Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Sunday 18 February 2024

Brighton Festival 2024 Celebrates Magic & Wonder With Screenwriter & Author Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Brighton Festival, the largest annual curated multi-arts festival in England, has revealed its programme for 2024.

For this year's Festival, Guest Director and award-winning children"s author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce, known for 24 Hour Party People, Millions and latest book The Wonder Brothers, has been inspired by Brighton's optimistic spirit. 

He invites everyone to imagine a better world through a vibrant and colourful celebration of hope, magic and wonder, with a sense of fun and play for adults and children alike.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says:

"Frank is someone who delights in sharing stories, knowledge and his own sense of awe and wonder. 

"We always look for a Guest Director with an expansive sense of the world, curious and eclectic in their work and in Frank we have had the privilege of working with someone who is as thrilled by a performance with packing tape as he is by the films of Humphrey Jennings or the works of James Joyce. 

"It's full of wonder and the joy of coming together, a magical Festival that gives us a hopeful recipe for living."

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival stages an extensive programme of events from national and international artists across music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and community events, in venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and East Sussex. 

This year, the Festival runs from 4-26 May with more than 120 events celebrating shared endeavour, the miraculous in the everyday and the beauty in the extraordinary.

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is joined by fellow children's authors to talk about inspiration and creativity in two events for both adults and children. 

In The Wonder Panel!, supported by Brighton College, he will discuss how words and pictures create wonder alongside Cressida Cowell (How to Train your Dragon), Joseph Coelho (poet and Children's Laureate) and Chris Riddell (Goth Girl). Frank and award-winning children's writer-illustrator Nadia Shireen will record an episode of their podcast The Island of Brilliant live, with former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) as their guest. 

Elsewhere, Frank introduces young readers to his latest book The Wonder Brothers, with live drawing from its illustrator, Steven Lenton; and following a screening of the animated film Kensuke's Kingdom - an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's beloved children"s novel, for which he wrote the screenplay - both writers take part in a Q&A.

Brighton Festival welcomes the English exclusive of Wonders, an awe-inspiring magic show by world-renowned illusionist and performance artist Scott Silven which explores the myth and mystery of his native Scotland through breathtaking illusions. 

Other exclusives include former Brighton Festival Guest Director Kae Tempest returning for a night of mesmerising spoken word; and Carnesky's Showwomxn Sideshow Spectacular sees a cast of 33 circus performers, including Netflix star Tallulah Haddon, World Record holding hula hoop artist Symoné and Bollywood dancer Kaajel, undertake a breath-taking, death-defying feminist and queer circus spectacular from award-winning theatre maker Marisa Carnesky.

Brighton Festival Commissions include the world premiere of Ground, where audiences experience an immersive, locally sourced and specially curated 3-course meal that reveals the tangled history of plants at Brighton's own off-grid eco-building, Earthship. 

Plus, As We Really Are, marking the start of an ongoing project for Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Brighton artists, is a cinema screening of vintage gems from the GPO Film Unit alongside new work from Brighton filmmakers which celebrates the wonder of everyday life. 

The event will conclude with a panel discussion including Frank Cottrell-Boyce and former Brighton Festival Guest Director David Shrigley.

The outdoor programme stages live and interactive events on the streets of the city and beyond. 100 Miles of String, a free installation from Brighton-based artists Leap Then Look, sponsored by Southern Housing New Homes, encourages audiences to weave and wind thousands of metres of string to create a temporary landmark in the Royal Pavilion Gardens. 

The beloved Without Walls programme returns, supported by Graves Son & Pilcher, to present new works showcasing the best of outdoor performance including the world premiere of groundbreaking new aerial theatre from disabled and non-disabled circus company Head Over Wheels; and a musical parade celebrating the power of community from award-winning experimental brass band Perhaps Contraption and Deaf & BSL poet Zoë McWhinney.

As part of Our Place, a partnership with community groups across the city supported by University of Sussex, Brighton Festival has commissioned a new piece of work from artist and anthropologist Victoria Melody. 

Re-enactment is an exclusive one-day event made with and for East Brighton residents inspired by The Diggers, a campaign group during the English Civil War. 

In Neolithic Cannibals: Deep Listening to the Unheard, artists and campaigners Class Divide work with young people in Whitehawk and East Brighton to create a sound art piece inspired by the history of Neolithic East Brighton that asks us to consider the part we all play in addressing complex social issues. 

And all are welcome at Brighton Table Tennis Club's AllStars Extravaganza, an experiment in mass participation table tennis at Brighton Dome's newly refurbished Corn Exchange.

An ambitious theatre programme includes Perfect Show for Rachel, a joyful show directed in real-time by Rachel, a learning-disabled theatre-loving 33-year-old seated on stage with a custom-built tech desk and a UK premiere of cultural provocateur Cliff Cardinal's The Land Acknowledgement or As You Like It, a daring retelling of Shakespeare"s comedy.

An expanded international programme, made possible by principal supporter The Pebble Trust, includes UK premieres The Making of Berlin, an innovative combination of film, theatre and music that explores an attempt to stage a live radio broadcast of Wagner's Götterdämmerung in the city during the Second World War; and Melancholy of a Tourist, in which inventive Spanish-Mexican theatre makers Oligor y Microscopia use found objects to ask questions about our relationship to sought-after tourist destinations that fall out of fashion. Polystyrene shapes come to life in beguiling physical theatre 

Materia from Italy; and the Caravan Assembly series provides an opportunity for performance makers to showcase their work and meet and collaborate with international programmers and producers.

This year's visual arts and installation programme is playful and experimental, encouraging audiences to participate. 

Ooze Machines is a free solo exhibition by award-winning visual artist and quantum physicist, Dr Libby Heaney which uses the motif of slime - at once seductive and repulsive - to explore both the microscopic quantum world and big tech. 

Members of the public can also take to the stage in front of an audience of adoring (but fickle) fans in the UK premiere of An Elevated Platform, from dance and digital artists Flexer and Sandiland.

Musical events include Norman Jay MBE, who brings his unique take on Northern Soul, Norman Soul, to Brighton Dome"s Concert Hall; West African outfit Orchestra Baobab celebrate half a century of Afro-Cuban beats; and local heroes Carnival Collective deliver an irresistible tidal wave of energy with flavours of Latin, drum 'n' bass, hip-hop, swing and funk for their 30th anniversary. 

Dance music pioneer James Lavelle, a.k.a UNKLE, presents his immersive, multimedia show Ronin:Live; and the Festival also welcomes back Brighton"s legendary club nights Gal Pals and Polyglamorous for Our Roots: Dreamland, a joyful celebration of queer culture. 

Much-loved indie veterans Sea Power perform a one-off homecoming show; cult rockers Spiritualized play music from across their career; and celebrated US filmmaker Sam Green invites us to immerse ourselves in his latest documentary, the Academy Award-shortlisted 32 Sounds.

 In the comedy programme, supported by Mayo Wynne Baxter, Brighton Dome's flagship comedy night Live at Brighton Dome returns with a Brighton Festival special, spotlighting up and coming stand ups alongside big names. 

The spectacular annual Children's Parade once again kicks off the Festival with a fiesta of colour, costume and live music around the theme of Dream Again, supported by Brighton Girls. 

Frank Cottrell-Boyce adds:

"I have had the time of my life helping the brilliant Brighton Festival crew find amazing acts, shows, ideas and performers from all over the world. 

"I cannot wait for the days of May - when that team of bold explorers will unload their cargo of wonders for your delight and delectation. 

"Get ready to laugh, cry, dance, be bedazzled. A Festival full of magic and hope."

Brighton Festival takes place from 4-26 May 2024. 

by: Mike Cobley


Credit Andy Sturmey

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