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Brighton Festival returns with guest director Hofesh Shechter at the helm in 2014

  • Date: 26 February 2014
  • Area: South East
Artists perform in Hofesh Shechters 'Sun'

Artists perform in Hofesh Shechters 'Sun'. Credit: Gabriele Zucca

Brighton Festival (3-25 May), which is delivered by Arts Council England National portfolio organisation Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, is nearly upon us - and this year's guest director is Hofesh Shechter - one of the UK's most exciting contemporary dance artists.

This annual mixed arts Festival takes place in Brighton over three bustling weeks in the city; in 2013, the Festival attracted more than 450,000 people - creating a huge buzz around the city and producing a significant economic benefit for the local economy and businesses.

Boasting a mix of visual arts, theatre, music, dance, literature and debates, it is one of the UK's best established Festivals - this year's event continues the long tradition of delivering an ambitious programme that makes the most of Brighton's distinctive atmosphere and exciting cultural diversity.  It includes a range of family friendly event and offers outdoor performances throughout the city, including site-specific and some rather unusual and unexpected locations.

As guest director, Hofesh will set the tone and feel of the Festival - programming pieces that inspire, delight, entertain and provoke thought. Since inviting guest directors to take the lead in 2009, Brighton Festival has been programmed by a stellar list, including Anish Kapoor, Brian Eno, Aung San Suu Kyi, Vanessa Redgrave and last year Michael Rosen.

Speaking about being guest director of the Festival, Hofesh commented: 'It's really exciting. It's a strange freedom. I'm used to provoking people's emotions and thoughts through my own creations, yet suddenly I can choose other artist's work to provoke emotions beyond what I can do myself. It's like creating an art piece over a length of time. People that come to more than one show will start to get a feel of a certain thread between them.'

HOUSE 2014

The visual arts strand of Brighton Festival will again be co-commissioned by HOUSE - continuing the two's long standing partnership - and is supported by public money from the National Lottery through Arts Council England's Grants for the arts.

This year's lead artist for HOUSE is Yinka Shonibare MBE - an internationally renowned British artist perhaps best known for his Fourth Plinth commission Nelson's Ship in a Bottle and his recent installation at Yorkshire Sculpture Park - FABRICATION. Yinka's appointment as lead artist will continue his trend of making public realm art.

Working across Brighton, HOUSE will install works in a wide range of spaces, including temporary spaces such as The Regency Town House, Lighthouse and The Waste House, University of Brighton. This will be supported by work in partner venues, which will expand on the HOUSE theme or present projects under the HOUSE umbrella.

The artistic works will be accompanied by a packed programme of events that will expand on the theme and build engagement with its diverse audiences; it will include workshops, artist-led talks, performances, films and previews.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, said: 'We're thrilled that Hofesh Shechter is our Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2014 and to today reveal the programme of events for May. Hofesh's instinctive understanding of Brighton and our Festival means it is particularly pertinent that he steps into the role in 2014 following a highly successful five years of working together. Hofesh's creative vision and energy contains that rare quality and sense of adventure that sparks the imaginations of a much wider audience beyond his own discipline and encourages us all to try something new. With such an eclectic artist at the helm, Brighton Festival 2014 is set to be a very exciting one indeed and I am delighted to be welcoming so many brilliant artists to our city this Spring.'

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: 'This year's Brighton Festival is an exciting prospect as critically-acclaimed choreographer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter takes the artistic 'reins'. His artistic vision will bring an electrifying edge to this year's programme, which spans multiple artforms. The Festival very much reflects the vibrancy of Brighton itself - it is a place where artists and artistic organisations have flourished and we are delighted to support them as they continue to grow. The Festival's value to Brighton and the region extends beyond entertainment and inspiration - it also provides a significant economic boost for local businesses as artists and audiences travel from near and far to become involved.'

For more information about his year's Brighton Festival, please click here.

Festival Highlights include:

 

Hofesh Shechter - Sun

Brighton Festival co-commission

Brighton Festival Exclusive 2014 (Sun Dust)

Brighton Dome Concert Hall

3-4 May

Perfection becomes warped and harmony gives way to a visceral depiction of antagonism and violence in Hofesh Shechter's disruptive new work. From the courtly idyll that sets the scene to the clean, spare vision of a 'perfect' world, Shechter's choreography embraces frenetic abandon and his signature understated intricacy in a work that confronts the pastoral horror of colonialism with a hint of sharp humour. There will also be a special director's cut from Hofesh Shechter Company exclusive to Brighton Festival - Sun Dust. Shechter gives us an insight into his creative process and the crystallization of Sun. In this afternoon event hosted by Josephine Burton of Dash Arts, Hofesh Shechter Company will perform never before seen sections created for Sun - it will be a unique chance to experience some extraordinary unseen choreography and hear Hofesh talk about the decisions behind the final cut.

 

Les Slovaks (Brussels) - Opening Night

UK Premiere

Brighton Festival Exclusive

25 May

Brighton Dome Corn Exchange

Les Slovaks is a dance collective made up of five Slovakian friends who, since regrouping in Brussels in 2006, have sought to find themselves again and redefine their relationship through moving and thinking collectively. Remembering what was then and taking pleasure from what is now, they use improvisation and spontaneity to create breathtaking choreography that combines charm, zest and humour. The result is a brand of movement rooted in shared experience and understanding. And with every performance created a new, each night is an opening night!

 

Dmitry Krymov Lab (Moscow) - Opus No. 7

UK Premiere

Brighton Dome Corn Exchange

3 - 5 May

Dmitry Krymov is one of the most influential figures in Russian theatre. This bewitching, genre-blending performance pitches you headlong into a world in which objects, sounds and people can change in the blink of an eye. Opus No. 7's ensemble of performers use simple materials and extraordinary skill to explore an elusive and frightening past. Featuring original music by Alexander Bakshi alongside Shostakovich's harrowing Piano Trio No. 2 and his epic Seventh Symphony, Opus No. 7 combines this with a theatrical explosion of invention featuring larger-than-life puppets, duelling pianos, living walls and blizzards of newsprint. The tour of Opus No. 7 is supported by public money from the National Lottery through Arts Council England's Exceptional Awards programme.

 

Yinka Shonibare MBE - The British Library

Brighton Festival co-commission with HOUSE 2014

Brighton Reference Library

3 - 25 May

As the lead artist for this year's HOUSE - a curated visual arts programme that runs alongside the Festival -  Yinka Shonibare MBE's new sculptural installation explores the impact of immigration on all aspects of British culture and considers notions of territory and place, cultural identity, displacement and refuge. The shelves of the Old Reference Library are filled with books colourfully bound in Shonibare's trademark wax cloth (itself a cross-cultural hybrid of Indonesian design and Dutch manufacture). On the spines are the names of people, both celebrated and unfamiliar, who, as immigrants, made unique contributions to our way of life; such as T.S. Eliot, Henry James, Hans Holbein, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zaha Hadid and many more.

 

Peaches Christ Superstar

Brighton Festival Exclusive

Theatre Royal Brighton

13 May

An unlikely scenario: the whole of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar performed by one woman accompanied by a single piano. Wholehearted in its reverence, it's a performance that brings out Peaches' extraordinary emotional and dramatic power as she sings each of the nine principal roles.

 

Philharmonia Orchestra

Brighton Festival Chorus

Brighton Dome Concert Hall

24 May

From jazz-tinged sophistication to profound spirituality, the renowned Philharmonia Orchestra closes this year's Festival's classical programme in rousing form with a range of 20th-century masterpieces. The Brighton Festival Chorus is splendidly showcased in two great works that provide a fascinating contrast in their approach to setting the Psalms. Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, a rousing setting of the original Hebrew text and one of the most challenging works in the choral repertory, returns to its Sussex roots alongside Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, a work of elemental grandeur composed 'for the glory of God'. The French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet performs Ravel's quicksilver Piano Concerto in G, a work of sparkling wit and inventiveness, while Bernstein's magnificent Symphonic Suite for on the Waterfront finds John Wilson on home territory conducting this classic film score.

 

Jeremy Deller

Desert Island Pics

Brighton Dome Studio Theatre

16 May

The Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller is noted for strong, politically engaged works such as The Battle of Orgreave, a re-enactment of a confrontation that took place during the miners' strike, and the bouncy castle replica of Stonehenge, Sacrilege, at the Olympic Park for London 2012. His art, which is often collaborative, incorporates a wide range of forms, including installations, videos, performances and music. Fresh from last year's Venice Biennale, where he represented Britain, Deller joins the artist, writer and lecturer Stephen Bull to share and discuss the eight photographs that mean the most to him.

 

ZOO (Brussels)

Enhanced Dance to Disguised Music

UK Premiere

17 - 18 May

Enhanced Dance to Disguised Music (Danse étoffée sur musique déguisée), created by the Brussels-based Swiss choreographer Thomas Hauert, is his first piece for younger audiences. The solo performance is accompanied by John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano. It's about metamorphosis and adaptation: about how the shell of balloons, blankets and broomsticks that encases the dancer redefine physical reality, just as the objects with which the piano is 'prepared' create entirely new acoustic possibilities. This is a rare opportunity to hear Cage's important piece performed live by Daan Vandewalle, unmissable for music fans and discerning young dance audiences alike.