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Saturday 21 February 2015

Brighton Festival 2015 Launches With An Ecelctic Programme Of Unique Collaborations & Inclusive Events

Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England - has launched with award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith as Guest Director. 

Recently named winner of both the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize for boldly original fiction, Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form; fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful. 

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith's ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate. 

Ali Smith says: "It's tremendously exciting to have been asked to help programme the 2015 Brighton Festival. 

"I'm delighted and honoured – what a gift, to be asked to do this, imagine – the biggest international multi-arts spectacular in England. 

"I've always loved Brighton's sense of fun and friendliness, its vibrant open-mindedness, the way it opens to sky, the way the rest of Europe is so close it's almost visible. It's a city that's always known how to live on the edge, a place full of endless energy, argument, possibilities, light. 

"No matter the wildness or mildness of the weather, no matter the zigzag of zeitgeist elsewhere north or south of it, Brighton is always itself, and always uniquely welcoming." 


The events come from a wide range of national and international companies and artists; from a rare UK visit by 86-year-old legendary film maker and artist Agnès Varda to rising stars Kate Tempest, George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

With three central themes at its heart - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - this year's Brighton Festival challenges visitors to look again, featuring an eye-opening array of artists and performers with the power to deliver the world we think we know to us re-seen, renewed, with a visionary twist in the tale.

Posing questions about whether life imitates art or art imitates life, Art and Nature is explored in a host of events including an exclusive nightingale walk, with Mercury-nominated folk singer Sam Lee. 

Also there's an immersive multi-screen film installation of Marcus Coates' entitled Dawn Chorus, featuring singers who uncannily recreate birdsong and bird movement; a discussion of the urgent conservation issues that face us today with celebrated author and bird enthusiast Margaret Atwood and her partner and fellow writer Graeme Gibson; and Fleeting, an outdoor spectacular over the West Pier by And Now, in which hundreds of individual points of fire create shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.


Central to the programme is the notion of Crossing Places - where poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance – from works that defy categorisation such as The Measure of All Things, a new live cinema performance by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green. 

Claudia Molitor's part installation part performance Vast White Stillness in the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel. 

In Being Both, acclaimed mezzo soprano Alice Coote, English Concert's Harry Bicketand Susannah Waters stage a theatrical journey into the heart of Handel's sublime vocal music, which, in a nod to Smith's own prize-winning work How to Be Both, explores and challenges the experience and perception of gender. 

Set against the backdrop of the General Election, Liberty, equality and freedom is celebrated in all its shapes in an astonishing cutting-edge line-up of artists, performers, thinkers and commentators - all contemporary game changers in their chosen forms. 

These include Liberty Director and author Shami Chakrabati who hosts an evening in celebration of the Human Rights Act featuring a dazzling collection of writers and performers such as Billy Bragg, Neil Bartlett, Rachel Holmes and Jackie Kay. 

Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson who brings the European premiere of his highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York; award-winning Pakistani/British author Kamila Shamsie; celebrated Russian-American journalist, author and activist Masha Gessen, Turkish writer Elif Shafak and Turner Prize nominated artist Nathan Coley, whose new commission Portraits of Dissension explore ideas of unrest, edge and shift, space and occupation. 

Other highlights include Peter Strickland's daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy accompanied by a one-off live performance of its seductive score by Cat's Eyes - the collaborative project of The Horrors' frontman Faris Badwan and Italian-Canadian singer and composer Rachel Zeffira. 

A new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing.

Brighton Festival runs from 2nd to 24th May 2015. See brightonfestival.org for more details.


by: Mike Cobley




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Photo credit: Sante D'Orazio

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