PREVIEW: Brighton Festival unveils its events

Brian Butler March 31, 2021

Brighton Festival is a pioneer in being the first  UK  arts festival to announce its programme to follow the current lockdown.And what a great and glorious programme it is !

Appropriately it launched via Zoom to give details of some 94 events, exhibitions and installations , all to be held in May within the Government’s strict rules for the roadmap out of lockdown. For the first half of the month the events will be online or outdoors and then from 17 May indoor event will take place, subject to social distancing, and assuming no delay in easing lockdown .

The festival will  have Ethiopian poet and playwright Lemn  Sissay as its guest director  –  a role he was playing last year until the festival had to be cancelled.

Andrew Comben, chief executive of the festival said there would be : 10 premieres, 30 free events, 24 specially commissioned online events , 18 outdoor events and 52 indoors. The limit on indoor audiences will range from 25 up to 300 at the biggest venue – the Brighton Dome.

Lemn said the theme of the festival would be Care – care for ourselves, our family, our friends and the environment. “ It’s an electrifying , tantalising festival of the arts. We bring light to darkness, and shine “, said Lemn .

One intriguing aspect of the month will be public participation and three examples of it are: Tell Me Something About Family , which encourages people to send Lemn examples of their likes and dislikes about their nearest and dearest . Lemn will then base a poem on the comments and video it on a journey on the i360.

Arrivals and Departures invites the pubic to put birthdays and dates of death  of their loved ones online. They will be shown on 2 giant airport/train station – style departure/arrivals boards in Pavillion Gardens. And we are also encouraged to submit selfies online which will then be turned into paintings by a robot.

Herstory has  listening posts across Brighton and Hove where you can hear untold stories of  Brighton women’s experiences during the  pandemic .

Brighton resident Tim Crouch’s House Mother Normal will create 9 monologues set in care homes.

Actress Jane Horrocks  is setting up a memory shop in Dukes Lane covering the innocence of youth and the tragedy of Alzheimer’s .

Lemn added: “ the 2020 Festival has been re-imagined”.

Other highlights include: the Theatre Royal being transformed into an immersive and intimate theatrical experience covering a day from sunrise to sunset.

Tenebrae: Lessons Learned In Darkness has been brought together  by queer writer /director Neil Bartlett, in a show which includes  lighting  and music. US theatre director Peter Sellars creates an online UK premiere multi-disciplinary filmed piece , based on a Buddhist text and involving artists across 3 continents creating an hour-long meditation.

Ray Lee creates a world premiere Points Of Departure – a spectacular series of mechanical sculptures which will light up Shoreham Port. Light sculptures and choral music from Brighton festival Chorus will be in Stanmer Woods in a lantern-lit trail.

General ticket bookings open from 9th April, Festival Members from today.

Full details at