What’s hot at Brighton Festival 2016

Minefield by Manuel Abromovich

World-renowned experimental artist and musician, Laurie Anderson has unveiled her programme as Guest Director of Brighton Festival, in its 50th anniversary year. Georgia Mckay picks out some highlights:

Under the umbrella theme of ‘home and place’, Anderson presents an eclectic mix of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate and outdoor events, now on sale.

Highlights include the UK premieres of her own work, Music for Dogs – a free concert specially designed for the canine ear (with certain frequencies audible only to dogs); and Lou Reed Drones – an installation of her late husband’s guitars and amps in feedback mode, which she describes as ‘kind of as close to Lou’s music as we can get these days’. For those that missed The Encounter during its sold-out season at The Barbican and Edinburgh International Festival, this is your chance to see Simon Burney / Complicite’s tour de force production. Using binaural technology to build an intimate and shifting soundscape, Simon McBurney recreates the journey of Loren McIntyre, a National Geographic photographer, who found himself lost among a remote Amazonian tribe in 1969.

More events and productions to look out for are listed below:

Gillian Wearing: A Room With Your Views
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May – University of Brighton Gallery – Details here.
Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing, whose work has been exhibited at the Museum Modern of Art New York, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou, will present Your Views – a global, collective filmmaking experience which captures crowdsourced ‘views’ from people’s windows across the world. Wearing’s work examines our public personas and private lives, describing her working method as ‘editing life’. Drawing on fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality TV and theatrical techniques, she explores how we present ourselves to the world, as well as her involvement with extensive self-portraiture.

Art of Disappearing: The Last Resort
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May – Portslade Beach – Details here.
Amidst a barren landscape, a neon light stands bleak and stark. Welcome to The Last Resort. For those brave enough to return to this long deserted resort, beauty, science fiction and history merge to create a unique outdoor experience. Using binaural technology to create a constantly shifting world of sound, artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr have created an exciting immersive work that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies. This experience, which takes place at Portslade Beach, is for two people at a time only.

Lola Arias, Minefield
Sat 28 May, 8pm – Brighton Dome Corn Exchange – Details here.
Leading voice in Argentinean theatre, Lola Arias brings together British and Argentine veterans of the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas war to share their first-hand experience of the conflict and life since. This collaboratively created new work merges theatre and film to blur the lines between truth and fiction, on a stage 8,000 miles from their remembered battlefield.

Stella. Fred Spalding, reproduced courtesy of EssexNeil Bartlett, Stella
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May – Theatre Royal Brighton – Details here.
Former Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith, Neil Bartlett has been one of most idiosyncratic voices in British theatre for over thirty years, making new work for The National, the Manchester International Festival and Edinburgh International Festival. Stella is an intimate new work inspired by the true story of the strange life and lonely death of Mr. Ernest Boulton – one half of the infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella.

Floating Points Live
Sun 29 May – Brighton Dome Concert Hall -Details here.
Dance music trailblazer Sam Shephard – otherwise known as Floating Points – is renowned for his ambitious, forward-thinking DJ sets around the world. Shepard has a PHD in neuroscience, is the son of a vicar, and counts Four Tet and Caribou amongst his closest pals. His debut album Elaenia draws upon classical jazz, electronic music, soul and even Brazilian popular music. He’ll be performing with a full live band.

Beth Orton
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May – Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts – Details here
‘Folktronica’ innovator Beth Orton returns to the UK for two shows at Brighton Festival to premiere highly anticipated new material exploring her electronic roots. Orton has been one of the most beguiling voices in contemporary music for the past two decades – from debut LP Trailer Park, in which she pioneered the synthesis of electronic beats and acoustic song writing to her follow-up Central Reservation which brought international acclaim and a BRIT award. These one-off shows will feature new material performed live for the first time.

Yanis Varoufakis
Tue 10 May – Brighton Dome Concert Hall – Details here.
In his new book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis assesses the history of the European monetary union. A passionate campaigner against austerity, Varoufakis argues that it is a fundamental threat to Europe and to the global economy. He also shows that the origins of the Eurozone crisis lie not with governments or the banks but in its founding structure. He’s in conversation with Channel 4 economics editor and Guardian columnist Paul Mason about the current crisis and present his case for economic reform.

Akram Khan Company: Until the Lions
Thu 26 & Fri 27 May – Brighton Dome Concert Hall – Details here.
Following a critically acclaimed world premiere at The Roundhouse in London, Akram Khan returns to Brighton Festival with a new, full-length production, Until the Lions. Khan is joined by Taiwanese dancer, Ching-Ying Chien and German trained dancer Christine Joy Ritter, alongside four musicians whose voices and percussion provide a haunting soundscape. Together they give a striking performance in this partial adaptation of poet Karthika Naïr’s original reworking of the epic Mahabharata, combining the classical Indian dance form, kathak with contemporary dance. The mythological source material is very personal for Khan, who was cast in Peter Brook’s canonical staging of the Mahabharata in 1987 (aged 13).

Brighton Festival 2016 runs from 7-29 May. For info and tickets, go to the official website.



Words by Georgia Mckay. For photo credits click the pictures.