Brighton Festival 2020 selected highlights

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Laura Marling: Brighton Festival 2020

Lemn Sissay – Adopt a Nation

Brighton Festival Exclusive

In this powerful, reflective, one-on-one experience, Lemn Sissay invites the public to adopt him and tell him something about their own family story.

Ray Lee – Points of Departure

Lee’s spectacular sculptures are brought together for the first time against a night-time backdrop of Shoreham Port. The large-scale structures sing a sci-fi symphony that points to a future departure to other worlds.

Invisible Flock – The Sleeping Tree

Enter one of the last great rainforests of Indonesia via a unique sensory installation in a disused Hove warehouse. As mist gently falls, visitors are surrounded by projected 3D digital images and forest sounds for an immersive experience of natural wonder.

Gabriella Salvaterra – Sollievo

23 performers take small groups of participants on an immersive journey through a tranquil, candle-lit labyrinthine space telling an emotional story of the strength and fragility of humanity.

Fusing art, science and music, HALO is a large-scale installation that uses data collected by scientists at CERN to recreate the conditions shortly after the Big Bang.

On the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage, today’s generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in this powerful new exhibition co-commissioned with Rainmaker Gallery at Phoenix Art Space that explores what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States.

Walter & Zoniel – A Simple Act of Wonder

A residential street in Moulescoomb will be transformed into a colourful artwork in a new co-commission by Brighton Festival and Fabrica. Together with acclaimed contemporary artists Walter and Zoniel, residents and communities will create a unique collaboration in the homes and streets of the city suburbs.

Polina Medvedeva and Andreas Kűhne – The Informals

An interactive exhibition co-commissioned by Brighton Festival with Lighthouse that explores music subcultures of Brighton, zeroing in on non-conformity and defiance of standard lifestyles in our digital age.


My Name is Why: Lemn Sissay in conversation with Hannah Azieb Pool

Guest Director Lemn Sissay reflects on a childhood in foster care, self-expression and Britishness as he discusses his best-selling memoir, My Name Is Why with writer Hannah Azieb Pool.

Revered by Lemn Sissay as one of the best storytellers, Canadian artist Coyote has an extraordinary ability to weave engaging and immersive tales that feel personal and warm but somehow leave you wanting to change the world.

The Time Has Now Come: New Habesha Visionaries

Maaza Mengiste, Hannah Azieb Pool & Aida Edemariam

75 years after an impassioned speech from Haile Selassie I, we spend an evening with some of Ethiopia and Eritrea’s new visionaries. What are the subjects that interest them today? What does the world’s oldest civilisation have to say to the future?

Valerie Bloom, John Agard, Grace Nichols & Roger Robinson

Audiences of live spoken word poetry have been growing steadily since the turn of the century. Many of the precursors of this art form were Caribbean poets, carrying influences from calypso and dub. This year, we honour those poets in a one-off lime.

Hibaq Osman, Laurie Ogden, Amina Jama, Debris Stevenson & Zena Edwards

Take 5 features compelling female contemporary poets on stage together to redirect the conversation in their own unique way.

Having read at Brighton Festival from the first in the Seasons quartet (Autumn), Smith (Brighton Festival Guest Director 2015) returns to discuss the entire series before the publication of her final instalment Summer.

Of Our Times: Tribes – David Lammy

Member of Parliament, Spurs fan and a tireless campaigner for social justice, David Lammy’s new book, Tribes, explores how our human need to belong manifests in positive as well as negative ways.

The Turning Wheel: An Afternoon with Ozwald Boateng

Using a combination of discussion, film and archive photography, style innovator Ozwald Boateng makes a compelling argument for the relevance of fashion and how it helps shape our vision of the future.

Enter this hilarious, surreal show for small children and carers, told by two colourful characters, with a handful of words and a whole lot of slime.

Much-loved author Dame Jacqueline Wilson talks about her career, her most popular characters and her new book, Love Frankie.

Children who changed the world with Marcia Williams

Join master storyteller and illustrator Marcia Williams for this fun and interactive event that celebrates all the incredible children who have changed the world, like Malala Yousafzai.

Cressida Cowell: The Magic of Writing

Superstar writer and Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell talks about her hit series How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once; shares her tips on writing and illustrating and signs books.

Theatre-Rites & 20 Stories High – BIG UP!

What happens when a beatboxer, a singer and a puppeteer arrive on stage but nothing is ready? Come and watch as a world full of joy and chaos unfolds. Presented within the caravan programme.

Gravity & Other Myths – Out of Chaos

Dynamic Australian company return to Brighton with their boldest and most ambitious performance yet. A mesmerising story of how things come together, moving between chaos and order.

Barely Methodical Troupe – Bromance

A circus performance that focuses on camaraderie and affection, Bromance is a fusion of high-energy physical heroics and breath-taking form.

La Nuova Musica – Handel’s Unsung Heroes

La Nuova Musica is joined by superstar countertenor Iestyn Davies to explore set-piece arias from Handel’s operas.

Kronos Quartet – Terry Riley: Sun Rings

Few ensembles have pushed musical boundaries like Kronos Quartet, and in this extraordinary multimedia presentation it pushes them further than ever before by incorporating music sounds harvested from outer space. Kronos Quartert were awarded the 2020 Grammy for Best Classical Production for their recording.

I Fagiolini – Purcell: ‘Tis Nature’s Voice

I Fagiolini is renowned for innovative presentations of both classic and unusual repertoire. This piece explores the music of England’s Orpheus touching on flora and fauna, groves and grottoes – all depicted in Purcell’s famously naturalistic style.

John Newling – Dear Nature

Artist John Newling’s letters to nature form a poetic manifesto for our relationship with the natural world. In this thought-provoking co-commission with Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft, composers Sally Beamish and Lisa Heute have linked a selection of these letters using a series of pieces for solo cello. The letters will be read by representatives from the local community.

London Symphony Orchestra

LSO join forces with star conductor Ádám Fischer and the superlative violinist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider for a programme defined by grace and grandeur, merriment and melody.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Brighton Festival Chorus

Two great ensembles are reunited for a concert brimming with brio and majesty. The Orchestra and Chorus are joined by a trio of internationally acclaimed soloists for two contrasting masterworks.

One of the world’s greatest pianists performs works by two masters of the keyboard in the glorious setting of Glyndebourne.

Josie Long brutally honest act examines the intensity of motherhood and explores the challenge of bringing someone into a world that everyone tells you is ending.

Sofie Hagen: The Bumswing

Inspired by a dirty weekend in Wales, Sofie Hagen’s Bumswing is about things you forget, things you remember and things you wish you could forget; but it’s also about swings – for bums.

Hofesh Shechter Company – Double Murder: Clowns / New Creation

World Premiere/Brighton Festival Commission

The much-anticipated new work from the celebrated and multi-talented choreographer (and 2014 Guest Director) Hofesh Shechter OBE brings his exclusive new performance to Brighton.

Amy Bell – The Forecast

Amy Bell is a dance artist who unwraps conversations around queerness and slippages of meaning across language and movement. Her performance work is borne of binary-busting fervour.

Few musicians can claim to have kickstarted a whole genre, but Mulatu Astatke can rightly be called the father of Ethio-jazz, a fusion of traditional Ethiopian sounds with funk, soul and Latin rhythms.

Young Ethiopian pianist and composer Samuel Yirga comes to take Brighton by storm with his thought-provoking exploration of Ethiopian music fused with forward-thinking jazz and soul.

Eliza and Martin Carthy – East

An evening of musical and poetic works inspired by mesmerising myths, legends, poems and ballads from England’s Eastern seaboard. Specially curated by Eliza Carthy for Brighton Festival and performed with her father Martin Carthy and some very special guests.

One of Cuba’s most gifted pianists continues to explore his homeland’s music, while building bridges between Afro Cuban roots and genres from further afield.

Since the release of her debut album in 2008, Marling has effortlessly become one of the most acclaimed and gifted musicians of the last decade.

Amadou and Mariam with Blind Boys of Alabama

Mali’s musical ambassadors join forces with the legends of US gospel in this sensational double-bill.

Le Gateau Chocolat – Pandora

Part song cycle, part theatrical pageant, Le Gateau Chocolat performs classical music textures, original compositions and pop hits, joined on stage by Manchester Camerata.

Chris Dobrowolski – Washed Up Car-go

Playfully thought provoking, Washed Up Car-go features iconic Brighton landscapes, film, music, toy sea creatures and lots of pebbles that questions and highlights the problem of consumer plastic pollution.

Weekends of exhilarating pop-up performances in Crawley’s Queens Square and Brighton city centre featuring from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor artistic companies. From hip hop to circus, inspiring dance to an interactive augmented reality trail, these playful and uplifting shows are free and family friendly.

YARA & DAVINA – Arrivals & Departures

Taking the recognisable form of an arrivals and departures board, this interactive artwork will display names and dates submitted by the public as a way of celebrating and commemorating the birth or death of a loved one.

Ray Lee – Points of Departure

Lee’s spectacular sculptures are brought together for the first time against a night-time backdrop of Shoreham Port. The large-scale structures sing a sci-fi symphony that points to a future departure to other worlds.

Gina Moxley and Abbey Theatre, Dublin – The Patient Gloria

A provocative, playful and upfront analysis of the way female desire is often minimised and stigmatised, in a mash-up of re-enactment, real footage, lived experience and punk gig.

Rhum and Clay Theatre Company – The War of Worlds Inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel and the infamous Orson Welles radio play, this legendary science fiction thriller is playfully reimagined for the era of Fake News and ‘alternative facts’.

Ontroerend Goed – Are we not drawn onward to new erA

Like its title, this performance is a palindrome. A serious but joyfully powerful piece of theatre, it plays out the future of our species and questions whether or not our actions are irreversible.

Quiet Riot – Hot Brown Honey

The Honeys defiantly smash female stereotypes as they celebrate similarities and differences in an unforgettable explosion of hip-hop politics and culture.

Stillpoint featuring Rachel Blackman –

You Aren’t Doing It Wrong If No One Knows What You Are Doing

World Premiere/Brighton Festival Commission

Join performing artist Rachel Blackman as she dives headlong into the car crash of perfectionism, imposter syndrome and feeling professionally ridiculous.

Ursula Martinez – A Family Outing – 20 Years On

20 years ago, Ursula Martinez put a sofa on stage and sat down with her parents and argued for an hour. This bracingly funny recreation brings Martinez back together with her mother to blur the lines of reality whilst grappling with who we are and what happens as we get old.

Andy Field & Beckie Darlington – News News News

Children from Benfield Primary school in Portslade present bulletins from the city to a studio audience, offering a distinctive look at what’s going on right here, right now and at the nature of news itself. Presented within the caravan programme.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wednesday, February 12 and general sale at 9am, Wednesday, February 19.

Brighton Dome ticket office, Church Street, Brighton


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