Reads Big Event

Friday May 18, 10.30am, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, Brighton

This city-wide ‘big read’, brought to you by Collected Works CIC, is designed to spread a love of books to the widest possible audience of young readers throughout Brighton & Hove. Kid Normal is a hilarious adventure story for young readers about ordinary boy Murph, who is accidentally enrolled at a school full of superheroes. Join popular radio personalities Greg James and Chris Smith for this live and interactive schools event.

COMEDY

Tim Key: Megadate

Friday May 25, 8pm, Theatre Royal Brighton, New Road, Brighton

Returning with his first stand up show in three years, Key flips the well-trodden dating theme on its head in this brand new show, blending poeticals, talking, standing, spotlights, cables, Kronenburg, foot-stamping and old school wistfulness.

Bridget Christie: What Now?

Friday May 18, 8pm, St George’s Church, 93 St George’s Rd, Brighton

Brexit. Trump. Nuclear apocalypse. Environmental catastrophe. Is rolling news affecting your ability to enjoy the simple things? Like baking, gardening and autoerotic asphyxiation? Help is here! What Now? is the new show from the multi-award winning member of the Metropolitan Liberal Elite, and star of her own Netflix special. Join Bridget Christie (winner of a Rose D’Or, Edinburgh Comedy Award and Southbank Sky Arts Award) for a night of hope and despair.