Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Welcome To The Imagine Nation With Lemn Sissay @ Brighton Festival 2020

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020. 


Credit Jamie MacMillian

Brighton Festival is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England and will feature over 120 events taking place in 27 venues and locations across the region - from the industrial landscapes of Shoreham Port and warehouses in Hove, to the suburban streets of Crawley and Moulsecoomb, theatres, community centres and cinemas in Worthing, Hangleton, East Brighton and Lewes. 

Artists experimenting and creating new work is at the heart of the Festival with 17 premieres, exclusives, commissions and co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists.

Lemn's personal passions flow throughout the 2020 programme, connected by a love of words and language across theatre, song, spoken word, art and poetry. 

Contemporary writers and poets are given a particular spotlight with several spoken word and book events including The Time Has Now Come; Lime Time, Take 5 and Vintage Poets.  

Lemn"s support for new and established Ethiopian artists features prominently with appearances by Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, contemporary pianist/composer Samuel Yirga and writers Maaza Mengiste and Aida Edemariam. 

Marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's journey, a new generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in The Young Americans, a powerful new exhibition in partnership with Rainmaker Gallery at Phoenix Art Space that reveals what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States.  

And using art as a way to explore our most personal experiences will offer some of the most powerful events in the Festival. 


In Adopt A Nation, Lemn invites the public to adopt him in an intimate one-on-one experience that will ask participants to share their own thoughts about family; and his best-selling memoir My Name is Why is discussed in conversation with British-Eritrean writer Hannah Azieb Pool.

Guest Director Lemn Sissay explains how Imagine Nation is a place to join in, reflect and take time for a personal creative experience: 

"The most damaging mirror trick in society is to convince people they have no imagination and that they are not creative. 

"It's just not true. There's going to be something for you in this Festival. Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. 

"Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020."  

Festival events will be reaching out to more communities than ever before. 

A residential street in Moulsecoomb, will be transformed into a colourful artwork in a new co-commission by Brighton Festival and Fabrica with A Simple Act of Wonder by acclaimed contemporary artists Walter and Zoniel.

Without Walls will visit Crawley's Queens Square to bring an exhilarating programme of pop-up events from some of the UK"s most innovative outdoor companies. 

Artist Ray Lee's spectacular giant sound and light sculptures are brought together for the first time in Points of Departure, set against an atmospheric night-time backdrop of Shoreham Port. 

And Our Place continues to bring free arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

"Brighton Festival is an annual invitation to everyone to explore great art from all over the world and inspire individual creativity. 

"We're excited and proud to be bringing the Festival to so many areas of the city and the wider region and we hope that Lemn's encouragement to be brave and try something new creates an 'Imagine Nation' in which we can all take part."

As always, the Festival will include free and participatory events and activities for all ages, abilities and incomes – over 100 events are free or cost £10 or less to attend and the Pay It Forward scheme will offer free ticket vouchers to community organisations.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wedneday 12th February and on general sale at 9am, Wednesday 19th February 2020. CLICK HERE for more info.

by: Mike Cobley



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