The 47th Brighton Festival 2013 launches on 4 May with this year’s Guest Director Michael Rosen presenting an exciting programme. It runs for three weeks of unrivalled arts celebration until 26 May. Michael Rosen is a celebrated poet, writer, broadcaster, and former Children’s Laureate. Over the three-week festival many of his interests and passions will be explored in a wide- ranging programme which spans music, theatre, dance, film, literature and debate.
The Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing mixed arts festival offering an ambitious programme which has won critical acclaim for presenting exciting site- specific work and encouraging artistic debate. In 2011 Brighton Festival took the art world by surprise, appointing Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as Guest Director and other previous Guest Directors have included Vanessa Redgrave; actress and human rights campaigner, renowned visual artist Anish Kapoor and the celebrated musician Brian Eno. This year’s Brighton Festival holds in store over 370 performances and 154 events in 30 venues across the city. There will also be 27 unique Brighton Festival commissions, premieres and exclusives.
Particular strands of the Brighton Festival 2013 programme include:
Under the Shadow of the Drone by James Bridle
The unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, has become one of the most potent weapons of contemporary warfare. Remotely controlled by operators thousands of miles away, drones carry out aerial attacks which leave hundreds of people dead. They are one of the most controversial weapons of war, and Under the Shadow of the Drone makes them visible on our streets.
The stark marking out in an unexpected public space of a drone’s silhouette forces us to consider the implications of a drone attack on our own community. It raises questions about how military technology can obscure, conceal and distance us from the political and moral responsibility. It also continues the long tradition of artists bearing witness to events that governments and the military would prefer we did not see.
Emil’s World – Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives, one of Michael Rosen’s favourite novels, is the starting point for exploring the work of artists in Germany in the 1920s and 30s and the impact of their ideas throughout the last century. From the ground-breaking film techniques of Zimmermann and Fassbinder; the impact and influence of modern cities discussed by Eric Parry, Owen Hatherley and Leo Hollis; Nina Hagen and others in the songs of Brecht and Weill; to Apparat’s new electronic music, this strand pays tribute to the free-thinking artists and intellectuals of Berlin both then and now..
Vergiss mein nicht (Forget me not) – The traces of lives lived and lives lost infuse the work of theatre artists Lola Arias, Blast Theory and Version 1.0. Like Michael Rosen’s own moving reflections on grief and death, playwright and director Young Jean Lee and visual artists Kaarina Kaikkonen and Mariele Neudecker also address the inevitable with realism, humour and wit.
Sense and non-sense (Stories, Lies and Rhetoric) – Michael Rosen’s fascination with language is infectious and there are dozens of events and discussions with authors, poets, thinkers, commentators and comedians. There will also be artists telling some of the great epic tales such as Beowulf and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and exploring language at its most virtuosic, from Shakespeare to Beckett via the politicians and rhetoricians throughout history.
Michael Rosen said, “It’s a huge privilege for me to be the Guest Director of Brighton Festival for 2013. I believe in the chemistry of it, the way it will get the whole city talking and wondering. Festivals are great informal colleges of the arts for anyone. Contributing to what the festival will offer has drawn together many of my passions, interests and daily concerns. You will see I hope, ‘moments of Emil’ throughout the festival. The book expresses hope, invention, dissent, cooperation and originality set mostly in a great city and perhaps you’ll find these ideas running through many of the events too. In this time – more than 80 years later – these ideas are not optional. They are what we urgently need and should continue to consider in our day to day lives.”
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, said, “Michael Rosen has entertained, educated and moved audiences of all ages and over several generations. He has the infectious energy of a polymath and is curious about and interested in everything – perfect for such an eclectic and wide-ranging festival as ours. ”
Headline Events for 2013 include:
The Great Enormo – WORLD PREMIERE AND BRIGHTON FESTIVAL COMMISSION
Guest Director Michael Rosen wants to compose a theme tune for Mr Enormo Biggins’ Great Fun Park. And he needs your help. The Great Enormo is a fantastic new theme park that allows its visitors to travel through time. So the music to accompany it should reflect different periods and places from history, shouldn’t it? It’s not so easy, and Michael has his work cut out coaxing, cajoling and bullying the orchestra into producing the tunes. As he jumps from the Medieval to the Jazz Age, from the Wild West to intergalactic space, will the viola player get his solo? And who’s the soprano who keeps turning up unexpectedly? The Great Enormo is both an interactive guide to the orchestra and a whirlwind tour of musical history. Narrated by Michael Rosen and composed by Juliette Pochin and James Morgan, with the City of London Sinfonia.
Lola Arias – My Life After – UK PREMIERE
With a company of Argentine actors born in the 70s and 80s, acclaimed writer and director, Lola Arias reconstructs the lives of their parents. Using old clothes, letters, photographs, and memories, each actor recreates dimly remembered, half understood scenes from the past. Both playful and political, the explorations of My Life After reveal complexity and darker secrets alongside the joy and humour of lives recovered. My Life
After operates around the borders of reality and fiction, the encounter of two generations, the intersection of national history and private stories.
Britten: The Canticles – WORLD PREMIERE PRODUCTION AND BRIGHTON FESTIVAL COMMISSION
Celebrating the Britten Centenary year and co-commissioned with Aldeburgh Music, is Britten: The Canticles. Performers include Ian Bostridge, Iestyn Davies, Richard Watkins, Julius Drake and Sally Pryce and the piece will be staged by director Neil Bartlett and lighting designer Paul Constable collaborating with leading choreographers Scott Graham and Wendy Houstoun and controversial war artist John Keane. In the five Canticles, Britten distilled his immense operatic scope into miniature jewels. They explore the themes closest to his heart; sexual love, the horror of war, spiritual longing and the struggle for self-acceptance. Using physical theatre, dance and film, this bold reimagining of the series – originally composed as individual concert pieces and spanning nearly 30 years of Britten’s career – brings the Canticles together to create a single dramatic evening.
Clod Ensemble – Zero – WORLD PREMIERE AND BRIGHTON FESTIVAL COMMISSION
Zero is a world where nothing is certain – where women can be tigers and men can be snakes. Families, marriages and friendships are laced with sibling rivalries, frustrated desires and murderous ambitions. Heavens open and lives fall apart. Here, we are all at the mercy of the stormy weather. At least we can still sing the blues. Led by choreographer/director Suzy Willson and composer Paul Clark, Clod Ensemble makes performance work that pushes the boundaries between art forms. Recently the company presented their critically acclaimed piece Silver Swan at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. A turbulent mix of dance, music and visual theatre, Zero is set to an original score played live by a band of acclaimed musicians and featuring an explosive cast of performers.
Musik Kabarett featuring Nina Hagen, David McAlmont and The Irrepressibles – BRIGHTON FESTIVAL EXCLUSIVE
Think of cabaret and you think of Berlin in the 1920s and ’30s, where ‘Kabarett’ became a hotbed of counter-culture creativity and genre-defining performance styles. In this tribute to Kabarett’s lasting influence on the music of today, three critically-admired artists reinterpret some of the most influential theatrical songs of the 20th century, each infused with their very own individual flavour. Hagen’s utterly idiosyncratic style, veering from full- throated operatic to heavy-duty rock and eccentric cabaret chic, plugs into the subversive tradition of 1920s Kabarett. She was born in Berlin; this legacy is in her blood, and it is her highly original development of the Berlin tradition that has made her a cult figure on the club and cabaret scene. David McAlmont’s vocal versatility and power has long been admired throughout the music industry. His staggering voice finds yet a new platform here to add to his huge repertoire of styles. Jamie McDermott and his band The Irrepressibles have a sophisticated brand of spectacle which is firmly rooted in the Kabarett convention. Their rich instrumentations and haunting vocals come
The Contents of a House – WORLD PREMIERE AND BRIGHTON FESTIVAL COMMISSION
The performance artist Peter Reder has been mining the tales and the treasures of Preston Manor. Now he wants to tell you about them. Preston Manor is the epitome of Edwardian glamour, yet its history reaches back to the Domesday Book. Over the centuries it has become a repository of memory: a trove of objects, images and histories. What are they, and what do they mean? The Contents of a House will attempt to catalogue everything you can see in the house in the hope that something of the unseen, the unspoken — even the unspeakable — will emerge. This intimate promenade performance takes the form of a tour, guided by Reder himself, which will highlight objects, inspire stories and spark memories. Images, video, anecdotes and personal interaction will reanimate the building
and the artefacts within it, with perhaps a touch of fantasy to bring Preston Manor’s past to life.
Cirque Éloize – Cirkopolis – UK PREMIERE
The dystopian visions of the classic films Metropolis and Brazil are the inspiration for this dazzling new fusion of circus and choreography that pushes the boundaries of visual and audio innovation. Cirque Éloize takes a major current issue — unjust and totalitarian societies — and addresses it with the flair and insight that have made the company one of the most thought-provoking ensembles on the circus scene. Awe-inspiring acrobatics are central, of course, but Cirkopolis also draws on theatre, contemporary dance, comic books and video projection to create an exhilaratingly bold show that asks us to shift our consciousness and questions our true place in the world. Filled with humour, poetry and visual vertigo, Cirkopolis takes circus to new levels of excitement, awe and artistry.
The Guardian Education Debate: Progress or Disaster? – BRIGHTON FESTIVAL EXCLUSIVE
The Government claims that its education reforms are designed to ensure ‘that every parent has the choice of a good local state school for their child, teachers have the powers they need to keep discipline in the classroom and the exams system is rigorous, respected and on a par with the world’s best’. But what is the reality? In what promises to be a lively discussion, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee chairs a panel that includes Melissa Benn, the author of School Wars – the Battle for Britain’s Education, Cambridge academic Professor Robin Alexander and our guest director Michael Rosen.
Heterotopias and other domestic landscapes – Mariele Neudecker – BRIGHTON FESTIVAL CO-COMMISSION
A co-commission with HOUSE 2013, the work takes the city’s Regency Town House as a container for a concept and ‘total installation’ of several interconnected pieces. Bringing notions of landscape into the domestic arena, Neudecker works with the idea of ‘the cropped edge’ in landscape as a form of human intervention. Neudecker’s landscapes often show such ‘human interest’ within presented scenes, in residues such as small roads, tunnels, masts, etc. The ‘human interest’ inherent in bringing the outside in, both physically and metaphorically is reflected in the different layers of the installation at The Regency Town House: on the first floor where sun images prevail, more subjectively through the iceberg images and sculpture on the ground floor and more unnervingly in the basement, an immersive film environment, where the vast emptiness of deep sea space is intercepted with ‘ghost-nets’ and abandoned fishing equipment in the remotest places on earth. Neudecker was born in Düsseldorf but currently works in Bristol. She has exhibited world-wide and was nominated for the Forth Plinth commission in 2010.
Blue Route – Kaarina Kaikkonen – BRIGHTON FESTIVAL CO-COMMISSION
Two newly commissioned sculptures will be here for Brighton Festival by one of Finland’s leading artists Kaarina Kaikkonen; one at Fabrica and another at an outdoor site in the city. Working primarily in public and easily accessible places, Kaarina Kaikkonen uses simple, every day objects such as second-hand clothing, toilet paper and women’s shoes, to create large-scale installations that articulate the architectural or open space in which her works are sited. She is best known for several major works using hundreds of discarded men’s jackets, which have a highly charged and personal significance for her. Though ambiguous in meaning her works evoke associations of personal loss, collective memory, and local history. An artist of international renown, Kaarina Kaikkonen participated in the Cairo Biennale 2009, the Liverpool Biennale 2010, Vancouver Biennale 2010, and the Venice Biennale collateral event in 2011. In 2012 she completed a major new work for Collezione Maramotti in Italy and will create an installation for The Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Chile in 2013.
Nomad Land – Hofesh Schechter – WORLD PREMIERE
Father or Brother, Son or Grandfather, Uncle or Friend; in this collaborative dance and film project a group of men from across the generations come together with Hofesh Shechter dancers to explore the energy and complexity of male relationships. Hofesh Shechter dancers will work with local men of all ages and abilities to create a series of movement duets inspired by Hofesh Shechter’s all male work Uprising. These duets will be filmed and curated into an immersive exhibition by students of Brighton University.
Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Tiger Lilies – UK PREMIERE
The Tiger Lillies’ genre-defying brand of other-worldly vocals and unnerving performance style has carved them a unique niche in the cabaret and music theatre scene. After a hit run of Hamlet in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, the cult creators of the award-winning Shockheaded Peter, now stage another adaptation a macabre classic. This visceral repackaging of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner takes Coleridge’s tale of the sinister and supernatural and adds its own dash of music-hall panache and sometimes shocking perspective. The band’s flamboyant live performance is enhanced by large-scale virtual sets that create an immersive and highly atmospheric environment. Across 25 songs and interludes, the legend of the Ancient Mariner unfolds as uncompromising musical and visual melodrama.
The festival includes visual art, theatre, music, books and debates, family friendly programme and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations. Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round. It aims to champion the power of the arts, to enrich and change lives and inspire and enable artists to be their most creative.