Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city’s most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Experimental artist and musician Laurie Anderson is this year’s Guest Director. Renowned for her inventive use of technology, Anderson is one of America’s most daring creative pioneers. In roles as varied as artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, vocalist and instrumentalist, she has been experimenting, creating and challenging audiences all over the world for almost as long as Brighton Festival has existed. Anderson takes the helm as Brighton Festival marks its milestone 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture by exploring the theme of ‘home and place’ across its 2016 programme.
It includes 54 commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres such as two exclusive performances from ‘folktronica’ pioneer Beth Orton, choreographer and dancer Akram Khan’s new full-length production ‘Until The Lions’; and the world premiere of a global collaborative work by Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing.
Anderson’s own events include the UK premiere of her unique ‘Music for Dogs’, a concert specially designed for the canine ear; and a screening of her acclaimed new film ‘Heart of a Dog’, described by Anderson herself as: “full of stories about how you make a story . . . nominally a film about me and my dog but really it’s not, it’s about love and language.
With the theme of ‘home’ at the heart of the programme, Brighton Festival 2016 will celebrate its relationship with the unique, energetic and creative city of Brighton, its artists, its characters, its sense of place and spirit whilst also considering universal issues and ideas around home, our communities and places of safety. Highlights include a new work from Argentinian artist Lola Arias, developed with, and performed by, veterans of the Falklands conflict; experimental composer and musician Yuval Avital’s potent and thought-provoking new work, ‘Fuga Perpetua’, which reflects on the situation of refugees; and the UK premiere of Berlin’s ‘Zvizdal’, a filmic portrait of an elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude in the region affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The rich diversity of home-grown artists and companies are celebrated in a series of special commissions that include two works marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death: ‘The Complete Deaths’, a re-enactment of every onstage death from Brighton-based artistic powerhouses Spymonkey and Tim Crouch; and ‘Digging for Shakespeare’ by Marc Rees, a site-specific homage to 19th Century Brighton eccentric and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps. Other city-inspired highlights include the entire Royal Pavilion Estate playing host to ‘Dr Blighty’, an ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience which highlights the untold story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during World War One.
Just a few highlights . . .