sat 24/03/2018

Brighton Festival 2018 launches with Guest Director David Shrigley | reviews, news & interviews

Brighton Festival 2018 launches with Guest Director David Shrigley

Brighton Festival 2018 launches with Guest Director David Shrigley

Today's the day the annual south coast arts explosion reveals its line-up

Welcome to Brighton Festival 2108

At the Brighton Festival 2018 official launch this morning, the much-anticipated ritual of opening the brand new programme for the first time was taking place everywhere. It’s printed using a typeface based on visual artist and Guest Director David Shrigley’s handwriting and it’s clear from the tone that, alongside a plethora of rich artistic experience on offer, his unique sense of humour will be felt at the festival, which runs May 5-27.

For instance, of a talk he’s giving he says, “David Shrigley will present an illustrated talk about his work. It will contain numerous rambling anecdotes but will not be in the slightest bit boring: He has signed a written agreement to this effect, signed in his own blood.”

Shrigley's wide-ranging taste is writ large across the wildly eclectic array on offer

Shrigley is also taking part in multiple other events, from writing and directing Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt-rock/pop pantomime, to Life Model II, a follow-up to his Turner Prize-nominated installation, wherein attendees can do life drawing exercises based around a sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman. He is also involved in much else and his wide-ranging taste is writ large across the wildly eclectic array on offer.

Festival commissions and co-commissions this year include Spanish theatre radical Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety; an overnight choral sleepover experience from The Voice Project; a filmic homage to the scenic local River Cuckmere, accompanied by a live score; and the return of Festival favourite Hofesh Shechter with The Arms of Sleep, a new piece reflecting the turbulent times we live in.

Lightening things up considerably will be NoFit States Circus with their eye-boggling new Lexicon extravaganza, while for those who like theatre that wanders away from the usual venues, IOU Rear View take their audience around town on an especially adapted bus, converted to open rising theatre stall seats, and the famous annual children’s parade simply takes over the city.

There is a particularly strong music programme this year which includes Scottish songwriter par excellence Malcom Middleton; gender fluid pop-rocker Ezra Furman; African supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique; godfathers of rap music The Last Poets; Carleen Anderson, Nikki Yeoh & Speech Debelle performing iconic songs from the civil rights movement; Dalston jazz club Played Twice paying live tribute to Miles Davis; and vibrant indie outfits such as Jungle, Deerhoof and This Is The Kit. Meanwhile, for those of a classical bent, the gamut runs from the Britten Sinfonia with Orchestre de Picardie, Brighton Festival Chorus and Brighton Festival Youth Choir presenting Britten’s War Requiem, to Dutch pianist-composer and streaming sensation Joep Beving.

Other names to watch out include Bridget Christie, Kronos Quartet, Michael Rosen, Robert Preston, Big Freedia, Brett Anderson, Andy Hamilton, Viv Albertine, Lemn Sissay, Adam Kay, Rachel Cusk, Amanda Palmer, Rose Tremain, Iain Sinclair, plus a Gilbert & George exhibition, and Robbie Thomson’s startling Tesla coil XFRMR spectacular.

I’m very excited about this year’s lineup,” says Shrigley, unsurprisingly, “Not only for the things that I have selected but also for the things I have only read about; one of the best things about the Festival for me is that it can be a voyage of discovery.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival, adds that: “David Shrigley’s work is for everyone. Both powerful and funny, it speaks to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he is also a great advocate for the arts helping our health and wellbeing. We are thrilled that David is bringing his distinctive take to the Festival and the city he has now made his home.”

Brighton Festival 2018 is clearly going to be a juicy one!

Below: Watch David Shrigley introduce himself as Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2018

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