By Jess Meaden
After 49 years of successful entertaining, Brighton Festival returns to the south coast once more for another action-packed three weeks filled with theatre, film, literature, music, circus, art and debate. There are some great performances heading to Brighton between the 2 - 24 May, so whether you're a festival regular or a complete newbie to this celebration of the arts, here's what we think you should know about the annual event.
Brighton Festival opened for the first time in 1967 and featured actors Laurence Olivier and Anthony Hopkins. The vision from the beginning has been to 'stimulate' the local community and visitors to the area by taking a new look at the arts. Since 2009, the festival has seen a major cultural figure take over as Guest Director each year. In 2015, this Guest Director is Ali Smith: award-winning author and wordsmith of The Accidental and How to Be Both. Previous years have seen the likes of actress Vanessa Redgrave, poet and author Michael Rosen and choreographer Hofesh Shechter take the reins.
With exclusive events and a real community focus, there's no wonder that Brighton Festival stands as one of the biggest events of its kind in England. The event is funded by Arts Council England which, as such, means that it's able to both host and showcase new productions from all artistic areas year after year. People across the UK flock to the coast in their numbers to experience the unique and interesting performances on offer - and with £10 tickets, free events and family friendly shows available, there's truly something for everyone to enjoy.
The opening weekend of 2014's festival was labelled 'visionary' by the Daily Telegraph. This 2015, Brighton welcomes new Guest Director, Ali Smith. Ali writes for The Guardian, The Scotsman and the Times Literary Supplement, and won the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize for her novel How To Be Both. Her other novels Like, Hotel World, The Accidental, Girl Meets Boy and There But For The have also been highly acclaimed. We're looking forward to seeing what the festival has in store for us this year under the Scottish writer's guest direction.
With an artistic team combining award-winning film composer Carter Burwell (The Twilight Saga, Fargo, True Grit), projections by Obie-award winner Julie Archer and set design by founding member of the Wooster Group, Jim Clayburgh Lucia's Chapters of Coming Forth by Day is set to be a sure hit at Brighton Festival in 2015.
In this UK premiere, Obie award-winner and Tony nominee Maria Tucci plays Lucia Joyce: a lady who, in her early life, was an artistic genius in her own right but, whilst still in her twenties, became an erratic woman plagued with mental illness.
For a fun time filled with plenty of humour and a room full of guaranteed laughter, look no further than comedian, ventriloquist and filmmaker Nina Conti, as she screens her BAFTA-nominated Documockumentary.
This tongue-in-cheek performance follows the pilgrimage of Nina and the bereaved puppets of the late Ken Campbell, as they travel to their final resting place in Kentucky.
Here's one for all the family. The most iconic television series of the 70s is playfully retold using puppetry, original soundtracks, film...and a cast of incredibly silly Vikings.
Whilst adults will remember all the iconic characters from The Sagas of Noggin the Nog, children of all ages will also learn to love Thor Nogson, big bird Graculus and their fellow seafarers, as they journey North on an adventure to battle the fearsome Ice Dragon.
Amy Winehouse was once quoted to say, 'I would sit around all day just to hear her sound-check' and when you hear jazz vocalist Carleen Anderson live at the Brighton Festival, you'll no doubt see why.
With her singing career beginning at the age of 3 at her local church, by the 1980s she was touring the world with the James Brown All Stars. She later fronted the Young Disciples and Brand New Heavies and has since collaborated with the likes of Courtney Pine and Paul Weller but, in this performance, she pays tribute to her all-time hero, Sarah Vaughan.
Weaving together both the artistic works and the biography of an improbable icon, this show will have its English premiere at Brighton Festival in 2015.
Master of music, prose and poetry, you'll follow Cutler from boyhood through to old age and learn about the momentous milestones that he achieved as an artist - not least becoming the only artist to have played on Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4. Whether you're a fan of his work already, or will be exploring his music for the first time, this feel-good show is not to be missed.
Doing some research prior to arriving at a festival like Brighton's can often pay off. Here are our top tips on how to see more for less this year:
Regular event-goers are rewarded in the Festival's Multibuy Scheme, where you'll get the cheapest ticket for free when you buy 6 tickets to 6 different events. Whilst the offer is not applicable online, it's super easy to compile the events you want to see on the Festival's website using their Wishlist feature. Once your list is complete, you can call the box office hotline to book and receive your discount! Simple.
The best available seats to most of the Festival's events go on sale half an hour before the performance start time for non-sold out shows, so whether you live in Brighton or just fancy yourself a bit of a risk-taker, there's a good reason to get down to the venue early and try your luck. Festival Standbys are only available to under 26s, over 60s, JSA/IS, registered disabled/DLA and IB, Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival members and are, of course, subject to availability.
Cheap is good, but free is even better! There's plenty on offer to watch without paying a single penny, so why not check out the free events taking place in and around Brighton during the festival by clicking here.