Brighton Festival has invited Kate Tempest as Guest Director for this year’s festival. It’s a smart move. Tempest is pretty much a one-woman festival herself. Poet, playwright, novelist, recording artist, rapper, award winner, spoken word artist… the 31-year-old does not limit herself to one form of creativity or communication. Her programme celebrates what she calls the ‘Everyday Epic’—art that helps us connect to ourselves and others, explores our individual stories and differences, and encourages audiences to take a walk in someone else’s shoes. As she says, “Art is social. It should be a part of life. No big deal—just life itself.”
The brilliant thing about art is how it shines a light on our own and on other people’s worlds. On the pages, in the eyes, humming in the ears, felt in the bones, are lenses and windows, portals into a place we might never go. “It’s truthful communication between humans about humanity” says Tempest, and it’s something that we need.
As the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England, celebrating music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor, and family events, it would be impossible to share all of the imaginative and spirited events taking place in 2017. But as always, it’s an inventive and exploratory programme that showcases both the old and the new, classic and innovative, indoor and outdoor, covering all genres, themes and ideas, and for all audiences.
Spoken word nights from collectives Apples and Snakes (Sun 7th May, 7pm-9pm, All Saints Church), Picador Poetry (Fri 19th May, 8pm, Theatre Royal London) and Bang Said the Gun (Sat 20th May, 8pm, The Spire) will see Patience Agababi, Dan Cockrill, and Hollie McNish among others take to the stage. The Storytelling Army will be taking to the streets, supermarkets and bus stops (Fri 26th-Sun 28th May) to share and capture some of those everyday epics, extraordinary moments in ordinary life.
Getting out into the world matters, and Circa:Depart will be leading individuals through the atmospheric Woodvale Cemetry as acrobats, aerialists, and artists create a mesmerising outdoor circus. Artist and producer Jony Easterby has brought together some of the most dynamic sound and lighting artists in the UK to create For the Birds (Sat 6th– Sun 28th May, Woodland Location), a 2km trail through trees and darkness to experience beautiful installations of light, sound, and moving sculpture.
Of course we cannot shy away from the political and economic turbulence of the last couple of years. Listen to others and share your thoughts at the Democracy Debate, What Comes Next? with Polly Toynbee (Sat 13th May, 7.30pm, ICA), consider how you can turn anger to productivity at The Unfair, a fairground arcade to help channel destructive thoughts into creative ones (Fri 19th– 21st May, 10am-5pm, The New Steine) and see how Turkey views the other at Ipek Duben’s installation They/Onlar (Sat 6th – Sun 28th May, 12pm-7pm, Fabrica).
Loneliness has hit the headlines this year as the epidemic of our times. George Monbiot and Ewan McLennan join forces in words and music in Breaking the Spell of Loneliness, (Sun 7th May, 8pm, The Spire) a live performance which juxtaposes the songs with the human stories that inspired them. Challenging our perceptions about male stereotypes, the fantastic Half Moon Theatre and Papertale bring Boys Don’t to the coast (Sun 21st May, 2pm & 4pm) and in Plan B For Utopia (Sun 7th-Mon 8th May, 7.30pm) the role of creativity and imagination to drive change is explored through dance.
As well as sharing the stage at the Picador showcase, Kate Tempest will be teaming up with Oscar-nominated musician and composer Mica Levi & ensemble Orchestrate to present Let Them Eat Chaos, Rearranged, (Thu 11th May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall)—a world Premiere, commissioned by Brighton Festival—and performing with her band during the closing weekend (Sat 26th May, 8.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall).
I want to keep going, listing the brilliant events that will be taking place in gorgeous Brighton. But by that time it will be May, and you might as well be there for yourself, experiencing, seeing, feeling, and loving it all yourself. Tickets and programme are all available here.