“Brighton Festival 2013 will be 3 weeks of unrivalled arts celebration” promised Guest Director, children’s novelist and poet, Michael Rosen when this year’s festival was launched to a media gathering in March. He said that many of his interests and passions will be explored in a wide-ranging programme, that spans music, theatre, dance, film, literature and debate. Let us hope that, for the sake a healthy box office, this also reflects the public’s interests and passions. There will be over 370 performances and 154 events in 30 venues across the City which includes 27 unique Brighton Festival commissions, premieres and exclusives. Let us hope some of these will exploit the talents of local artists, musicians, writers and commentators.
Rosen said, “I believe in the chemistry of the Festival, the way it will get the whole city talking and wondering. Festivals are great informal colleges of the arts for anyone.” He aims for “moments of Emil” to be seen throughout the Festival. He is referring to the book, Emil and the Detectives, a pioneering story written by the pacifist writer Erich Kästner. It is Rosen’s starting point for exploring the influences of the German artistic techniques of the 1920s and 30s. Using physical theatre, dance and film, he wants us to look afresh at this contribution and its impact on work throughout the last century. The Guest Director drew our attention to lives lived and lost in World War 2, which we must put aside to concentrate on loss and memory with the production, Vergiss Mein Nicht (Forget me not) where the theatre artists reflect on grief and death with realism, humour and wit.
WORLD PREMIERES AND BRIGHTON FESTIVAL COMMISSIONS
The Great Enormo is a fantastic new theme park. This commission will have a world premiere at the Festival. The Great Enormo allows its visitors to travel through time and Michael Rosen is composing a theme tune which will reflect different periods and places from history, jumping from medieval hautboys to the blazing brass of the jazz age, from the clippety clop of the Wild West to the soaring violins of intergalactic space. He sees it as a whirlwind tour of musical history and an interactive guide to the orchestra
My Life After – Lola Arias. With an exciting company of Argentine actors born in the 1970s and 80s, the acclaimed writer and director, Lola Arias reconstructs the lives of this young company’s parents. Using old clothes, letters, photographs and silver memories, each actor recreates remembered, but only half-understood, scenes from the past. Political and playful, the explorations reveal complex and darker secrets together with the joy and humour of lives recovered. My Life After operates around the borders of reality and fiction, the clashes and embraces of two generations, that engage with national history and private recollections.
The Canticles – Britten. For Britten’s Centenary Year and a co-commission with Aldeburgh Music, The Canticles will be staged by director and writer, Neil Bartlett. Performances will feature Ian Bostridge, Lestyn Davies, Richard Watkins, Julius Drake and Sally Price. Again, using dance, film and physical theatre, this is a bold re-imagining of the series, originally composed as individual concert pieces and spanning nearly 30 years of Britten’s career, that brings the canticles together to create a single dramatic evening.
Zero – Clod Ensemble. Heavens open and lives fall apart. Clod Ensemble push the boundaries between art forms in a potentially turbulent mix of dance, music and visual theatre. This piece is led by choreographer/director Suzy Wilson, with an original score from composer, Paul Clark, played live by a band of acclaimed musicians. At the mercy of stormy weather, this is a place where women can be tigers and men snakes; where families, marriages and friendships are laced with sibling rivalries, frustrated desires and murderous ambitions. At least we can still sing the blues.
Music Kabarett – known in the Berlin of the 1920s and 30s as a hotbed of counter-culture creativity and genre-defining performance styles, cabaret has had a lasting influence on presentation styles and the music of today. Nina Hagen, David McAlmont and the Irrepressibles re-interpret some of the most influential theatrical songs of the 20th century. Hagen’s idiosyncratic style, veering from full-throated operatic to heavy-duty rock and eccentric cabaret chic, plugs into the subversive tradition of 20s Kabarett.