The Festival's theatre highlights

Come the second day of May, Brighton will explode with the celebration of the arts that is the annual Brighton Festival.

The largest multi–arts festival in England is this year curated by guest director Ali Smith, winner of the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize, whose chosen themes are Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms and Taking Liberty.

The three-week Festival sees national and international artists across—and crossing—many genres; amongst the 150 events there are 42 exclusives, premières and commissions.

Reading through the press releases that initially came dripping and then gushing into my inbox, some words kept recurring: multi–media, physical theatre, poetry and puppets.

Picking out half a dozen words, however often they return, doesn't express the breadth of what is on offer at Brighton. There are solo shows, children's shows, improvisation, circus skills, works in progress, wedding cake and, in case you are missing the Hibernian feel being so far south, there is at least one man in a kilt.

Amongst the Festival's theatre highlights are:

  • Paines Plough's pop–up auditorium the Roundabout which will house Duncan Macmillan's Lungs and Every Brilliant Thing, Alexandra Wood's The Initiate and, for younger audiences, Dennis Kelly's Our Teacher's A Troll.
  • Stefano Di Renzo, who blends circus and physical theatre in his solo show Hold On that looks at what it is to be a performer and physical theatre show The Spalding Suite that combines original poetry with contemporary movement to explore the beauty of basketball in a show featuring UK Beatboxing Champion and World Finalist MC Zani.
  • The quartet of plays from the US written and directed by Tony Award winning Richard Nelson that will have their European première. The Apple Family Plays are interconnecting dramas which can be seen separately or in combination as they follow the lives of a single family.
  • The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, which tells the story of Scottish artist Ivor Cutler using his music, prose, poetry.
  • Backstage in Biscuit Land performed by Jess Thom, one of the 10% of people with Tourettes Syndrome who has swearing tics. In the show Thom reveals her unique perspective on life using comedy, puppetry and singing.